Connection Group Testimonials
Why Join a Connection Group?
What are connection groups about? Why might you want to join one? Here are testimonials given last year from two participants (who also became facilitators!) to give you an idea:
I have to tell you that I can’t quite believe that I’m standing here right now. Up until about 4 years ago I was still recovering from my catholic upbringing and was continuing my adult-life avoidance of all things religious. Then a respected and very liberal cousin of mine in Lexington, Massachusetts, told me that her UU church had sent their minister, Ellen, to Westminster, and that I should check it out. I was very skeptical that I would find anything meaningful or useful in a church service, but because I trusted my cousin’s judgment, I agreed to try it once. How delightfully surprised I was to watch Ellen and our former RE director doing a dramatic reading of The Latke That Wouldn’t Stop Screaming, and how moved I was by the messages of celebrating diversity and fostering connection with others. Since that first day I have continued to be surprised by many wonderful aspects of the Westminster community, including my participating in the connection groups.
Once again, when first introduced to the idea, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get anything meaningful out of the groups, and not only that, I was also pretty sure I’d be uncomfortable sitting and talking with some people that I might not like or relate to. And, once again, I was surprised. My experience of participating in the groups is unlike anything else I have ever done- they create a uniquely peaceful space where I get to know myself, and the others in the group, simply by listening- listening to my own internal thoughts and feelings, and to others’, without needing to DO anything else. The most meaningful part of the whole experience for me has been realizing the power of listening to transform barriers into connections. Given the current events of our world, I am particularly grateful for this newly developing awareness.
In September of 2013 I was the Chairperson of Westminster’s Caring Circle, and I was writing Religious Education curriculum. I had a son in Coming of Age and a son in Neighboring Faiths. I was scheduled to co-host a Coming of Age Game Night; co-chaperone some Neighboring Faith field trips, and co-lead OWL and Neighboring Faiths classes. My calendar was filled with Westminster. I must have had a lot of free time, right? Not so much.
I had a son in his first year of high school and a son in his first year of middle school. While my husband juggled his hectic retail work schedule with our family obligations, I chauffeured our sons to cross country practices, bowling tournaments, and Student Council meetings. I coordinated everyone’s schedules with healthy dinners and a clean house. I balanced my own freelance writing deadlines with the editing and marketing services required by my clients.
I had a gravely ill uncle and a brother-in-law who’d been unemployed going on three years.
The list of who needed me went on and on. I’m sure my life at the time sounds similar or even tame compared to the multitude of responsibilities you face in your life. We’re caring people. And caring people are needed. And needed. And needed. For me it felt like everyone wanted a piece of me. As I’d written in my journal one day: “Bless Kristen for asking me to give her a ride to her eye exam today, and bless the optometrist for running late. I spent the hour in the waiting room (away from any phone or computer), catching up with Kristen for about 30 minutes and indulging in uninterrupted pleasure reading for another thirty. Heaven on Earth!”
So with all this stress, why did I add one more obligation to my life by signing up for Small Group Ministry? Because there was only one piece of myself left to give — and I chose to give that piece to myself.
For an hour and a half, once a month I met with six other people. We checked-in. We read. We contemplated. We shared. Most importantly, we listened. We listened to what was said, to what wasn’t said, and to what our inner voice needed to tell us. Our goal was not to solve each other’s problems. In fact, our covenant directed the exact opposite — no advise giving, no cross talking, active listening only. Not once did someone say “you should” or “you need to” or “you mustn’t.” We listened more than we talked. We held sacred space for each other. Answers revealed themselves.
My life has changed dramatically in the past four years. I closed up my writing business to pursue new interests. My older son is off at his first year in college and my younger son will start driver’s education soon. I’m involved in other areas of Westminster including the Board and OWL for an older age group.
What remains, however, is my commitment to Small Group Ministry as a facilitator. To hold sacred space with you.