Small Group Ministry – Covenant Groups

Here at First Parish Cambridge, Covenant Groups have been a part of our congregation’s overall ministry program.  By creating space for small group engagement, we get to know each other more personally, more deeply, thereby strengthening our relationships with each other as individuals, as well as with the larger congregation as a whole.

Small Group Ministry offers us the opportunity to deepen our spirituality; to connect across age, gender, ethnic, economic and other differences; to help new members and long-timers get to know each other; to be engaged, included, and heard in a safe, nurturing environment.

About the Groups:  Covenant Groups are groups of 8-10 people who meet each month to share their views on a myriad of spiritual, personal and social issues, such as faith and practice, gratitude, forgiveness, belonging, death, etc. The groups follow a regular format: chalice lighting and opening, check-in, readings, self-reflection and discussion of the topic, check-out/likes and wishes, closing reading and extinguishing of the chalice. Groups meet in a member’s home or at the church and last two hours. Groups are always open to new members and each group can decide to engage in a small service project to the congregation and/or the larger community. Participants should be 18 years or older. Facilitators are being trained by Rev. Danielle DiBona who is overseeing the groups.

Covenanting: In order to create a safe space for meaningful and engaged conversation, each group creates a covenant that forms the bedrock of how we will interact with each other. All the groups share a common set of guidelines, and each group identifies additional items that are meaningful to the members of that group. Some of the guidelines include:

  • Each person should be able to speak without interruption.
  • Speak from your own experience. (Use “I” statements)
  • Listen deeply and respectfully.
  • Allow for silence.
  • Seek to move beyond tolerance to understanding of those with different opinions. Respect and do not attack people with different views.
  • Do not give advice.

Confidentiality: Unlike a therapy group, Covenant Groups do not adhere to a strict policy of confidentiality. Total confidentiality leads to a closed group experience which is not consistent with our goals. And yet, “anything goes” would undermine trust and intimacy. With that in mind, each member is expected to be mindful and sensitive to information shared in their group, to engage in “respectful sharing” which avoids taking heart-felt comments outside the group, but also allows members to talk with family and friends about their experiences in the group.

Date/Time: We currently have 3 ongoing groups:

  • 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm in the Chapel
  • 3rd Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Chapel
  • 4th Monday of each month at 10:00 am in the Nursery

Please email Rev. Danielle Di Bona at devminister@firstparishcambridge.org to check availability in these groups.

A monthly Parenting Discussion Group is led by RE Council chair, Carrie Fisher. For more information contact Carrie at carolynffisher@gmail.com.