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April 2005

CGNews #73

* April 15th - Taxes are done, what next?
* SGM Week Registration
* Cultural Creatives and Covenant Groups
* MORE Sessions Plans

Covenant Group News is a free monthly electronic newsletter on Small Group Ministry read by 1253 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists . CGNews is edited by Peter Bowden and distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network.

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It is April 15th. You know what that means... Yes, taxes are due. Once you get that done, what next?

Before we know it the year will be over. It doesn't feel like it, but from a planning perspective it is true. Here are a few things you might try and make happen this month or in early May. If you've already done these, congratulations! If you've never even considered these tasks before, discuss these items with your leadership to see what use they might have. The discussion alone will be of benefit!

[    ]    Finalize the date for your Fall Small Group Ministry Sunday Service.

[    ]    Plan to formally thank your group facilitators.

[    ]    Organize and end of the year celebration/social for all group participants and leaders.

[    ]    Schedule a meeting THIS year to plan your launch/registration in the early Fall.

[    ]    Identify group members who are interested in becoming facilitators for next year.

[    ]    Distribute group evaluation forms to group participants and facilitators.

[    ]    Plan to personally thank your group facilitators.

Regardless of what your covenant group or small group ministry looks like, the values/philosophy behind these tasks are important.

----    Uphold the value of this ministry in your worship services.

----    Thanking your leaders will increase the likelihood they will KEEP leading.

----    Participants from different groups enjoy seeing each other. This builds community and deepens the ministry.

----    Planning for the Fall this year results in the identification of issues that need attention or improvement.

----    We always need more leaders. Don't let a group end or break without identifying potential new leadership.

----    Written evaluations are a great way to get honest participant feedback.

----    You can thank leaders in a service or newsletter, but you STILL need to do it personally. No short cuts!

For those of you who are subscribed to the UUA covenant group ministry list, I am going to post this to that list so we can discuss other things your are doing, successes, challenges, etc... If you are not on the list and would like to join the conversation, you can sign up by following the link below.

I hope you will join us!

In faith,


The brochures have arrived!
The website is up to date!
Online registration is open!
Who will your congregation send?

Come make history with us!
Don't miss it!


Paul H. Ray, theme speaker last week for the Annual Meeting of Unitarian Universalists in the SW District, says he expects a sea-change in American politics and society that will be led by Cultural Creatives for whom the exchange of personal stories is central and activism is linked with spirituality. Covenant Groups, he said, are a natural fit for these people.

"Cultural Creatives see no conflict between spirituality and activism, for them, it's both/and," Ray said, adding, "For them it's all one big thing. They say 'I want the big picture, but my own personal experience is incredibly important, too.' And in that they include the spiritual." Stories, he said, are a primary means of sharing and integrating differing cultural values, and values are what tie together the Cultural Creatives as a rapidly-growing segment of our population.

Ray, with his wife, Sherry Anderson, is the author of "Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World." He spoke April 7th at Dallas 1st Unitarian Church, addressed delegates to the District meeting, and gave a brief introduction to a workshop on Covenant Groups.

Ray believes we are moving toward a "Wisdom Culture" that will bring change on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution. It is invisible to the major media and to most pollsters because what links Cultural Creatives is shared values. Values changes, he said, can't be detected in a poll. It is his belief that up to 45% of America's voters can be united behind a vision that is neither left nor right, Democrat nor Republican, but is green and progressive. His views can be found at

Bob Hill, DE in the SW and author of the UUA's guide to Small Group Ministry, said he found Ray's remarks encouraging and affirming for the SGM movement: "Ray's descriptions of Cultural Creatives as a group needing the sort of community we offer though Covenant Groups highlighted for me the importance of sharing stories and of offering people a chance to manifest their values through service. Ray says these folks want personal growth, for sure, and they want to work together toward a better world for their children and grandchildren. To me that means we must not forget the service components of each Small Group Ministry."


Thinking about going to GA? Curious about small group ministry programming? Here is a quick update on small group ministry at General Assembly 2005.

* UU Small Group Ministry Network

- Exhibit Booth
- Beyond the Basics Workshop
- UU SGM Network Annual Meeting

This GA marks the one year anniversary of the formal launch of the UU Small Group Ministry Network. If you thought last year was great, this GA is going to be AMAZING! No, not because it is in Texas. This year have UUA Independent Affiliate status and will be doing much more than offering our five star exhibit booth. This year we will be presenting a workshop focusing on issues related to EXISTING small group ministries. In addition we will be having our first ever annual meeting. This will be a great opportunity for members and non-members alike to help shape our plans for the coming year.

You can learn more about all of our upcoming GA happenings online at

* GA Covenant Groups -- REGISTER NOW!

The pilot Covenant Group program at General Assembly 2004 in Long Beach earned rave reviews from participants, proving to be a highlight of the GA experience for many. This year's Covenant Group program at GA in Fort Worth promises to be a little bit bigger and a little bit better.

In these groups, six to eight people will meet four times in hour-and-a-quarter sessions led by a facilitator trained in helping participants experience the intimacy and community that are the heart and soul of Covenant Groups. Whether you are an experienced GA attendee or a first-timer, whether you are a member of a Covenant Group in your home congregation or Covenant Groups are new to you, this is an opportunity to enhance your GA experience.

Slots are filling, but space is still available for group members and facilitators. To register, contact the Rev. Connie Grant, GA Covenant Group registrar, at

For more information on our General Assembly conference please visit the GA website online at


Looking for sessions? Since the last issue of CGNews six new sessions and one session series were submitted to the session exchange. Based on our web statistics it is clear that many of you are hungry for new sessions. Thanks to fellow CGNews readers you can come and get them! Thanks to everyone who submitted a session over the past month.

Sweet Bird of Paradox
Posted 4/13/05. Submitted by JoAnn Sager for Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Posted 3/31/05. By Kara Sweeney, March 2005.

The Power of Beliefs
Posted 3/31/05. Kara Sweeney, March 2005

Belonging In Community
Posted 3/31/05. By Jan Locher.

The Seven Principles (Session Series)
Posted on 3/31/05. By Judy Morgan.

Self Esteem
Posted on 3/31/05. By Patty Odom, Unitarian Universalist North Atlanta Metro.

On Following Your Bliss
Posted 2/24/05. By Stephen Schwichow, First UU Society of San Francisco.

You can find these sessions and more on our Session Exchange page.
Online at

If you'd like to share a session you may email it Peter Bowden at as a word document, PDF file or pasted in the body of your email message. Please make sure your session complies with copyright laws.

You can learn more about copyright laws and fair use by visiting the United States Copyright Office at