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Friday, March 16, 2007

CGNews Issue #87

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.

For free online resources, small group sessions, event announcements and information about joining our network to support our shared small group ministry visit Your UU Small Group Ministry Network membership makes CGNews, the SGM Quarterly, our work at GA, all the behind the scenes advocacy we do AND our website possible. Thank you for your continued support!




It has been a little while since CGNews has gone out. All quiet on the UU small group front? Not a chance! The board of the UU SGM Network has been working hard on planning for General Assembly and getting incorporating us as a non-profit. More on this below. This is particularly exciting for me as it happened magically while I've been busy commuting to Boston every day. I'm doing an eight month training in television/digital film so I can be an even bigger UU church geek and spend my life flooding the internet with UU media. I plan on dragging our movement into the 21st century. I'll be sure to make some small group related materials while I'm at it. Feel free to send me any special requests.

On to what the majority of you really want - group sessions. This is still the hottest item on our site. Those of you hungry for peace, justice and small group sessions will be happy to know the following:

1. The UUSC is developing a series of small group ministry modules related to their social justice campaigns. I spoke with the UUSC intern working on this project again this morning. Carie Johnson reports that of the four modules being published, two will be distributed at GA. One on Civil Liberties. The other on the genocide in Darfur. These resources are scheduled to be on their website this May. The UUSC will let me know as soon as they go online and I'll pass the word on to you. Keep posted!

2. Judy Morgan of the Peacemaking Congregational Study Action Issue Core Team has announced that small group ministry sessions based on the peacemaking Study Action Issue are now online. You can read more about these sessions and find the link below. I have not had a chance to read over these, though I did speak with members of that team before the sessions were produced.

My take on these efforts?

I think they represent a step forward for our movement -- provided the sessions are well done. Small groups are the ideal place to reflect on the spiritual, moral and ethical issues underlying the problems of our world. I think that if we discuss these issues we will find the strength to take action. We can't go on like we are.

As organizations realize that small group ministry sessions are a great way to engage with UU's across our association -- be it the UUSC, CSW, or others -- we need to make sure that the resources they produce stay true to the purposes of this ministry. It is a fine line. Ever have your congregation's stewardship committee want to canvass people in their small group meetings? From my conversations with representatives from the UUSC and the CSW these organizations are working hard to honor the nature of this ministry while trying to get us to wake up and engage with a big long list of critical issues. This weekend I went to a used bookstore that had a wall of books labeled "See what happened while you weren't looking" -- I won't go into the contents of the shelf. Needless to say, genocide and the need for peacemaking were represented. I bet you could name some more...

I love small groups and I want to change our world. I suspect that you do to. If so I hope you'll take the time to give these new session resources a look and tell me what you think of them.

In faith,

Peter Freedman Bowden
Editor, CGNews

PS -- Those of you who are blog savvy. I've set up a CGNews blog that I am using to log in news as I find it. You can read the CGNews blog and subscribe to the feed online at If you are not blog savvy and find this whole blog thing very annoying attend the blogging workshop I'm leading with Chris Walton and others at GA this summer....



We are pleased to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network is now officially incorporated as a non-profit! Special thanks to our treasurer Susan Hollister (Main Line Unitarian Church) for leading this effort.

What does this mean for all of us? NOW we can get serious about fundraising. More on that later. For now lets all just send thoughts of thanks and praise to Susan.

In honor of this task being completed a special thank you message ....

Coming soon....
More information on making tax deductible donations.
How to organize a Sunday to raise funds for Small Group Ministry.
AND.... a message from Peter on why you should choose our network as the recipient of your generosity.

Sustaining a Strong Small Group Ministry Program
Thursday, April 12, 7-9 PM
First Unitarian Congregation of Cleveland, Ohio


This First Unitarian Congregation of Cleveland is pleased to offer a training opportunity for SGM enthusiasts.

The workshop will cover the following topics:
- the power and purpose of Small Group Ministry (or Covenant Groups)
- the essential components of a Small Group Ministry program
- addressing common challenges in an SGM program
- developing shared leadership within a small group
- handling group difficulties.

This event will be of particular value to those serving as group leaders or facilitators in a small group ministry program. Others, including professional ministers, those serving on steering committees for SGM programs, or those with an interest in being part of small group ministry are also welcome and will benefit from this workshop.

The workshop leader is the Dr. M'ellen Kennedy, a UU community minister and community psychologist. She is co-founder and co-coordinator of the UU Small Group Ministry Network and serves as editor of this organization's "Small Group Ministry Quarterly." Dr. Kennedy has been working with lay led small groups for over 20 years and has offered facilitator training to hundreds of lay and professionals leaders. She also serves as a consulting minister for the Universalist Society in Strafford, Vermont.

The church is located at 21600 Shaker Boulevard, Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Please contact if you'd like to attend.


Representatives and members of our Unitarian Universalist congregations and organizations will be gathering for our General Assembly (GA). Programs about Small Group Ministry or Covenant Groups are among the many exciting offerings at GA in Portland, OR, this year. The UU Small Group Ministry Network Is Offering the Following Workshops:

Facilitator Training for Small Group Ministry
Small Group Ministry or Covenant Groups are transforming how we do congregational life. One of the challenges that lay and professional leaders face is how to adequately train facilitators. In this workshop, members of the Small Group Ministry Network will share our collective wisdom on what makes for quality leadership development.

Emerging Models of Small Group Ministry
Congregations across our denomination are developing successful and exciting variations on Small Group Ministry or Covenant Groups. This panel of members of the Small Group Ministry Network will share our significant innovations including theme groups, short-term groups, groups in the community, use in Religious Education and by religious professionals.

UUSGM Network Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting of the UU Small Group Ministry Network will be held at GA in Portland. Details on the Meeting will be announced closer to GA.

UUSGM Network Booth
An Opportunity to Help Out & Learn More about SGM ... The UU Small Group Ministry Network plans to have a booth in the Exhibit Hall again this year at General Assembly. If you would like to help staff our booth, please contact M'ellen Kennedy at Staffing the booth is a great opportunity to share your enthusiasm about and experience with Small Group Ministry. You also get to meet and learn from folks from all over the country who are engaged in this vital work. We'd love to have you join us!

Covenant Groups at GA will be on hiatus In Portland 2007

Harlan Limpert, Director for District Services of the Unitarian Universalist Association, has announced that a decision has been made to take a one-year hiatus from having covenant groups at General Assembly. Plan on covenant groups returning to GA in 2008 -- bigger and stronger than ever. (Around 300 people participated last year!) If You have a story to share about your Covenant Group experience at GA in past years, please send it to for inclusion in future issues of this Quarterly or in our Covenant Group News. We'd love to hear from you.

Are You planning an SGM event at GA?
Let us know and we'll help You get the word out in the Summer/GA Issue of this Quarterly and future issues of CGNews.


The Peacemaking Congregational Study Action Issue (CSAI) Core Team announced that the Spring 2007 Peacemaking CSAI program materials are now available from the Commission of Social Witness (CSW) website (

Three sets of materials have been developed for congregational use:

  1. a script and materials for an introductory workshop on the topic of peacemaking that can be organized by volunteers in local congregations
  2. a set of session plans that can be used for discussion in small groups
  3. a Resource Guide which lists books, articles, films, websites and other resources that can be used by groups or individuals to explore peacemaking issues.

The small group session plans can be used either in existing small group ministry (covenant) groups or in new groups created to be part of the denomination’s exploration of peacemaking.

The sessions cover five aspects of peacemaking:

  1. an introduction to concepts and definitions,
  2. interpersonal and congregational peacemaking
  3. building a culture of peace
  4. structural violence
  5. international peacemaking.

The Core Team encourages UU congregations to use their great creativity in adapting these materials to better fit their needs, or in developing entirely new programs on peacemaking! The Team requests feedback from all participating churches on what seemed to work well and what did not. This will provide extremely helpful information for preparing next year’s program materials which will be available in September 2007.

Individuals interested in helping with the Peacemaking CSAI process are encouraged to sign up for one of the national working groups (see the CSW website ), or to take leadership within their congregations in implementing peacemaking study programs.

Submitted by Judy Morgan

Download the Peacemaking Small Group Sessions HERE:


Submissions for Covenant Group News, our website and the SGM Quarterly are always welcome. We welcome all submissions including articles, stories , group sessions, sample pr materials, sermons --- if its about UU small groups we want it. You may submit your material by replying to this message and attaching your documents or pasting the text into the body of the message. Questions about submissions? You may contact me via the information at the end of this message.

I look forward to your submission!


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