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May 2010

Small Groups, Deep Connections May 2010
The UU Small Group Ministry Network
Covenant Group News
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In This Issue
  • Letter from the Editor
  • Wrap-up - Ministry Objectives or Goals of Small Group Ministry
  • Supporting Each Other Through Personal Loss - Anonymous
  • How to Handle Challenging Situations, Challenges 2, 3 and 4, UU Church in Eugene, OR,
  • Note from Loretta Carmickle, UU Congregation, Green Valley/Amado, AZ
  • News and Events - Featuring Small Group Ministry Opportunities at GA
  • Publications
  • Who We Are
  • Contact Us

Join the Network
If you are not already a member, please join the Network and make sure your congregation is a member. The UU Small Group Ministry Network facilitates networking among SGM practitioners and makes current, practical information and resources available to ministers, program coordinators, and facilitators. Your membership funding will enable us to continue this important work. Download a Membership form:

Individual and congregational memberships are our major source of revenue.
The Network is financially independent of the UUA.
Letter from the Editor

In this issue we have a wrap-up of our series of articles on ministry objectives or goals of small group ministry. The goals described in our three contributed articles fall into five areas: Connection, Ministry, Maturational (and Incarnational) Growth, Strengthening and Enriching the Church, and Transforming the World. It's exciting to see that each of these goals is being achieved in at least one of the three congregations we heard from this spring. It's only a small leap of faith to say that these goals are also benefits being realized right now by small group ministry programs in many UU churches. I'd welcome further contributions on this topic at any time. Send them to me at

Rev. Helen Zidowecki has received answers from more than 70 churches to the survey questions included in the April issue of Covenant Group News. To my knowledge, this is the first time a survey has been done on UU small group ministry. We plan to have survey results or other information on small group ministry programs at 150 - 200 churches in the upcoming publication, Small Group Ministry 2010: Celebrating Congregations. I've read some of the submissions, including successes and challenges of each program. It will be available for sale at General Assembly 2010 and from the Network website, A summary of the survey results will be included in the Fall issue of the Small Group Ministry Quarterly.

A second new publication, Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs, will also be available at GA 2010 and from the Network website. Many of you have asked for a book of sessions. See more information on both publications below, under publications.

We have an inspiring article, Supporting Each Other Through Personal Loss. Because of the personal nature of the sharing and, with the agreement of the author, we decided to publish it anonymously.

From Richard Loescher at the UU Church in Eugene, OR, we have some additional excerpts from their Facilitator Training Manual. Three challenges: lack of focus, handling information that you know to be false, and lack of interest and participation. Again, we thank the Unitarian Society in Newton, MA, since their website contained the original version of these challenges. I'd love to have your tips to facilitators. Send them to me at

And we have a note about a congregational small group ministry program from Loretta Carmickle, at the UU Congregation, Green Valley/Amado, AZ.

Under Events, there is more information about the Small Group Ministry Institute 2010, August 31-September 3, Camp deBenneville Pines, Angelus Oaks, CA. Rev. Helen Zidowecki and I plan to be on faculty there. I'd love to meet and work with people from your church. Sending your facilitators or steering team members to this annual Institute is the best way to maximize the benefits your congregation receives from your small group ministry program. It will help you give your program a boost, get ready for a restart, or just make a successful program stronger and less at risk from program leadership changes. This is a very good investment in your program. And it's fun as well. Download a flyer and registration form from the UU SGM Network, website

Under Events, below, there is a description of our UUA General Assembly 2010 Planning Committee- sponsored workshop #2010, "Enhancing, Revitalizing, Restarting Your Small Group Ministry," Thursday June 24, at 4:30 in 101 H. Speakers will be:
Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Moderator, member of the Northern New England District Small Group Ministry Committee and Vice-President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network,
Rev. Peg Morgan, Minister of the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Seattle, WA
Steve Becker, Small Group Ministry Program Coordinator at Westside UU Congregation and President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network
Rev. Peter Friedrichs, Lead Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, Pennsylvania
Joyce McKee, Small Group Ministry Program Co-coordinator at UU Church of Delaware County.
The discussion will continue on Saturday, 9am - 10am at SMALL GROUP MINISTRY DISCUSSION GROUP # 007, Hilton Minneapolis Hotel, Marquette I. And join us at the booth in the Exhibit Hall (No. 733)!

The Summer 2010 SGM Quarterly will be mailed to Network members in June. Every Quarterly is packed with articles by and for coordinators, ministers, and facilitators. If you are a UU Small Group Ministry Network member, I know you will enjoy this wonderful issue. If you are not a member, why not join now and receive this summer issue? PayPal makes it easy to join or to renew your membership. You can check on our website to see whether your congregation is a Network member. We offer a member discount of 40% off all our UU SGM Network publications. We are financially independent of the UUA and depend upon membership and publications sales to cover our modest expenses.

The Network website,, contains information about the UU Small Group Ministry Network, articles by leaders in the small group ministry movement and an extensive selection of sessions that people have contributed, as well as a complete archive of Covenant Group News and the SGM Quarterly. On the homepage, you will find a list of recent additions to the website.

If you are a program coordinator and would like for your facilitators to receive this newsletter, we will be happy to add them to the mailing list. Please send me your Congregation Name, state, and the facilitators' names and email addresses.

Please share your ideas, questions, and experiences with the other 1,337 Covenant Group News subscribers. Send them to me at Thanks to Anne Haynes, UU SGM Network Board member from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, IN, for proofing this edition. Our Quarterly Editor, Beth Tiewater, provided much needed assistance with solicitation and assembly of articles and Susan Hollister and Helen Zidowecki provided comments and content.

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

Diana Dorroh
Editor, Covenant Group News
Program Director, Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge

Wrap-up -- Ministry Objectives or Goals
of Small Group Ministry by Diana Dorroh

We began this discussion in the January 2010 Covenant Group News with a partial list of goals or ministry objectives for having a small group ministry program. In the February, March, and April issues, we explored three wonderful contributions from churches with well established programs. The articles covered the original goals, goals achieved, unintended consequences, and current goals. The contributors were:

Nancy Leinwand, Main Line Unitarian Church, Devon, PA, in February
Rev. Helen Zidowecki and Kathy Kellison, Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Augusta, ME, in March, and
Rev. Steve Crump, Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, LA, in April.

It seems to me that the goals identified in those articles fall into five categories: Connection, Ministry, Maturational (and Incarnational) Growth, Strengthening and Enriching the Church, and Transforming the World. Now that we have a fairly complete list of possible goals and, by extension, possible benefits of small group ministry, what else do we need to know? Two natural and related questions are: Do the goals you set affect how you implement your small group ministry program? and Do your program choices or circumstances limit your ability to achieve certain goals? My partial answers to these questions follow the lists below.

Goals and Possible Benefits of a Small Group Ministry Program


1) To provide a place for new members to connect to the church and become integrated into the congregation.
2) To provide better connection for current members.


1) To extend the work of the professional ministry by providing more ministry--more listening, support, and acceptance.
2) To heal souls through listening and understanding.
3) To extend special care to those who are ill or in crisis, often expanding the work of the Pastoral Care Team.
4) To get people through some difficult times and thru major life transitions.

Maturational (and Incarnational) Growth

1) To teach congregation members the skills of right relationship, caring, and listening.
2) To spread understanding that acceptance is often the first step toward positive change.
3) To teach the art of hospitality, skills that can be used in family, work and other settings.
4) To provide our members with an intense experience of intimacy and ultimacy.
5) To give people an opportunity to serve, through group service projects.
6) To provide a forum for further discussion of Sunday sermon topics in an intimate setting.
7) To provide to "extra care needed" folks a place to belong in the community. Often, the "rough edges" are smoothed and the individuals learn to be in right relationship and become a full member of the group.

Strengthening and Enriching the Church

1) To build dedication and commitment to the church as a whole, thus increasing institutional resilience.
2) To develop church leaders and other committed volunteers.
3) To achieve maturational and incarnational growth of church members and, by extension, of the congregation.
4) To have more right relationship and covenantal behavior at church meetings and in the congregation as a whole, so that the inevitable conflicts are more civil and constructive.
5) To achieve numerical membership growth for the church.
6) To provide bridges and improved communication across existing groups and subdivisions within the church.
7) To get the church through some difficult times.
8) To have a new way of "doing church," where almost everyone is in a group, and issues and church, local and national crises can be addressed institutionally via one session plan for all groups.
9) To organize the entire church into groups so that in a local crisis, there is a natural and up-to-date "contact" structure and leaders automatically contact group members to assess the effect on each member and find out whether anybody needs special help.

Transforming the World

1) To transform society by opposing our mass culture of loneliness, consumerism, and virtual connections.
2) To extend the principles of right relationship, caring, and listening into the larger community.
3) To teach the art of hospitality, skills that can be used in family, work and other settings.
4) To provided collective support for broader social action initiatives in the community and beyond.

Observations on the Questions: Do the goals you set affect how you implement your small group ministry program? and Do your program choices or circumstances limit your ability to achieve certain goals?

Each church makes choices in program structure, both as the program begins and as it continues. This set of choices, together with the basic elements of small group ministry becomes your church's model. Some of these choices are: length of term of the groups, frequency of meetings, format and frequency of facilitators meetings, origin of session materials, and availability of openings to new congregation members. Other characteristics may be beyond your immediate control, like the amount of ministerial support or budget, but still have an effect on your church's ability to achieve program small group ministry goals.

If your church has a minister, that minister's support is essential to achieving all of the goals we listed.

The goals listed under Connection, Ministry, Maturational and Incarnational Growth, and Transforming the World are largely individual; therefore, significant change can be achieved with a program that involves a small percentage of the congregation. And, in fact, more dramatic individual results might be achieved in the areas of Maturational and Incarnational Growth and Transforming the World with a program that is limited in size.

If the goals under the heading Ministry are important to your church, then training and support of your facilitators and leadership from your professional ministry is critical. This is shared ministry and that is most evident when your minister is working with your facilitators, as supporter, trainer, coach, and visionary. If your church does not have a professional minister, then I would advise involving some part of the lay ministry, pastoral care associates, caring ministry, etc.

If the church's goal is to grow numerically, maturationally, and incarnationally, you are more likely to achieve this goal if a majority of your congregation members are currently participating in the program or have had a meaningful experience in the program in the past. To me, this means making membership available to everyone and especially newcomers. Since most of our congregations experience about 10% turnover each year, if you make participation available to newcomers, and have a healthy church and a healthy program, in about five years, it is possible that half of your congregation will be participating in the program.

Full achievement of most of the goals listed under Strengthening and Enriching the Church will also require the involvement of about half of the congregation. Some congregations are experimenting with giving more congregation members a short experience with small group ministry to give the whole congregation some understanding of this way of being in right relationship. Small churches may find it relatively easy to involve half of the congregation in a small group ministry program. However, for many of our mid-size and large churches, having half of the members involved in the program is a challenge, because of the amount and level of work involved in coordination. The most critical tasks, leadership identification, training, development, and support, are massive, intensive and continuous in a program of more than about 15 groups, and therefore the kind of work that a church often assigns to paid staff. I speak from experience, as our program at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge now has 24 groups and I am an increasingly busy and challenged volunteer coordinator. Our mid-size and larger churches who want their congregations to get the full benefit from a small group ministry program may want to pay particular attention to the leadership structure for the program and explore professionalizing the role of program coordinator. In the meantime, you will likely need a dedicated and skilled volunteer coordinator and a good well-trained steering team, as well as full support and involvement from your professional ministry.

That's about all I have to say for now. However, this is just the beginning of a conversation on the goals and benefits of small group ministry programs and I would welcome your observations, comments or additions. Send them to me at

Supporting Each Other Through Personal Loss

My SGM experience has always been a positive one and I have looked forward to our bi-weekly meetings for about four years now. Seven of us have been together that entire time.

About a year ago, we shared a deep personal loss with one of our members when he received a phone call during our meeting telling him his adult son had died in a tragic accident.

This grieving father has always been the leader of our group not only in discussions, but as a caring friend who had often reached out to each of us in our own times of emotional need.

We struggled with ways to support him and the SGM process and our own group's covenant helped us do that. The "check-in" process that we follow does not allow for any "counseling" or suggestions unless the speaker asks for help. As the weeks progressed, this allowed him to vent his sorrow, talk openly about his son and their relationship and feel comfort from a group of close friends who are committed to the process and to supporting each other.

In recognition of the anniversary of that horrific night recently, he asked if we could use the next meeting to honor loved ones whom we have lost. We agreed but I know that I, at least, felt unsure about how the evening would go.

I should not have been worried. Through the process of supporting his request, we each reached into our hearts to share our own stories of loss. From those stories we all found new comfort and learned a lot about our shared human experience.

One of the values of small group discussions for me is to gain a clearer understanding of who I am. That evening we discovered that several of us had lost parents at a young age and we were able to talk about how that had felt. Others talked about the passing of friends or loved ones who were young and in the prime of life, or the loss of respected grandparents.

As the session came to a close I realized that everyone in the room had shared an important story in a very authentic manner and it had been a truly cathartic conversation for each and every one of us.

One of the directives for the SGM process is to speak from your own experience in a deeply personal way. I think we have always done that, but I doubt that we will ever have another session as touching as that one. As a group we have gained a love and understanding of each other that also serves to deepen our understanding of ourselves.

How to Handle Challenging Situations:
Challenges Three, Four, and Five
From the UU Church in Eugene, OR, Facilitator Training Manual
(adapted from First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts)

We continue with this series on challenges that occasionally arise in the group process. These are some of the most common challenges you are likely to encounter, together with some suggestions about effective ways to deal with them.

Challenge 3: Lack of focus, not moving forward, participants wander off topic.
Suggested responses: Responding to this challenge takes judgment and intuition. It is the facilitator's role to help move the dialogue along, but it is not always clear which way it is, or should be, going. Keep an eye on the participants to see how engaged they are and if you are in doubt, check it out with the group. "We're a little off topic now. How is the group feeling about this?" If only one participant goes into a lengthy digression, you may have to say, "We seem to be wandering off course and I'd like to make sure others get a chance to speak."

Challenge 4: Someone puts forth information which you know to be false.
Suggested response: Ask, "Has anyone heard of conflicting information?" If no one offers a correction, offer one yourself. And if no one knows the facts and the point is not essential, put it aside and move on. If the point is central to the dialogue, encourage members to look up the information before the next meeting. Remind the group that even experts often disagree.

Challenge 5: Lack of interest, no excitement, and no one wants to talk, only a few people are actively participating.
Suggested response: This rarely happens in SGM groups. However, if a facilitator talks more than the group enjoys, or does not give people plenty of time to collect their thoughts and respond, members may become silent and passive. People need time to think, reflect and get ready to speak up; give it to them. Occasionally you might have lack of excitement in the topic because the group seems to be in agreement or dealing only with the surface issues of the topic. Sometimes members may not think that discussing a topic is appropriate based on something revealed during check-in. Regardless of the reason, you should check out the appearance of a lack of interest with group members by saying something like, "I'm not sensing much energy in the room for this topic. Do we want to continue with it or talk about something else?" Then be silent and wait to hear from several members, not just one. You may need to go around the whole circle in order to get a clear idea of what is going on.

Note from Loretta Carmickle
Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Green Valley/Amado, AZ

We are barely getting started with Small Group Ministry here. We had a kind of pilot group for six weeks earlier this year, using Heart to Heart, under the leadership of Rev. Roberta Haskin, with 10 participants. It was agreed that this was a good experience, and, in fact, we want to continue as a group when some of our members return in the Fall, completing more of the Heart to Heart offerings.

We have a Board and many congregational members who are quite sympathetic to the Small Group Ministry concept, and I have been approved and funded by the Board to attend the conference at de Benneville Pines in August/September. The tentative plan is to use the time after that through December to get the program in place and train facilitators and then try to begin in January with perhaps three groups. I'm very much looking forward to soaking up all the conference has to offer, including getting acquainted with others who see Small Group Ministry as a way to strengthen our congregations.

We are a congregation of about 130 members, having some impressive increases in membership since we moved out of Green Valley proper to the nearby small/town community of Amado which has a nice mix of various ethnic and social groups and economic and educational levels - a great challenge for us - and for Small Group Ministry!

News & Events

Small Group Ministry at General Assembly
June 23-27, 2009 Minneapolis, Minnesota

We Look forward to seeing you!

WORKSHOP # 2010 - Enhancing, Revitalizing, Restarting Your Small Group Ministry
Thursday 4:30 - 5:45 PM Minneapolis Convention Center - 101 H
Sponsored by the GA Planning Committee

Presenting strategies used by congregations to sustain and enhance vibrant ministries, and to rejuvenate and restart programs that have decreased in vitality. Starting with the rationale for restructuring a covenant group program, the workshop features two congregations that underwent extensive rejuvenation and re-launch of their small group ministries within the last two years, doubling participation as a result. Presenters:
Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Moderator, member of the Northern New England District Small Group Ministry Committee and Vice-President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network
Rev. Peg Morgan, Minister of the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Seattle, WA
Steve Becker, Small Group Ministry Program Coordinator at Westside UU Congregation and President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network
Rev. Peter Friedrichs, Lead Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, Pennsylvania
Joyce McKee, Small Group Ministry Program Co-coordinator at UU Church of Delaware County


Saturday, June 26, 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, Hilton Minneapolis Hotel, Marquette I.
All are welcome to participate in further discussion after our Thursday workshop. Panelists from the presentation will be on hand to answer questions and exchange views about issues relating to Small Group Ministry programs. Join us!

BOOTH # 733 - The UU Small Group Ministry Network
Exhibit Hall, Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC)
Wednesday 12:30 to 7:00 PM         Thursday through Saturday 11:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Your headquarters for:
» Resources on facilitation and program management
» Opportunities to share SGM challenges and successes
» Answers to all your SGM & Covenant Group questions

ANNUAL MEETING - Friday, June 25, 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM, in the dining area near Booth # 733. Bring a lunch and join the Network Board of Directors for an opportunity to connect with other Covenant Group Ministry enthusiasts, learn more about the SGM Network, and get involved in Network activities. Meeting location and final agenda will be available at the Booth.

Proposed Agenda
1.Welcome, Introductions, Opening Words
2.Minutes of the 2009 Annual Meeting
3.President's Report: SGM Network status and activities
4.Financial Report
5.Bylaw Revision (See proposed revision)
6.Election of Board Members & Officers (See Nominations)
7.Open Discussion: SGM Network programs & projects

General Assembly, June 23-27 -- Minneapolis, Minnesota

Attention Network Members! Here's your opportunity to meet GA participants from every UUA district and talk about a topic dear to all our hearts-Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups! Facilitators, ministers, and coordinators from more than 6 member congregations have already volunteered. Join us at the booth! Sign up at

Small Group Ministry Discussion Group - Join the UUA List Serve
The SGM Discussion Group is the list serve from the Unitarian Universalist Association website, listed there as Covenant_Group_Ministry. The list provides an opportunity to share experiences, questions, comments, and problems with other individuals and congregations engaged in small group and covenant group ministry. Subscribe to the mailing list on the Network's website,

Networking Opportunities
Network with other congregations in your district, share best practices in small group ministry, and consider hosting a joint facilitator training or enrichment workshop. To view a complete list, visit our website and click on Who We Are: Our Members.

The source for session plans, networking opportunities, Small Group Ministry resources, news of events and workshops, membership renewal forms, and back issues of Covenant Group News and the SGM Quarterly. The Fall 2009 Quarterly is now posted on the site.


Summer Institute Goes to De Benneville Pines, Angelus Oaks, CA
Tuesday, August 31 to Friday, September 3, 2010

Registration Information at

Don't miss the fifth Small Group Ministry Summer Institute! The Institute began as a way of introducing congregations to SGM and providing resources for program development. Small Group Ministry is in various stages within congregations, from just an idea to a program. Within established programs there are also phases, and we are learning together as we move into the second decade of UU SGM. Congregations have found that sending several people to the Institute allows for congregational assessment and planning, as well as having people able to attend consecutive sessions.

The Institutes are designed on the premise that we all have things to share and are willing to gain knowledge and understanding. This is what we expect in our Small Group/Covenant Group Sessions - why not at the Institute?

Sessions planned include:
• Developing and maintaining sound groups, and group dynamics
• Starting, restarting and growing Small Group Ministry
• Developing and evaluating sessions
• Assessing your own program and building on your strengths
• Multigenerational Small Group Ministry - a "cutting edge" topic this year

Cost: Lodging and Program Fee: $350
$25 discount for registration before July 1
$25 discount for UU SGM Network members

Contact Helen Zidowecki at
or 207-582-5308 with questions and comments.

Camp de Benneville Pines is a retreat and conference center located in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino National Forest, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. At an elevation of 6,800 feet, the camp is surrounded by a forest of towering pines, cedars, and oaks and is affiliated with the Pacific Southwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Facilities include a swimming pool, a hot tub, children's playground, an archery range, and opportunities for many outdoor sports. Cabins are all equipped with modern bathrooms and hot showers, and offer comfortable sleeping quarters. Meals are prepared by kitchen staff and served in the main lodge. Contact for more information.

Read what others have to say about the Summer Institute:
Great practical ideas to take home. The times for sharing beyond the presentations were a fantastic opportunity! Lots of information. Really worthwhile experience.

The conference really reinforced for me the power of the small group ministry process. Three things about the experience made it memorable: the things I learned, the people I met, and the idyllic setting.

In addition to what was "taught," the most enriching aspect was being able to hear and dialogue about what others were doing in their SGM programs and why.

The program was well-planned; the variety of presentation styles kept interest high, as did the continuing movement in and out of different groups and places.

OTHER EVENTS -For Details see the Event Announcements

Saturday, August 7, 2010 (10 AM to 4 PM) Small Group Ministry Retreat
Washington Unitarian Universalist Church, Washington, Vermont
Facilitator: Rev. Dr. M'ellen Kennedy

Saturday, October 2, 2010 (8:30 to 4:30) Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training
Hosted by the North Parish of North Andover, MA
Facilitated by Rev. Dr. M'ellen Kennedy


*Saturday, October 2, 2010 (10am-3pm) Unitarian Universalist Church of Saco/Biddeford, Saco, ME
*Saturday, October 16, 2010 (10am-3pm) Western part of the District, probably Vermont

These workshops are Sponsored by the NNED Small Group Ministry Committee, based on discussion at the District Spring Conference Workshop (May 1, North Conway, NH)

The Small Group Ministry Network is now on Facebook! Join us and contribute to the ongoing conversation around Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups. The link is:

UU SGM Network Publications

Order forms available from

NEW! Small Group Ministry 2010: Celebrating Congregations

The 2010 compilation acknowledges and celebrates the work of over 80 congregations that have contributed to the UU Small Group Ministry movement since 2004. Now all in one place, this collection features articles published in Covenant Group News, the SGM Quarterly Journal, and the UUA e-list in the last year. Each article is introduced by a profile of the contributing congregation, including when and how their program started, how many groups and participants, and their unique challenges and success stories. The vitality of covenant group ministry programs across the denomination is clearly demonstrated in this compilation, the only one of its kind. Available at General Assembly and for mail order in June 2010. Advance orders welcome.

Network Members: $15 plus $5 shipping     Non-members: $25 plus $5 shipping

NEW! Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs
Looking for fresh, inspiring topics for your small group ministry program? This exciting new book offers a wide range of original, ready-to-use sessions covering Getting Started in a Group, the UU Seven Principles, Spiritual Journeying, Attitude Adjustment, Personal Beliefs and Values, Spiritual Challenges, Holidays, Just for Fun, Being Human, and Special Use subjects for events and national tragedies that affect our lives. Themes are drawn from art, literature, UU liturgy and hymnals, current events, and religious scriptures. Available at General Assembly and for mail order in June 2010.

Network Members: $20 plus $5 shipping     Non-members: $30 plus $5 shipping

Implementing Small Group Ministry:
For Starting, Restarting and Enhancing a Program
October 2009
How do congregations decide on group duration and meeting frequency? Does it take a team to manage a program? Drawing on current information from congregations, the SGM Institutes, and Covenant Group News, this evolving document presents a series of considerations for Small Group Ministry program development, ongoing administration, groups, facilitators, session plans, and visibility, with a new section on uses of small group ministry in multiple settings. Mix and match features to build a SGM program that meets your ministry objectives.

Network Members: $6 plus $5 shipping     Non-members: $10 plus $5 shipping

Ten Years of UU Small Group Ministry June 2009
In celebration of the Network's fifth anniversary, this collection traces the Small Group Ministry movement through classic articles from 1998 to the present. The book focuses on the introduction of the small group ministry concept, the rise of enthusiasm, the facilitator's role, the nature of groups, and the element of service. A special history section features the visionaries who made UU Small Group Ministry a reality.

Network Members: $15 plus $5 shipping     Non-members: $25 plus $5 shipping

Facilitator Training and Development Manual December 2008
Facilitator training and ongoing support are the keys to a successful small group ministry program. This training manual guides you through the process from recruitment and initial training through Facilitators Meetings and coaching. Part One is a plan for developing and implementing an in-house training program. Part Two, the Facilitator's Guide, is an interactive training module on CD to customize for your program, use in your training sessions and distribute to all group leaders.

Network Members: $15 plus $5 shipping     Non-member: $25 plus $5 shipping

Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry June 2008
A collection of 50+ articles from 5 years of the SGM Quarterly Journal, Covenant Group News, and website publications. Articles are arranged by topic, from basic elements of SGM, through the minister's role in shared ministry, sustaining your program, and the application of SGM principles in multiple aspects of congregational life.

Network Members: $15 plus $5 shipping       Non-member: $25 plus $5 shipping

Small Group Ministry for Youth
This dynamic format for middle and high school youth includes a session and discussion for facilitators and session plans for the Five Steps to Building Community and the Six Components of a Balanced Youth Program. Twenty-five session plans in all!

Network Members: $15 plus $5 shipping       Non-members: $25 plus $5 shipping

  To order any of the above publications:

Small Groups, Deep Connections

Who We Are

The UU Small Group Ministry Network is a grassroots organization of Unitarian Universalist congregations, ministers, small group ministry/covenant group leaders and participants.

Our mission is to help create healthy Unitarian Universalist congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist movement by promoting and supporting Small Group Ministry.

The purpose of the Network is "to support small group ministry and related shared ministry models in Unitarian Universalist congregations through developing new resources, networking, and training opportunities."

In addition to the SGM Quarterly journal for members and the free, online Covenant Group News, we publish new resources for program coordinators and facilitators, sponsor a consultation booth and SGM workshops at General Assembly, offer a week-long SGM Summer Institute, help local leaders plan regional SGM conferences, and give workshops in congregations and districts across the nation.

The UU SGM Network is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization supported solely by congregational and individual memberships, donations and publication sales revenue. Network Board members donate their time and personal resources to spread the good news of small group ministry.

Contact Information

Steve Becker, President (
Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Vice President (
Diana Dorroh, Secretary and Past President (
Susan Hollister, Treasurer (

The UU Small Group Ministry Network
The UU Small Group Ministry Network,

Write to us by email:, Attn: Rev. Helen Zidowecki

or by mail: UU Small Group Ministry Network
c/o Treasurer
4303 Swarthmore Rd.
Durham, NC 27707

Copyright © 2004-2010 the UU Small Group Ministry Network