What are Soulful Circles?
Soulful Circles are an opportunity to deepen our spiritual lives, supported by a nurturing process. Often called Covenant Groups or Chalice Circles in other Unitarian Universalist congregations, these circles are designed to give long-time members, newer members, friends and brand new visitors a place to get to know one another on a deeper level. The Circles generally meet twice per month from September through June.
“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, not committee.”
— Glenn Turner
What kinds of subjects are talked about in Soulful Circles?
All of the Soulful Circles focus on the same topic during one of the meetings each month. This topic is linked to our Soul Matters monthly theme (see our Worship page for more information about monthly themes). Topics might include gratitude, accountability, spirituality, or brokenness. These short, simple words provide the basis for evocative questions participants will be asked to reflect on with the group. Circle participants choose a topic to discuss during the second monthly meeting.
What are Soulful Circle sessions like?
- 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. Deep listening is encouraged, so each person is heard without another person questioning, debating or interrupting. Often participants feel as if they have been heard for the first time.
- Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
- Closing Words: This brings the formal session to and end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.
What is expected of members?
Soulful Circle 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.
Those wanting to join a Circle for the first time should contact Rev. Patty Hanneman at firstname.lastname@example.org.