Many Voices One Mission: Common Bond

Many Voices One Mission: Common Bond


I love to use Ubuntu cards to warm up groups that are coming together for the first time. The Ubuntu deck consists of 54 cards covered in images of common items. The unique thing about these cards is that each card has at least one image in common with every other card. The tag line on the box is, “There exists a common bond between us all…”
I use these cards to get people talking to each other. Everyone gets a card, and then moves around the space comparing their cards with the others. Once a pair identifies the common bond on their cards, they share with each other to discover a common bond between themselves.
I have enjoyed participating in these sessions so much more than traditional ice-breaker activities. Instead of learning everyone’s favorite flavor of ice cream (cookies and cream, of course), or associating their name with an adjective (Jumping Jenn!), I actually form a connection with each person in our group. Even when I’m working with people I know well, I learn something new every time.
The word “ubuntu” originates in South Africa and can be loosely translated as “humanity.” Another common translation is “I am because we are.” But neither translation quite captures the nuances of the philosophy.
Desmond Tutu is largely responsible for bringing the concept of ubuntu to Western cultures. In “No Future without Forgiveness,” Tutu explained ubuntu: “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours … [A] person is a person through other persons … It is not, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Rather, I am human because I belong. I participate. I share.”
Each summer, Silver Lake participates in a national outdoor ministry curriculum created by a team with representation from the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterian Church, and the Church of the Brethren. The 2019 theme of “Peace Works: Empowering the Next Generation of Peacemakers” gives each day of the week a different theme. The theme for Day 2 is Ubuntu.
This summer, each conference at Silver Lake will incorporate the theme of Ubuntu into its programming. Every camper will leave with at least a basic exposure to the idea that community is essential to the concept of being human.
Silver Lake already does a great job of giving campers the experience of living together in Christian community. That’s why we hear, over and over again, that campers come back year after year because of the lifelong friends they make, and because of the strong sense of belonging they experience. At Silver Lake, we strive to give every person, child or adult, an experience of being loved and accepted for exactly who they are and for what they uniquely contribute to the larger group. My hope is that by exposing campers to the idea of ubuntu, they will begin to see how they fit in to all of their communities: at camp, at home, at school, at church.

Registration for summer conferences at Silver Lake is available online at There is still room in most conferences, but space is going quickly. Sign up today!

Jennifer Kronholm Clark is the Program Director at Silver Lake Conference Center.
Many Voices
Many Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.


Jenn Kronholm Clark

As Program Director for Silver Lake, Jennifer Kronholm Clark hires and trains the paid summer staff and recruits and supports the volunteer leaders, or deans, and the counselors of the summer conference program, and creates print, email, and web ...

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