Small Group Ministry is one of the most powerful things we can do to nurture our spirits. Small groups consist of about 8 people who meet once or twice a month to engage with each other over spiritual and other issues in ways that are not possible over coffee or tea at Social Hour. Small Group Ministry strives to deepen and expand the ministry of a congregation by encouraging people to talk, learn, work and play together over time. Members may tell their life stories, offer support, and engage in service to the larger community.

The goals of this “different way of doing church” are to:
• Listen and be listened to in a safe place. Deep listening is a gift for both the speaker and the listener.
• Learn about the mysteries of our world and our spiritual paths. People come to Small Group Ministry seeking spiritual growth, wanting to know themselves better, and to grow into their understanding of the world and 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.
• Build new and deeper personal connections.

Small groups meet the need for connection and intimacy that is both a hunger in human beings and essential to the ongoing life of a caring community. Each group has a facilitator. The Small Group Ministry steering committee and minister provide overall guidance, recruit new members and establish new groups, and help develop session plans.

How can you join a group?
Contact Small Group Ministry coordinator, Mary Wyse, or leave a message at our administrative office: 413-253-2848 extension 1.

How does Small Group Ministry work?
Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or other topics through a process of deep listening and service projects. Topics that may be shared during meetings include: sacred places, perfection, mothers, fathers, community, living simply, music, and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace. Service projects are expected from each group once a year. In general, projects tend to be ones that serve the church community or the local community, but they can be larger projects that reach beyond our church community.

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.

What are Small Group 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 session.
• Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
• Closing Words: This brings the formal session to an end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.