Heresy Apparent

Unitarian Universalist Heritage for Junior and Senior High School Youth

macbr75A program developed for the 2001 Ohio-Meadville District Summer Institute Youth Program and also usable as a five-day camp experience or as a weekend youth conference program

Heresy Apparent is a 10-Session curriculum designed for Unitarian Universalist junior high and/or high school religious education classes (7th to 12th grades).

The goals of Heresy Apparent are to provide youth with an opportunity to learn about the theological and historical roots of Unitarian Universalism as well as the lives and accomplishments of famous adherents of Unitarian and Universalist principles.  The program exposes youth to tasks and activities that will encourage them to think about their own religious beliefs and will promote their own spiritual growth.  During the 10 Sessions, youth are given a chance to stretch their own boundaries in a safe and supportive environment with a fun gaming experience where cooperation is as important as competition.

Each participant is assigned a unique secret identity of a famous Unitarian Universalist.  During the course of the program, youth will try to guess each other’s secret identity.  In essence, the program is a combination of a scavenger hunt and “20 Questions.”  Once a youth determines the identity of another participant (which can also include interested adults), then the participant gives the youth a secret task to perform.

The secret tasks are the heart of Heresy Apparent.  Some require the youth to answer a question or write something to be posted in a central location or discussed in their touch group.  Other tasks are mini-spiritual journeys that direct the youth to a specific place for a guided meditation or other contemplative activity.  The point of the tasks, and the entire program, is to provide youth with connections with their Unitarian Universalist spiritual heritage and to help them develop their faith in the context of the 21st century.

The program component of Heresy Apparent is divided into 10 Sessions, including:

  • The Nature of God (pre-1800) – The Heresies of Anti-Trinitarianism and Universalism
  • Liberal Christianity (1800-1900) – The Heresies of Relgious Questioning and Faith in Action
  • Freethought and New Ideas (1900-1950) – The Heresies of Reason and Resistance
  • Diverse Voices (1950-2000) – The Heresies of Antidiscrimination and Inclusion
  • The Future of Unitarian Universalism (post-2000) – The Heresies Challenging Assumptions and the Questing Mind

The Heresy Apparent workshop is intended to provide a fun and educational experience for junior high and/or high school youth either in a local church setting, a week-long summer Unitarian Universalist camp, or a weekend conference setting.  In the latter, this program can serve as a “con in a can,” for a district to use as a pre-packaged youth conference.  In a camp setting, the program can be used over five days as a morning or afternoon youth program/workshop.  Over a weekend, the program can comprise the overall theme of a youth conference for junior or senior high school youth, or both.  Perhaps most appropriately, Heresy Apparent can be used over a weekend as a Coming of Age-themed event.  In this latter setting, the program would be very useful for a junior high-aged audience of 50 to 100 participants.