Our theme for Religious Education classes in October is “Celebrating Unitarian Universalism”. We are starting the year off with a look at our own faith tradition: its history, heritage, and current identity. Of course, we began with the 7 Principles.
The Principles are what most UU’s turn to when they try to wrestle with that question of “what do UU’s believe”, but that is really the wrong answer to the wrong question. UU’s don’t believe in common; a diversity of theological views and ideas and the absence of a creed are a defining characteristic of our religious tradition. The Principles are not statements of belief, either. What the 7 Principles represent are communal affirmations of values and are aspirations for us to try and live up to, which was beautifully articulated in a recent UU World article, I don’t believe in the 7 Principles, by Doug Muder.
With our youngest class, the preschoolers, we express the Principles as being Promises that we make as we try to create a loving community. The 7 Promises are taught through symbol and story and the memory device of the rainbow of colors: Red for the 1st Principle (Respect Everyone), etc.
With our elementary class, we explored the Principles as a vision of what we hoped for in the world and students could choose to explore through active games where they tried to put the Principles into action with how they treated one another, through making a necklace with a word to remind them of their aspirations/principles, or through creating a poster to show the 7 Principles. I had imagined that they would just write the 7 Principles on their poster with symbols or maybe organize them into a rainbow or a tree or something – how delightful that they actually drew the world as they wish it was and said “Care for our Earth and Respect Everyone”.
Finally, our youth group explored the Principles and whether they personally live by any other principles in their small group discussion questions, and then painted stones with their foundational principles on them.
This is a great place to start off with our Celebration of Unitarian Universalism! Next up, we will pull in each of the two traditions (Unitarian and Universalist) with stories from their history and explorations of Heresy and Radical Love.
For now, I will leave you with this song version of the 7 Principles.