Setting up the space and setting the tone for exercises.
Note: We recommend conducting this brief opening activity at the beginning of each session of activities below.
- To get participants involved right away by participating in setting the atmosphere.
- Having the statements (see list below) on separate signs and posted throughout the room is meant to more easily catch the attention of the participants, who might otherwise easily disregard a list of items all on one sign.
- Something to easily attach the signs to the walls so they can be removed later and re-used.
Ask participants to post the individual signs on the walls around the room
Instructions for the facilitators
Convene the participants back to the center of the room and ask them to read the signs silently and take in their meaning
Statements to be posted on individual signs
The following activity focuses on personal faith and spirituality in order to:
- Develop an awareness of each other’s understanding and experience of spirituality, faith, and religious beliefs.
- Understand the impact of religious beliefs/institutions/communities on the lives of individual participants and their peers.
- Explore what type of support one can expect from religious beliefs/institutions and/or spirituality.
Figure 5.1 – One Word
Pg. 75 (Estimated time 45-1 hour)
Religious beliefs and the influence of churches are controversial, and yet people may embrace them despite the contradictions they pose, especially for African American gay men. By discussing terms associated with religious beliefs drawn at random, participants can choose to remain private about their beliefs. One does not necessarily have to reveal that he is religious if he doesn’t want to (or vice versa). Additionally, since the terms were all put forward by other participants, it helps each person explore what religious experiences might mean for other participants. A group discussion at the end of the exercise will allow for an exchange of ideas about the role of churches and/or spirituality in their lives, their family and communities. This can lead to a discussion about safer sex, and men’s feelings about themselves.
• A stack of blank cards
• Pencils or pens
• A box or bag for collecting and keeping the cards in
Instructions for the facilitators
- Have each participant write down on a card one word that describes religious faith and/or spirituality for him.
- Put all the cards in the bag/box and mix them up.
- Have each participant draw a card.
- Each person then discusses why he thinks the word on the card is associated with religious beliefs or spirituality.
- Ask if the person who wrote this word wants to say anything about it?
Questions for facilitating the discussion
What is it like to be out as a gay man to one’s church community?
How connected do you feel to the church? Why?
Is there a difference in the feelings of connection/alienation you have depending on what type of church you belong to?
Can you have religious beliefs without belonging to a church?
Can you be spiritual and have no religious beliefs?
How do churches affect the lives of young men who do not belong to a church?
How do beliefs about sin affect your behavior?
How do your religious beliefs affect your life and behavior?
Do churches have a role to play in preventing HIV infections?
Do your religious beliefs celebrate or conflict with your sexuality?
What the facilitators should say at the conclusion of the activity
Spirituality is an important part of so many of our lives that it’s important to talk about and share and remember to be respectful Remember that many people don’t have spiritual beliefs and that’s okay too. It isn’t a good idea to attack someone’s spiritual beliefs or non-beliefs.
|Haven Mpowerment Springfield MO meets Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center OH|
via United Black Element (U-BE) Adaptation of the Mpowerment Project to Young Black MSM. There are more exercises in the adaptation manual. It is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org
|Interfaith Panel | U-BE Mpowerment Dallas TX|