Sharing Circles offer members and friends a means for sharing in the ministry of the Fellowship. These groups provide opportunities for participants to reach out to one another in caring support while exploring themes central to our UU principles
These are frequently asked questions about Sharing Circles. Look for the answers below.
Sharing Circles is open to anyone who can commit to attending the gatherings and who is willing to abide by the group's agreements. We try to create groups of 6 to10 people that connect members across age, gender, ethnic, and other differences at a range of days of week and times of the day. People can join a Sharing Circle group at any time. If there is enough demand, we may add a Sharing Circle group during the year.
Sharing Circles meet in comfortable, informal settings where we gather in a circle. We find it is easiest to create this atmosphere in a member's home or in the UUFSB building. Each group meets for two hours once a month.
Although each group develops its own customs, our Sharing Circles follow a general format that consists of an opening chalice lighting andreading, check-in (a chance to share joys, sorrows and challenges with each other), topic reflection, check out (to see how each member is feeling about the session), and a closing ritual. The group facilitator guides the amount of time participants spend on each item to ensure that each member has a chance to participate, share, and listen.
Every circle reflects on the same new topic each month. Examples of recent session topics include: Bucket List, Bodies, Letting Go, Listening, and Who Am I.
Learning to listen to each other is a very important part of the Sharing Circle experience.
Empty Chair Policy
Within each gathering circle we leave an empty chair to welcome new members. This is a metaphor to stay open in mind and heart while staying open as a group.
Trained facilitators, who are UUFSB members, lead each group. All facilitators received initial training on leading groups, and meet regularly to check in with each other and provide support as needed.
Participants agree to respect each other's privacy, attend gatherings consistently through the end of the congregational year in which they join (late June), follow the General Rules for Sharing Circles and remain open to new members. Participants will have the opportunity each June to re-up for the following year in that group or join another group.
Having rather strict rules for the participants in group meetings results in everyone getting a chance to participate and for new comers to be on an equal footing with and to get to know members and friends of the Fellowship.
Because the focus is on the intimate discussion of personally relevant topics such as loss, wonder, commitment, forgiveness, worship, living simply, and our own religious journeys the result is not education but personal transformation.
Please visit the UU Small Group Ministryweb site for a comprehensive set of resources.