A Small Group Ministry is a group of five to ten people, with a facilitator, who meet on a regular basis to share their spiritual journeys, to continually clarify their beliefs, to deepen their spiritual lives, and to grow their relationships with other Unitarian Univeralists. Because these groups are small, every participant has a chance to hear and be heard. Questions that might be difficult to discuss in a larger group can be explored more easily and in greater depth.
When a new group forms, some members may not know each other at all. But after a while (sometimes a very short while) a bond develops as members share their thoughts about life’s ultimate questions, the feelings close to their hearts, and the spiritual issues with which they wrestle. Small group ministries provide opportunities for spiritual intimacy, which is increasingly important in a congregation whose membership is growing. Indeed, in a growing, vibrant congregation with many programs and initiatives happening simultaneously, we need opportunities to connect with others and stay close. Small Group Ministry provides such opportunities.
Most of our small group ministries meet monthly — some in member’s homes, some here at UUS:E. There are daytime and evening groups, weekday and weekend groups. Groups follow an agenda that allows time for sharing, reflection, and discussion of a topic or question chosen beforehand by the group. A topic might be suggested by one of Rev. Josh’s sermons, by a book a member has read, by an item in the news, and often by someone’s need to explore one of life’s mysteries. Previous topics have included the role of the seven UU principles in our lives, compassionate living, our diverse religious upbringings, living well, facing death, planning one’s own memorial service, and confronting racism.
While Small Group Ministry is not a support group in the traditional sense, members do support each other. Although they are not social groups, members do share good times and develop friendships. And although they are not academic courses, members do learn much. Small Group Ministry is a way for each of us to continue our spiritual journeys in the company of a few friends, new and old, from UUS:E.
Small Group Ministry is indeed one of the very important ways we at UUS:E live out that portion of our congregational mission which states, “Through shared ministry, we care for one another and nurture the search for truth and meaning as part of life-long spiritual growth.”
You are each invited to join one of the groups practicing Small Group Ministry. There are several groups with spaces available and we would love to create new groups. Groups are open but are capped at ten in order to preserve intimacy—one of the goals of small group ministry. Becoming a member of a group does mean a commitment to meeting at least once a month and actively participating in the group discussions. The meetings provide an opportunity to get to know a group of UUs more intimately and to discuss questions of ultimacy—what is important in our lives.