What is a Covenant or “C” Group?
At UUFRC, the “C” stands for connection, commitment, and community.
A C Group is 6-10 people who agree to meet regularly to build close relationships through the sharing of personal joys and sorrows and their own experiences related to selected topics. C Groups provide an opportunity to reflect on their lives, and what they’ve learned, and to grow to spiritual wholeness through learning from, caring about, and being cared about by others. C Groups are a ministry of sharing, listening, and loving one another.
How can I contact UUFRC’s C Group Coordinators?
Contact: Elizabeth Chitouras and Bill Welch, via the Office, (email@example.com), 650.365.6913
“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.”
— Glenn Turner
How do C Groups work?
First, and most important, members covenant with each other to attend each meeting, bring both their needs and perspectives to the group, listen with acceptance, compassion and openness, and honor the privacy of others. Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or religious topics through a process of deep listening and service projects.
The leader(s) plan the first and last meetings of the group. For all other meetings, members rotate in selecting the topic and bringing treats. Complete session plans for about 50 topics are available to select from. Topics may include: sacred places, perfection, mothers, community, living simply, music, risk, change, starting over, hope, forgiveness, gratitude, feeling alone, and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace.
What is expected of members?
Group members are expected to commit to regular meeting times and to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or simultaneously formulating a response. Deep listening also gives an individual an opportunity to speak without interruption or comment.
Why do people join C Groups?
Some people join a C Group when they are new to the congregation as a way of meeting others on a close, personal basis. Some join because they enjoy the process of getting to know others and exploring stimulating topics at a deeper level than can be accomplished at the Sunday Social Hour after the service. Those who have been in the congregation a long time may join C Groups to meet people new to the congregation “up close and personal.”
C Groups do not replace Sunday morning worship services or the larger congregation. Rather, the two complement one another. In a C Group we experience deepening connections and spiritual growth and on Sunday morning we celebrate with the whole community and feel and know ourselves to be a part of something larger.
What are C Group sessions like?
Meetings are two hours long. They begin and end on time. The sequence of events follows:
- Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, reminding participants of the special opportunity of the gathering, possibly reflecting the topic of the session. The meeting may begin with the lighting of a candle or a chalice.
- Check-In: Participants share news of what has been happening in their lives. Each group develops its own customs as to the length of sharing. This portion of the meeting may expand from time to time when circumstances call for it.
- Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done in one evening.
- Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
- Closing Words: A member extinguishes the chalice and reads the closing quote. This brings the formal session to and end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.
When and where do C Groups meet? How long do they last?
C Groups meet at the convenience of the members, typically on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings — or on Sunday afternoon or evening. Members may choose to meet at members’ homes or at the UUFRC Fellowship. Or a combination of the two.
C Groups usually last six months, with two meetings per month; variations may occur as determined by the group and with the consent of the coordinator(s).
How does a new C Group get started?
When the C Group Coordinator(s) becomes aware — usually through the Connections Coordinator — that individuals want to join a C Group, and when announcements are made at the end of the Sunday service, in the Order of Service and/or in the Newsletter (Redwood Reachout) that a C Group is being formed, and anyone interested in signing up or learning more may contact the coordinator(s). The coordinator(s) then contact the individuals who have expressed an interest. When five or more interested individuals are identified, a new group is formed. It meets on a day and at a time and frequency convenient for all members. The coordinator(s) designates a trained leader to lead the group, i.e., start and end the meetings, facilitate the conversation, ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak, etc.
Can I join a C Group when there are not enough others to form a new group?
In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, there is always an empty chair when any group meets. A newcomer is welcome to join an existing C Group, with prior notification of the group leader.
Goals of Covenant Groups
C Groups deepen and broaden personal spiritual growth. This is done through:
- Listening: Deep listening is gift for both the speaker and the listener. A connection forms when we share and give this gift to each other.
- Worship: Worship is central to the life of our congregation. Covenant groups augment and strengthen our shared experience.
- Community: C groups meet the need for connection and intimacy that is both a hunger in our society and essential to the ongoing life of a religious community.
- Learning: People come to the church seeking spiritual growth, seeking to know themselves better, to grow into their understanding of the world and to ponder the age old questions of faith: how to live, what to believe, how to act, what meanings we can decipher from the mystery of life.
- Service: A life of faith is a life of service. As human beings, we seek to be of use, and a healthy congregation needs to provide avenues through which we may serve.
Learn more about UU Small Groups Ministry, resources and activities.