Covenant Group News

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CGNews #85

4 events, 3 teleseminars, 22 sessions and 1 great dinner....

Covenant Group News is a free electronic newsletter on Small Group Ministry read by over 1250 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists. CGNews is edited by Peter Freedman Bowden ( )and is distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network ( ).

Peter writes on the "mysterious" reasons for small group minitries failing.

Including workshops by the Rev. Calvin O. Dame, Teleseminars with Peter Freedman Bowden, various district workshops and a heads up on the Spring regional conference being hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford.

Jean Ploutz shares how her congregation kicks off the year with a special dinner for group participants and those interested in learning more about small groups. Thanks Jean!

Three Covenant Group News readers have sent in a total of 22 new sessions. That's one 20 session series and two additional sessions. Thanks to Liz, Kat and my mother.

Join our network, advance our movement, get the SGM Quarterly

Past issues of CGNews may be found at

By Peter Freedman Bowden


In this issue of CGNews we have news of 4 events, 3 teleseminars, 22 sessions and 1 great dinner. I'm very pleased that a number of submitted resources and news following my email last week. On the other side. I'm sorry to hear from some of you that your small group ministries are not doing so well. You will be happy to know that there is good reason for your program floundering, flopping, mutating out of control, atrophying or in some other way falling apart.

Somebody messed up.

These days we have a very good sense of what leads to small group ministries that are health, life changing, outward reaching and growth producing. I have yet to find a congregation with a "mysterious" reason for its small group ministry failing. Across the board the problems are a result of some failure to impliment a viable model or a failure prior to launching to support this ministry through time, energy and resources. Those of you with thriving programs know just what I'm talking about. SGM isn't rocket science, but it is hard work.

If your ministry is in need of help, consider attending one of the events mentioned in this issue AND join our network. When you do you will get our journal, the SGM Quarterly, mailed to you four times per year. Each ~8 page volume contains articles, tips, and suggestions to help you in your ministry. Thanks to M'ellen Kennedy for editing this fabulous publication.


For FULL DETAILS on these events visit our event page

1. Small Group Ministry Jamboree with Rev. Calvin O. Dame
Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds, WA
October 13 & 14, 2006

2. Small Group Teleseminars with Peter Freedman Bowden
Calls starting October 3, 2006. Topics include:
-- Models for Coaching UU Small Group Ministry Leaders
-- UU Evangelism, Small Groups and Relational Growth Strategies
-- The Role of vision casting and small-group health, mutual ministry and growth
-- Other calls & topics to be scheduled based on interest

3. Metro New York District Small Group Ministry Event
Rev. Calvin O. Dame
October 28, 2006

4. Southwest UU Conference Fall Conference
Successes and Challenges of Covenant Groups
November 10-12

5. The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford
Hosting regional conference this spring.

On promoting small groups and welcoming newcomers
From Jean Ploutz, September, 2006

Each Summer our minister leads a facilitator training preparing for new groups to be added come the new season. We like to start things new in the fall when everyone is returning from their summer vacations. To welcome people into our small groups we begin "advertising" in our church newsletter, then we present during one of our early Fall services. Someone who is already a facilitator gives a short presentation on Small Group Ministry and may additionally include what the experience has meant to them personally.

After the Sunday with this presentation we hold a dinner for all small group participants and anyone with an interest in joining a group. There is a question and answer segement of our dinner. During this time we discuss group dynamics. Topics include when and how we meet.

Small group ministry started in our church about 4 years ago. We currently have 11 active groups. We are very excited to be including this year a specific youth group which will be led by our minister's two teenage children. Sign ups are renewed at the dinner and then posted in the hallways thruout the remainder of the year. Members are encouraged to sign up at any time, not just in the Fall.

We debated this year as to whether small group ministries grew and enriched group members or the church body as a whole. The overwhelming conclusion was that it did both. Our dinner for existing participants and potential new group members has proved an effective way to share this ministry with others.

Are you doing something that works well? Others would love to know. Send us a brief article about what you're doing. Send your story to Peter Bowden.


Before sending out each issue of Covenant Group News we are now asking readers if they have resources to share. This month the following small group sessions were shared. A special thank you to Liz, Ruth and Kat for sharing these resources.

Session series based on the book "Ten Eternal Questions"
20 sessions by the Rev. Liz Stevens. These sessions are based on the book "Ten Eternal Questions" by Zoe Sallis.

Service - Living our Beliefs
From the Small Group Ministry team, Nantucket, MA.

To Live Deliberately
By Ruth Arellana.

Visit our session page online at