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Volume 11 Issue 1
May/June 2005

A Traditional Knowledge Keeper Awakens Spirit Through Stories

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Leaves of Three, Let it Be: Poison-ivy & Its Antidote, Jewelweed

Anti-gymnastique Therese Bertherat: A Method to Reveal Your True, Harmonious & Balanced Body

Covenent Groups:
Finding Our “Selves” Through the Small-Group Experience

Editorial

Covenent Groups:
Finding Our “Selves” Through the Small-Group Experience

by Barbara Adams
Laura Burkhart


During the last one hundred years, life has changed dramatically. The last few decades have produced individuals who are stressed about time, money, and lack of social supports. As our culture has changed, our lives have become a commodity whose productivity is measured in time units and dollars. Where once the world was about Sunday dinners, family parties, church, school, and working together, we now live in a world of talk shows, cable television, the internet, fast food, and computer games. The media forms our new community, and our relationships with celebrities begin to feel personal. We are living in a consumption-oriented, electronic community that is moving forward so quickly we barely have a chance to think about what it is we really need and value.

Because of these changes, all of us are off script. The vicarious relationships formed in our electronic village, and the productivity-focused relationships created in our work-places create a new kind of loneliness. As human beings, we hunger for the security of close-knit supportive groups. We want to feel we are accepted and can truly talk about what we have in our hearts. And sometime we just want to sit quietly, listen, and feel the presence of others who care.

Scott Peck, in his book, A Different Drum, talks about the importance of community groups to spiritual transformation and the growth of peace. Our profound differences of temperament, character, and culture can make it difficult for us to live together harmoniously—but these differences are also opportunities to become more tolerant, peaceful, and spiritual. This transformation begins in the company of individuals who believe in our freedom, our ability to make choices in our lives, and listen to what we have to say.

The Unitarian Covenant groups, also known as small group ministry, are designed to break down race and class barriers within the community. In the words of a Unitarian minister, our mission is to “address the social isolation and rootlessness that is characteristic of modern life, minister to the hurts and hopes of our community, to radically define our community beyond the membership borders, seeking to bring other people who need our support into our lives, and to nurture deepening relationships between members as they share their lives and their faith together.”

Participation in a Covenant group does not require a specific set of beliefs about spirituality or God. Rather, it unites people who share a common set of principles and values. These include belief in the worth and dignity of every person, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process, and respect for one another and the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Topics are determined by the group members, and may include “Justice”, “Living Simply”, “Prayer”, or “Living Through Loss”. Everyone has equal time to share, or to pass if they wish. Group membership is maintained at 5 to 8 people, although the number of groups may grow, and an empty chair policy reminds us that a newcomer is always welcome. Basic rules ensure that we can explore what we feel and believe in an atmosphere of confidentiality, acceptance, and trust.

Barbara Adams is a member of the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon and she co-ordinates the Covenant Groups. For information about this small group ministry program contact her by email: bmhadams@hotmail.com or contact the Congregation by phone (306) 653-2402. You can also check the website: www.ucsaskatoon.org.

 

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