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Faith In Action: Multiple Perspectives, Workshop 9: An Ethic of Risk

In "What We Choose: Ethics for Unitarian Universalists," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Research your congregation's social justice projects that involve local community issues. Examples include fair housing, homelessness, environmental justice, and immigration. Choose a project that involves a significant number of people in your congregation.
  • Invite someone active in the chosen project to share their experiences. Invite your guest to explain the decision-making strategies used to choose project actions.

Description of Activity

Have your guest share their knowledge and experiences related to a specific congregational social justice project. Invite participants to work with your guest to examine the project using the framework of an ethic of risk. Ask:

  • What voices and perspectives have been included in the conversations about the issue and possible actions? What voices and perspectives have helped us to critique past actions and formulate new ones?
  • Where have our actions created a matrix of possibility for future action?
  • How have we dealt with actions that resulted in failure, setbacks, or unexpected outcomes, either positive or negative? Have we fallen into cynicism and despair, or shown a failure of nerve? Or have we used the experience and insight gained to guide subsequent actions?
  • Where have we taken strategic risks to resist systems of oppression?

Invite participants to form triads and, in their small groups, suggest next steps in this project, using Welch's ethic of risk as a guiding ethical framework. Give each triad a piece of newsprint and a marker and ask them to write down two or three possible next actions. After ten minutes, invite each triad to share their thoughts. Continue the conversation with your guest about the ways in which participants commit to involvement in future actions.

Explore ways to engage the entire congregation in broad questions regarding your congregation's place in the community and relationships with people who are marginalized or oppressed:

  • How do your congregational programs, activities, and operations impact disadvantaged, oppressed, and indigenous communities in your area? Do local community groups use your facilities for programs that serve these communities?
  • What environmental, political, social, or cultural issues in your area affect disadvantaged, oppressed, and indigenous communities? What opportunities exist for collaboration with these communities to work on such issues?

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, January 19, 2012.

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