Small Group Ministry
The Small Group Ministry (SGM) program is an active part of the ministry of First Parish, and it is one of the largest ministries within the Parish. Members cite multiple reasons and benefits from participating in a Small Group. One of the most commonly acknowledged benefits is the opportunity to get to know other members of the Parish on a deeper level. Having the opportunity to reflect on and discuss topics that can offer guidance and enrichment in our daily lives is another frequently cited benefit of SGM membership. Some participants attribute participation in a Small Group as enhancing their spiritual and/or ethical practices and awareness.
SGM groups have 6 – 10 members and are led by trained lay people. Groups meet twice a month, such as the first and third Tuesday, either at the Church or in group members’ homes. Meetings last one and a half to two hours, and may include refreshments. SGM groups serve to enrich our community, allowing time and space for the types of conversation and attentiveness that can be difficult in the busy life of a congregation. Group members listen to each other, but don’t attempt to solve each other’s problems. Small Groups are not therapy or encounter groups.
Session plans – each of which focuses on a specific topic – are provided for each meeting. Some discussion topics are spiritual or ethical in nature (faith, prayer, ethical living); others reflect universally human themes (compassion, loss, forgiveness, humor). Discussion topics are supported by questions to stimulate conversation. Members respond to the topic questions by sharing their insights, readings, experience, etc. SGM groups are not study groups or debate teams. The focus is on respectful listening, reflection, and thoughtful interchange among group members.
Each group makes and abides by a covenant that defines the group’s relationship to the Parish and to each other. Covenants typically include elements such as non-judgmental listening without interrupting, allowing time for all members to participate, starting and ending on time, attending regularly, and respecting the confidentiality of the groups’ discussions. SGM members are respectful of one another, but SGM groups are not support groups. When a member is in need, the other group members may provide assistance as a way of connecting with each other. The Caring Committee, the Pastoral Care Team or minister can fill in as needed.
SGM Groups are part of a religious community–the Church, and may choose to take on a service project in support of the Parish’s operation or Mission. Groups may choose to usher or set up and serve at social hour as a service to the congregation. Groups are encouraged to take on other service projects for the church and/or the larger community.
Are you interested in joining a Small Group? Please fill out the form below or email the Small Group Facilitators with questions.