First UU Columbus

A Welcoming Congregation

 
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Written by Patricia Boughton   
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 18:08

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COMMITMENT to a shared spiritual journey

In CONNECTION with others

In beloved COMMUNITY

 

 

 

 

Covenant groups are a network of small groups comprised of church members who come to rely on one another for support and companionship during their spiritual journeys through life, and give back to the church and community in shared service activities.

 

Wednesday Covenant Group
Wednesday Covenant Group 2010-2011. (L to R) Nancy Greene, Tony Rice, Eve Catus, Katie Cotter, and Pam Argus. April, 2011.

 

“Being a new member, this has been a great way for me to feel more connected.”

 “I look forward to spending time with my group, in talking and especially in the stillness.”

“I feel that my story is heard. No one questions my motives or my words. Instead they share the memories, feelings, and hopes my story has stirred in them.”

 

How Do I Join? Annual registration takes place every September for groups starting in October.  Group membership is assigned, and the major factor governing your placement in a group is your time availability.  Beyond that the goal is to provide a diverse and balanced experience for all participants. During the registration period, you can register at this website or after Sunday services in Fellowship Hall.  You can also pick up a registration form by the Covenant Group poster in the church entryway.

CLICK HERE FOR THE 2014-2015 REGISTRATION FORM

When are the Meetings? Meetings are two hours long, usually twice a month.  The time involved in shared service activities depends on decisions you help make in your group.  Beyond that, no additional time is needed.  Because the Covenant Group experience unfolds over the course of several months, you are asked to commit to a minimum of six months participation.

Fireside Chat members 1-16-11
Many Facilitators and Steering Team members, Jan. 16, 2011, trying to look serious. Eric Meter, Ruth Gerhold, Bob Mills, Carolyn Carlstrom, Bob Rice, Nancy Greene, Steve Lefevre, Tony Rice, Lisa Daris

What is the Meeting Format? The program design encourages personal sharing, deep listening and structured crosstalk.  Limiting group size to ten members, who meet in participants’ homes or at the church, helps to create an intimate setting in which equal participation and open communication are honored.  All kinds of people with all kinds of personalities thrive in this setting.  For both new and existing members, Covenant Groups are an ideal way to get to know others in the First UU community, as well as to see familiar faces in a new light. Participants often report feeling better connected and happier with their lives after taking part in the program.  However, Covenant Group meetings are not group therapy, or a religion course, or a replacement for Sunday worship.

How Do We Establish a Covenant? A “covenant” is a solemn agreement, a set of promises made to one another. During the initial meetings, group members enter into a covenant together, often involving commitments to arrive on time, listen deeply, share honestly and respect one another's views. In the long tradition of our UU heritage, groups will also explore covenants made with the congregation and with the community.  Each group creates its own covenant.  Below is a sample covenant, created by a First UU Covenant Group.

OUR COVENANT

We will accept and honor one another's inner and outer boundaries, needs, points of view, thoughts, feelings, silences, strengths and vulnerabilities.
We will support levity, humor and laughter.
We will not interrupt one another.
We will keep what's shared confidential.
We will value our time together and what happens between us.
We will trust one another's process and give advice only when asked:  "abide with me, don't fix me!"
We will make this group a high priority with our presence, involvement and commitment.
If anyone has dissatisfactions, negative feedback or feelings about the group, we are invited to bring it to the group, not share it outside.
We will amend our covenant, as needed.

 

What are the Meeting Topics? Meetings are focused around a collection of topics that may include religious histories, spiritual practices, loneliness, fear, loss, poetry, music, healing, and community service. A typical session includes opening words, a check-in, topic exploration and discussion, personal reactions, and closing words. The core curriculum has been designed to follow a clear developmental trajectory from the opening meeting to the final reflective session.

Are There Service Projects? One of the goals of the program is for group members to deepen their exploration of how service fits into their spiritual journey.  To this end, all Covenant Groups engage in at least one shared service activity.  This achieves the dual goal of reaching out to the wider community and strengthening the bonds between group members.

Who Facilitates the Group? Trained facilitators help establish a supportive setting for the group. They make sure the group begins and ends on time and they keep track of the meeting schedule. During the meeting, facilitators introduce the topic and, if needed, encourage discussion. They will help the group coordinate its service projects.  They also meet at regular times with the Covenant Group Steering Team and with each other to foster a sense of connection between individual groups and the larger church.

Can I Get More Information? The members of the Covenant Group Steering Team would be happy to answer any additional questions and discuss how the Covenant Group experience may fit into your own spiritual journey.

Eric Meter: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 267-4946 ext. 23
Chris Sullivan: 286-2537

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WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING
“Our time together feels special. The way we treat one another, the sacred setting, even the fact that I know my group members will show up each meeting and even be on time! That is special.”
“I am astounded at the swiftness and depth of connection within our group.”
“I am so grateful for the format. I have trouble controlling my urge to comment and sometimes I dominate conversation, but the format prevents this from happening and I'm learning to listen more deeply.”

“I feel that my story is heard. No one interrupts me. No one questions my motives or my words. Instead they share the memories, feelings, and hopes my story has stirred in them.”