“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: Covenant Groups
At UUFD, we call our small group ministry program “Covenant Groups.” This program deepens and broadens personal spiritual growth. A covenant group usually consists of 8-10 members who meet at the church or in each other’s homes, usually once a month. Each meeting is focused on a spiritual or religious topic. 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
Members of the group take turns facilitating sessions. The Minister and the Director of Faith Formation are available for consultation and support. New groups are developed as interest is expressed.
How can you join a group?
Any member interested in joining a covenant group is welcomed. Contact the Director of Faith Formation who will determine if there is a current group with room for additional member(s), or if a new covenant group is to be formed.
Goals of Covenant Groups
Participation in covenant groups deepens and broadens personal spiritual growth. These are the major characteristics of covenant groups:
- Listening: Deep listening is a gift for both the speaker and the listener. A connection forms when we share and give this gift to each other.
- Reflection: Reflection on significant life topics is central to our personal spiritual growth. People come to the church seeking spiritual growth, seeking to know themselves better, to grow into their understanding of the world and to ponder the age old questions of faith: how to live, what to believe, how to act, what meanings we can decipher from the mystery of life. Covenant groups augment and strengthen our understanding and our shared experience.
- Community: Small groups meet the need for connection and intimacy that is both a hunger in our society and essential to the ongoing life of a religious community
How do Covenant Groups work?
Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or religious topics through a process of deep listening and discussion. Examples of topics that may be shared during meetings include: compassion, aging, spiritual experiences, community, living simply, grief and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace.
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.
What are Covenant Group sessions like?
- Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, and lighting a candle or a chalice.
- On Our Hearts: 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.
- Silence: A brief silence provides the opportunity for quiet reflection and centering.
- Shared Readings: Members read aloud key readings from the selected small group ministry book.
- Sharing: Rounds of sharing by members on the specific topic, based on suggested questions from the small group ministry book, elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done in one evening.
- Closing Words: Closing words and extinguishing the candle bring the formal session to an end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.