Sample visits

Neighboring Faith Communities: A Process Guide
A curriculum for grades 6-8
Compiled by Dan Harper, v. 0.8.3
Copyright (c) 2014-2016 Dan Harper

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A. Lists of actual visits
B. Sample week-by-week class schedule


Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, Palo Alto, California

Above: Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, Buddhist Church of America, Palo Alto, California


A. Lists of actual visits

Here are some sample lists of visits we have made. We chose the places to visit using the decision-making process described earlier.

In 2012-2013, visits and lessons included (roughly in chronological order):

1. First Unitarian Church of San Jose (attended service)
2. Palo Alto Friends Meeting (Quaker) (some attended full service, some met with Quaker youth then attended last part of service)
3. El Dia de los Meurtos (in-class lesson, not a visit)
4. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, St. Nicholas pageant (attended service)
5. Jerusalem Baptist Church, Palo Alto, MLK’s birthday (attended service and lunch)
6. Chia Giac Minh Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, East Palo Alto (attended part of service, with an interpreter who could speak Vietnamese)
7. Sunnyvale Hindu Temple (visit)

In 2013-2014, visits and lessons included (roughly in chronological order):

1. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City (attended service)
2. Our own congregation: UU Church of Palo Alto (attended service)
3. St. Herman of Alaska Russian Orthodox Church, Sunnyvale (attended part of service)
4. Ananda Church of Self Realization (attended service)
5. Discussions about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses
6. Stanford Memorial Church (interfaith), Stanford University (attended service)
7. Gudwara Sahib, Fremont (attended part of service)

In 2014-2015, visits and lessons included (roughly in chronological order):

1. First Unitarian Church of San Jose (attended service)
2. Palo Alto Buddhist Temple (centennial celebration, plus Sunday service)
3. Sunnyvale Hindu Temple (guided tour from a friend)
4. Stanford Memorial Church, Stanford University (attended service)
5. Gurdwara Sahib, San Jose (guided tour of Gurdwara, overview, lunch)
6. Muslim Community Association, Santa Clara (overview/education session and tour of mosque, did not attend services)


B. Sample week-by-week class schedule

Here’s a sample schedule from an actual class at the UU Church of Palo Alto:

August 25, 2013: Group building and introduction to the year.
September 8: The class voted which faith communities they would like to visit this year. Everyone got six votes; they could use all the votes on one faith community, or spread them out among two to six faith communities.
September 15: Introduction to Unitarian Universalism.
September 29: Member of congregation visited to talk about feminism and Unitarian Universalist values.
October 6: Visit the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, to see what another Unitarian Universalist congregation is like.
October 13: Visit our own service at the UU Church of Palo Alto.
October 20: Debrief about UU visits.
October 27: Prep for Russian Orthodox visit.
November 3: St. Herman of Alaska (Russian Orthodox) — The services was different from other Christian services most teens in the class had seen: the congregation stood instead of sitting, the service lasted 3 hours (the class did not stay the whole time), icons and chanting, etc.
November 10: Debrief on Russian Orthodox visit.
November 17: Explore gratitude. Guided meditation on gratitude.
November 24: Intergenerational Thanksgiving service, no Sunday school.
December 1: Prep for Ananda visit.
December 8: Ananda Church of Self Realization — Although the church had similar social values to Unitarian Universalism in that they’re very accepting of other faith traditions, have women as clergy, and accept same-sex marriage, the Ananda Church is based on both Christianity and on Hinduism; they trace back to a Hindu teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, and yoga and meditation are part of what they do. In spite of our best efforts, the congregation did find our behavior mildly annoying (they did not approve of chewing gum in the service).
December 15: Debrief from Ananda visit.
December 24: Intergenerational Christmas service, no Sunday school.
December 29: No Sunday school.
[N.B.: Unfortunately, we were unable to schedule a visit to a nearby mosque (under construction), and an ethnic Tongan church (no response), so our schedule in January-March got somewhat disorganized.]
January 5, 2014: Games. Discussion about Mormonism.
January 12: Games. Discussion about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
January 19: Low attendance week, games and discussion.
January 26: Prep for visit to Memorial Church.
February 2: Visit Stanford Memorial Church, Stanford University campus — The minister, Rev. Scotty McLennan, was an affiliated community minister with our congregation, and he met with our class before the service to explain who Stanford University wanted an explicitly non-denominational church. The building was dramatic.
February 9: Debrief from Memorial Church visit
February 16: Group building activities (visit to Tongan church fell through)
February 23: Group building activities.
March 2: Group building activities (visit to mosque fell through)
March 9: Prep for Sikh visit.
March 16: Visit to Gudwara Sahib Fremont (Sikh) 300 Gurdwara Rd., Fremont — The teens learned that in Sikh services, you sit cross-legged on the floor. We had a contact there who was a friend of one of our teachers, and he welcomed the class and answered questions.
March 23: Debrief from Sikh visit.
March 30: Group building activities.
[There was one additional visit planned for April.]


Curriculum for Unitarian Universalist congregations