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2. Being Together, Part II (Tapestry of Faith)

In "," a Tapestry of Faith program

MATERIALS

  • Chalice or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

PREPARATION

  • Print out the four skits (below). Make enough copies for volunteers who will read an actor part or share the BIG IDEA in each skit
  • Post newsprint for recording members' ideas for a covenant.

DESCRIPTION

Opening

Solicit volunteers to read these words, from the Community Covenant by The Spiritual Eldering Institute:

We honor and respect the confidentiality of what is spoken here, concerning personal histories or current issues.

We actively participate and support the sharing of the group, one another's contribution and pace.

We listen without judgment, and support each other in a loving manner.

We exercise our right to refrain from any activity, if necessary, to protect our sense of well being.

Check-In

Focus

Tell the group the Opening words are a Community Covenant posted on the Leader's Library of the UUA website. Invite someone to define "covenant." Affirm, or explain, that a covenant is a promise or agreement. Say, in your own words:

Many Unitarian Universalist gatherings establish a covenant, a guide to how the group agrees to be together. It is especially important for a group such as ours to create a covenant because we want this to be a safe space where we are comfortable talking about matters that truly concern us.

Invite participants to help the group unpack the elements of the covenant by performing Dos and Don'ts skits, created by Eric Dawson for the Small Group Ministry Facilitator's Training and used here with his permission. After each skit, share or ask a volunteer to share the BIG IDEA. Then ask for questions and answer them as best you can.

Skit 1: Confidentiality

DON'T:

Actor A: Hey, what happened in your group last night?

Actor B: Oh, Kathy shared the most touching story about her daughter's struggle with drinking. It really moved me.

DO:

Actor A: Hey, what happened in your group last night?

Actor B: Oh it was really nice. We were talking about grief and I felt I got to do some reflecting on how I deal with tough times in my life.

BIG IDEA:

General rule is that people's stories are their own. You should not bring them up again outside of the group unless the person brings it up themselves.

One challenge can be how to explain this to our loved ones who might feel like we're keeping secrets.

Skit 2: Participate and support the sharing of the group

The actors should all be seated in a circle.

DON'T:

Actor C: So, anyway, this was one of the most profound experiences of my life. There I was staring at this beautiful bundle of life that was my new child... (or whatever you'd like to pretend to share... )

Actor D: (Gazes out the window.)

Actor E & F: (Whisper to each other and giggle.)

Actor G: (Sends text messages on cell phone.)

DO:

Actor C: So, anyway, this was one of the most...

Actors D-G: (Everyone is nodding along and making eye contact.)

BIG IDEA: Listen deeply to what others are saying.

Skit 3: Listen without judgment

The actors should all be seated in a circle.

DON'T:

Actor H: So I had to make this big decision about whether or not to rekindle the friendship, even though I felt I had been burned...

Actor I: (Interrupts) Oh! The same thing happened to me, what you really need to do is... "

Actor J: I can't believe you would even think about doing that!

DO:

Actor H: So I had to make this big decision about whether or not to rekindle the friendship, even though I felt I had been burned...

Actors I & J: (Listen patiently.)

BIG IDEA: Time in the group is not about solving problems but holy presence.

Skit 4: Right to refrain from any activity

The actors should all be seated in a circle.

DON'T:

Actor K (as facilitator): Today we're going to talk about forgiveness and how to let go.

Actor L: You know this is a really raw topic for me, I... Oh, I guess I'll participate anyway.

DO:

Actor K (as facilitator): Today we're going to talk about forgiveness and how to let go.

Actor L: You know this is a really raw topic for me, I... I'll probably remain silent and be a listening presence for everyone else.

BIG IDEA: Keep yourself safe, while also staying engaged.

Questions

  • Invite participants to create a covenant for the Sharing the Journey sessions. Ask the group "What shall we include in our covenant?" Choose a scribe to write suggestions on newsprint. Participants might decide to include or paraphrase items from the Community Covenant. Encourage participants to think about what they need in order to feel safe, other covenants they have created, and groups they have belonged to where members behaved inappropriately. Give the group plenty of time to discuss all suggestions. If anyone is uncomfortable with any suggestion, invite them to explain why and ask the group for rewording, but remove the suggestion if someone still objects. Work on the document until everyone feels comfortable agreeing to the promises it contains.
  • Discuss how participants will be held to the covenant. Is it okay for anybody to call out someone who breaks the covenant? Should that happen in the session or privately? What are the consequences to breaking the covenant? How will someone who has broken the covenant be brought back into covenant?
  • Post the covenant. Remind participants that the covenant is a living document and items can be taken off or added to it. Remember to review the covenant periodically and if new members join the group.

Optional Activity

Creating a covenant can be serious work. Lighten things up by creating a wacky covenant. Make a list of silly and weird requirements or promises for the group—the more ludicrous the better. Perhaps participants must enter the room backwards for every third session. Maybe everyone must stand and spin around every time someone sneezes. Ask if anyone has ever belonged to a group with rules, guidelines, or covenants that made no sense to them. What was that like? Did they follow them? What are the implications for a group that has such rules?

Check-Out

Closing

Use your established closing ritual. Or, extinguish the chalice and ask for volunteers to read the group covenant aloud. Close with the words "May it be so."

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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