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November 2006

CGNews Issue #86

Covenant Group News is a free electronic newsletter on Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups read by ~1300 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists. CGNews is edited by Peter Freedman Bowden ( and distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network ( The mission of the UU SGM Network is to help create healthy congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist movement by supporting and promoting Small Group Ministry.

* ATTEND "Now is the Time"
* "Starting a Revolution" AUDIO CD


In February the UUA will be holding an event to "explore together what we can do to lead Congregations into a Multi-Racial, Multi-Cultural Future". The title of this event is "Now is the time".

It is my hope that a significant delegation from our small group ministry community will attend. Please make sure your fellow leaders and group participants know about this event. This is not a small group ministry event, but it is an event where wisdom from small group ministry leaders is needed. YOU KNOW THINGS that our association's leaders need to hear. I've had conversations a number of you already about engaging our congregations in anti-racism work via small group ministry. Please share your insight by attending this event.

I'd like to offer that if "now is the time", THIS IS THE MINISTRY.

If anti-racism is hard spiritual work -- and our association's leaders in this area say it is -- then we need to address anti-racism through ministry, not programs. As a faith we need to learn to listen, to engage more deeply with one another, and to care. We need to learn to minister to each other. In the context of a safe, caring AND challenging small group we can engage in this work. I don't think we can succeed in this area without integrating it into our ministry and the life of our groups.

Please share this event information and attend this event if you can.

In faith,

Peter Bowden
Editor, CGNews

PS - If you have ideas about how we can integrate AR work into our ministry through small group ministry I would love to hear from you.


Now is the Time - Join congregational leaders from around the country as we explore together what we can do to lead Congregations into a Multi-Racial, Multi-Cultural Future.

Where: Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington, VA
When: February 16-18, 2007
With Keynote Speaker and Workshop Leader Jaqueline Lewis

Dr. Lewis' keynote speech on Friday will be followed by a day-long workshop including small group conversation and in depth exploration of what it means to lead a congregation into a multi-racial, multi-cultural future. Relevant programming continues through Saturday. Bring your learning back to your congregation and small group to further the UU dialog on creating communities that are truly welcoming to all.

Online registration starts on November 15, 2006. For details see:

Submitted by Diane Martin
on behalf of the UUA.


Graphic artists and other creative beings - we need you!

The UU Small Group Ministry Network is seeking a distinctive logo (and slogan if you'd like) to grace our website and publications. We want a logo that visually represents both small group ministry and Unitarian Universalism. In addition to thanks and plenty of recognition, the creator will win a year’s free membership in our Network. Already a member? We'll extend your membership an additional year!

Submit your designs electronically as to Susan Hollister at or via mail on 8 1/2" by 11" paper to Peter Bowden at 155 Evarts Street, Newport, RI 02840. Paper entries will be scanned and sent to Susan. Entries will be accepted through December 31, 2006. All entries will be evaluated for originality and aesthetic appeal.

Questions about the contest?
Contact Susan Hollister at


Starting a Revolution: An interview with the Rev. Glenn Turner
On his work with Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry
By Peter Bowden, UU PLANET Ministry & Media

During a recent small group ministry seminar it came up that a number of the congregations in my area haven't met the Rev. Glenn Turner. Realizing this I decided it would be good to start preserving our small group ministry movements oral history and insight from its leaders. To start I chose to interview Glenn Turner. You may know that he is the one who got Calvin Dame and Bob Hill started. Sure, we may have found small group ministry without him, but there is no doubt that Rev. Turner's efforts served as an important catalyst. Next on the list to interview, Bob Hill!

I'll be honest, this will be of greatest interest to UU church geeks and small group junkies like me. Those of you interested in getting to know more of our SGM movements history, Glenn's experiences with small groups and working with facilitators, and his thoughts on where all of this is going -- you'll enjoy this 70 minute interview. We even discuss anti-racism and diversity! The interview is divided into 15 tracks.

You may listen to samples of each track and order the audio CD here:

And now something for those of you wondering what that light bulb thing was all about....

Know all those things our association is trying to accomplish?

I'm convinced that the lay leadership, authentic relationships, intentional ministry and passion for our faith that come from small group ministry participation are the means by which we will accomplish them. Not campaigns. Not programs. Ministry!

Join me and over two hundred member individuals and congregations in harnessing the power of our shared ministry. This is the way we are going to bend the world toward justice, heal the world, and live happily ever after.

A UU skeptic and friend of mine once said that Unitarian Universalism is like a giant collection of light bulbs in our dark dark world. Great ideas. Great intention. Amazing power to illuminate. Worthless if you don't screw them. He said, "I'll join your church when you figure out how to screw your bulb in..."

We do need to turn the lights on. To me life changing small groups are the way. My friend agrees. I never got him to church except to crash coffee hour (great snacks!), but he did join our small group ministry for almost two years. Visualize a bunch of people with lamps, bulbs and walls with outlets, but not quite getting how to put the three together. You know what to do. Right?

You put the people in the small groups. Make sure the group has good leadership, structure and content. You plug it into our faith and then ....

Do you know what to do with this thing?

As a former UUA staff member I *LOVE* the UUA -- honest and true -- and have the greatest admiration for the work our association is collectively doing. But when it comes to leadership development, service, life change, and moving people from being members to being ministers we've been in the dark.

But not now. You know what to do. I know what to do. Our UU SGM Network community knows too. Let's get to it ...

I believe the key to unleashing the transformative power of our faith is our shared ministry. The best way to harness this power appears to be small group ministry. It works better than any program or campaign I know of. As a UU church geek I can attest to the fact that all the books I read and people I talk to, in our faith and others, affirm that yes, this thing called "church" needs to be done in small groups. Period. You don't get that, you don't get a UUA staff salary. Sorry turn it over. We'll move into your office on the 1st of January. Thank you very much. If only it were true... As small group leaders you and I know how to "do Unitarian Universalism" better than the average UU ten years ago. But we still have much to learn. To master all the subtleties of this ministry we need MONEY HONEY! We need to develop resources and trainings and yes, session plans. UUA central doesn't get small group ministry yet. Not if getting it equals funding it. Since there was no funding we started the UU Small Group Ministry Network. We're doing great work, but need to grow. We need members and donors and a handful of wealthy benefactors who understand the power of shared ministry and small groups. You can help. Join our network. Tell others about our organization and our website, Help me, our board and our growing community build a network that can give our shared ministry -- your small group ministry --the support it deserves.

You may mail all forms, surveys and checks made payable to "UU SGM NETWORK" to the address below. Over the Spring we will be filing for non-profit status. This means that donations are not presently tax deductible. If you'd like to make a donation of a size that would make our board do a happy little dance, please contact me. We have several congregations which have agreed to serve as a fiscal agent your donation. Not sure what is dance worthy? Give me a call at 401 855-0037.

UU SGM Network
c/o Peter Bowden
155 Evarts Street
Newport, RI 02840

Thank you for your ideas, energy and for putting your money where our ministry is.

In Faith,

In faith, Peter Bowden

PS - I promised to give you more information about holding a special Sunday collection to support small group ministry and covenant groups. This will come in January. Remember, to secure more funding to support small group ministry we'd like congregations to select one Sunday to dedicate the Sunday morning collection to this ministry.

Peter Freedman Bowden
Editor, Covenant Group News
Co-founder, UU SGM Network


Peter Freedman Bowden
UU PLANET Ministry & Media
Independent Unitarian Universalist
Consulting and Media Services

Office: (401) 855-0037

Editor, Covenant Group News
Co-founder, UU SGM Network

Mailing Address:
155 Evarts Street
Newport, RI 02840