• Lesson 1: Mohandas Gandhi — Great Soul, Justice Through Nonviolent Resistance
• Lesson 2: Thich Nhat Hanh — Peace Activist
• Lesson 3: Mildred Norman Ryder — Peace Pilgrim
• Lesson 4: Wangari Maathai — Tree Mother of Africa
Teacher Introduction/Getting to the Heart of the Lesson
Spiritual Affirmation with full color Art
Original Story, and Activities, Bible Verses,
Progressive Christians believe that resisting oppression or cruelty in society has always been both an obligation and an opportunity for those who follow Jesus. It is an obligation because it is a way to test our commitment to the path. It is an opportunity because putting oneself at risk on behalf of another, as a result of one’s compassion, can be one of the most direct paths to an experience of the realm of God or that absolute sense of connectedness.
The stories in this unit are biographies of four people from diverse backgrounds who made personal sacrifices and risked their lives to do what they felt would bring peace and justice to others and the world.
These lessons do not address poverty and civil rights because that topic is covered so thoroughly in regular school with Martin Luther King.
• Mahatma Gandhi is known worldwide for bringing independence to India through nonviolent resistance.
• Tich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese monk, organized nonviolent resistance of the Vietnam War and established a community that focuses on peace.
• Mildred Norman Ryder, Peace Pilgrim, asked God to “use her,” and received a message to walk across America sharing a message of peace.
• Wangari Maathai, Tree Mother of Africa, started the Green Belt Movement to help women and the environment of Kenya. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to peace in the world.
Although the lives of these people are remarkable and inspiring, peace and justice are abstract concepts for children to understand. The lesson activities are designed to give children a direct experience about what peace feels like and what justice (fairness) looks like in their own young lives.
There are ways that even young children can take action to make a difference in the world. During each lesson in this unit you may want to ask children, “What might you do to bring more peace and justice into the world?” Listed below are some actions that may be meaningful for them. However, keep in mind that the children’s actions should come from a feeling of inspiration rather than obligation.
• Become pen pals with a child from another country or culture.
• Collect food for food banks and make sandwiches for soup kitchens.
• Contribute a portion of their allowance to a cause that helps children somewhere else in the world. The class might choose a project to work on together or join a project already happening in the church.
• Make friends with children in school who may be from a different country or culture
• Organize or participate in a peace walk in their area.