How has engagement in small groups helped you connect at UUCF?

“UUCF PlaygroUUp is a wonderful activity that encourages families with young children to connect with each other outside of RE and normal Sunday service environments. Meeting on the first Tuesday morning of each month, the sessions include open play for the children and parents to interact in a relaxed setting, and are a wonderful way for families that attend different services to meet. Alex has especially enjoyed when the wonderful Marsha Giusti has joined us for music sessions. We didn’t even let a closed building stop us the summer of 2014 but met at alternative locations such as Frying Pan Park, local playgrounds and splash pads. 

“The second way families can participate in the playgroup is by joining the PlaygroUUp Potluck on the fourth Sunday of each month.  A chaotic and fantastic meal is shared by any families who can attend, with the kids having time for free play and the parents enjoying the chance to check in with friends and take a break from what can be busy weekends. The potluck was especially important to our family because we were unable to attend the daytime playgroup meetings initially, but loved the opportunity to connect while sharing a meal with our fellow preschooler parents.”

– Meredith Carr

“One of the best things about UUCF is the wealth of resources available to me as a member, exactly when I need them. Last winter, I participated in the Grief Support Group following the loss of my brother and my mother within a three-month timeframe. The compassionate leadership of our facilitator (who is also a UUCF member) and the sharing of my experience with other participants helped me understand grief as part of a life process and reduced my feelings of being alone in coping with my loss. It felt good to support others, be surrounded by those who truly understood my experience and benefit from the wisdom and compassion of an experienced group facilitator. I am grateful for this precious opportunity for healing in the comfort of a small group of fellow UUs.”

– Judy Galliher

“In my experience, a covenant group fulfills two of the most important desires I had when I joined UUCF: It feeds my spiritual journey and builds a close community as part of the congregation. Within the growing fondness that develops, the covenant group helps me get to know myself and others more deeply. Its particular beauty for me is its spirit of open, non-judging, shared exploration of all kinds of issues and beliefs – unlike affinity groups, where shared agreement brings people together, or support groups, where shared concerns do. We are a somewhat diverse group in opinion and life stage, which I value. We have shared the joy of two new babies and a happy retirement, and the sadness of job loss and divorce. We look forward to greeting one another at worship services. It’s a great sense of connection. My covenant group means so much to me that I have volunteered to facilitate one of the new covenant groups forming this year, wishing to help others find the same richness that I have.”

– HJ Cummins

“As an introvert, it’s taken me quite a while to become involved and committed to UUCF. My first step was joining a Women’s Spirit Circle, which is a group of about 7-12 women who commit to meeting twice a month. Each Circle has its own personality and culture; in ours, we alternate introducing a meeting’s topic, which might range from a spiritual practice, to a holiday tradition, to our childhood memories, to our experiences as women, to our thoughts on politics. We do not talk with each other, but rather take turns speaking our truth into the silence, learning to listen with compassion and without judgment, and learning to be heard. My first meeting was a profound experience as I realized how rarely we have the opportunity to fully speak our truth. It was scary for me at first to open up, but over time I have begun to find and listen to my own voice, and to hear the truth of others. This group of women has created a safe space and a community for me, which has gradually widened as I have made UUCF my home. I’m now involved in a number of programs and groups, including co-facilitating an adult class on world religions and co-chairing the Nominating Committee. I’ve come a long way from the silent, tentative steps when I first walked into UUCF, but through it all, it’s been the acceptance of Women’s Circle who have taught me that I don’t need to be anyone other than who I am that has led me on this journey.”

– Jennifer Yi

“The Wednesday Book Club was established in 1997 by several women who wanted to read and discuss “I and Thou.” More members joined, including myself in 2005, not long after I became a member of UUCF. I was attracted by the selection “Pride and Prejudice,” and have appreciated every selection since that time. We have a dynamic book selection process and free-wheeling and intellectually stimulating discussions.

“I am basically a shy person and I have always sensed the members respect that. The group has given me opportunities to grow in self-expression and I do try to reciprocate in respecting the personalities of other group members.

“While I have always enjoyed the peace and structure of UU services, the book club has combined my love of reading with a special fellowship.”

– Polly Feuer

“Many people say the [Monday night] book club provides the opportunity to read books that they wouldn’t have. I’ll add it’s also a chance to be part of the selection process. We choose 11 books for the next year at our December meetings. Facilitating that process is my greatest satisfaction. I accepted the opportunity a few years ago, and have been continuously in the role since as we refine and learn. In a short evening, considering what and how we accomplish, we move in fun, ease and un-rushed efficiency to complete our mission.

“We rotate facilitation of our monthly book discussion. That role can also be satisfying. Recently I embraced my turn at it for a complex book, taking it to depths by reading other related works of the author, in a sense, going to source. And finally, there’s the simple act of reading or listening.”

– Don Andress