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December 2017

Small Groups, Deep Connections December 2017
The UU Small Group Ministry Network
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In This Issue
  • Letter from the Editor
  • Sessions Plans for the Season
  • Web News
  • Publications
  • Who We Are
  • Contact Us

Covenant Group News
is an interactive Small Group Ministry and Covenant Group newsletter distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network.
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SGM Network Publications Team
Alan Backler, UU Church of Bloomington, IN
Diana Dorroh, Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, LA
Anne Gero, UUs of the Cumberland Valley, Boiling Springs, PA
Susan Hollister, Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC

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Letter from the Editor

The Gifts of Small Group Ministry

Enter with cheer and chatter!
Enter with contemplation and anticipation.
Gather to listen and to be present.
Gather to receive respect, acceptance and to be heard.
Enter, from the hurry of our lives, and gather the gentle breath of calmness.
Engage gifts of intimacy, connection, and bonding.

Minister to each other with gentleness.
Minister with compassion, understanding, and latitude.
Share joys that grow as they are shared, and feel warm swelling in your being.
Share sorrows and concerns, and feel the strength of the group holding each person.
Ministry is walking together, what is done together.
Engage the gifts of the deep places of the heart and soul.

Reach out to the wealth of the universe, the opportunities and the possibilities.
Reach and stretch to meet new ideas, new dimensions of life and new paradigms.
Touch the wisdom of those present, and the words and thoughts brought to the meeting.
Touch new dimensions of your spiritual journey, taking you to places not yet explored.
Reach for things near and far that expand your being.
Engage the gifts of ultimacy and deep knowing.

May these gifts of small group ministry be yours this holiday season.

Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Guest Editor, Member, UU Community Church of Augusta, Maine

Please share your questions, comments, concerns, and visions with us at We are eager to hear from you.

Session Plans for the Season
By Rev. Helen Zidowecki, UU Small Group Ministry Network

We are devoting this edition of Covenant Group News to session plans for the season. Session Plans that have been submitted by individual and congregations are amazing contributions to engaging in both the intimacy through our sharing and ministry, and the ultimacy, as we consider a breadth of topics. In this holiday season, please consider sessions that are on the UU Small Group Ministry website, Small Group Sessions, on the Celebrations Directory. Clicking on Sort by Topic (right column in the directory) will bring up the Christmas, Winter Holidays, and New Years, such as listed below. We have included a new session plan from Augusta, ME: "Winter Solstice, the Wheel of the Year - and the Future"

Advent -- Zidowecki, Rev. Helen
Christmas -- Asheville, NC (Beech, Michael)
Christmas Reflections --Devon, PA
Christmas Story -- Carlsson-Bull, Rev. Jan (Cohasset, MA)
Holiday Cheer -- Devon,PA
Holiday Season -- Davie, FL
Less is More -- Carlsson-Bull, Rev. Jan (Cohasset, MA)
Our Christmas Carols -- Palatine, IL (Matz, Stephanie Certain)
Taking Down the Tree --Carlsson-Bull, Rev. Jan (Cohasset, MA)
Tapestry for the Holidays -- Augusta, ME
Tis the Season --Carlsson-Bull, Rev. Jan (Cohasset, MA)
What Do You Want for Christmas? (Hanukah,etc.) Palo Alto, CA (Morgenstern, Rev. Amy Zucker)
Christmas and Hanakkah - Devon, PA
Winter Holidys: Trial and Treasure - Stony Brook, NY (Allen, Rev. Margie; Anderson, Rev. Dr. Linda)
Darkness - Augusta, ME
Symbols of the Season: Winter Zidowecki, Rev. Helen - Christmas

And then, of course, comes the New Year
Another New Year --Palatine, IL (Matz, Stephanie Certain)
Brand New/Age Old --Carlsson-Bull, Rev. Jan (Cohasset, MA)
Dreaming a Year --Stony Brook, NY (Allen, Rev. Margie; Anderson, Rev. Dr. Linda)
New Year's & Resolutions --Davie, FL
New Year's & Time Davie, FL
New Year's Resolution Dilemma -- Gross, Tara
New Years: Endings and Beginnings -- Zidowecki, Rev. Helen

Increasingly we are receiving session plans that deal with critical times. We would like to include here for your consideration several newly written session plans by Rev. Glenn Turner, who was one of the founders of the Small Group Ministry movement almost twenty years ago. Please see the listing for Glenn Turner at the end. In addition,

Issues for our time:
From Auburn, ME (Rev. Glenn Turner)
Black and White World Views (Witness)
Beginners Mind. Possible? (Witness)
What Makes Us So Special? (Witness)
Encounters with Otherness (Witness)

There are many more available from congregations, sometimes listed on congregational websites. You are welcome to send session plans to for inclusion on the website.

Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network Website
Small Group Session

Winter Solstice, the Wheel of the Year - and the Future
Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Augusta, Maine, December 2017

Opening Words: The daylight is shortening. How far into the dark depths will we go?
Come, dance and build bonfires to call back the light, lest it be lost forever.
From the darkness, may the Sun hear our cry, and forsake us not.

Hark, the dark descent seems to have stopped!
The Sun has responded and started a slow return.
The Winter Solstice must be ours to watch, in case the Sun leaves again.

Check-in/Sharing: How is it with your spirit today?

And, indeed, each year the Sun does retreat,
And the urgency of the Solstice comes over us,
Until we dance and sing and have bonfires to call it back.

If it happens again and again, what truly is the impact of our dancing and bonfires?
Is celebration the cause of the return, or necessary desperate action?
Or do we celebrate to recognize the time of Yule, the turning of the Whee l of the Year?

Reflection: The cycles of the universe are documented - and, in this time, argued. Some say that global warming is a phase that has been part of earth cycles for eons. Others say that this time is different. Following the annual example of Winter Solstice, how are the eco-cycles affecting you spiritually?

Solstice presents the urgency of creating or coaxing a change at a moment in time. Yule gives time to contemplate and celebrate the change that occurs in spite of us. From both, indeed, comes renewal and rebirth, hope out of despair.

The Yule is for the earth's resting, germination of seeds, and preparation for Summertime. Yule may be said to stretch from Samhain (October) to Beltane (May), or at least until Twelfth Night (January 6).
From this come tales of gods being reborn, of balance of seasons, of the human spirit.

Reflection: The universe has shown resilience, and species have evolved to meet the changes over the existence of the universe, or disappear. With increasing capability to see back over time, how do we view the future of the universe to change, adapt and even evolve? How do you envision the changes, as portend of universal loss or potential enhancement?

No wonder the early Christian church usurped this mid-winter phenomenon!
The Yule of Yore spoke the truth of dark and light, eternal existence.
Hang the new idea onto the old, change the old reality into new imagery, change the world view!

From our earth cycle Wheel of the Year, to the overlays of celebrations around light, Will the Solstice message hold true, that earth cycles can enhance the universe's change? May we evolve as true stewards of hope, of sustainability, of spiritual connections for eternity.

Reflection: Changes will occur with varying speeds and residual results, somewhat, no doubt as a result of human activity. In facing this Solstice, what is our role in the future, individually and as a species?

Check-out/Likes and Wishes: How was this session for you? What are you taking from the session?

Closing words:
May the rich message of hope, of transition, of the eternal Wheel be yours this year.
May you find the connection of your spirit today embedded in the eons of time,
That harken to the expansive universe of wonder, and the richness of both darkness and light.

May you be a carrier of this message, even in this time of doubt and uncertainty.
That the interdependent web of existence is indeed our connections,
As the Wheel of the Year, of cycles, of changes eternally are our heritage.
Blessed Be.

© Rev. Helen Zidowecki, December 2017


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Who We Are

The UU Small Group Ministry Network is a grassroots organization of Unitarian Universalist congregations, ministers, small group ministry/covenant group leaders and participants.

Our mission is to help create healthy Unitarian Universalist congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist movement by promoting and supporting Small Group Ministry.

The purpose of the Network is "to support small group ministry and related shared ministry models in Unitarian Universalist congregations through developing new resources, networking, and training opportunities."

In addition to the SGM Journal for members and the free, online Covenant Group News, we publish new resources for program coordinators and facilitators, sponsor a consultation booth and SGM workshops at General Assembly, offer a week-long SGM Summer Institute, help local leaders plan regional SGM conferences, and give workshops in congregations and districts across the nation.

The UU SGM Network is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization supported solely by congregational and individual memberships, donations and publication sales revenue. Network Board members donate their time and personal resources to spread the good news of small group ministry.

Contact Information

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