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July 2010

Small Groups, Deep Connections July 2010
The UU Small Group Ministry Network
Covenant Group News
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In This Issue
  • Letter from the Editor
  • Update on the UU Small Group Ministry Institute at deBenneville Pines, Angelus Oaks, CA, Aug. 31 - Sept. 3.
  • Connecting at General Assembly by UU SGM Network Board Member Susan Hollister
  • News and Events
  • 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

I spent several pleasant hours reading the UU Small Group Ministry's new publication, Small Group Ministry 2010 Celebrating Congregations, compiled and edited by Rev. Helen Zidowecki. It contains information on 151 congregations from 38 states, Canada, and Mexico and more complete profiles, including program successes and challenges, from 89 churches. Helen recommends reading the stories for enjoyment before analyzing the content. I followed her instructions. However, one of the common new ventures I spotted is launching groups with childcare for parents of young children. This caught my attention because we've been doing that in Baton Rouge for more than three years. We've had considerable success, involved about 35 parents, and encountered a few challenges. Others are experimenting with small group ministry for children, youth, and families. The Network will be exploring this general topic in more depth over the next year, at the Institute and in the Network Quarterly. If you have experience, let us hear about it.

The biggest news from the Network is our annual Institute at deBenneville Pines, in Angelus Oaks, CA. Registration is strong, but we still have room for you or a team from your congregation. At the Institute we explore the key aspects of successful programs and the role of small group ministry in our congregations, learn new skills, meet people dedicated to making small group ministry work, and share our successes and challenges. But the most exciting aspect of the Institute is working together to push the boundaries of the current body of knowledge. In this issue, we have a new piece by Rev. Helen Zidowecki on the Institute and you'll find a flier and registration form on the Network website, If you're within driving distance, it's definitely worth the drive, but airfare into Ontario, CA was also reasonable when I booked my flight last week. I hope to see you there.

In this edition, there is also a piece by Network Board Member Susan Hollister about the Network-sponsored General Assembly program and discussions and experiences from the UU Small Group Ministry booth. It is clear that small group ministry is growing, as congregations across the country seek ways to enhance their existing programs or to start new programs.

The Summer 2010 SGM Quarterly has been mailed to Network members. Every Quarterly contains articles by and for coordinators, ministers, and facilitators. If you are not a member, why not join now and receive this summer issue?

We are financially independent of the UUA and depend upon membership and publications sales to cover our modest expenses. You can check on our website to see whether your congregation is a Network member. As an added incentive to membership, we offer a member discount of 40% off all our UU SGM Network publications.

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.

Please share your ideas, questions, and experiences with the other 1,365 Covenant Group News subscribers. Send them to me at Thanks to Anne Haynes, from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, IN, for proofing this edition and to our Quarterly Editor, Beth Tiewater, and Board members Susan Hollister and Helen Zidowecki for 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

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

Join us in the Institute! There is still room.
The Small Group Ministry Institute moves to encourage more local exposure, while drawing from congregations around the continent. It is in the West this year.
See the Flier and Registration materials

As of July 24, 12 congregations in 5 states have registered!
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. There will be opportunity to experience Small Group Ministry sessions.

We are including evolving information from congregation in the new publication, Celebrating Congregations, from discussions at the Small Group Ministry booth at General Assembly, and at the General Assembly workshop, as well as resources available to address topics such as:

* Why and Wherefore of SGM: History and background, Small Group Ministry in the Unitarian Universalism -congregational and beyond, and successful Small Group Ministry
* Roles and Resources of: Program Director, Minister and other Religious Professionals, and lay leadership
* Developing and Deepening Group Experience: Things to consider, options and guidelines, cycles of groups
* Is Small Group Ministry for Everyone?
* Facilitation: From selection, to orientation and development, to specific concerns
* The Session Themselves: Resources for session plan selection and development, including the new publication, Spiritual Journeys
* Service to Congregation and Community: The impact of service on a group and the congregation
* Assessment and ongoing development of Small Group Ministry in your congregation: Where you are now, your vision, and developing your own plan.

This Institute will include Small Group Ministry for parents and families, multigenerational Small Group Ministry, and the increasing involvement of religious educators with Small Group Ministry. Youth and Young Adults are welcome at the conference.

The Institutes are based on the premise that we all have things to share and are willing to gain knowledge and understanding. The Faculty includes Helen Zidowecki (Augusta, ME), Diana Dorroh (Baton Rouge, LA) and Christine Trigeiro (Escondido, CA)

See the Flier and Registration materials at, and attached.
Also attached is the brochure that was developed by deBenneville Pines.

Connecting at General Assembly
Susan Hollister, UU SGM Network Board Member

The 2010 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in Minneapolis last month was especially exciting for the Small Group Ministry Network. A capacity audience attended our workshop, "Enhancing, Revitalizing, Restarting Your Small Group Ministry." We learned successful strategies from two congregations that had revamped their programs, doubling the number of participants. A record number of SGM enthusiasts stopped by the booth to talk with us, ask questions, and purchase resources. We sold out of Small Group Ministry 2010: Celebrating Congregations and are looking at second printings of both it and Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs. Seven congregations became Network members during GA. A special SGM Discussion hour, offered for the first time this year, allowed us to have in-depth consultations with congregations in the process of starting or expanding their covenant group programs.

Covenant Group members from all over the U.S. volunteered with us at the booth. We got to personally connect with Network members that we had known only by names and email addresses before then. In this way, Covenant Groups become ever-widening circles. We connect within our own small groups, with all the groups in our congregation, with covenant groups in nearby congregations, and then with programs across the entire denomination. GA 2011 is in Charlotte, North Carolina. We encourage each of you to attend, visit us at the booth, participate in our workshop, and connect with hundreds of other UUs involved in Small Group/Covenant Group Ministry.

News & Events

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 Spring 2010 Quarterly is now posted on the site.

UU Cluster of Central North Carolina - Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training
Saturday, August 28, 2010, 9 AM - 4 PM at The Community Church of Chapel Hill, UU, Chapel Hill, NC. Jointly sponsored by Community Church and The UU Small Group Ministry Network. For new and experienced facilitators and program coordinators, as well as ministers and congregation leaders starting a covenant group program. For more information and a registration form, contact Liz Bryan, Registrar, at 410-348-5221 or Registrants outside the cluster are welcome as space allows.


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. Visit 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.

Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training     Saturday, October 2, 2010 All Day
Hosted by the North Parish of North Andover, MA
Facilitated by Rev. Dr. M'ellen Kennedy

For a registration form and more information, please contact Rev. Kennedy at or 802-453-5469.

For more details and events see the Event Announcements

UU SGM Network Publications

Order forms available from

NEW! Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs
This exciting new book offers a wide range of original, ready-to-use sessions covering Spiritual Journeying, Personal Beliefs and Values, Spiritual Challenges, Holidays, Just for Fun, Being Human, and Special Use subjects for events that affect our lives. Themes are drawn from art, literature, UU liturgy and hymnals, current events, and religious scriptures.

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

NEW! Small Group Ministry 2010: Celebrating Congregations
The 2010 compilation celebrates the work of over 100 congregations that have contributed to the UU Small Group Ministry movement since 2004. There are profiles of contributing congregations, including when and how their program started, how many groups and participants they have, and their unique challenges and success stories.

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

To order any of the above publications or to get a list of all our 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

Rev. Helen Zidowecki, President (
Steve Becker, Vice President (
Diana Dorroh, Secretary (
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

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