Fourth grade students at Atlanta’s International School experience a unit entitled “Beliefs Around the World.” The central idea is that belief systems are an important part of who we are. The students investigate the five major religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well other religious traditions and beliefs/values that are important to us (superstitions, respect, tolerance, caring, taking care of the planet, taking care of ourselves…). I was recently invited to share out of my religious tradition, Unitarian Universalism. Here are letters from the students in reply to my presentation.

Dear Reverend David,
It was really interesting having you talk to all of us. My favorite part was when you lit the chalice.

Dear Reverend David, I liked when you lit the chalice, when you hit the singing bowl, when you put on your robe and stole, and most of all the story of the six blind men and the elephant. I liked learning about the phoenix and how when it dies it turns into flames and its ashes turn into another phoenix. I wanted to ask you a few questions when you came to visit us, but I guess that I will ask you now. What is the name of the church you teach at? Do you teach of all religions? Why do you have to wear a stole and robe?
From, Casey

I just wanted to thank you for coming to visit us. It was very interesting learning about such a beautiful religion during this unit of inquiry. One of my favorite parts was when you showed us the pictures and the way that you said that there is a whole other way to look at it. I thought that the lighting of the chalice was as graceful as the sounds of the singing bowl. One of my favorite parts was when you told us about the story of The 6 Blind Men and the Elephant; it was very inspiring. Your robe and stole where lovely and I loved the image of the phoenix standing as proud as a lion coming out of the chalice. You really taught me a lot about Unitarian Universalist. You showed (taught) me more information than I had ever learned before. Everything was so graceful, beautiful and perfect. You inspired everyone here today. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR COMING!!!

Thank you a lot for coming and I did learn a lot from what you said. I wish that you could have stayed longer. It was great that you came. I love when people tell stories. I enjoyed that you came I wish you could come again!

I really liked your talk. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about Unitarian Universalist. I liked the story of the blind Men and the Elephant, and how you related it to religions around the world. The Golden rule I thought was really important in life. I also liked the pictures, and how you said their more than one way to look at it. Your robe and stole looked really cool on you and the phoenix coming out of the chalice was really interesting and mythological. The song you was really beautiful. The covenant over creed was really inspiring. When you light the chalice it looked professional and I felt like I was in real church. When you hit the singing bowl I felt like I was in heaven. I learned a lot and hope that you can come back again. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!

I really liked how you came in and talked to us and told us about what Unitarian Universalist do.
From LILY ☺☺☺

I think you were the best visitor EVER!!!!!!!! I had two or three questions though. First, When I heard the elephant story, at the end the elephant said: “I am none of those that you blind men said I was. My trunk is wiggly like a snake, my …” Then the men all felt silly, and they took turns feeling each part of the beast. Second, does religion have anything to do with being “green”? And Third, I would LOVE for you to come again! ☺ But I don’t think you’ll come again. ☹

I think you were AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I learned a lot. Your stories are very interesting. I hope you come again. I love your robe too it was very cool. I remember the story about the elephant it was very funny.

I think you are the best visitor EVER. I LOVED the story about the six blind men and the elephant I have heard that story before when I was little but it was with six blind mice instead of six blind men. I liked your robe and your stole I enjoyed listening to the singing bowl. I also liked the song you sang and the pictures and the chalice you showed us.

You are one of the most amazing people I have ever met. It was amazing to me to hear about an unknown religion.
From: Adriana

ABOUT UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for teaching us about your religion. We learned a lot about it.

Thank you for teaching us about your church, religion, and your thoughts.

I was very delighted to learn about Unitarian Universalists and you sing very well.

Thank you so much for coming to AIS and I loved learning about Universals, I love the religion so much I want to be one.

I loved your presentation about Unitarian Universalists!

Thank you for coming. Your presentation was very interesting and there was a lot of stuff you taught me. The way you taught was fun for me because it was in a way I understood and a very fun way.

Thank you

Thanks a lot for coming to come to our fourth grade and I can’t wait to learn more.

Thank you for being by us. Your suit looked great on you. Thanks, Thanks and again!

Thank you so much for coming it was very interesting. I learned a lot and hope you can come again.

Thank you for coming to our school. We all learned a ton. I know that you did not have to come which makes me all the more grateful that you came; and although you did not know anybody who goes to this school you came to educate us about your religion and its customs. The fact that your religion learns from other religions I found very interesting.

Thank you for coming to our grade and teaching us about your religion. Everyone has been saying that they liked your visit. I liked your religion very much because it is mixed of other religions.

Thank you for coming! We are very grateful for your visit. We all learned so much. Your speech was one of the most interesting ones that I have heard in the last few years. The most important thing is that you came because you wanted to, you weren’t forced to. I am studying about your religion to learn more about it. I also think that it is very cool that your religion comes from other religions. I don’t think that anyone at this school has the same religion as you and it’s nice to learn something different. I also enjoyed your singing, it was very FUNNY!!! I loved hearing about Universal Unitarianism.
Sofia 😀

Thank you for coming to our school to teach us about different religions. It was really interesting I liked your stories and I like how you showed us the challis, the singing bowl, your robe, and your stole.

Thank you for teaching us about Unitarian Universalist. It was fun learning with you because you really gave us a lot of details. I really enjoyed the lesson.
p.s . You are cool

Thank you for coming to our school. I learned so much from your teachings. I took the meaning of your stories to heart. I have another analysis for the story The Six Blind Men and the Elephant. It may have been that all of the six men were members of the same religion but had different values and perspectives. You never did tell us what the phoenix symbolizes and I am very curious to find out.

Thank you for coming to our school. Even if I missed The Six Blind Men and Elephant I learned a lot on different religions. It seemed like your church is very interesting, I would like to visit it someday.
Thanks again for coming to our school!
P.S. you looked COOL in your robe!

Thank you for coming to our school. I loved it when you lit the chalice, and it was so calming and soothing when you tapped the singing bowl.

Thank you for coming and telling us about all the different religions there are and especially the 6 blind men and the elephant. I loved it and your visit, thank you very much.

I am very happy that you came to our school, believe it or not I didn’t know a THING about religion and all the stories were awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think I might be what you are when I grow up (50/50 chances)
Dany aka dan the man

Thanks so much for coming, it was really cool and the robe you wore was awesome. Your chalice was also very pretty I want one!!! That story you told us about the elephant and the blind men rocked I also did NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR RELIGION but now I know it is really cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a scarf that looks like your stole. I also thought your singing bowl sounded cool.

Thank you for coming to our school. I want to ask you if there are any other colors for the robe.
And I also liked the singing bowl. It was awesome!!!
PS. You are an awesome dude!!! ☺☺☺☺☺☺