what is Small Group Ministry?
CAN IT WORK FOR UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST WOMEN’S HERITAGE?
Helen Zidowecki, for Unitarian Universalist Women’s
Come to worship – Hear the words of Unitarian Universalist women form our heritage. Hear their challenges, sing their hymns, engage with their struggles. |
Come to Small Group Ministry – Connect with these historic women in listening and telling your own stories in a small group of about 8 people.
Come, take a spiritual journey – Invite these inspiring women to be part of your life journey and see how their lives and words are leading others on spiritual journeys.
Come and care, come and share – Yes! The heritage of their lives inspires us to make a difference!
IS SMALL GROUP MINISTRY?
Gathering in small
groups to study Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage is not
new. What we are adding here is the concept of Small Group Ministry.
What makes a small group a "ministry group"? The answer
lies in the name itself.
means a group with a maximum of 8-10 people. Groups of this size
provide an opportunity to relate on a more intentional level.
is a gathering of individuals, sometimes selected at random,
sometimes selected for a specific interest or characteristic. What
separates these groups from others is a focus on "ministry."
is the process or act of caring for another. This relates to the
spiritual as well as the physical and emotional well-being of the
Small Group Ministry
provides a connection with the faith community. Ministry
groups are developed under the sponsorship of the congregation (or
district or other Unitarian Universalist group). This connection is
essential as we take our spiritual journeys with the support of a
Service to the
congregation or larger community stem from the call to faith in
action that comes from living out of our spiritual journey, and is
compelled by our own increasing sense of ministry as part of a
growing spiritual life.
ON WOMEN’S HERITAGE
The voices, actions and
very lives of the women in our Unitarian Universalist heritage
inspire us in our lives. Small Group Ministry sessions draw from the
words and examples of women from Unitarian Universalist heritage. The
Small Group Ministry session itself is more for reflection on the
theme than for discussion of the historic material. These reflections
allow participants to share their own stories and to hear the stories
of others. The engagement with the material from our heritage
provides opportunity for connecting with history as well as with the
people in the group. From this also comes a deeper understanding of
the impact of history on the lives of women and men and on spiritual
People are interested
in hearing the words, in connecting historical facts, sharing what we
know about the history, and hearing the historic stories. We do this
by making materials available to participants in other ways, such as
by having presentations for exploration of the historical
perspective, or by having worship services related to historic
women. Many of the Small Group Ministry sessions that are developed
on this site will be related to the worship services that are also on
this site. There are also will be a few sessions specifically related
to how we view the making and recapturing of history.
A Small Group Ministry
group can be focused on the heritage of Unitarian Universalist Women.
Also, Small Group Ministry sessions on Unitarian Universalist
Women’s Heritage can be used as occasional topics by groups.
Session plans are being
developed on an ongoing basis. Congregations and individuals are
invited to submitted session plans for inclusion on the site, with
specific notation. Send comments on the session plans included here,
plans to be added to the site to, inquiries about Small Group
Ministry itself to
Newbury St, Boston, 02116
GROUP MINISTRY IN GENERAL
The purpose of the
sessions is to minister to each other as well as to provide
opportunity for spiritual growth by
attention/listening to each other's needs and wants, and stories.
- acknowledging that
all are "teachers" and all are "learners."
- Encouraging each
other and sharing on our spiritual journeys.
Time and frequency
of sessions. Small Group Ministry usually involves meeting once
and preferably at least twice a month for 2 hours over a period of
Size of the group. A
major consideration is the size of the group. We connect on a
personal level better with small groups. The suggested maximum size
is 8, including the facilitators. When the number of participants
exceeds this size, and not more than 10, a new group needs to be
started in order to preserve the relational aspect.
Develop a covenant
or "Guidelines for Being Together" within each group so
that the participants have input and expectations are stated in the
language of the group. This practice can be a covenant, or promise on
how to act, moving from just avoiding disruption and conflict to a
way of caring. Developing a covenant should be one of the first
sessions of a group, and reviewed when a new person joins the group
and at least annually.
symbolizes those who have not yet joined the group or who are
absent for some reason. This presents the concept of outreach, that
the group needs to remain open to change.
chosen for their interpersonal skills and commitment to the program.
Facilitation can also be rotated within the group. The role of the
facilitator is to
- Build community in
the group, making sure that each person is included, heard, and
- Help participants
bring their own experiences to the living tradition we share
- Ensure that the
group begins and ends on time and maintains its covenant.
- Guide the group
through the session outline.
- Makes sure that
the tone and feeling of the session is comfortable and inclusive
The facilitator is also
a participant in the dialog, but the first consideration of the
facilitator is the group process. It is vital that facilitators don't
‘lead’ too much. They are to be present, to help keep
things on track. They may have to move discussions along, but it is
the members who "own" the group and have the primary
responsibility for its success or failure.
The format of
the sessions provides a simple structure::
lighting/opening words gathers people, and sets the time for
being together as special. The opening may be:
Generic, focused on calling the
group together or
related to the topic of the meeting, such as words from historic
allows everyone an opportunity to speak, without interruption. (It
may be helpful to set a time for this, such as 2 minutes, with the
option of extending the time if needed and if agreed by the group.)
Check-in can focus on
on sharing is acceptable. Someone who passes may wish to speak after
others have shared. Not all sharing is appropriate in the group. When
a person needs more discussion, make plans for that outside of the
accomplishments or concerns, highlights in your life since the last
Specific theme of the opening
provides thoughts or reflective questions for the group to start the
dialogue. In using dialogue:
- Participants talk
about the topic as it relates to them, without being disputed.
Participants share from their
Participants can learn from the
stories and sharing of others
The development of session topics may
be done by the minister, religious educator, advisor or youth,
individually or as a group. The critical part of developing the
session plans is the manner in which the questions are asked.
- To elicit or impart information is
an educational approach.
- To engage the individual from
their spiritual base and feelings is ministry-the focus of
words may be
As with the Opening
Words, the closing words can be from various sources, and are
included in established session plans.
Generic, or used for each
Related to the topic.
If a chalice or candle has been
lit, it is extinguished now.
Participants have a chance to comment on how the session went for
them, and to make suggestions for enhancing the session or the group
process. This allows time to review plans for the next session.
More information on
Small Group Ministry can be found on various web sites, such as
Association at http://www.uua.org/cde/sgm/
Small Group Ministry
Network at http://www.smallgroupministry.net/
You may also request
more information by writing to the UUWHS or e-mail to the web site.
- Let Us Now Praise Universalist Women
- Women Blazing Trails
- No service
- A Hundred Years Hence
- Women and Religion: Deep Roots and Hidden History
- They Showed the Way
- Women of the West
- Women of the South
- Voices of Courage
- Joining Hands Around the World: Women Making Peace