I went a facilitator workshop today to prepare for this upcoming year of small groups. Small groups are a huge part of our congregation and so important because we're large for a UU church. It's hard to connect to the bigger congregation and mission by just showing up for worship, and we have a variety of small groups called Soul Matters that explore the worship theme each month more deeply.
Our ministers have, through listening in feedback sessions and knowing our people, developed a group theology on how to deepen in these small groups through Listening, Opening, and Serving. Rev. Anderson has also developed a Starting Point curriculum which targets visitors and new people, and gives a context for both UUism and our specific congregation. It looks like this curriculum and Soul Matters, as well as Wellspring are starting to spread to other congregations, which is so exciting! I love the creativity and passion that our ministers bring to our church - they are good at listening and at creating ways for people to engage with their faith on a deep level.
I am so excited to co-facilitate two groups this year. Plus I'll be assisting the new DRE, which will keep me connected as a staff person. A year ago, I had no idea what integration looked like. Now I'm all about it. Every thing I am doing flows and connect to every other thing in such a great way (some of it is attitude, not logistical, but still!).
So I'm thinking of spiritual practice exercises for the coming year. Our homecoming Sunday used to be a water service, but they've expanded this idea in different directions in the last couple of years. This year our assignment is to bring something that speaks to the "Keep Out!" signs we put up - what do we need to let in to our lives and what is a symbol of how we have tried to do that over the summer? It was a hard exercise, but a good one, and we got to practice it in small groups today in preparation for leading our own groups (though mine doesn't start till October - which is Deep Listening).
On a totally unrelated note, my mom has been in the hospital for about a week now, with what they're now calling diabetic neuropathy in her lung biopsy site. My sister flew in today to stay with her so she can be discharged from the hospital and flies back to Chicago next Wednesday and we're flying in at the same time so we can meet at the airport, and then my nephew will drive me to Hyde Park. I'm SO excited to see my sister again! Twice in 3 months - that's a lifetime record.