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June 9, 2004

CGNews #63

An occasional newsletter about Covenant Group Ministry read by 721 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists.



As I did, the Rev. Jonalu Johnstone, formerly Growth Consultant for the Southwest Conference of the UUA, once believed that once a month was often enough for a Covenant Group to meet. Now, she's changed her view.

When we began Covenant Groups at First Unitarian Church, Oklahoma City, I was skeptical that many people would want to meet more than once a month. I was wrong.

Immediately, people began asking for a twice a month group. Our initial sign-ups resulted in a large number of people wanting to join the one group that already existed -- "Exploring Spirituality." The logical way to divide the group was by frequency of meeting – roughly an equal number of people wanted to meet once a month as wanted to meet twice a month!

Since then, we've seen a variety of desires for frequency of meetings. Our groups decide how often they'll meet, as long as it's at least once a month.

Five of our fifteen groups meet twice a month; one meets weekly; and a third varies its meeting schedule depending on activities. At least one group has a regular monthly meeting, with its second meeting being a more casual social gathering. Other groups get together for social gatherings in addition to regular meetings.

Groups that meet often deepen their friendships quickly. Twice a month meetings can create closer, more intense relationships. The Covenant Group becomes more a part of participants' lives. Also, if someone must miss a meeting, they don't have a two-month stretch in between seeing their Covenant Group friends.

While it's important to offer monthly groups for people whose schedules don't allow a more frequent connection, once a month just isn't enough for everyone.

The Rev. Jonalu Johnstone, Program Minister, First Unitarian Church, OKC

JUNE 15 is the deadline for register to be a member of a Covenant Group at GA in Long Beach, CA. That is the last day Connie Grant will be accepting names for our Small Group Ministries that will meet at meal times on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at our General Assembly in Long Beach, CA.

The first Covenant Group will meet on Thursday, June 24, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. and Connie will be sending out notices shortly after June 15 to let people know which Covenant Group they'll be in and where to meet their facilitator for that first session.

To register for these four one-hour Small Group Ministry gatherings at GA, please go to the UUA web site, and in the search box, type "GA Covenant Groups." Google gave me the right page as the first entry. You can click on the PDF or HTML choice and get all the information you need. Don't delay.

FRIDAY at GA will be a big day for Covenant Group fans.

-- The Rev. Michael McGee will lead the worship and preach a sermon related to Small Group Ministry at the 8:00 a.m. worship.

-- Harlan Limpert, Meg Riley (UUA staff colleagues of mine), or I will be speaking briefly during Plenary I about what Small Group Ministry has meant to our Association.

-- AND, the Center for Community Values has declared Friday to be Covenant Group T-Shirt Day. Has your congregation produced Covenant Group T-shirts? If so, bring yours and plan to wear it to Plenary on Friday.

On Sunday night, June 27, , beginning at 8:30 p.m., the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, the Rev. Calvin Dame, and I will be leading a workshop in Convention Center 104B entitled "Covenant Groups: Some Glorious, Some Gone Bad."

Not going to GA? Please pass this along to someone who is. Maybe we'll see YOU next year in Fort Worth.

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 the Southwest District web site: Look for the "Newsletters" section.

The Rev. Robert L. Hill, District Executive,
SW District, UUA,
405 701-2917