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August 2010

Small Groups, Deep Connections August 2010
The UU Small Group Ministry Network
Covenant Group News
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In This Issue
  • Letter from the Editor
  • Show and Tell, from Claude VanderVeen, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Workshop on UU History and Heritage of UU SGM by Network President, Rev. Helen Zidowecki
  • Leadership Training Offered by the Southwest District in November
  • 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 know many of you are launching all or a significant number of your covenant groups in September, with worship services, sign up tables and other promotional activities. Many groups that have not met all summer are having their first meetings now. At the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, our groups meet all summer and continue to meet indefinitely. However, we're training people who became leaders over the summer and we're recruiting a few new leaders for new groups later in the Fall. Whatever model you're using, Fall is a time of regeneration and excitement for small group ministry. Send me your fall stories to share with other readers.

For the UU Small Group Ministry Network Board, this Fall is a time for conferences and trainings.
* Over this weekend, Susan Hollister will be presenting at the UU Cluster of Central North Carolina's Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training at the Community Church of Chapel Hill.
* Next week, Rev. Helen Zidowecki and I, assisted by Christine Trigeiro, will be staffing the annual Network Institute at the deBenneville Pines UU Retreat Center in Southern California. Helen says there will be 26 of us.
* In this edition, we have a description of a workshop on UU History and Heritage of UU SGM in Waltham, Mass on October 7 - 10, by Rev. Helen Zidowecki.
* Rev. M'ellen Kennedy, one of the Network founders, will be doing trainings in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Illinois.
* The Northern New England District will hold Small Group Ministry Workshops on October 2, in Saco, ME and on October 16 in the Western part of the district.
* And for those in the Southwest District, there will be a training on planning, implementing, and sustaining a successful small group ministry program. See the full description below, provided for our SWUUC members, but for others to see what kind of district trainings are possible.

Check the Network website Events page for more information on these training opportunities. And check it often to see the training opportunities near you. If you'd like to arrange a training event at your church or in your district, the Network would be happy to help. Contact us at Your email will be answered by Rev. Helen Zidowecki or another appropriate Board member.

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 1,385 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 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

Show and Tell by Claude VanderVeen, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I want to share with Covenant Group News readers, a type of "show and tell" sharing sessions we've been using in Milwaukee and some special activities we've been having in the summer.

Light Chalice, Sound Bell
Check In
Reading: HYMN 346 Come Sing A song With Me
Introduction: This song talks of sharing from our core, "that I might know your mind." Please bring in an object of art (e.g. pottery, painting, photograph, fiber art) that you have created, seen, purchased, that moves you deeply. Share the story of your first encounter with this work. Tell us why it moves you deeply. May we ask you questions about the work?
Check Out
Closing thought: "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours..."

Other possibilities:
Share a favorite poem.
Share your most beloved music.
Share stories of your favorite vacation.
Bring in pictures of you from your earliest years to present, in chronological order. Share some stories of these pictures/times.

During the church year, most of our topics are "serious," and during the summer, the meetings tend to be more "for fun." We have had movie nights, where we share a favorite movie, some popcorn, and discuss the movie. We've seen: King Of Hearts; Danny Darko; Gran Torino; Star Trek episodes, others. These meetings tend to be less cerebral, more showing our hearts, and help our group "gel."

Editor's Note: Claude is describing some "add on" sessions that his group uses in the summertime. In our Baton Rouge program, I've coached leaders to avoid doing films instead of meetings. However, as extra sessions or for use over the summer if your group normally takes the summer off, they can be within your model and enhance the group. Recently some of our leaders reported "add on's" that they've done in addition to the monthly meetings. What is your experience with "add on's?" Send me your stories

Workshop at the UU History and Heritage Convocation in Waltham, MA, October 7 - 10

The Small Group Ministry Network is presenting a workshop at the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Convocation in Waltham, MA, October 7-10. The title is "Capturing an Historic Trend: Decade of Small Group Ministry/Covenant Groups." The writings of the visionaries and the exchange of questions, comments, and experiences of people as they use Small Group Ministry makes this a highly documented transformation within Unitarian Universalism.

Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry is changing the way congregations interact since the late 1990's. Individuals and congregations have developed materials and shared widely, a cultural result of technology that the UU Small Group Ministry Network has fostered. The workshop explores
1) the importance of capturing history in the living,
2) technological and cultural changes that influence history, and
3) using current trends and technology to keep UU history alive, including Small Group Ministry experience within the workshop.

For more information on the UU History Convocation, see the Partners in Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage site at

Southwest District Leadership Training, November 12 - 14, 2010

Small Group Ministry (AKA Covenant Groups)
Starting, Restarting, or Enhancing Your Program

This training track will cover the basics of how to plan, implement and sustain a successful program. Workshop leaders are Rev. Helen Zidowecki, from Augusta, Maine, Rev. Steve Crump, and Diana Dorroh, both from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Churches are encouraged to send a team of 2-4 people, including a youth leader or advisor and a minister if possible. Bring your own successes and challenges to share. Topics will include:
* Benefits of small group ministry to your congregation, your members, and the world
* Structure to support your church's program
* 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
* Facilitator Identification, Selection, Training and Support
* Multi-and Intergenerational covenant groups, including groups for youth
* Selecting and Critiquing Sessions
* Small Group Ministry and Growth
* Assessment and ongoing development of Small Group Ministry in your congregation

Share your insights, strategies and experiences.
Send your comments to Diana at
We'll print them in the next CGNews.

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.

For complete information on a wide variety of training opportunities 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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