“People come to church longing for, yearning for, hoping for … a sense of roots, place, belonging, sharing and caring. People come to a church with a search for community, not committee.” — Glenn Turner

A Different Way of Doing Church

UUFR’s small group ministry program (also known as Fellowship Circles or covenant groups) deepens and broadens personal spiritual growth.

Circle groups usually consist of eight to ten members who meet at each others’ homes, usually once each month.

Each meeting is focused on a spiritual or religious topic, such as sacred places, perfection, mothers, community, living simply, music, and healing.

The goals are to:

  • Listen and be listened to in a safe place
  • Learn about the mysteries of our world and our spiritual paths
  • Build new and deeper personal connections
  • Maintain personal connections and a caring community

Each group has a facilitator who links the group to the Fellowship’s small group ministry coordinators, staff, and ministers, who provide overall leadership and support for the program, establish new circles, assign Fellowship members and friends to existing circles.

What Are Covenant Group Sessions Like?

  • Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, reminding participants of the special opportunity of the gathering, possibly reflecting the topic of the session. The meeting may begin with the lighting of a candle or a chalice.
  • Check-In: Participants share news of what has been happening in their lives. Each group develops its own customs as to the length of sharing. This portion of the meeting may expand from time to time when circumstances call for it.
  • Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done in one evening.
  • Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
  • Closing Words: This brings the formal session to and end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.

What is Expected of Members?

Group members are expected to commit to regular meeting times and to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or simultaneously formulating a response. Deep listening also gives an individual an opportunity to speak without interruption or comment.

How Can You Join a Circle?

Email the Fellowship’s Small Group Ministry Coordinator (Sandy Pearce).

Small Group Ministry Resources