Covenant Groups/ Soul Matters Small Groups
Searching for a greater sense of community within BVUUF?
Since 2005, BVUUF has hosted Covenant Groups—intentionally formed small groups based on a covenant that members agree to and that meet regularly (usually monthly) to discuss spiritual topics, listen deeply to each other, and offer support in that regard. Some of these groups have a specific orientation (e.g., Rainbow Circle, Mothers Acting Up, men’s group). Some have been around for a long time and others have just formed. At any given time, existing covenant groups may or may not be accepting new members.
Starting around 2020, the Fellowship has been promoting Soul Matters Small Groups for new covenant groups being created; these new groups often have a fixed duration, such as for a church year, although participants may choose to continue meeting after that period has elapsed.
The Soul Matters Sharing Circle, which developed the Soul Matters Small Groups concept, is a network of UU congregations who follow the same monthly themes so we can more easily share covenant group material, as well as worship, sermon, music, and children’s religious education resources. Like other small group programs, the central goal of Soul Matters is to foster circles of trust and deep listening. However, Soul Matters adds five unique components to the model of its program and to the resource packets it develops.
The following summary of what makes a Soul Matters Small Group unique is excerpted from the Soul Matters webpage.
- A Journey that the Whole Church Takes Together.
Soul Matters small groups are not a stand-alone program. They are designed as a companion to a congregation’s worship and religious education ministries. Congregations using Soul Matters position their small groups as “an opportunity to explore our congregation’s monthly worship themes in more depth.”
- Experience the Theme, Don’t Just Analyze It.
We know that spiritual development requires more than analysis of a topic. There is a deep hunger in all of us for experiential engagement. Honoring this, we include spiritual exercises in each monthly packet that allow participants to move beyond just hearing what theologians have to say about a theme to having an actual experience of that theme in your daily life.
- Questions to Walk With, Not Talk Through.
We see thematic questions as tools for individual exploration and spiritual discernment. Instead of asking small groups to discuss questions one at a time during group time, participants read all the questions ahead of time and find the one that speaks to and challenges them personally. Participants then live with that question for a few weeks, coming to their meeting with a story about how their question led them to deeper, personal insight.
- A Reminder that UUism is Distinctive, Not an “Anything Goes,” Religion.
Our monthly themes focus on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honored and calls us to embody in our lives. At each small group meeting, participants are reminded that our faith promotes a preferred way for us to be in the world.
- Soul Matters Adapts to You
Our small group packets are intentionally filled with an abundance of resources so you can modify the use of the packet to match your unique setting.
If you would like to learn more about Covenant Groups, please contact our co-coordinators at CovenantGroupCoordinator@bvuuf.org.