Today is Day 25 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to inspire creativity, facilitate action across generations, and share the love! Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the Thirty Days of Love emails.
Like many congregations, we celebrate child dedications several times each year. Through music, words and symbols we dedicate young people to a life of clear vision, honest and powerful speech, generosity and love. When our minister gently rubs dirt into the palms of the children’s hands and says:
“We rub this earth into your hand to remind you that it’s good to get your hands dirty doing the work of the world”
Many people in our congregation are visibly moved. Such a simple and symbolic gesture. Such a powerful charge.
Four years ago, our children’s religious education program added a Faith in Action (FIA) component. FIA includes monthly workshops inviting students to share stories, connect their UU beliefs and principles with action, and experience their power to make a positive difference. By cultivating young people’s natural sense of justice, empathy and compassion, we are beginning to transform not only how our youth learn, but also the way we engage in service and justice work together – across generations.
It all started in 2010 when the earthquake hit Haiti. We knew we needed to do something – but what? A few parents and youth gathered at a pottery studio owned by one of our members. Soon our hands were covered with wet clay, as we got dirty “doing the work of the world!”
We made clay chalice pendants and our religious education classes turned the pendants into necklaces. They were remarkably simple, yet beautiful, and in one coffee hour we raised over $1,200 for the UUA/UUSC relief efforts in Haiti. During a time of loss, we discovered that we could take action to make a positive difference. Art connected us, across generations, in affirming our shared faith, and the mystery and miracle of life.
Each year more and more artists, enthusiasts and activists have joined our team. We have made murals, posters, notecards, jewelry, ornaments, and so much more. Thanks to our generous congregation, and many artists, we’ve raised over $6,000 to support the work of organizations in our community. More importantly, we are learning how to work together to bring about positive change. Art has been a unifying element of this process!
On February 9 we celebrated our fourth annual Faith-in-Action Art Faire. Our Faith-in-Action team, a group of retirees in our congregation, students, and teachers, all came together for the month of January to learn, share stories, and create art. Check out reflections from a few participants below:
Let this Be a House of Love
“We talked about how people live in many different types of homes, but we all have the same need for shelter and love. Each of our houses, made from recycled paper and cardboard, has a heart somewhere, symbolizing both love and home.”
~Kathryn Hillyer, Art Faire Team Member
“Members of our Transitions group of retirees were more than happy to share our skills and interests, and help with the sewing projects. Young people learned a bit of sewing, we all had fun, and were grateful for the opportunity to help others through our efforts.”
~Juli Cicarelli, Art Faire Team Member
The Power of Love and Art
“The arts lend themselves to love in infinite ways . . . the words we speak, the lines in a book, each note in a song. Love finds its way into our hearts and our artwork because it is one of our most powerful emotions. Love is a tricky thing, but when we find the right notes and colors and words to express it, it turns our art into magic.”
~Emily Cruz, 14, Artist, Singer, and Art Faire Team Member
Making the World a Better Place
“I feel strongly that art is a powerful way to make the world a better place and connect people with each other. I think we’re all born as natural artists, and when we put our affinity for art to use to help others, it inspires all of us.”
~ Janet McDonnell, FIA Team Member
Feel the Love
“Making the projects for the Art Faire is fun. I like making the bowls, heart plaques and fused glass. I feel helpful and loving and caring.”
~T.J. Allison, 8-year-old FIA student
Our Faith in Action program exposes our youth and congregation to many ways that we can stand on the side of love. Through advocacy, service, and art, we are learning new ways to put our faith into action. Art is one powerful way to express feelings, claim power, and engage all ages in standing on the side of love. We look forward to hearing more of your stories!
Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist, Palatine, Illinois
If you would like to learn more about any of our projects, workshops, or to share ideas, please contact us at: re [at] ccuu.org.