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the UU Small Group
Ministry Network
SGM Journal - News - Become a member - Print membership form

Sharing the Vision of Small Group Ministry
Join UU SGM Network Annual Meeting Conference Call
Sunday, October 6, 2013, at 7:00-8:00pm ET
Call in number: 213-342-3000, Participant Code 168366#
For questions or agenda items, contact Office@smallgroupministry.net

  1. Opening Reading: Rekindling the Chalice of Small Group Ministry
  2. Introductions: Joining our voices (Please give congregational location and name, and your name.)
  3. Highlights from the year: Sharing connections, successes and challenges
  4. Visioning for the future - This next year and beyond
  5. Board participation as a ministry: See the Invitation to Board participation.
  6. Board meetings as collaborations

The Annual Report will be a resource for the Annual Meeting.

ANNUAL REPORT: June 2012-September 2013

The time and methodology of the Annual Meeting has changed in the last two years. Traditionally, the Network Annual Meetings were held at GA, usually in one of our Program slots. Changes in GA structure deleted the ability of organizations to hold annual meetings connected with programs, and we met at alternate times. In 2012 we planned a conference call Annual Meeting as most or our Board was not at GA. The connection of the Annual Meeting with GA eliminated the potential of participating for a number of our members. Hence, we passed a bylaws change that allows the Board to set the Annual meeting, separate from GA.

Introductions: Members and non-members are welcome, but only Network members may vote. Members at the Annual Meeting are those whose membership is current, and those in the renewal period up to 3 months after membership expiration. Our Membership Count as of September 30 will be announced at the meeting.

Current projects are updating the membership database and defining the membership renewal process as follows:

  1. PayPal renewals are sent automatically.
  2. A month before due date, an e-mail reminder is sent to the contact person for congregations.
  3. If renewal is not received within 2 months of the date due, an e-mail will be sent notifying the lapsed member that their ability to access the Member Section will terminate at the end of third month after expiration, and can be re-activated ONLY with membership renewal.
  4. Members are encouraged to send an initial or updated Profile when submitting membership forms.

Highlights from the Year:
The year started with the Board Retreat in September 2012 at Murray Grove, with an updated Baord Manual. Along with planning the activities for the year, we identified our Network as Stewards of Small Group Ministry: Past, Present, Future.

General Assembly 2013: We generally have two major activities at GA: a workshop and a booth. We submitted an application for a workshop and worked with Young Adult Ministry on an application. Neither applications were accepted. This was the first year since 2004 that our Small Group Ministry Network has not been involved in a workshop. See Future Consideration:

In CGN July/August: The UU Small Group Ministry Network has had a GA booth almost every year since its beginning in 2004. The Network Board staffs the booth and has always had lots of visitors and wonderful interaction at the booth. We've finished GA feeling exhausted, but sure we've provided a service to people and their small group ministry programs.

In the beginning, people stopped by to ask what small group ministry was. In the middle years, they brought their problems, both with individual groups and their programs, often complaining that their minister didn't support the program. This year, many of our visitors were ministers and they stopped by to tell us how much success they're having with small group ministry. The majority of visitors said they use the Network website extensively, thanked us profusely, and said they felt guilty that their congregation wasn't a member of the Network. Others thanked us for providing the SGM Institute and giving them what they needed to start a wonderful program.
Popular topics this year included small group ministry as part of campus ministry and ways to use theme-based ministry in a SGM program.

SGM Institute, July 22-26, 2013 at Murray Grove (See "Institute Notations" in CGN July/August 2013)
We did several specific things this year:
--The registration was handled on line by the Central East Regional Group. This allowed payment via credit cards.
--The Institute Packet was the modules that had been field-tested for the Institute 2011 and edited. These will be available in the Members Section of the Website. Jan Carlsson-Bull and Michelle Collins joined Susan Hollister, Diana Dorroh and Helen Zidowecki on the Institute faculty. We invited participants to lead sections, and would encourage more of this.
--We planned for commuters and for evening session involving surrounding congregations. Unfortunately, we evening sessions did not draw additional participants.

The attendance was 15, including faculty. In fact, the last 4 institutes have had under 20 participants, including leaders. See Future Considerations.

Networking Grant. We received a grant of $5,000 from the UU Funding Program to increase the level of networking around Small Group Ministry, in the following areas:
Resources: We have edited and included "Implementing Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry: For Starting, Restarting, and Enhancing Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups into the website. The Modules connected with Implementing at Institute 2013 will be available via Members Section of the website. We are still working on a feedback mechanism for these items, in addition to e-mail to office@smallgroupministry.net.

Members Sections: We are setting up a section of the website for members to submit information about their programs, with information so that they may contact each other. This will be up by early October. The ongoing communication section will be developed within input from participants. In addition, the Resource Section includes the Modules for workshops, and is an opportunity for members to share policies, procedures, and other resources. A second type of Members Section is still in planning: separate sections for ministers, lay coordinators, and religious educators. Hopefully, this will be accomplished by December.

Social Media: We established the Small Group Ministry Network Face Book section. Thanks to Diana Dorroh and Susan Hollister for greeting new subscribers. As of this writing, there are 86 subscribers, not based on Network membership, but increasing the number of people and congregations that have connections with Network.

Sustainable membership: We are working on expanding benefits to membership, including increasing interactions via the Members Section. We also hope that increased awareness of what our Network has to offer will encourage membership for both resources and to assist with the ongoing work.

We will be asking for a short-term extension of the grant, as the Membership Sections are taking longer to implement than originally planned. A major expenditure is the additional time for the webmaster technical time. The Grant report is available on request from office@smallgroupministry.net.

b>Publications -We changed the SGM Quarterly to the SGM Journal and decreased editions to two. We also changed the CGN to bi-monthly. A team of three publishes the bi-monthly Covenant Group News and bi-annual SGM Journal. CG News is a news and announcements venue while the Journal features articles by and for ministers, coordinators, facilitators, and participants. We want to involve Network members in production of both periodicals. In June 2013 we created the Online Store for the purchase of publications. We have updated the website Home page about monthly, with connections to Facebook and Blog.

Influences of Network
Extent to which congregations connect with the Network
We are reviewing congregations that have connection with Network via membership, articles, session plans, FB and attendance at Institutes. (Some data will be available at the Annual Meeting). We are also surveying congregations by district, such as via websites, to see what additional congregations have small group ministry in place. This will provide data on the visible extent of UU Small Group Ministry.

Network Connections with other groups:
Three references to the UU SGM Network have advanced the work of small group ministry.
1. UUA Interconnections collaboration with Don Skinner, Editor, September 2013, was the third article, with previous articles in 1999 and 2001. Also Interconnections Tipsheet entries focus on SGM, the Network, CGNews:[ http://tipsheet.blogs.uua.org/tag/small-group-ministry/] Don asked about creating a comprehensive history of UU SGM, which we have been keeping.

2.The Network is included in the 99 Valuable Tools for Leading a Congregation (#36), from Online Seminary Schools (http://www.onlineseminaryschools.org/leadership/) The feature gives direct links to our Network website online Resources and Session Plans. This is an interfaith resource!

3.Consolidation social media sources is in process and will focus our SGM Network Facebook as a primary social media source for Small Group Ministry. The UU SGM Lab (Facebook) was started by Peter Bowden, who is suggesting that its members join our network. The UUA Covenant Group Ministry e-list has been rather dormant until the last few days. We are going to consider suggesting that subscribers change to our Facebook.

--Delineating the Network structure needed, or distinguishing Board structure and functions of the Network. This includes increased involvement participation on the Board. See Invitation to participate
--Workshop at GA (Application due Nov. 1). --Do we want to submit an application for a workshop at GA? If so are there emerging topics, such as Small Group Ministry in Differing Settings, etc.
--Institute: Format (length of time, a week versus a long weekend, etc.), location and frequency.

Download a copy of this report here.


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

Small Group Ministry is transforming lives, congregations and our liberal religious movement. We are helping by facilitating the exchange of resources and information through this site and Covenant Group News, developing new resources, organizing regional small group ministry conferences. The Network has a booth, workshops, and discussion at General Assembly (the annual meeting of the congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association).

On August 26, 2008, the UU Small Group Ministry Network was approved as a tax-exempt charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Network is now eligible to make grant applications to further support our work. Further, all donations to the Network are tax-deductible.

You are invited to be part of the Network Board of Directors!
The UU Small Group Ministry Network is seeking new members for our Board of Directors. We are looking for people with experience in small group ministry/covenant groups and a keen interest in furthering small group ministry in the denomination. You may be recommended for a position or you may place your name in nomination because of your dedication to small group ministry and your involvement in the congregation and larger community.

The position is for one year, with re-election possible for up to 3 years.
  • Elections are held at the Annual Meeting or at a meeting of the Network Board of Directors. The meeting will be via phone conference and you are invited to attend.
  • The Board and committees meet by conference call for a time commitment of about 2 hours/month.
  • Board functions include personnel, financial and grants management; education, publications, and Network membership, and involve both Board and non-Board Network members. Board members work in at least one function area in addition to the Board conference calls.
  • Communications outside of conference calls are usually via e-mail.

Please refer to the Job Description and Bylaws for the activities and responsibilities of Board members and committees. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about becoming a member of the UU SGM Network Board, please contact:
    Office@smallgroupministry.net or Membership@smallgroupministry.net

Our By-Laws
Contact Us

Meet the Board

The Board of the UU Small Group Ministry is elected at annual meetings. The Officers and Board for 2012-2013 are:

Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Augusta, ME, President
Diana Dorroh, Baton Rouge, LA, Secretary
Susan Hollister, Durham, NC, Treasurer
Steve Becker, Seattle, WA
Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull, Kingston, NY
Michelle Collins, Wilmington, DE
Linda Serra, UU Church, Atlanta, GA


Steve Becker has been involved with small group ministry since 2003 in the Seattle, WA area, where he has offered facilitator training, served as a member of the Theme Team, and has facilitated a group for persons with special needs. His special interest is developing topics for covenant groups, including Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs. Steve lives in Seattle.

Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull introduced small group ministry at First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Cohasset, Massachusetts, where she was Minister for six years. The program grew to encompass 25% of the membership. Jan has held leadership positions on the UUA's Commission on Social Witness, the Metro/NY District's Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee, and in district chapters of the UU Ministers Association. She was a charter member of the Board of the UU Trauma Response Ministry. She was interim ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston, NY. She is starting her ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, CT.

Michelle Collins has been involved with small group ministry since 2006 when she restarted and coordinated the chalice circle program at the Towson UU Church in Lutherville, MD.  Her special interest is in growing and nurturing small groups as tiny communities where members care for each other while growing their own spiritual paths.  She is also interested in developing ways to support group facilitators.  Her work with small group ministries will continue with her role as Assistant Minister of Pastoral Care & Programs at the First Unitarian Church of Wilmington, Delaware.

Diana Dorroh, Program Director, and Rev. Steve Crump have led the Baton Rouge program since its beginning in 1999. That program now has 200 participants. She participated in several workshops organized by Rev. Bob Hill when he was District Executive of the Southwest District. Her special interest is in using small group ministry to strengthen and grow congregations. She is just completing her years of service as volunteer staff at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge. She has led workshops on Small Group Ministry, is co-author of the Network's Facilitator Manual. Diana is Secretary for the Small Group Network Board and is editor of the Covenant Group News (CGN).

Susan Hollister is on the Covenant Group Leadership Team at Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham, NC. She helped launch Small Group Ministry at Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, PA, where she co-facilitated a group and served on the SGM Steering Team and the session writing team. Susan promotes SGM as an ideal way for newcomers to meet people and make connections.

Linda Serra is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Georgia, where she coordinates the UUCA Covenant Group Program as her primary responsibility as Lay Minister. She served as a group facilitator when the program was launched in 2006, and assumed responsibility for the program two years later. Linda believes that a dynamic SGM program creates a vigorous energy that strengthens every other aspect of a congregation.

Rev. Helen Zidowecki has been involved with Small Group Ministry for 10 years. She is a member of the Augusta, ME congregation, where she is a facilitator and on the Topics Committee. Her special interest is SGM in Lifespan Faith Development and in smaller congregations. She was the Program Consultant, Northeast District, until July 2007. She leads workshops and writes materials on SGM. Helen resides in Litchfield, ME. She is President for the SGM Network Board and works on the website.


July 2, 2013
We received about 12 responses regarding the change in the Bylaws, all affirming the change. Therefore, the Network Annual Meeting: Sunday, October 6, 2013, 7:00pm ET, electronically. The Call to the Meeting and Agenda will be posted on the Website and in the Network publications.
Note: We had a suggestion that we use additional electronic communication to FreeConference, such as Skype. We will consider this.
Helen Zidowecki

Dear Network Members,

The Network Board would like your input in several specific ways:
FIRST, the Board considered the timing of the Network Annual Meeting, which has been scheduled at General Assembly. When the network was founded in June 2005, Annual Meetings at GA was common practice for groups. A number of changes in GA structure eliminated this as a viable option. If you would like more information on this history, please let me know.

The amendment process allows for the Board to make amendments, and to have a thirty day comment period from Network members. Therefore, this is to share the Board decision and to request your input. The Bylaws are at http://www.smallgroupministry.net/bylaws.html

On a conference call on June 5, the Board voted

That the Bylaws be amended as follows:
1. The Annual Meeting shall be held at a time and place determined by the Executive Board.

This prospective bylaw change shall be in effect following a time in which the Board will seek input on this perspective bylaw change from the membership. Input is requested by July 22, 2013. If the input is generally positive, this bylaw change will go into effect as of July 26, 2013.

Please send your comments to office@smallgroupministry.net by July 22, 2013. Thanks.

Second, along with the above motion, we are scheduling the Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 6, 2013, at 7:00pm ET via conference call (FreeConference.com). The Call to the Meeting and Agenda will be available at the GA Network Booth # 419, posted on the Website and in the Network publications this summer.

THIRD, Please join us for Breakfast Meeting at General Assembly, on Sunday, June 23, 7am-8:30 am. (Location to be announced at the GA Network Booth #419)
Discussion will include:

Network activities: successes and challenges.
Members interested in being on the Board or committees
What the next year holds for Small Group Ministry/Covenant Groups
Update on the Small Group Ministry Institute (July 22-26 at Murray Grove)

Please let us know that you would like to join us so that we can make a reservation for you, by contacting Helen Zidowecki via office@smallgroupministry.net by June 17 or by signing up at the Booth by June 21.

And we look forward to meeting you at the Network Booth #419 at General Assembly!

Thanks for your continuing involvement with Small Group Ministry and support of the Network.

Rev. Helen Zidowecki, President, Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network

Concept for Annual Meeting and Report, June 22, 2012
Rev. Helen Zidowecki, President

Goal of The Network is Networking! When the Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network (Network) started in 2004, the focus was on promoting Small Group Ministry/Covenant Groups. The major activity of the Network was writing articles and offering educational programs and consultation, primarily by the founders and developers (Calvin Dame, Peter Bowden, M'ellen Kennedy, Glenn Turner, Bob Hill). In 2009 the Network moved from a staffed organization to a volunteer group with the focus of a clearinghouse and networking. Geographic representation on the Network Board and in Network activities broadened from primarily east coast to country-wide. We are moving into a more intentional level of networking to meet the challenges of 1) expansion of UU Small Group Ministry into all areas of congregational life (including multigenerational groupings), and 2) use of electronic and social media.

Small Group Ministry/Covenant Groups is an integral part of UU congregations, with about 70% of Unitarian Universalist congregations including this as an integral part of "doing church." The Network holds the largest collection of materials written about, for, and by Small Group Ministry programs, with the commitment to make such information available and accessible.

Networking involves interactions:
  1. From the Network itself to congregations, with of publications SGM Quarterly Journal, Covenant Group News (CGN), manuals and resources, and the website.
  2. From individuals and congregations to the Network, with submission of over 500 session plans and articles for Network publications. About 200 congregations are represented in the Network publications now, and we would like to continue increasing that.
  3. Among individuals and congregations. CGN particularly has asked for questions and responses, and our intention is to increase this type of networking.
Our goal is to strengthen and enhance networking with an emphasis on the interactions among congregations. To this end we want to:
  1. Make resources that are more accessible, immediately and ongoing.
  2. Increase use of social media and focused networking (ministers, administrators, religious educators, for example).
  3. Structure the Network Board for a new level of networking.
Development and management of resources are accessible.
Implementing Small Group Ministry is a document that has evolved into over 100 pages as the various ways of Implementing Small Group Ministry has come to the attention of the Network. We want to make this an interactive document from the website.
  1. Put Implementing on the website as a separate section with designated sub-sections.
  2. Develop an intentional mechanism to response, add to the various sections, and to continually refine so that this is an evolving document.
  3. Review and catalog current website materials to be accessible in categories similar to Implementing for continuity.
  4. Linking the educational modules developed for Small Group Ministry Institute 2011 with the organizational structure of current and new materials.
Increase use of social media and focused networking
  1. Developing our use of electronic/social media. We have started a Facebook Group and are attracting members, some of whom have not been connected with the Network previously. We have also started a Blog.
  2. Focused Networking. We are increasingly receiving inquiries about materials related to specific groups of professionals. These include ministers, religious educators and Small Group Ministry/Covenant Group administrators. We would like to develop specific sections of the website related to these and possibly other specific focuses.
Structure the Network Board FOR A new level of networking.
The traditional structure of Network will be reviewed related to our vision of networking.
    1. Membership: As the Network becomes more open and invites greater participation, we need define the benefits of membership.
    *SGM Quarterly goes to members in advance of being posted on the website.
    *Members receive discounts on publications and conference registrations.

    Potential: Have a section of the website with member profiles (starting with the profiles in the Network publication, Celebrating Congregations and updated as membership is renewed), so that communications can increase communications among the members.
  1. The voluntary Network structure can move from traditional to focused. For example:
    *Outreach is done by everyone and increasingly via electronic media. The Outreach Committee function is changing to capturing what everyone is doing and identifying areas where we can invite more inclusion. Committee chair is an Outreach Coordinator.
    *The Education Committee would be changing from offering workshops and the Summer Institute to monitoring the use of the Implementing Modules and other educational programs, and to considering how to address educational needs that are expressed. Committee Chair an Education Coordinator.
    *Developing a consulting/speaker's bureau and asking for people to apply to be part of these. This would be a new function with a Consultation Coordinator.

    It is conceivable that the Board structure would also have designated roles, such as
    *Contact with specific groups, including encouraging the networking and monitoring/disseminating the information received;
    *Guiding specific publications.

The focus of committees and the Board itself would be on collaboration among the activities.
We will be requesting grant funding to facilitate this transition.

Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network
Annual Meeting and Reports, June 25, 2011 Minutes

Present: Jan Carlsson-Bull, Diana Dorroh, Grace Hirsh, Susan Hollister, Helen Zidowecki, Larkie Gildersleeve, Alan Hollister, Judy Anne Langston
Board Members Unable to attend: Steve Becker, Mike MacLaury, Linda Serra

Welcome and Opening Words: Helen
With gratitude let us share our common vision.
With excitement let us move forward with our mission of changing congregations, changing individuals, changing UUism.
Let us embrace the intimacy as we work together.
Let us embrace the ultimacy as we explore and enhance Small Group Ministry.

Recorder: Diana Dorroh, Secretary
Minutes of the Annual Meeting June 25, 2010 Action: Approved, motion by Grace Hirsh.

Agenda: This agenda in annotated to include report of activities and some suggestions for 2011-2012 (usually in italics).

Treasurer's Report Susan
Sources of Income (7): Memberships, sales of resources (Network and shared -- Peter Bowden), Small Group Ministry Network Institute, Pay pal, Endowment, Grants (GA Planning Committee and Fund for Unitarian Universalism for Institute $3250), donations (churches, individuals).($1058.99)

Resource revenue is $2024 year to date, up from $1636 last year. Surge expected during GA.
Some financial notes appear in notations below.

Total Income Year to date 15,394.02. Total Expenses: 17,449.50

Board Elections
Nominating Committee ReportSusan
PresidentHelen Zidowecki
Vice PresidentVacant
SecretaryDiana Dorroh
TreasurerSusan Hollister
At Large:Steve BeckerJan Carlsson-Bull
 Grace HirshMike MacLaury
 Linda Serra

Action: There were no additional nominations.
Moved/Seconded/Passed: The slate was approved as presented.

Considerations for 2011-2012:

  1. Keep the role of the Vice-President primarily as back-up to the President. Move the GA oversight function from the VP position and to a position of GA Coordinator. (Bylaws)
  2. Continue to recruit for Treasurer for 2012, possibly working with Susan this year.
  3. We previously set the desired size of the Board at 9. This means that we have 2 vacancies
  4. Work toward distribution of functions, using the strengths of respective members.
  5. Revise the Network Working Manual, especially for Board orientation and functioning.
  6. Consider changing to bi-monthly Board calls, with alternate months for committee calls.
  7. Consider having the Secretary be more involved in notes of participation after events, and notes of thanks.

Membership Report

 This YearLast Year
Members127 (67 Cong., 60 Indiv.) 106 (53 Cong., 53 Indiv.)
Revenue to Date (pre-GA)$6980$5614
Revenue from membership $8170

Trends in membership this year include:
*Membership discounts started in 2009-2010 continue to draw members sales of publications.
*Individuals are converting to congregational membership, and vice-versa.
*Lapsed members are renewing, although late renewals and retention is still a problem. Renewal reminders precede and follow the Quarterly issue, e-mail reminders are sent monthly, "time to renew" is printed on the address label, and reminders appear in Quarterly.
*Invitations to join are in the CGN.
*We have included member survey in the membership renewal to update our information on the status of SGM, and will be working on capturing that information related to trends.

Publications: SGM Quarterly had 4 issues on, Susan
Quarterly publications costs:
*$450 per issue for editing to Beth Tiewater
*Printing and postage decreased from $500 to $285/issue with more members selecting e-Quarterly and changing to electronic delivery to district offices.
*Total labor costs/year for 4 issues: $1800
*Total Quarterly costs: $3192, down from $3823 in 2010.

CGN continues with Diana, with monthly issues.
The themes for the year related to the focus on SGM for all ages.

Website, Helen
*Web management fee: $45/hour to Erik Zidowecki for webpage updates, CGN and Quarterly distribution, business card design, web list of member update, PayPal.
*We continue to receive session plans from congregations, with close to 400 presently posted in the directory.
*Consideration for 2011-2012: New section with Implementing SGM on the web.
   New picture and other design updates

List-Serve has seen some activity this year. Could be used more.

Publication: Small Group Ministry With All Ages

Institute at deBenneville Pines, August
*We did not meet our minimum of 39 last year, and lowered the minimum to 29 this year, with a hope of attracting about 40 people.
*We just received a grant from the Fund for UUism to supplement the Institute costs, so have lowered the base registration fee to $250, with assistance for ground transportation.
*We have a congregation that will be participating in the Facilitator Training session - first time that a congregation has asked to participate.
*Focus is on development and field testing of modules that can be used by congregations and regional groups on all phases of SGM.
*Issue: Registration for this year. New round of publicity is going out, especially to the Pacific Southwest District, and special note to previous attendees.
*Issue: Sustainability of the Institute. The Institute had become a vital part of the evolution of SGM, with time for creative discussion and discernment. However, it seems to be increasingly difficult to draw attendance.

GA Workshop: SGM With All Ages
*We submitted two proposals to the GA Planning Committee. The one that was not selected related to Social Justice.
*Had about 100 people attend. This is starting the spark.
*Received $400 for audio-visual expense, honorarium to a speaker.

*Ongoing: We are paying attention to the great extent of outreach that we all do, from notes regarding membership and new subscribers to CGN, to ongoing discussions.
*New flier on benefits of membership for UU Ministers' meeting and the booth.
*Logo, banner
*UUA recognition: Related Organization on the website, links to various websites, notations in UUA publications.
*District outreach via Membership, exhibits/workshops at district meetings (SWUUC, NNED)
*Groups have approached the Network related to using SGM with specific focuses:
   Individual - In Company of Women
   Stewardship from UUA
   Appreciative Inquiry with focus on families
   SGM Religious Education-related material is also at the UUCARDS booth.
Jan will write an article for the UUMA News about the benefits of small group ministry.

General Assembly presence:
*Increased number of volunteers assisting at the booth this year.
*Included reimbursement for the management of the booth
*Banner developed by Laura . We are deeply appreciative of the addition. Diana will write a thank you.

As noted on other places, we received two grants this year, from the GA Planning Committee and the Fund for Unitarian Universalism.
Considerations for 2011-2012: Grant related to publications

Other notations:
There are other notations and refinements that we have made throughout this year.

Add How the Network Works under the Who We Are section of the website to include some of this report and additional notations.

Other Business: Thank you for a fantastic year spreading the message of SGM!

Closing Words:
   Go into this year with gratitude for all we have done together.
   Go into this year with excitement for all we can do together.
Amen and Blessed Be.

Small Group Ministry Network
President's Report - June, 2010
from Steve Becker

Our Board of Directors has had a busy year building on the strategic foundation we have laid over the last three years. Significant events include:

  1. Following our Annual Meeting last year in Salt Lake City, the BOD held its Annual Retreat at the Marriott. The Board established priorities for the coming year, defined as
    1. expanding BOD membership (achieved)
    2. focus this year on membership development (Phase II of Strategic Plan) (achieved),
    3. reduced emphasis on income after Phase I successes (achieved), and
    4. renewing our commitment to our District Initiative; for example, Steve suggested the use of Congregational Resource Teams in each district to provide support to local congregations (in process).
  2. Christine Trigeiro joined our Board from California.
  3. The Network held a successful workshop at The Mountain in NC and plans to hold its next training at Camp de Benneville Pines in CA in August.
  4. For the September SGM Quarterly Steve initiated a new column called Connections to focus on the lighter side of Small Group Ministry, to run in each edition.
  5. In October, the Board wrote a workshop proposal to UUA for GA 2010 about Energizing Your Small Group Ministry Program, which was accepted and is being offered as a panel presentation at Minneapolis.
  6. In the spring the Board completed a new book, Spiritual Journeys: 101 Topics for Small Group Ministry, for publication through the Network.
  7. In April, Steve requested the Nominating Committee to suggest recipients for awards for outstanding service. With the Board's approval, Steve created the President's Award for Outstanding Service.
  8. Five candidates have agreed to accept nomination to our Board for next year.
  9. The Board changed the Bylaws to allow for the Treasurer to serve up to 5 years.
  10. The Board approved a new logo.
  11. Helen is creating a new publication, Small Group Ministry 2010: Celebrating Congregations, for publication this summer.
  12. Beth's hours were increased to allow for solicitation of articles.
  13. Membership procedures have been revamped and we have several new members this year.

Steve Becker, President

President's Annual Report
UU Small Group Ministry Network - June 27, 2009
from Diana Dorroh

We were excited to add four new Board members at the 2008 Annual Meeting: Alicia Hawkins, Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer, Rev. Bret Lortie and Rev. Tamara Lebak. They joined Susan Hollister, Steve Becker, Rev. Helen Zidowecki, Anne Haynes, Mary Ann Terry , Walter LaFlore, and me. The Board later selected Rev. Helen Zidowecki as Secretary; Susan Hollister as Treasurer, Steve Becker as Vice President; and Diana Dorroh as President. Over the course of the year, we lost several Board members for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, it was an active Board and an active year for the Network.

The UU Small Group Ministry Institute at The Mountain was a high for the year for me. We had about 35 participants, and it was an exhilarating experience for most everyone. The faculty learned as much as the participants, and we decided to hold a 2009 Institute at The Mountain. On August 26, 2008, our 501(c)(3) status was granted. Thanks to Susan Hollister for collecting the information and filling out the forms, and to Steve Becker for assisting Susan.

Membership Database - Early in the year, Anne Haynes, as Chair of Membership, entered our membership information into a spreadsheet and began to maintain it for us. Processes and strategies for following up on lapsed memberships have been put in place.

The Publications Committee, chaired by Alicia Hawkins, had a very good year. We continued to work well with contract employees, Beth Tiewater, Quarterly Editor, and Erik Zidowecki, Webmaster. I have enjoyed being editor of CG News and coordinating articles and material with Susan Hollister, who works directly with Beth Tiewater. The committee managed to better integrate the website, CG News and the Quarterly. Helen and Erik have added numerous articles and sessions to the website and made it easy to access them.

In December, the long-awaited Facilitator Training and Development Manual went to press. Susan and Diana co-authored. Calvin Dame wrote a forward. In June 2009, we published Ten Years of UU Small Group Ministry, UU SGM Network, June 2009, an anniversary compilation of SGM articles published throughout 2008-2009, plus rediscovered articles from the earliest issues of Covenant Group News, beginning in 1999.

In the spring, Erik Zidowecki managed to find all of the oldest copies of CG News, created by Rev. Bob Hill. They are currently on our website.

Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer chaired the Education Committee and planning meetings for our GA workshop, sponsored again by the GA Planning Committee. That committee is planning a conference at The Mountain in August of 2009, and a conference on the west coast in 2010.

We have been in contact with Harlan Limpert, Director of District Services. In the spring, the UUA Board abolished Affiliate Status for independent organizations and asked the UUA staff to work with the former affiliates (like us) to accomplish their goals. We are stronger now and looking forward to working with the UUA.

It has been fulfilling and exciting to serve as President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network for two years. It was very daunting to follow in Calvin Dame's shoes as President and to make our way without the other two founders, M'ellen Kennedy and Peter Bowden, on staff. But we've worked together beautifully and, I hope, made them proud.

Annual Report to the UU Small Group Ministry Network
From the President, Diana Dorroh
June 23, 2008

We Began the Year with Several Challenges, Issues and Problems:

  1. The UUA had just sent us a letter informing us that the UU Small Group Ministry Network was no longer an affiliate organization of the UUA.
  2. Rev. Calvin Dame, who had been the President of the Network since its inception in 2004 announced in May of 2007 that he would not be continuing in that role for another year. He asked me to succeed him as President.
  3. The two co-coordinators, Rev. M'ellen Kennedy and Peter Bowden, who had been working with the network since its inception in 2004, told me that they would probably not want to continue to stay on indefinitely. M'ellen had been editing the Quarterly and doing leadership and administrative work; Peter had been webmaster and editor of our electronic newsletter, CG News...
  4. Income continued to be insufficient to fairly compensate staff for this operating work of the Network.
  5. The Network had not yet achieved 501c3 status. This prevented us from applying for most grants.
  6. Income from both church and individual membership had declined. This is our major source of income. We receive no funds from the UUA.
  7. There were no volunteer authors or editors to create the publications our members need and no funds to pay for their creation.
  8. Our three founders, Rev. Calvin Dame, Rev. M'ellen Kennedy and Peter Bowden, who had been our major presenters, were no longer available to do workshops and conferences for the UU SGM Network. There had been no national conference since 2006.

On the positive side, though, we had a new Board of competent, enthusiastic small group ministry practitioners. All of us attended a retreat, at our own expense, in Devon, PA over Labor Day weekend... There, we elected officers and created a plan to address the challenges, issues and problems that faced us. Board Members: Diana Dorroh, President, Steve Becker, Vice-President, Helen Zidowecki, Secretary, Susan Hollister, Treasurer, Anne Haynes, Mary Ann Terry and Walter LeFlore.

How We Addressed the Challenges, Issues and Problems:

  1. We began a discussion with the Board and staff of the UUA. Helen Zidowecki and Peter Bowden attended a UUA Board meeting in the fall, where the consensus was that our main connection is with the UUA staff, not the Board. We are in discussion with Harlan Limpert, Director for District Services and Tracey Robinson-Harris, Director of Congregational Services about the appropriate relationship between the UU SGM Network and the UUA.
  2. Rev. M'ellen Kennedy resigned as editor of the Quarterly. We launched a search for a new Quarterly editor and hired Beth Tiewater from Mainline UU in Devon, PA. She began with the summer Quarterly.
  3. Peter Bowden asked to be relieved of his duties of editing CG News and maintaining the website. I have taken over as editor of CG News and we have hired Erik Zidowecki to maintain our website for the next year. Helen Zidowecki will do the functional web work. The membership data base is now being maintained by Board member Ann Haynes. Many other duties, performed for expenses, hourly pay or gratis, by M'ellen Kennedy, have been taken over by Board members. We now have a working Board.
  4. These changes reduced our expenses considerably. We have been concentrating on getting more memberships by better coordination of the website, Quarterly, and CG news, as well as some direct "asks" for renewals and new memberships. Income now appears to be sufficient to pay the new staff for the work we have contracted with them to do. Steve Becker has headed up the effort to set financial goals for the next 5 years.
  5. Steve Becker and Susan Hollister have been working for many months on our 501c3 application. It was just submitted. Susan and Steve predict an answer within 6 months.
  6. We have plans to get new and renewed memberships. This is a continuing challenge and has great potential. Only a small fraction of the churches doing small group ministry are members.
  7. Two new publications are in process. Helen Zidowecki compiled and organized articles on small group ministry programmatic success from the Quarterly and CG News. The resulting publication is available for sale now. Susan Hollister and Diana Dorroh have begun work on A Facilitators Training Manual. It will be completed in the fall, but copies can be reserved now. These two manuals, the first on UU Small Group ministry in about four years, will bring some revenue to the Network and long-awaited help to people managing and supporting small group ministry programs.
  8. The Board sponsored a regional UU small group ministry workshop at Mainline UU, in Devon, PA in March. Helen Zidowecki and Diana Dorroh presented. Helen Zidowecki has led the Board in organizing a national conference at The Mountain, in North Carolina in August. Steve Becker organized our GA workshop this year.

Working with the Board to produce this long list of successes has been very fulfilling and gratifying to me. With many of our organizational problems settled, we can begin to better serve churches and individuals doing small group ministry work. I believe that small group ministry has the power to provide intimacy and ultimacy for individuals and to transform churches into growing, thriving communities whose members listen, care and work effectively together to effect the changes we Unitarian Universalists long to see.

Changes in Leadership in Covenant Group News

Thursday, March 13, 2008 CGNews #89 Change in CGN


Dear Small Group Ministry Friends,

I was delighted a few years ago to transfer to Peter Bowden editorship of the CGNews I'd begun toward the end of the last century because I knew him to be a person of great energy, skill, and commitment. I think he's done a tremendous job and I know that the Covenant Group movement owes him a ton of thanks. It'll be fun, watching his multi-media career soar.

I am equally delighted to see that Diana Dorroh is stepping in to take his place as editor. One of the most organized and committed Unitarian Universalists I know, Diana was instrumental in the success of Small Group Ministry work in the Southwest Conference and in her church for many years while I was DE there. With her as editor of CGNews, our cause has a bright future. Good for us! Full steam ahead!

-- Bob Hill, www.2texansdownunder.com


Friends, I'm honored to be able to communicate with you on a regular basis, following in the footsteps of Peter Bowden and Rev. Bob Hill. After Peter sent out the last issue announcing that he was passing the editing of CG News to me, I received an enthusiastic thanks for Peter's work, which I echo. His enthusiasm for small group ministry and the support he's brought to many of us has been inspiring. I included that message from Bob Hill below for those of you who began their small group ministry experiences, with frequent communications from and to Bob Hill. I, too, will need your help to get this conversation going. Please send your submissions to office@smallgroupministry.net

The SGM Network Board has been hard at work since September, getting a new membership database, exploring a new relationship with the UUA, shoring up our financial base, and planning educational opportunities. We just completed a workshop at Mainline Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. I hope there will be more regional workshops in our future and that we will get to meet and share with you. The Network is all about sharing.

*Send us your sessions and your ideas.

*Let us know if you have some time to work in the booth at GA office@smallgroupministry.net.

*And finally, join the Network and make sure your congregation is a member.

UU Small Group Ministry is bringing healing mutual ministry to thousands of UU's at hundreds of churches. It is making healthy connections between participants and between participants and their congregations. And when your congregation becomes a congregation "of small groups," it can transform the way you "do church," make your congregation stronger and healthier and then, finally, bigger, if that's what you want. The UUSGM Network allows us to help each other achieve these goals.

In faith, Diana Dorroh, diana_dorroh@hotmail.com 225-766-2764
President, UU Small Group Ministry Network, Editor of CG News



January 28, 2008 Peter stepping down as CGNEWS editor

Convenant Group News

Friends, I write to you with a sense of excitement as we enter this new year. Let me start with a personal announcement. After seven years I am stepping down from my formal role with the UU SGM Network. With the addition of new television and UU video production projects I lost the time I dedicated to our network. Time to turn things over to our fabulous board and growing number of volunteers. Those of you interested in my work and keeping in touch, drop my website, uuplanet.com.

So what is happening with CGNews? Our amazing board will be compiling the news and our president, Diana Dorroh, will serve as editor. You can submit news by writing office@smallgroupministry.net. I will continue to be involved in with our network, just as a member, not a coordinator/editor. If you are not a contributing member, I hope you will join me. The UU SGM Network is funded in its entirety by your memberships. Existing members, this is a great time to renew.

Thank you for an amazing seven years!

In faith, Peter Freedman Bowden

Co-Founder, UU SGM Network, Retired editor, CGNews ;-)


From the New President Of the Small Group Ministry Network

Diana Dorroh, Baton Rouge, LA

UU Small Group Ministry Network Quarterly, Fall 2007

The Annual Meeting of the UU Small Group Ministry Network occurred in June at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. At the meeting, I was elected to serve as President of the UU Small Group Ministry Network. I am honored and excited to serve in this capacity. You are all doing very important work for your own congregations and for the growth and health of our liberal religious movement. The Network exists to support and enhance this work. The Network was founded three years ago by Rev. Calvin Dame, Rev. M’ellen Kennedy and Peter Bowden. Calvin has served as president since the Network started and his inspiration and hard work helped lay a solid foundation. He provided consistent leadership over these years, established the connection that made our week-long workshops at Ferry Beach possible, wrote many of our excellent resource materials and so much  more. It is very humbling to follow him as president. We extend our gratitude to Calvin as he completes his time on the Board. The other founding members, M’ellen and Peter, remain in staff roles. At the Annual Meeting we also elected three wonderful new Board members: Mary Ann Terry, Anne Haynes, and Steve Becker,Susan Hollister, Walter LeFlore, and Rev.Helen Zidowecki continue to serve. We wish to thank Rev. Marti Keller for two years of service, as she steps off the board this fall.

Also at General Assembly this year, I had the fun of spending some time in the Network’s booth in the Exhibit Hall. It was very exciting to talk to so many people about their small group ministry programs. I estimate that I talked to about seventy ministers and lay leaders. Nobody was saying to me “This doesn’t work. We tried it and it failed” or even “We want to start some groups and don’t know where to begin.” Instead, we were hearing about healthy, vibrant programs and were being asked specific questions about how to make them better. Questions like:

“How should we train our facilitators?”

“What should the role of the minister be?”

“Where can I get some session materials?” and

“What do we do with especially needy members?”

It was invigorating being in the booth and engaging in these conversations. Our two workshops were also well attended. Susan Hollister, Treasurer, and I had to sit on the floor for the workshop entitled “Emerging Models of Small Group Ministry.”

In July 2007, The Unitarian Universalist Association notified the Network that we are no longer an affiliate of the UUA. We are not alone. Only four reapplications out of about seventy were approved. We have been working with the UUA Board and Staff to design a new working relationship. We’ll keep you posted on the results, but it looks very promising.

In September, the Board held our annual two day retreat in Devon, Pennsylvania hosted by Mainline Unitarian Church and Susan Hollister. Thanks to the leaders of Mainline Unitarian Church for their gracious welcoming of our group. All of our Board members and one staff member, M’ellen Kennedy, attended. It was an intense and productive experience, as we addressed the organizational issues of a three-year old organization. We elected officers: Steve Becker, Vice-President, Helen Zidowecki, Secretary, and Susan Hollister, Treasurer.

We set goals and made plans to execute them. Many of our goals are institutional:

* Creating a workable relationship with the UUA;

* Completing the work to get our 501c3 status;

* Establishing a workable process for interrelatedness of our membership, web site, CG News and the Quarterly;

* Improving professional working relationships with staff;

* Developing a comprehensive data base of our constituency; and

* Fully funding our goals.

We also planned to:

* Continue the “District Initiative,” which consists of working within the targeted districts to promote SGM;

* Ensure that quality workshops and conferences are offered;

* Offer a national comprehensive small group ministry conference.

In summary, the challenge for the UU Small Group Ministry Network Board is to strengthen and improve the Network organization, and its relationship with the UUA, while continuing to offer conferences, training sessions and a presence at General Assembly. It’s a tall order and may take more than one year.

The rest of the Board, the staff and I continue to need your help and support to build on the foundation we’ve established in our first three years. The most concrete form of assistance you can give is to become a member or supporter. If you’re not yet a member, considering joining the Network.

In addition, there are volunteer opportunities on several committees including the Education and Conference Committee, the Membership Committee and the Fundraising Committee. I’m looking forward to working with and serving you in continuing to build a strong small group ministry movement.


April 30th, 2007

Three years ago this June the UU Small Group Ministry Network was launched as an organization to promote and support UU small group ministries and covenant groups. We've accomplished a great deal since then, from compiling free sessions plans online and publishing the SGM Quarterly to offering GA workshops and week long Summer trainings. We have been working to build a network that can meet our shared need for small group ministry resources.

We've come a long way, but there is still much to do. Our network -- including you if you are reading this -- is a peer network. We are group participants, facilitators, coaches, coordinators, ministers and others working to deepen our faith, change lives, and heal our hurting world through this ministry. I believe the only way we can realize our potential as a movement is through strong relationships and the small groups that give rise to them. As our small group ministries grow and evolve, so too will our association. If you share this view, I'd like to invite you to become a member of our network for $35 per year.

Your individual memberships allow us to advance this ministry, to coordinate our efforts, and to move our movement. Members of our network receive the SGM Quarterly, our journal, in the mail four times per year. Please join me in creating healthy congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist movement through our shared ministry. You may use the link below to download our membership form. If you would like to join as a congregation ($60 annually) take this form to your congregation's small group leadership.

New and existing members, thank you for your support! To the other ~987 of you - let us know how we can improve. If you're reading this message you must have some resource, networking or training need related to small groups. We want to hear from you.

In faith, Peter Bowden


UU Small Group Ministry Network Retreat

Sue Stukey, Secretary, Evanston, IL

UU SGMN Quarterly Fall 2005

Summer often provides time for reflection and thought, so the Board of Directors of the UUSGM Network took that to heart, and met in Augusta, Maine for a day and a half in retreat on August 11 and 12. We set aside time to review what we've accomplished during the past year, and do a little dreaming, brainstorming and planning for the future. SGM President, Rev. Calvin Dame was our host. Board members Rev. Marti Keller, Sue Stukey, Elizabeth Barrett and Rev. Helen Zidowecki attended, as well as our co-coordinators, M’ellen Kennedy and Peter Bowden.

Susan Hollister wasn't able to attend, but was with us in spirit. It has been an amazing year! What began as a few folks around a restaurant table at General Assembly in Long Beach, is now a full-fledged organization, complete with a Board of Directors of dedicated lay and ministerial leaders, and two co-coordinators, all of whom bring a wide array of skills and views. The UU Small Group Ministry Network has over 160 members, both individual and congregational, who receive the Quarterly, discounts on workshops, and many electronic resources. We were accepted as an Independent Affiliate of the UUA and awarded a grant from the UU Funding Panel for Unitarian Universalism. We were invited to teach at Ferry Beach. We have come a long way toward our mission:

Our Mission: "To help create healthy congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist

movement by supporting Small Group Ministry."

During our time together, we rededicated ourselves to continue that support by providing high-quality information through our SGM Quarterly publication and a well-organized website, running well and full of information. We clarified the meaning of membership, acknowledging that we need the financial support of members to create and support our print, electronic and training resources. We struggled with the need to finance our work, while still providing readily accessible information to a wide variety of individuals and congregations, encouraging them to network with each other. We clarified the roles of both volunteer and paid consultants, and the Executive Committee of the SGM Network board was empowered to make staffing decisions. We also ate, sang, went for a boat ride and spent hours talking together. After all, it was a retreat, and it was summer in Maine!

By the end of our time together, we arrived at several goals for the coming year and fleshed out a plan of action to: 1) Research and improve our marketing abilities, 2) Look for ways to increase our connection, and interaction with the UUA, perhaps to find increased support as well, 3) Improve our relationship with professional religious leaders, and 4) Strengthen our financial base so that our program co-coordinators are not over-stressed and stretched too thinly as they tend to this important work.

We left our retreat refreshed and committed once again to supporting our congregations as they plunge into the wonderful world of Small Group Ministry. We know that, done well, it can strengthen our congregations, energize our movement and, perhaps, change the world


Growing Support for Small Group Ministry:
UU Small Group Ministry Network Makes Big Strides

By Mellen Kennedy, Burlington, VT

UU Small Group Ministry Quarterly, Winter 2005

Are you looking for help in starting a small group ministry program or in strengthening an existing one? Perhaps you’d like to learn some of the basics of what small group ministry is, or want to network with others involved in this exciting form of ministry? Well you’re in luck. That is just what the U.U. Small Group Ministry Network is for -- AND, we just passed two significant milestones putting us in a better position to serve you.

First, we are delighted to announce that the UU Small Group Ministry Network has been named as an Independent Affiliate Organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (U.U.A). Among other things, this means that we will be able to offer two sessions on small group ministry at General Assembly. Being an Independent Affiliate Organization also means that we’re listed on the UUA website list of affiliates, which will make it easier for folks to find us. Passing this milestone means that this organization and all the Small Group Ministry Programs out there in our congregations --like yours -- are being recognized as an important part of the landscape of our denomination! That’s a great step forward for all of us.

Second, we are thrilled to announce that the UU Small Group Ministry Network has been awarded a grant of $9,000 from The Fund For Unitarian Universalism. The award letter states: “The Fund for Unitarian Universalism is committed to strengthening Unitarian Universalist institutions and community life, to nurturing and celebrating our liberal religious heritage, and to encouraging a generosity among UU s that is reflected in commitments of time, money and energy. We believe that the work that you do exemplifies these values in action. On behalf of the Panel members, thank you for the opportunity to express our faith in action

through this grant.”

We are honored by this award and we receive it on behalf of you and all of our members. We agree whole-heartedly with the Funding Panel that Small Group Ministry exemplifies some of what is most hopeful and vital in our liberal religious tradition. We are especially pleased that the grant means we’ll be able to serve you better. Among other things, we plan to use the funding to develop the programs and materials which you’ve been telling us are needed. In particular we plan to develop resources on coaching facilitators and a manual for facilitators. Please continue to let us know through our website, at our workshops and at our booth at GA what you need to improve or launch your Small Group Ministry program.

In addition to these milestones, the UU Small Group Ministry Network was also featured in the January 2005 edition of “InterConnections” a publication for Lay Leaders of UU Congregations. Visit the uua.org website for archived articles from InterConnections. And, as we announced in our last Quarterly, we are also honored to be given the opportunity to spread the word of Small Group Ministry through a week long course at Ferry Beach.

It’s been a dynamic past few months for the UU Small Group Ministry Network and the next few months promises to be a time of fruition. Thank you to the Funding Panel, to the UUA, and to all of you involved in Small Group ministry, particularly our member supporters for actualizing the burgeoning, movement. We feel honored to be given the opportunity to serve you and collaborate with you in creating healthy congregations through Small Group Ministry.


What Can You Do In Six Months?:

The UU Small Group Ministry Network Is Off to a Strong Start!

By Peter Freedman Bowden, Newport, RI

Small Group Ministry Network Quarterly, Fall 2004

Six months ago the UU Small Group Ministry Network was just a vision and a collection of links on www.smallgroupministry.net website. Today, it is a new and rapidly growing organization supporting shared ministry in our congregations! Below is a summary of our first six months.

Three’s a Charm: After a year of talking about forming a network to support SGM, Calvin Dame and Peter Bowden found a third person who shared the vision while attending the April 2004 SGM conference in Arlington, VA – Mellen Kennedy. With a core group of three things started to happen fast.

Launch at GA: By June we had growing board and set of advisors. During GA we held our first board meeting, Peter and Mellen provided free consultations all week long in the exhibit hall, and our membership program was launched to help fund resource development.

Today: We now have a growing membership, a fabulous board, new resources online and in development, multiple regional conferences in the planning stages and one already completed at Devon, PA (see p. 6), a week long program to be offered at Ferry Beach this summer (see p. 7), and have applied to become an official independent affiliate with the UUA which will grant us the ability to sponsor GA workshops. Not bad…

To Our Current Members: A special thanks to all of our members. Whether you joined because your desire for more resources or to help fund our work, together we are making a difference in our congregations. The stronger our shared ministry is, the stronger our congregations are.

To Potential Members: Regardless of where you picked up this issue of the SGM Quarterly, we are glad you did! We hope the articles and information in this journal help you lead a stronger small group ministry. We would also like to encourage you to look at the many resources on our site. There are shared resources anyone may view, links to resources on other sites, and resources for our members. These are accessible by joining our network for a small yearly fee. In time we expect these resources to be published and sold in book form. But why wait? You can learn more and join by visiting our website - www.smallgroupministry.net.

Donations & Other Funding: Our members are funding the production of this journal and the development of some new small group resources. However, there is more work that can be done to support our congregations. And we want to do it! In order to take on these research and resource development projects we are welcoming donations. We are now identifying a UU congregation to be our fiscal agent so that your donations may be tax deductible. As our network grows we will move towards having our own non-profit status.

Again, we thank our members for their support and welcome all additional financial contributions. For more information on making tax deductible donations, please contact Peter Bowden (401 855-0037).


Announcing the U.U. Small Group Ministry Network

By Rev. Calvin O. Dame, Augusta, ME

Small Group Ministry Network Quarterly, Summer 2004, Vol. 1; No.1       

Small Group and Covenant Group Ministry holds the promise of transforming individual lives, transforming our congregations, and transforming our liberal religious movement. These are audacious statements, perhaps, but look what is happening. From two or three programs, at the most, five years ago, hundreds of congregations now have some kind of covenant group program in place. In my congregation and in others I have watched as the satisfaction and excitement of the small group experience spreads out to strengthen and energize other aspects of congregational life. And I have watched, in my congregation and in others as participation in small groups has rounded and connected members with one another beyond the limits of the coffee hour, and provided a forum for deeper spiritual inquiry and the exploration of vital questions of faith.

I have a deeply held respect for the promise of Small Group Ministry. Small groups provide the tool with which evangelicals grow congregations of a hundred people into mega-churches of ten thousand or more. And it is the reason that members of those congregations report that the megachurches provides the most intimate experience of their lives.

People in our culture yearn for intimacy and ultimacy, they are hungry for a place where they can be known and accepted, and where they can engage with serious questions of depth and meaning. I believe that Small Group Ministry offers us the opportunity to meet those needs and to welcome more people into the circle of our liberal faith. I believe that Small Group Ministry is a tool to help us become the churches that we dream of being, and help us to fulfill our mission within and beyond our congregational walls.

And the beauty of this is that it is so simple. People meet in groups to share and to explore religious questions. They can do it at the church, or they can do it in their homes or they can meet some where else! It is so simple! But, in fact, a successful program requires a bit more. It requires preparation, thoughtfulness, support, training, promotion, good will, nurture, resources and intention. And most of all, it requires a continuing, shared vision of the promises and possibilities as well as the dynamics of making small groups work in a congregation.

That's where the U.U. Small Group Ministry Network comes in! Those of us who have helped to spread the gospel of small groups and to share what we know about starting, promoting and sustaining a program have felt for a while that we need a congregational-based network. Thus we forming the Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network (UUSGMN). The purpose of the Network is to promote the vision of Small Group Ministry, to share information, to connect people who are doing this work for mutual support and encouragement, to develop training resources and opportunities, and to make our congregations stronger and more vital through this simple program.

So, we invite individuals and congregations to join in the U.U. Small Group Ministry Network. We are seeking to become a UUA Independent Affiliate Organization. This is the first issue of our Quarterly Newsletter that will offer information, explore issues and share resources. We will have a presence for conversations, questions, tips and resources. We will help to connect trainers with congregations in need of help; develop new training materials, as well. We will help convene workshops and conferences to encourage connections, develop models, deepen skills and expand our collective vision.

We invite your participation, we invite you to bring your experience with covenant groups or come and learn how to do it. We invite you to join, at the regular or at a sustaining level, and us to strengthen the life of local congregations by creating a network of mutual encouragement and support.

Welcome to the Small Group Ministry Network!


In 2001 Peter Freedman Bowden, Co-Founder, UU Small Group Ministry Network, launched this website to help Unitarian Universalist discover and explore small group ministry. From 2001-2004 this site was run as a personal site. In 2004 Peter recruited the Rev. Calvin Dame to work with him on forming a UU organization to support small group ministry and covenant groups within the UUA. After meeting M'ellen Kennedy at the April 2004 Center for Community Values (CCV) small group ministry conference the three moved forward. The network was launched at the 2004 General Assembly, including the launch of a membership program and the SGM Quarterly journal.

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