Apr. 2, 2018.
By UUCF member Stacey Casey.
While sitting in the bright UUCF Sanctuary on recent Sunday mornings, I have loved hearing the personal faith stories from UUCF members. This experience has made me re-examine my own reasons for attending UUCF, and led me to start defining my own spiritual journey. Many of these member stories share a common theme: the connection between Covenant Groups and building a stronger connection to UUCF. To date, Covenant Groups have been long-term small groups that get together in a shared experience of listening, reflecting and exploring issues together.
In each story I’ve heard, the UUCF members describe their Covenant Groups as giving them support and fellowship. I always immediately relate to that feeling, since I’ve also belonged to a Covenant Group since 2015. It’s a group that was created especially for brand-new UUCF members to help us connect and get to know each other. Speaking for myself, I would say that goal was achieved. This group has validated my observations, helped me hear more firsthand Unitarian Universalist experiences and given me a few more friendly faces at coffee hour, when so many in the room seem to already know each other.
Now, UUCF wants to broaden the Covenant Group experience for even more members. The Covenant Group leadership team, led by Rev. Sarah Caine, will be expanding Covenant Groups this fall. To make the Covenant Group experience accessible for new participants, we will be offering a 1-year program for people to gather with new groups each fall. These groups will get to know each other throughout the year, wrap up their experience in May/June and then new groups will form the following fall.
This model of small group ministry has three goals:
- Encourage a larger number of members, including newer members who haven’t been in Covenant Groups before, to participate.
- Keep the time commitment to 1 year, recognizing that membership in a longer-term group can be intimidating.
- Interconnect a wider group of people to promote relationships and belonging.
What about the existing Covenant Groups? These groups, which offer so much support and fellowship to their current members, will continue as they are now. The Covenant Group leadership team recognizes that these groups are cherished by their members and provide a source of comfort and friendship. If joining an existing group is more your style, there are spaces open in some of these longer-standing groups. Please contact Rev. Sarah for more information.
Meanwhile, the Covenant Group leadership team will be promoting the “new style” of groups at two special events. At the first on May 27, there will be a pizza lunch following the second worship service. We’ll talk about Covenant Groups, what it takes to be a group facilitator, how a typical meeting runs and what materials we use. At this first meeting, each table will get a chance to experience the deeper discussion of a topic related to our May theme of Creativity. Our second event will be in the fall, followed by the start of the 2018-19 Covenant Group meetings in September. There will be a chance to sign up for updates on Covenant Groups during these trial sessions.
If you’re interested in being trained to facilitate one of these new groups, please contact Rev. Sarah.