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May, 2008

CGNews #91

In this issue --- A message from a non-UU, Dick Gilbert, comments from the editor and a call for input on your own group's service, an invitation to participate in and attend the SGM Network workshop at GA, an invitation to join your peers at the Mountain for a full-week conference, August 17 - 22, and, finally, some fall workshops offered by Rev. M'ellen Kennedy.

Covenant Group News is a free electronic newsletter on Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups read by 1300 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists. CGNews is distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network. Visit us online at http://www.smallgroupministry.net.

Friends,
I welcome your contributions to this newsletter at any time. Please send your submissions to office@smallgroupministry.net The SGM Network Board has been working during April and May on GA plans, the website, and the Quarterly. We meet by conference call every month. The nominating committee is currently looking for new Board and committee members. If you'd like to serve or to recommend someone, let us know at office@smallgroupministry.net. There are many wonderful projects we could do with more working members.

The Network is all about sharing. Send us your sessions and your ideas. If you'll be attending the UUA General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale in June, let us know if you have some time to work in the booth. Contact us at office@smallgroupministry.net.

If you are not already a member, please join the Network and make sure your congregation is a member. The Spring Quarterly will be available soon on our website www.smallgroupministry.net. If you're a member, you've already received it.
You can receive the Summer Quarterly in early June if you send in your membership. http://www.smallgroupministry.net/pdf/Membership%20Form.pdf.

This month, we say goodbye to Rev. M'ellen Kennedy, as editor of the Quarterly and welcome our new editor, Beth Tiewater. M'ellen Kennedy is one of the three founders of the UU Small Group Ministry Network and continues to work in small group ministry and to offer workshops to support facilitors and programs. She is offering several of each in the fall. More information on M'ellen's workshops below and on the events page of the Network website http://www.smallgroupministry.net/events.htm.

UU Small Group Ministry continues to fulfill its promise of intimacy and ultimacy. In addition, when your church is a church "of small groups" with at least 40% of your members in a group, it has the power to transform your congregation. The UU Small Group Ministry Network allows us to help each other achieve our ministry goals.

I hope to see many of you at the Network booth at GA in June and at our Mountain retreat in August.

In faith that we're making this a better world, Diana

Diana Dorroh, President, UU Small Group Ministry Network
Editor, CG News
diana_dorroh@hotmail.com
225-766-2764


CONTENTS
* EXCERPTS FROM A MESSAGE FROM A NON-UU, DICK GILBERT
* COMMENTS FROM THE EDITOR AND A CALL FOR INPUT
* SMALL GROUP MINISTRY AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY, JUNE 25-29, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
* SMALL GROUP MINISTRY INSTITUTE AT THE MOUNTAIN, August 17 - 22
* WORKSHOPS OFFERED BY REV M'ELLEN KENNEDY


EXCERPTS FROM A MESSAGE FROM A NON-UU, DICK GILBERT

Over the years I have come to the conviction that the central, compelling, and unavoidable imperative for people of faith is the transformation of the world—in the words of Forrest Church, "transforming society according to the principles of justice, compassion and love."…

I would like to find a way to hook the power of the small group to the imperative for and urgency of social transformation. Not just in personal empowerment for individual action, but in the corporate strength and intentional activity of the small group itself….

I note that some UU small groups have linked the SGM experience to service projects (Calvin Dame, "Service: An Essential Element of Small Group Ministry"), encouraging small groups to include some sort of service project in their agenda. I would like to take that a step or two further and insist that the very purpose of the SGM be to prepare for, support, and sustain specific social change efforts AS A GROUP. I am convinced that lasting social transformation can only happen from the ground up and I see these micro-communities as a potential base to begin that effort.


COMMENTS FROM THE EDITOR AND A CALL FOR INPUT

I agree with Dick Gilbert that this would be a wonderful way to organize social justice work in a congregation. However, I fear that many people who benefit from my own church's small group ministry program in Baton Rouge would not continue to participate if we narrowed our focus from participants' lives to social justice.

I know that some churches have tried organizing a group or two around the objective of social justice. This usually happens in a church using what Rev. Bob Hill called the "affinity group" model, where groups have different special interests and use the discussion part of the standard session to discuss that interest or make plans.

I hope either Dick or I have made you want to respond. I'd love to hear your reactions and your experiences. More generally, I'd like to open a discussion on the role of service in small group ministry. Please share one project your group has done. And if you're willing, you could also tell us: How important is service to your group? To your program? Does it help to promote intimacy and ultimacy? Does it provide connection to the church and to the larger community?

Please send your input to office@smallgroupministry.net.


SMALL GROUP MINISTRY AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY, JUNE 25-29, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL

THE UU SMALL GROUP MINISTRY NETWORK ANNUAL MEETING

The UU Small Group Ministry Network Annual Meeting is scheduled at 1:30pm, Saturday, June 28. The location of the meeting and the final agenda will be available at the Booth.

Preliminary Agenda for Annual Meeting

BOOTH #432

Resources, opportunities to talk with people about Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups, share what is working and what the challenges are for you. Booth Chats are being planned. We appreciate the interest in sharing ideas around specific parts of Small Group Ministry. If you have a topic to suggest for a chat of up to a half hour with possibility of ongoing discussion, please contact us at Office@smallgroupministry.net with your suggestion. Also please consider spending an hour or two fielding questions about small group ministry in the UU Small Group Ministry Network booth. Slots are available between 11am, Wednesday June 25 and 1pm, Sunday June 29. The Board will provide you with a list of frequently asked questions. Please e-mail us at office@smallgroupministry.net if you'd like to do this.

In addition to the many ongoing resources, there will be new items:

  • Behind the Scenes: Implementing Small Group Ministry, a compilation of materials from the SGMN web site and Covenant Group News, with some new material (for sale);
  • Directories of resources on and linked with the SGMN website and of Small Group Ministry/Covenant Group Sessions;
  • A Prototype of a Facilitator's Manual and a request for your input on what needs to be included.

GA WORKSHOP

#3058 Strategies and Solutions for Small Group Ministry Challenges

Friday, 3:15-4:30 pm Convention Center Grand Floridian F

GA Planning Committee, Small Group Ministry Network

Many congregations are using Small Group Ministry to meet the needs for intimacy and spiritual growth. We will provide strategies to successfully run programs to prevent and avoid common pitfalls. We'll focus particularly on handling "extra grace needed members," and hidden cultural biases that can limit program effectiveness.

Presenters are:
Diana Dorroh, Baton Rogue, LA;
Rev. Russ Savage, Washington, DC;
Steve Becker, Seattle, WA


SMALL GROUP MINISTRY INSTITUTE
August 17 - August 22, 2008
The Mountain Retreat & Learning Centers, Inc.
The Highlands, North Carolina

An opportunity for teams and individuals from congregations of all sizes to learn and practice Small Group Ministry (SGM) with experienced practitioners and leaders. Sessions are designed for new and experienced program organizers, facilitators, ministers and congregational leaders. The week will include presentations, hands-on workshops, small group ministry experiences, sharing, networking, informal 'porch chats, worship - and time to enjoy what The Mountain has to offer! Details and Registration http://www.smallgroupministry.net/events/mountain.html.


WORKSHOPS OFFERED BY REV. M'ELLEN KENNEDY

"Building and Sustaining a Strong Small Group Ministry Program"

With Rev. M'ellen Kennedy. This all day workshop will be offered multiple times At the following dates and locations in the fall:

  • Saturday, September 13, 2008 - Hosted by All Souls Church, Greenfield, MA
  • Saturday, September 20, 2008 - Hosted by the Unitarian Society of New Haven, CT.
  • Saturday, September 27, 2008 - Hosted by the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, NY.

"Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training" - This all day advanced workshop will be offered at two locations:

  • Friday, October 3, 6:30 - 8:30 PM (Intro for those new to SGM)
  • Saturday, October 4, 2008, 9-4:30 - Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth South Church, Portsmouth, NH.
  • Saturday, October 25, 2008 - Hosted by the First Church in Barre, Universalist, Barre, Vt.

Registration and Cost: The registration cost. which includes lunch, is from $35 to $40 per person. For more info contact Rev. M'ellen Kennedy at mellenken@aol.com.

For more info, see the website Events Page.
http://www.smallgroupministry.net/events.html