Frequently Asked Questions Unitarian Society of HartfordBuilding CommunityAdult & Family ProgramsConnection Circles (formerly known as Small Group Ministries)Frequently Asked Questions Q: What is Small Group Ministry? A: Small Group Ministry is an opportunity to grow to know one another better. Within their groups, people share insights they have gained and concerns they’ve been struggling with. They realize that they have something in common with everyone, and that they are free to disagree with others as well. They find a non-judgmental atmosphere in which to explore the spiritual dimensions to their lives. In short, it’s a chance to connect in a deeper way with this religious community. Q: How often, and for how long, do groups meet? A: Each meeting lasts two hours. You will be assigned to a group according to your preferences of place and time and the need to manage the size of the groups. Most groups meet 8 times over a four-month period and begin in October and February. Q: Where do groups meet? A: The groups meet either in a member’s home, or at the Meeting House. Both the Meeting House and some homes are physically accessible. Please indicate any special needs (accessibility, allergies, child care, etc.) when you register at the Programs Table during Fellowship Hour. Q: What happens at a meeting? A: Meetings are facilitated by a trained facilitator according to the following loose but consistent format: brief check-in, opening, gathering words; sharing experiences and thoughts on a topic provided by the minister; and a brief closing. The tone is spiritual rather than intellectual, personal rather than educational. Q: What kinds of topics will be discussed? A: Every group explores the same topic at approximately the same time, so that there is a shared experience among groups. Topics are provided by the SGM Committee, typically introduced by some kind of reading, and mostly along spiritual/personal/religious themes. Q: What if I have kids? A: For those who have small children, we offer, from time to time, a “family-friendly” SGM. This consists of a pizza dinner on Friday evening at about 6:00 PM in Fellowship Hall for all parents and kids. At about 7:00 PM, the kids go off to supervised child care and the parents go upstairs to a 90-minute SGM. The SGM part is no different from what other adults are experiencing in the night-time or day-time SGMs. This has been very popular when we have had sufficient number of families sign up. Q: Who can participate? A: Small Group Ministry is open to adults and older teens who can commit to the 8 sessions of the particular group. Participants do not need to be members of this congregation. Because of the cohesive nature of the groups, we do not permit visitors or drop-ins to group sessions. Q: Should I come with my spouse or a friend? A: You are free to do what you are most comfortable doing. Many people find, however, that they gain the most from groups in which they don’t know many people at the beginning. Q: What about refreshments? A: At the first meeting, the host provides simple refreshments. After that, group members decide whether they want to continue to have refreshments and, if so, they share that responsibility. Q: How much personal sharing is expected? A: Part of the benefit of participating is to be able to share your story with others, and know that your experiences will be honored. However, Small Group Ministry is neither an “encounter” group nor a kind of group therapy. Participants get a sense of the balance from the facilitator, and can always check things out with their group. Good listening is essential, and respect for others is expected. Q: How is this a ministry? A: Small Group Ministry groups exist to help us feel ministered to, one to another; as a place for spiritual exploration, and to connect to something beyond ourselves. This is what ministry is. Click here for information on the development of our SGM program.