November 25, 2002
An occasional newsletter about Covenant Group Ministry read by 805 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists.
ON KEEPING YOUNG FOLK, A NEW NEWSLETTER, AND ON-LINE ORDERING OF "TEN AT A TIME"
A WAY TO "MIND THE GAP?"
IN THE LAST CHAPTER of my book-on-CD, I report on the work of Peter Bowden of Providence, RI, who sees Covenant Group Ministry as a way for Unitarian Universalists to maintain contact with young people after they've graduated out of our YRUU programs and, often, left home for college or work.
As our congregations undertake "Mind the Gap" Sundays addressing the gap in Unitarian Universalist church involvement young adults often experience (when what they experience is not an outright exit), it seems to me that we should consider Bowden's view of some youth-related problems and solutions.
Inspired by a Star Island workshop led by Helen Zidowecki and Calvin Dame of Maine, Bowden launched a Covenant Group Ministry in February 2002. He calls Covenant Groups "youth group for adults" because of similarities between the Covenant Group Ministry format and many youth group programs that have been operating for years.
The pilot Young Adult Covenant Group Bowden facilitated in Providence continued to meet twice a month through the program's first summer. "Do you understand how powerful this is?" he asked me in an email. "Even though church had gone into summer mode, our Covenant Group Ministry kept going. The consensus is that it will go on forever."
The Young Adult Covenant Groups in Providence are grouped by age. Bowden says this allows for entire groups to gradually "age out" of the young adult program and move on together, into the church's on-going adult Covenant Group Ministries. This, he says, is a major change. Up until now, members of our youth programs have graduated out and found nothing offered to them except Sunday morning worship services.
Having personally experienced the power of youth programs and the continuity that Covenant Group Ministry offers young adults, Bowden believes all congregations should adopt what he calls "the winning combination of small groups and celebratory worship."
And, he says, "We need to publicize it, make sure our youth and young adults know both aspects of good church are there for them, and prepare to see our faith grow like mad. I hope that my yet-to-be children will be able to go anywhere in the Unitarian Universalist universe and find a Covenant Group Ministry program waiting for them."
BOWDEN HAS A WEB PAGE on which he generously plugs the book-on-CD my District has produced. He is building a list there of names people use for the Covenant Group Ministries in their congregations and he recently announced a plan to do something I was thinking of doing as well: building a library of Covenant Group session topics. His page seems well set up to do just that, so I will await his results.
Meanwhile, he is offering another free newsletter on Covenant Groups. To enroll, you may go to www.smallgroupministry.net. He offers several newsletters. The one on this topic is, I believe, at the bottom of the list. If you have questions, contact him at email@example.com. I've just subscribed and I look forward to receiving my first issue.
CREDIT CARD ORDERING OF "TEN AT A TIME"
IF YOU HAVEN'T ORDERED your copy of "Covenant Group Ministry: Saving the World Ten at a Time," the District committee handling sales and distribution just made it easier for you to decide whether you want to read what I've written and, if you do, to order it.
On our district's web page, www.swuuc.org, (click "Site Map" and go to the "Programs" sections to find "Covenant Groups") you may now read brief, chapter-by-chapter descriptions of what the book contains and all of Chapter One.
Then, if you want Chapters 2-12, the Library of Covenant Group materials, Thandeka's essay on Covenant Groups, and the Bibliography, you may whip out your credit card and use PayPal to get one popped into the mail to you.
Did I say "one?" I should have said "one or more." In the spirit of the on-coming holidays, the SWUUC committee handing sales and distribution is offering discounts for bulk orders placed on line or via regular mail. For bulk-order prices and on-line ordering, you may go directly to http://www.swuuc.org/covenantgroups/order.html
Remember, any profits go directly to SWUUC and its work in serving our District's 70+ congregations.
Questions or comments? Email Gay Revi and Ben Stahl: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our thanks to webmaster Joanna Crawford and accounts manager Janis Schubert for making this work. - Bob Hill
Know someone who might be interested in this topic? Feel free to forward Covenant Group News to others. Unitarian Universalists may feel free to use this material in any manner consistent with the growth of our liberal religion. Otherwise, all rights are reserved.
Archived back issues and a sign-up link are available at our newly redesigned Southwest District web site: http://www.swuuc.org. Look for the Newsletters section.
The Rev. Robert. L. Hill, District Executive
for the SW District, UUA,
Email address: E-mail: email@example.com