Activity time: 50 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 1, Sample Faith Statements, for all participants
- Newsprint, markers and tape
- Participants' journals
- Pens or pencils
Description of Activity
Participants develop their own faith statements.
Tell the group:
Over the course of this program, we have explored the history, values, and theologies of Unitarian Universalism through a variety of activities, and reflected on what that means for us personally and as a group. Now, as a culmination to this journey we have taken, we will write our own faith statements. Sometimes these statements are called "elevator speeches"-a short "speech" that you could say in the time it takes to go a few floors in an elevator to someone who asks you "What is Unitarian Universalism?" The faith statement you will create is not just to tell others, but also to clarify for yourself what your faith means to you. If you identify as Unitarian Universalist or if you do not, you can draw on many elements of our living tradition as well as the beliefs, feelings, and actions you recorded in your journal.
Distribute Handout 1, Sample Faith Statements, and have volunteers around the circle read each statement aloud. Then ask the group:
- What types of information are included in these statements?
- How much information is included?
- What do they have in common, and how do they differ?
- What is the format?
If no one mentions it, add that the statements are quite short-usually two or three sentences. They should be something that you can easily remember (with practice) on the spur of the moment if asked. Also, mention that the statement is meant to be spoken, so it's important to make sure that it sounds like something you would say.
Tell the group that before writing their faith statements, they will do a collective brainstorm to get them thinking about what to include. On a sheet of newsprint, brainstorm words or phrases that they would use to describe Unitarian Universalism or their own faith. Post this brainstorm, and encourage participants to refer to it if they find it helpful. Distribute the participants' journals. They can do the faith statement writing process in their journals, or they can do it on a separate sheet of paper and then copy the final version into their journals.
Give participants 15 minutes to work on their faith statements. Circulate to offer assistance as needed, and if anyone has trouble, encourage them to write what first comes to mind and then revise it. Once they have words down on paper, it may seem easier.
Now let participants practice sharing their statements. You can do this in the large group or divide into pairs or small groups. After 15 minutes, ask the group to take a few minutes to revise, edit or build on their statements.
Lead a short discussion on what it would be like sharing about their faith in both Unitarian Universalist and in multi-religious settings. What about in hostile environments, or in groups where no one knows about Unitarian Universalism? How might they adapt their statements for various situations? Why do some people believe it is important-not just to individuals, but for the future of our faith-for Unitarian Universalists to speak out about their faith?
Close with the following words from the Reverend William Sinkford, former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, who publicly called on Unitarian Universalists to articulate an "elevator speech":
Your elevator speeches may be very different from mine. Hone them. Put a name to what calls you, and to what you find yourself called to do in response. Practice telling it to others. This is an exercise that can only help deepen our faith; and with a firmer grounding in those depths, I believe we will be better able to reach out to others. We have Good News for a world that badly needs it.