“There is a quality of listening that is possible among a circle of human beings, who by their attentiveness to one another create a space in which each person is able to give voice to the truth of his or her life.” – Rebecca Parker, Unitarian Theologian
Members and friends have the opportunity to participate in Chalice Circles at UUCWC. Under the Adult RE umbrella, these groups are designed to accommodate newcomers and old-timers alike. Run on the “circle of trust” model, Chalice Circles provide a place for participants to connect with others in our faith community and to grow their faith in a safe, nurturing environment.
What happens in a Chalice Circle gathering?
- Opening Words and Chalice Lighting
- Centering: This is a brief quiet time which allows people to transition from the busyness of their lives to find a calm center from which to begin.
- Check-in: Participants briefly share news of what has been happening in their lives. The others listen attentively without interruption or comment.
- Topic/Discussion: The heart of the circle is the opportunity for sharing and deep listening. Each participant is given time to speak about their personal experience of the topic without interruption. After each person speaks there is a brief silent time that allows for processing and for transition before the next participant speaks. We follow Parker Palmer’s rule:“no fixing, no advising, no setting each other straight.”
- Closing Words
How long and how often are the sessions? Sessions are two hours long. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time. Each group meets twice a month for three months.
What is expected of participants? Participants are asked to bring a willingness to share and a desire to learn. The most important expectation that participants have for one another is to give the meetings a high priority; members are asked to make every effort to attend.
Can newcomers enter a group after it has started?
YES. Each group symbolizes its willingness to welcome newcomers with an empty chair at each meeting.
Can a group get too big?
There is a maximum size limit of 10 members. If a group reaches that limit, plans call for a new group to be formed.
Do I have to be a member of the church?
In keeping with the inclusive philosophy of our denomination, anyone who is in sympathy with UU principles is welcome. (However, facilitators must be members of the congregation.)
What does the facilitator do?
Facilitators are responsible for the life of the group. They make sure meetings begin and end on time. During the meeting, they use the session plans to guide the discussion. In addition, facilitators meet monthly with the minister to help to maintain the connection between individual Chalice Circles and the larger community.
How does a Chalice Circle differ from a UUWellspring group?
Members of a UUWellspring group commit to maintaining a daily spiritual practice, meeting monthly with a spiritual director, doing outside readings/preparation and attending two sessions per month for ten months. The curriculum used for a UUWellspring group centers on UUHistory, Theology and life’s big questions.
Chalice Circles are limited in duration. Members accept the covenant as a way of being together and commit to a series of six Circle meetings (two meetings a month for three months). The topics, exercises, and questions used are part of the monthly theme-based program called Soul Matters.
How can I get involved in a Chalice Circle?
You can register for a three-month Chalice Circle through the Adult Faith Engagement program (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). But at any time, you may notify Rev. Kim (email@example.com) or the ARE Ministry (firstname.lastname@example.org) of your interest. There is always a space available for a new Circle participant.
What’s the point?
Chalice Circles aid us in realizing our mission as a “welcoming, caring religious community” where we “encourage and affirm the individual’s quest for authenticity, wisdom and spiritual deepening.” They build connection, foster relationships, and allow participants to become involved in a congregation-wide conversation of our monthly themes.