What is Connections?
Connections is a small group ministry program in which groups of six to ten people come together to develop the spiritual practice of deep listening. Connections is a sacred space where we share the stories of our lives, are heard, and listen deeply to our companions.
Connections is a way to:
- deepen connections within the congregation.
- nurture our spirituality through shared practice.
- explore important and interesting topics.
- connect across age, gender, ethnic, economic, and other differences.
- help newer members engage with our community.
- explore our shared UU principles.
- be engaged, included, and heard in a safe, nurturing environment.
- work with others on a service project for USR or the larger community.
Connections is not:
- a social club, although lasting friendships are formed.
- a discussion group, although many important topics are addressed.
- a support or therapy group, although the proceedings are confidential.
- a worship service, although there is a strong spiritual aspect to the gathering.
- a closed or exclusive group, although groups must be limited in size to be effective.
Who can participate?
Connections is open to everyone – USR members, friends and visitors. Long-time members gain new insights into old friends. Newcomers sample congregational life and forge new ties. Stay-at-home parents relish adult company. Professionals and workers enjoy the opportunity to consider life’s big questions. Retirees savor interaction with others. All learn to appreciate diverse personalities and positions.
What happens in a Connections meeting?
Trained facilitators follow a structured format and provide a compilation of readings and questions to inspire participants’ reflections and sharing. Subjects are selected by the Connections Facilitators Committee.
How do participants interact?
Each group agrees to abide by a covenant which describes how they will be with and treat each other. Key elements of the covenant are to:
- listen attentively, compassionately and non-judgmentally.
- speak honestly and personally from our heart, using “I” statements.
- not engage in “cross talk,” i.e., to not
- talk while another is talking;
- interrupt each other; – offer opinions or advice;
- or comment on, refer or respond to what another has shared.
- respect the confidentiality of what is shared here.
- complete a group service project to benefit the community or USR.
Groups meet for two hours twice a month for a total of eight sessions. At the end of a season the group disbands and members can join another group. The fall program runs from October to January, the spring from March to June.
Connections is not for everyone, and you should consider your ability to abide by the covenant and to comply with the structure of the program.