By Susan Hollister, Devon, PA,
From the Winter 2008 SGM Quarterly
A regional Small Group Ministry conference provides the perfect opportunity for congregations in a given geographic area to get together, receive training and guidance from experienced lay leaders and experts, and hear each other’s program successes, challenges, and ideas.
The recent one-day event in the Joseph Priestley District shows how a congregation can host such a conference. SGM coordinators at the host church, Main Line Unitarian, consulted the UU SGM Network and arranged for two guest speakers to present a conference directed at three program stages: new, established, and emerging. The district office and MLUC emailed workshop announcements and registration forms to all 64 congregations in the district. The fee of $35 person (3/$100) included continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, and conference handouts.
Home hospitality was provided for the guest speakers and participants arriving the day before. Church members donated home- made soups for lunch. One of the church’s Small Groups adopted the conference as their service project, acting as greeters, registrars, and kitchen helpers. Proceeds from the conference covered the speakers’ air fare, food purchases for the two meals served, and a generous donation to the SGM Network.
As the JPD example demonstrates, a modest fee coupled with home hospitality and simple meals enables a congregation to easily host a workshop. Co-sponsoring with nearby or cluster congregations would make the production even more feasible. Consider the many benefits of hosting: connection of area clergy, leadership, and SGM participants; service to your congregation; affirmation of your own facilitators; and promotion and support of the small group ministry movement on the district level.
The UU Small Group Ministry Network helps local leaders plan regional workshops. To explore the possibility of a conference in your area, contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: District, Events