Engaging in Small Groups

This church year, the invitation is to deepen your Unitarian Universalist faith by living our congregation’s mission. As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, UUCWC’s mission is to Celebrate Life, Create Community and Change the World. We Celebrate Life by attending worship; Create Community by engaging in small groups, and Change the World by serving in ways that reflect our UU values and through UUCWC partnerships.

As Director of Lifespan Faith Engagement, I want to help everyone engage in a small group. What is a small group in this context? A small group is:

  • A space where people listen to each other with care.
  • Each person can give voice to the truth of their life.
  • It has a covenant.
  • The group intentionally engages in a spiritual practice. Spiritual practice can be broadly defined but it is key that whatever the practice is, it is meant to be spiritual by the group.
  • The spiritual practice is often framed with a chalice lighting and closing words.

Ideally, all the spiritual small groups in the congregation would also engage with the monthly theme in some way. The benefit of thematic ministry is to all be in one conversation together. A conversation that starts on Sunday and continues in small group conversations. The hope is to have month-long conversations with multiple conversation partners.

The monthly themes are not just random topics. They are a spiritual value that our faith asks us to be in the world. As we know, Unitarian Universalism is not a faith where you can believe anything you want. Instead, our faith challenges us with core and countercultural values that it asks us to embody in our lives. It is these values that make up the monthly themes (e.g. compassion, liberation, wisdom, integrity and for November, healing).

We deepen our Unitarian Universalist faith when we integrate the monthly theme by “chewing on it” and experiencing it in a small group. We need each other to become who we most deeply want to be. In a covenanted group, we hold each other accountable. We offer each other listening. We share our various perspectives so all of us can see the greater whole. Through this we grow. Through others, we become ourselves.

If you are already in a small group, I hope that you have experienced the growth that occurs through deep listening. The invitation is, if your group does not use our monthly theme packet, to try adding the theme to part of your meetings. Consider adding one question from the packet or reflect on a reading relating to the theme.

If you don’t have a small group, the invitation is to participate with the theme in some way. You can join a chalice circle or you can read the theme packet yourself. The monthly packets contain extensive recommended readings, poetry, quotes and multimedia offerings (podcasts, videos, music playlists) on the theme. The link to the theme packet is in the weekly announcements.

Small groups are the gathering and strengthening place for learning to be a Unitarian Universalist. They prepare us to live our values in the world and to work for a peaceful, fair and free world.