Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Place of Wholeness: A Program for Youth Exploring Their Own Unitarian Universalist Faith Journeys

Program Structure

All twelve workshops have the same basic structure. Each workshop is organized around a core theme or theological premise in Unitarian Universalism. The activities help participants define for themselves what that theme means by exploring both the roots of the idea and its contemporary Unitarian Universalist thought and practice. Each workshop challenges participants to think about what these ideas mean in their own lives and how it will or does affect their actions.

Every workshop offers alternate activities. Depending on your time and interests, you may choose to replace core activities with alternates, or add an alternate to your workshop. You may also want to use the alternate activities outside the program for gatherings involving youth such as family retreats, multigenerational dinners, or youth group meetings.

As you design your program, decide whether the group needs extra meetings to incorporate additional activities or to complete a long-term Faith in Action project. Such projects frequently involve meetings outside your regular gathering time and location. Before you commit to an extended program, obtain the support of your congregational leadership, the youth's families, and the youth themselves.

Workshop elements include:


A quote introduces the theme of each workshop and is included for participant reflection in the Welcome and Entering. Co-leaders may like to discuss the quote as part of their preparation. This reflection can help ground teachers in the workshop ideas and help them get “on the same page.” The quotes are also included in Taking It Home.


The Introduction provides an overview of the workshop’s concepts, explains and offers suggestions about activities, and describes the workshop’s thematic connection to others. The Introduction will also alert leaders to any special preparation needed for the workshop.


Goals state general outcomes for the workshop. Reviewing the goals helps leaders connect the workshop’s content and methodologies with the four strands of the Tapestry of Faith programs: faith development, Unitarian Universalists identity, spiritual development, and ethical development. As you plan a workshop, consider the youth, the time and space you have available, and your own strengths and interests as a leader to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop and the activities that will best serve those goals.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives describe specific participant outcomes which workshop activities are designed to facilitate. They describe what a participant will learn, become, or be able to do as a result of the activity. Think of Learning Objectives as the building blocks used to achieve the larger goals of A Place of Wholeness.


This table lists workshop activities in a suggested order and provides an estimated time for completing each to conduct a 90-minute workshop. The table includes all core activities from the Opening through Closing, shows Faith in Action activities, and lists alternate activities. Note that you will need to adjust or extend your schedule to fit in either Faith in Action or alternate activities.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is a guide to use in your own planning.

Keep in mind that many variables inform the time required for an activity. Large group discussion takes more time than small-group discussion. Small teams can do some activities more rapidly than large teams, but they may then require more time to share with others what they have done. Youth enthusiasm may lead you to continue an activity longer than planned, and youth disinterest may lead you to move on more quickly than you expected. When planning, remember to consider the time you will need to move participants around from one space to another and for clean up.

The time estimates for activities do not include leader planning and preparation.

Spiritual Preparation

Each workshop offers a spiritual exercise that leaders may use to prepare themselves. Taking time in the days before the workshop to reflect on its content and in the moments before the workshop to center yourself will support you in your work with youth. The process calls forth your own life experiences, beliefs, and spirituality. It can help you enjoy and provide the best possible learning experience at each workshop. Take advantage of these exercises to grow spiritually as you work with youth.

Workshop Plan

The Workshop Plan presents every workshop element in detail a suggested sequence. It also includes Faith in Action, Leader Reflection and Planning, Taking It Home, Alternate Activities, and Resources.

If you are reading A Place of Wholeness online, you can move as you wish among a workshop's elements. Each element occupies its own web page. You can click on "Print This Page" at any time. However, if you click on "Download Entire Program" or "Download Workshop" you will have a user-friendly document on your computer that you can customize as you wish, using your own word-processing program. Once you decide which activities you will use, format and print only the materials you need.

A description of various Workshop Plan elements follows:

Welcoming and Entering: Although this is not built into the 90-minute workshop time, Welcoming and Entering is a time to greet one another and familiarize the group with the theme of the workshop. Participants are invited to make a faith journal (if they are new) or to review their journal. Welcome Words – including a quote and questions – are posted for reflection and informal discussion before the workshop begins. It is a time to welcome and orient visitors and first-time participants to the program. Welcome and Entering is particularly useful if youth will enter the work space at different times. If they enter as a group, you might eliminate Welcome and Entering.

Opening: Each opening includes a chalice lighting ritual and responsive reading based on James Luther Adams’ Five Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism.

Activities: Three to five core activities are suggested for each workshop. Activities include a materials list, preparation suggestions, description, and ideas for adaptations that may be required to meet special youth needs.

The sequence of activities has been carefully thought out, with some leading into the next. You are invited to make changes, but look through the entire workshop before you decide how to modify it.

Each workshop is also designed as a mix of the quiet and the active to involve a variety of skills and learning styles. Keep this balance in mind as you adjust the workshop to meet the group’s needs.

Every workshop includes an activity “I Believe, I Feel, I Act” which asks participants to take five minutes to reflect on what they just experienced and to write or draw in their journals. At the end of the program, they will keep this journal as a memory of the journey.

Faith in Action: Many core activities are designed to help youth apply spiritual and religious thought to real situations in their own lives. Faith in Action activities offer specific and practical ways for youth to apply their faith for the betterment of the world and their communities. Some Faith in Action activities can be completed in one meeting; others are longer-term and require the involvement of congregants or community members outside the group. While these activities are not included in the 90-minute core of the workshops, the group may easily do them on a regular basis if you meet for more than 90 minutes, if you substitute them for other activities, or if you use them outside the program, perhaps as the basis of youth group projects.

However you adapt this program, try to include some form of Faith in Action. As the saying suggests, actions do often speak louder than words, for both actor and observer.

Closing: Each closing invites participants to share brief reflections from the journaling exercise about their beliefs, feelings, and actions in response to the workshop. The group then sings a hymn from one of the Unitarian Universalist hymnbooks, with the leader providing information about the song’s background and meaning. Musical accompaniment is ideal, but not necessary. The group reflects on how the song relates to the workshop theme and closes by extinguishing the chalice.

Leader Reflection and Planning: Co-leaders benefit from spending a few minutes discussing the workshop they have just led and planning what they will do next. This segment suggests a few discussion topics.

Taking It Home: This section provides suggestions for involving family and friends in the ideas, themes, and projects of the program. Ideas range from group discussion guides to crafts to postings on social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace to encourage discussion with friends. Taking It Home cab be printed out and sent home with participants, but we also suggest you email it to participants’ parents. This helps facilitate conversation between parents and youth.

Alternate Activities: The format for alternate activities is similar to that of core activities. Consider using the alternates instead of or in addition to the core activities, or outside your regular workshop time.

Resources: This section contains the stories, handouts, and other resources needed to lead the workshop.

The Story is the full text of the workshop's central story.

Handouts are any materials to be printed and photocopied for all participants. Leader Resources may include a reading; role play scenarios for you to print and cut up; diagrams to help you plan activities; or an illustration to show the group, which you may print as a hard copy or display on a computer as a PowerPoint slide. Find Out More includes book and video titles, website URLs, and other selected resources to further explore the workshop topics.