Sometimes called “covenant groups” or “chalice circles,” Small Group Ministry is a vital part of many Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations.

Groups of 10-12 people meet regularly, usually monthly, to reflect on and discuss significant life topics.

Small groups are great places to get to know other people and to get to know yourself.

Over time, participants build deep connections with one another, with the congregation, and with the sacred.

Whether the topic is “good and evil,” “mindful living” or “letting go,” the conversation is respectful and caring and leads to greater understanding.

In each session, facilitated by a member of the congregation, all participants have opportunity to share their perspectives, tell their stories, and listen deeply. The time together is structured: Groups begin and end with centering readings and often include a time of silence before the sharing begins. Many small groups engage in annual service projects, putting their faith into action.

Betsy Gelb describes what a covenant group can be….

Let me guess: it’s been a while since anyone asked you how the family you grew up in affects your spiritual outlook today. But we talked about that in an Emerson covenant group.

Years later, in a different covenant group, we talked about one view of the afterlife presented by Dr. David Eagleman, a Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist, in his book Sum. He muses on the possibility that a human being might decide in the next life to be a horse, a relaxing contrast to his current life. And then Dr. Eagleman wonders what magnificent creature in the past had decided as a relaxing contrast to become a human…..

Here’s the point: one reason many of us look to this congregation is to help us consider questions we never before considered and won’t think about in any other context. Covenant groups, monthly gatherings to talk, listen, and get to know a group of one’s fellow Emersonians, offer that chance.

Interested? Contact the facilitator at, to find out what groups are forming or are already happening. No obligation.