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Monday, May 26, 2008

Is It Time For An SGM Conference In Your District?

By Susan Hollister, Devon, PA,
From the Winter 2008 SGM Quarterly

A regional Small Group Ministry conference provides the perfect opportunity for congregations in a given geographic area to get together, receive training and guidance from experienced lay leaders and experts, and hear each other’s program successes, challenges, and ideas.

The recent one-day event in the Joseph Priestley District shows how a congregation can host such a conference. SGM coordinators at the host church, Main Line Unitarian, consulted the UU SGM Network and arranged for two guest speakers to present a conference directed at three program stages: new, established, and emerging. The district office and MLUC emailed workshop announcements and registration forms to all 64 congregations in the district. The fee of $35 person (3/$100) included continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, and conference handouts.

Home hospitality was provided for the guest speakers and participants arriving the day before. Church members donated home- made soups for lunch. One of the church’s Small Groups adopted the conference as their service project, acting as greeters, registrars, and kitchen helpers. Proceeds from the conference covered the speakers’ air fare, food purchases for the two meals served, and a generous donation to the SGM Network.

As the JPD example demonstrates, a modest fee coupled with home hospitality and simple meals enables a congregation to easily host a workshop. Co-sponsoring with nearby or cluster congregations would make the production even more feasible. Consider the many benefits of hosting: connection of area clergy, leadership, and SGM participants; service to your congregation; affirmation of your own facilitators; and promotion and support of the small group ministry movement on the district level.

The UU Small Group Ministry Network helps local leaders plan regional workshops. To explore the possibility of a conference in your area, contact us as

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Event: Gathering the Power of Small Group Ministry

Gathering the Power of Small Group Ministry

Day 1: March 8 at Allen Avenue UU Church, 524 Allen Avenue, Portland, Maine

Day 2: March 15 at First Universalist Church, 9 Easy Street, Pittsfield, Maine

9 AM to 1 PM each day, before Lunch

Congregations that have Small Group Ministry and those considering starting Congregational Leaders, Ministers, Coordinators, Facilitators Bring a team!

Sessions by Interest.

1.“Starting Small Group Ministry Program in Your Church” Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Augusta, ME

2.“Facilitators—New and Experienced” Carol Hayden, Allen Avenue, Portland, ME

3.“Questions and Answers for Ministers, Coordinators, Steering Committee Members” Kathy Kellison, Augusta, ME

This program is sponsored by the Northeast District Small Group Ministry Network.

For more information contact: Helen Zidowecki, 207-582-5308, or Joy Blanchette, UU District Office, 603-228-8704,

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Event: Beyond the Basics with Mellen Kennedy

Beyond The Basics:
A Gathering and Training for Leaders of Mature Small Group Ministry Programs
Saturday, February 23, 2008, 10am - 4pm
First Universalist Chapel Society, Woodstock, VT

This workshop is aimed at lay and professional leaders working with functioning SGM programs -- that is programs that have been in existence for at least a year. It will be an opportunity to gather for mutual support, in depth sharing and advanced training. Registrants will be asked to bring materials to share from the successes and challenges of their programs.

This program is being organized by the NH/VT Small Group Ministry Committee.

For more info contact M'ellen Kennedy at

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Small Group Ministry Event - March 1, 2008 - Devon, PA

Small Group Ministry: Building and Strengthening Programs
Saturday, March 1, 2008
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Main Line Unitarian Church, Devon, Pennsylvania

The Joseph Priestley District and Main Line Unitarian Church are pleased to offer this workshop for congregations starting new Small Group Ministry/Covenant Group programs and those with established programs. Conference leaders are Rev. Helen Zidowecki and Diana Dorroh of the UU Small Group Ministry Network. The workshop will cover essential elements of small group ministry, start-up basics, facilitator training, strengthening existing programs, and advanced facilitator skills. This conference is designed for program coordinators, ministers, and new and experienced facilitators. For further information and to register, contact Sally Fritzson at

Download Registration Form

The Small Group Ministry (SGM) movement is continuing to grow in Unitarian Universalist Churches as groups of ten gather with a facilitator to consider issues of spirituality, life stories and challenges. Small Group Ministry strengthens congregations by building connections among individuals, engendering compassion and supporting commitment to serve. Whether you are considering starting SGM or have an established program, join us for a full day of training and inspiration to further your efforts in SGM. A special focus will be on developing skills of current facilitators.

Diana Dorroh, Program Director and Rev. Steve Crump have led the Baton Rouge Program since it’s beginning in 1999. She participated in several workshops organized by Rev. Bob Hill. Her special interest is in using small group ministry to strengthen and grow congregations. She currently serves as volunteer staff at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge. Diane is President of the Small Group Ministry Network Board.

Rev. Helen Zidowecki has been involved with Small Group Ministry for 10 years in Maine and in the Augusta congregation, where she is a facilitator and on the Topic Committee. Her special interest is Small Group Ministry in Lifespan Faith Development, and as a process in changing congregations. She was the Program Consultant for the Northeast District until July 2007. Helen resides in Litchfield, ME.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Event: Building and Sustaining a Strong SGM Program

This event announcement just in from North Shore UU church in Danvers, MA
- Peter

Download Flier (PDF)

Dear Friends,

Attached is a flyer announcing a training workshop on Building and
Sustaining a Strong Small Group Ministry Program, to be held on
January 12 at the Northshore UU church in Danvers. If you already
have an ongoing Small Group Ministry Program, this would be a great
opportunity to train new facilitators, or to infuse a renewed
commitment into a program which may be drifting. If you are just now
considering the possibility of establishing such a program in your
congregation, this would provide an excellent foundation.

We look forward to seeing participants from your congregation at this
event in the new year.

Jeanne Nieuwejaar
Interim Minister

Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church
323 Locust Street
Danvers, MA 01923
Telephone: 978-774-7582

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Friday, March 16, 2007

EVENT: Sustaining a Strong Small Group Ministry Program

Sustaining a Strong Small Group Ministry Program
Thursday, April 12, 7-9 PM
First Unitarian Congregation of Cleveland, Ohio

This First Unitarian Congregation of Cleveland is pleased to offer a training opportunity for SGM enthusiasts.

The workshop will cover the following topics:
- the power and purpose of Small Group Ministry (or Covenant Groups)
- the essential components of a Small Group Ministry program
- addressing common challenges in an SGM program
- developing shared leadership within a small group
- handling group difficulties.

This event will be of particular value to those serving as group leaders or facilitators in a small group ministry program. Others, including professional ministers, those serving on steering committees for SGM programs, or those with an interest in being part of small group ministry are also welcome and will benefit from this workshop.

The workshop leader is the Dr. M'ellen Kennedy, a UU community minister and community psychologist. She is co-founder and co-coordinator of the UU Small Group Ministry Network and serves as editor of this organization's "Small Group Ministry Quarterly." Dr. Kennedy has been working with lay led small groups for over 20 years and has offered facilitator training to hundreds of lay and professionals leaders. She also serves as a consulting minister for the Universalist Society in Strafford, Vermont.

The church is located at 21600 Shaker Boulevard, Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Please contact if you'd like to attend.

Submitted by Mellen Kennedy

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