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

Faith In Action: Congregational Exchange

Preparation for Activity

  • A few months ahead of time, find a nearby Unitarian Universalist congregation whose youth group has done a curriculum, small group ministry series, or other programming on Unitarian Universalist identity. Find out who the youth advisors, curriculum facilitators, or youth leaders are and contact them about doing a worship exchange. Consult with your congregation to find out which worship dates are available, and invite the other congregation to do the same. Then set two dates-one for your youth to lead a worship at their congregation, and one for their youth to lead a worship at your congregation. If your congregation does annually experiences more than one youth service with the whole congregation, consider replacing one with this exchange service. If conducting a worship service for the entire congregation does not work, consider holding a smaller worship service for just the two youth groups or workshop participants.
  • Schedule a time for the two groups of youth to meet. Include both informal social time and time to talk about the worship exchange and their hopes/expectations for the project.

Description of Activity

This activity is an opportunity for participants to live the covenant that Unitarian Universalist congregations make with one another to encourage spiritual growth in our congregations, build toward the goal of world community, and acknowledge and respect the interdependent web of which we are a part. By collaborating with another congregation to offer a meaningful worship service, the group is embodying the covenantal connection among Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Three months before the service

  • Tell participants that to put their faith into action they will do a worship exchange with another Unitarian Universalist congregation. The group will have a chance to lead a worship service for the other congregation, and the other congregation's youth will have a chance to lead a worship service at your congregation. The services will focus on Unitarian Universalism based on what they have learned in the program, but the group can choose the specific theme.
  • Bring together the two groups of youth for informal social time to talk about the worship exchange. Lead a discussion during the planning time about which of the Unitarian Universalist Principles this exchange affirms and promotes. Also, do a brainstorm of hopes and expectations for the exchange, as well as possible themes. Have each group decide on the theme they will design their service around, in collaboration with the other congregation.

Leading up to the service

  • Work with the other congregation's minister, worship committee, and youth group to find out what elements need to be included in the service and where you can be creative.
  • Spend some time each week (or in additional scheduled time) planning the service, assigning responsibilities, developing components and practicing with one another.
  • Check in with the other youth group about their planning to see if you can help.

One week before the service

  • Do a run-through of the service, preferably in the space you will be using the following Sunday.
  • Submit the Order of Service design to the congregation.

The day of the service

  • Arrive early and run through the outline of the service.
  • Lead the service. Have fun. Celebrate after!

After the service

  • Spend some time processing the experience as a group. Discuss: What did we give the other congregation, and what did we receive from the experience?

Including All Participants

Make sure that all participants have a role in the service. Encourage youth to share what their gifts and strengths are and to have them bring that to the service in some way. Some youth may be great speakers, and others may want to do more "behind the scenes" work, such as designing the order of service, choosing hymns or readings, or working the sound system.