Small Group Ministry
“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 includes Covenant Groups, Fellowship Circles, and Affinity Groups. The purpose of these groups is to deepen and broaden personal spiritual growth.
Covenant Groups and Fellowship Circles 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, intimate setting
- Explore 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(s) who links the group to the Fellowship’s small group ministry coordinator (Kathie McCutcheon), staff, and ministers.
What Are Covenant Group Sessions Like?
- Deep Listening: Covenant Groups are an opportunity to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or simultaneously forming a response. Deep listening also gives an individual to speak without interruption or comment.
- 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: Check-in connects members to each other. ln response to a prompt from the facilitator, the check-in is a 2-3-minute sharing of something that is significant to you and meaningful for the group to know about you since the last gathering. Members simply listen and offer the speaker the gift of silence.
- Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. The discussion lasts about an hour. This is a time for deep listening. The topic will be announced in advance (usually in the form of an email from the facilitator) to give an opportunity for reflection if you should wish to do so. Examples of Covenant Group Topics include Forgiveness, Finding Your Balance, What Does Soul Mean, Stepping Stones in My Life and This I Believe. Check out the UUA Small Group Ministry for other topics.
- Check-Out: During checkout, participants express likes and wishes about the session. Each person briefly states their impression of the session and what they’ll take from the meeting.
- Closing Words: This is usually a reading that brings the formal session to an end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.