Small Group Ministry
“People come to church longing for, yearning for, hoping for … a sense of roots, place, belonging, sharing and caring. People come to a church with a search for community, not committee.” – Rev. Glenn Turner, leader in developing the small group ministry model.
Small Group Ministry -The Chalice Circle
Chalice Circles are a form of small group ministry where groups of eight to ten people gather monthly for connection and reflection. Each session follows a format that creates a safe and welcoming space. The meeting is shared reflections on the monthly spiritual theme chosen by the minister. A trained Chalice Circle facilitator guides the session, making sure that everyone has the chance to speak and reminding the group to listen deeply, avoid cross-talk, be non-judgmental. Chalice Circles lead us toward intimacy, spiritual growth, and community. They often become very important to the circle members.
Typical Chalice Circle Meeting
Chalice Circle members commit to regular meeting times and practice deep listening. Deep listening is focusing intently on what another person is saying without interjecting or simultaneously formulating a response. Deep listening allows each person to speak freely, without interruption or comment.
A typical Chalice Circle neeting looks like this
- Chalice Lighting and Opening Words. We gather in the sacred space of the meeting and light a chalice. The facilitator opens with a brief reading.
- Reading the Covenant. Group members read and reaffirm a shared covenant that guides the interaction and process. All sharings are for the group only. Confidentiality is part of the covenant.
- Check-In. Participants briefly share personal news or something they wish the group to know.
- Sharing on the Theme. The facilitator presents the month’s theme with a quotation or reading. Participants reflect in turn on the theme. There is no cross-talk or discussion during this sharing.
- Check-Out. Participants speak their final thoughts on the topic and the session.
- Closing Words. The facilitator brings the circle to an end with closing words. The chalice light is extinguished.
Beginnings and Endings
To enter into a Chalice Circle, contact the church office. Groups typically form and begin in the early fall.
Congregants may want to join Covenant Circles throughout the year. If there is enough interest, we form a new group or ask an existing group to add members. Some groups keep an empty chair present at each session to symbolize their welcoming of new people.
You may decide, after three or four meetings, that Covenant Circles are not for you. But, please come to several sessions before you decide. It can take time for the practice of deep listening to feel natural. If you wish to leave a group, please tell your facilitator or Rev. Bill.
Existing groups meet monthly through June of each year. There is a break for July and August. Chalice Circle groups will then reform in the fall. If you are interested in facilitating a group, please contact the minister.