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September 2010

Small Groups, Deep Connections September 2010
The UU Small Group Ministry Network
Covenant Group News
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In This Issue
  • Letter from the Editor
  • A Note from Kim Doty, High Plains Church UU, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Experiences from UU SGM Institute 2010 Participants
  • 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

The 2010 UU Small Group Ministry Institute reconnected and re-energized me and provided me with many new ideas, issues and questions. Some of the other participants' experiences are also included in this issue. Our previous Institutes have been at Ferry Beach UU Conference Center in Saco, Maine in 2005 and 2006 and at the Mountain UU Retreat and Learning Center, in Highlands, North Carolina in 2008 and 2009. This year's Institute was held at Camp de Benneville Pines in Angelus Oaks, California. The UU SGM Network Board is considering returning to this site in 2011.

One new question for me was: What kinds of non-verbal responses promote deep sharing in a covenant group? Is it possible that keeping your body still is optimum and supportive and encourages us all to go deeper?

One of the cutting edge issues we discussed is making small group ministry available to more people in our congregations: those who need extra care, those who need transportation, handicapped members, parents who need childcare, families, children and youth. I got a note this month from Kim Doty, who shared that her church, High Plains Church UU, in Colorado Springs now has three groups with childcare. Please send me your stories about special efforts to include more people in your programs or in your own group. I plan to explore this topic over the next six months and I need your help.

It will be a year before there's another Institute, but there are many conference and training opportunities this fall. Consider organizing something in your district or cluster. The UU SGM Board will be glad to help you organize it. Contact us at Your email will be answered by Rev. Helen Zidowecki or another Board member.

The Fall 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 fall issue? I especially enjoyed reading the article on helping and being helped by Reverend Virginia Jarocha-Ernst, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Lincroft, New Jersey.

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.

Finally, the UU Small Group Ministry Board has been reviewing the content and mission of Covenant Group News. Current plans are to concentrate on the news about small group ministry, such as training opportunities, events, and publications; however, we will continue to include short articles and series of articles. Two series were included between August 2009 and June 2010, one on small group ministry and growth and another on churches' goals or ministry objectives and how they affect choices in program design. Those issues of CG News are available on the website.

As mentioned above, our next series will be on ways to make small group ministry available to more people in our congregations. Please consider contributing your ideas and practices. Have you provided radical hospitality that allowed someone to connect with your group? Did you have success with someone who was having trouble listening and being in right relationship? Does your program include youth? Does it include parents who need childcare to participate? Does it include handicapped or elderly church members?

Please share your ideas, questions, and experiences with the other 1,398 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 member 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

Note from Kim Doty, High Plains Church UU, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I'm a brand-new facilitator at High Plains. We call our small group ministry U&I - for Ultimacy and Intimacy.

My brand new group is all parents with childcare and you mentioned that in the July 2010 newsletter our U&I coordinator gave me, so I wanted to sign up. We had so much interest, we are starting 2 parent groups this month! I'm hoping to find parenting-oriented topics this way, among others.

Sue Majors is the U&I coordinator for the church; she is also a subscriber. We have a very large, active SGM. I think there are over 100 people involved.

Experiences from UU SGM Institute 2010 Participants

Several institute participants wrote notes about their experiences and how attending the Institute will affect their small group ministry programs:

I went to the Institute with some misgivings about my abilities in getting the program started in my church. I found my answers and I am more confident that I can assist in getting these small groups started. The trip was well worth it and I appreciate the efforts of the staff in making it happen.
Richard Peterson, Pacific Unitarian Church, Rancho Palo Verdes, California

The Small Group Ministry Institute at DeBenneville Pines, CA, was well thought through. AT the conclusion of our four days together, I felt confident to be a Chalice Circle facilitator and a trainer of facilitators. The Institute was enlightening as well as practical. We participated in dialogue, experienced meditative listening, practiced facilitation of a covenant group, and wrote a Session Plan, which included learning how to write open ended questions that prompt dialogue. I learned many tools to take back to the Small Group Ministry Program of my congregation.
Mary Currey, Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Vegas, Nevada

Wow...where to start. This adventure started with a flight across many miles. It proceeded with a "perilous" drive up the mountain, and ended at our glorious destination surrounded by huge and spectacular fir, pine, and cedar trees. It could have stopped there, but no. Instead we were graced with the company of 20+ wonderful human beings, sharing some wonderful insights into small group ministry. With the in-depth study of the process from beginning to end, along with a few new pearls, one could not help but be inspired! That was only the beginning. We were each assigned our own small group. For me, our first meeting felt like "being home." With commitment to deep listening (or meditative listening...not my coin) and deep sharing, we all seemed to grow and were each inspired to a new level of dedication to our ministry as facilitators to small groups. Thank you Helen and Diana for both presenting and listening. Thank you de Benneville Pines!
MiJa Thompson, Unitarian Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

THANKS Diana for assisting Helen with the institute. You were energizing for me as well. I am still excited about the whole process and looking forward to putting it all into practice soon.
Michelle Melancon UUC Riverside, California

In response to your request for comments on the institute --- It gave me exactly what I needed to set up a Small Group Ministry program for our congregation, which has never had one before. I came with a lot of questions and uncertainty and left with a feeling of "I can do this." Thanks! ---
Loretta Carmickle , UU Congregation of Green Valley, Amado, Arizona

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 Summer 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

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