SMALL GROUP MINISTRY – SPRING TERM 2014

SPRING TERM 2014 will begin week of February 16, 2014 and run to week of June 8, 2014.

SIGN-UP! Sign up in person on Sundays Jan. 26, Feb. 2 & Feb. 9 OR email a member of the Small Group Ministry Steering Committee.

SIGNUP PERIOD for these groups for the Spring Term 2014 will begin on Sunday, January 26th and end on Sunday, Feb. 9th.

Parents of Young Children
Monthly meeting
Dates to be determined by group,
Meeting at rotation of group members homes.
No childcare provided, but children are welcome and
activities will be provided.
First meeting in March
Jody Clouse, Carrie Erwin, co-facilitator

Parents of Teens (ages 13-18): This small group is intended to help parents of teens support each other through a beautiful and often difficult journey.
1st and 3rd Sundays, 1:15 to 2:45 pm at USNH
First session February 16
Linda Oechsle, Karen Brown, co-facilitators 

Spiritual topics in relationships – Many people who are interested in examining and expanding the spiritual side of their lives often discover that this leads to looking more closely at their relationships.  Whether in a couple, a friendship, an ongoing group, or a community, relationships have the potential to foster spirituality.  In a small, confidential group led by a trained facilitator, we will share readings, discussion, and personal reflection to explore spirituality in relationships
2nd and 4th Mondays, 6:30 pm at USNH
First meeting February 24
Tom Hardin, facilitator
 
Buddhist Lens Group, reading from Buddhist literature, time for meditation
2nd and 4th Mondays at USNH
First meeting February 24
Paul Trotta, coordinator
 
Selected spiritual topics / Open to all interested
1st and 3rd Thursdays afternoons 1:00 – 2:30 pm at USNH
First session February 20
Ellen Mahoney, Gwen Heuss-Severance, Nancy Brown, co-facilitators

Useful, Thoughtful and Fun Readings and Reflections: We will use short readings from multiple sources (i.e. Anne Rivers Siddon, Parker J. Palmer, Nathaniel Branden, Anne Lamott, Barbara Brown Taylor, Ram Dass, Tina Fey) to spark our thoughts, followed by questions which invite us to reflect and share our experiences.
First and third Fridays, 7:00 – 8:30
At USNH or at facilitator’s home in New Haven – TBD by group
First meeting February 21 at USNH 
           
Fay Kandarian, facilitator

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Members of the Steering Committee can answer questions you might have.

Jean Rosenthal, Chair jean@jeanerik.net 203/234-1398
Ellen Mahoney ellierem@webtv.net 203/288-5940
Gwen Heuss-Severance gheuss@sbcglobal.net 203/288-3731
Nancy Brown

According to an essay by David Brooks in the January 17, 2011 New Yorker, “Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that waht the inner mind really wants is connection. … Joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income.”

Small Group Ministry provides an opportunity to consider the meaningful spirituality in your life and a way to join others in the search for “intimacy and ultimacy.”  The format of each session is designed to support connections and community.  Newcomers and longer-term members find it a good way to get to know a few people better, particularly helpful in a large congregation like ours.

Open to all members and friends of USNH and others who may be interested.  One need not be a member of USNH to join.  There are two ”terms” of Small Group Ministry, the Fall term meets from mid-October to mid-January, the Spring term meets from mid-February to the end of May.  Consistent groups of 6 – 10 persons meet with a trained facilitator once or twice a month for a total of 4 to 8 sessions per Small Group Ministry term.

Groups meet at USNH or in individual homes.  There are groups on many days of the week and times of the day.  Some groups use a variety of readings or themes, and others are centered around particular themes.  Examples of session themes are; solitude, community, service, hope and hopelessness, forgiveness, being present, civility, humor, the power of beliefs, animals, a sacred place, learning from failure, etc. There is some variation in format but most group sessions have an opening reading, a time for personal check-in, a reading for consideration, group exploration of a topic, a sharing of likes and wishes for the session, and a closing reading.

Executive Summary – USNH Small Group Ministry Program

1. Evaluation Process. In 2012-13 the Small Group Ministry (SGM) program introduced evaluations for all participants and facilitators every term (Fall and Spring). Previously a survey was conducted every 2 years. This evaluation summary does not include our successful drop-in sessions, the SGM section of Pathways to Membership, or individuals not participating in SGM.
Thanks to Greg Berg who tabulated the results, and contributed analysis, along with SGM Steering Committee Chair, Jean Rosenthal, and members, Ellen Mahoney, and Gwen Heuss-Severance. Rev. Marion Visel staffs SGM program.

Response Rates
During 2012, there were 17 groups and an estimated 170 participants in those groups. We received evaluation forms from approximately one half of the participants and facilitators.

2. Demographics of Participants
. 1/5 associated with USNH less than one year
1/5 have been associated with USNH for 1 to 2 years
40% of the participants have a history with the society of less than 2 years
remaining respondents associated with USNH for 3 or more years, including 10 persons who have been associated for more than 11 years

B. Number of times they participated in a small group ministry group
29% of the respondents had never before been in small group ministry
10% had been a group once before while 21% had been in 2 or 3 groups before
40% of the respondents had been in 4 or more groups previously (including 12 persons who had been in 6 or more groups)

C. Attracting newcomers as well as long-term members: 40% with USNH less
than 2 years; nearly 1/3 not members yet
- Eighteen of the respondents are not members of USNH; almost 1/3
- more than 70% of the respondents were aged 50 or older
- more than 45% of the respondents were aged 60 or older
- 25% were between the ages of 20 and 50
- no respondents under age 20
– 76% of the respondents were women and 24% were men

3. Participants’ Scores on Quality of Their Group
Satisfaction with groups, topics, process: 100% responding said they would recommend SGM to a friend
B. In a small group, regular attendance at group meetings is very important to
maintain the intimacy and trust among members:
Almost 1/2 of the respondents did not miss any of the meetings of their group

C. More than 90% of all of the respondents strongly agreed that:
- All had an adequate opportunity to speak, and discussion stayed on track
- Participants adhered to the covenant and were respectful of one another
- Session topics were engaging and ones they could relate to
- Enough emphasis was placed on how topics related to spirituality, and the
group contributed to my spiritual growth (slightly lower scores)
- Overall, my participation in this group was worthwhile

4. Observations
- Small groups are providing a very meaningful, high-quality ministry experience to a substantial number of members and friends.
- Participants are very satisfied with most elements of the small group program and experience.
- The program is attracting persons new to small group ministry (and new to the society) as well as repeat participants.
- Some participants would like to see more topics related to spirituality and see a stronger connection to their spiritual growth.
- The small group program has attracted a substantial number of non-society members (one third of all participants).
- From the participants’ responses, we can infer that our facilitators are playing their roles very well.
- There are relatively few participants under the age of 40.
- Outside of the Manna group, the groups are mostly comprised of women.

5. Next Steps
On-line sign up process beginning Fall 2013 term, while still offering sign-up table, and email sign up
Possibly use on-line evaluation tool in future (easier to process but lower response rate)
Work with New Member Initiative group to plan integration of SGM tone into their sessions, and to work co-operatively on SGM sessions for visitors and new members
Continue to create affinity and topic oriented SGs which appeal to more diverse populations (particularly those under 40 yo, and men)
Strengthen facilitator training in the linking topics and discussions to spiritual growth
Create electronic versions of all SGM session material to facilitate access by facilitators, participants, and others
Create more groups with specific focus on a spiritual topic or area

- – - – - – - – -

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – USNH Small Group Ministry Program

1. Evaluation Process: In 2012-13 the Small Group Ministry (SGM) program introduced evaluations for all participants and facilitators every term (Fall and Spring). Previously a survey was conducted every 2 years. This evaluation summary does not include our successful drop-in sessions, the SGM section of Pathways to Membership, or individuals not participating in SGM.
Thanks to Greg Berg who tabulated the results, and contributed analysis, along with SGM Steering Committee Chair, Jean Rosenthal, and members, Ellen Mahoney, and Gwen Heuss-Severance. Rev. Marion Visel staffs SGM program.

Response Rates:
During 2012, there were 17 groups and an estimated 170 participants in those groups. We received evaluation forms from approximately one half of the participants and facilitators.

2. Demographics of Participants:
- 1/5 associated with USNH less than one year
- 1/5 have been associated with USNH for 1 to 2 years
- 40% of the participants have a history with the society of less than 2 years
- remaining respondents associated with USNH for 3 or more years, including 10 persons who have been associated for more than 11 years

B. Number of times they participated in a small group ministry group:
- 29% of the respondents had never before been in small group ministry
- 10% had been a group once before while 21% had been in 2 or 3 groups before
- 40% of the respondents had been in 4 or more groups previously (including 12 persons who had been in 6 or more groups)

C. Attracting newcomers as well as long-term members:
- 40% with USNH less than 2 years;nearly 1/3 not members yet
- 18 of the respondents are not members of USNH; almost 1/3
- more than 70% of the respondents were aged 50 or older
- more than 45% of the respondents were aged 60 or older
- 25% were between the ages of 20 and 50
- no respondents under age 20
- 76% of the respondents were women and 24% were men

3. Participants’ Scores on Quality of Their Group
Satisfaction with groups, topics, process:
- 100% responding said they would recommend SGM to a friend
B. In a small group, regular attendance at group meetings is very important to maintain the intimacy and trust among members:
- Almost 1/2 of the respondents did not miss any of the meetings of their group

C. More than 90% of all of the respondents strongly agreed that:
- All had an adequate opportunity to speak, and discussion stayed on track
- Participants adhered to the covenant and were respectful of one another
- Session topics were engaging and ones they could relate to
- Enough emphasis was placed on how topics related to spirituality, and the group contributed to my spiritual growth (slightly lower scores)
- Overall, my participation in this group was worthwhile

4. Observations:
- Small groups are providing a very meaningful, high-quality ministry experience to a substantial number of members and friends.
- Participants are very satisfied with most elements of the small group program and experience.
- The program is attracting persons new to small group ministry (and new to the society) as well as repeat participants.
- Some participants would like to see more topics related to spirituality and see a stronger connection to their spiritual growth.
- The small group program has attracted a substantial number of non-society members (one third of all participants).
- From the participants’ responses, we can infer that our facilitators are playing their roles very well.
- There are relatively few participants under the age of 40.
- Outside of the Manna group, the groups are mostly comprised of women

5. Next Steps:
- On-line sign up process beginning Fall 2013 term, while still offering sign-up table, and email sign up
- Possibly use on-line evaluation tool in future (easier to process but lower response rate)
- Work with New Member Initiative group to plan integration of SGM tone into their sessions, and to work co-operatively on SGM sessions for visitors and new members
- Continue to create affinity and topic oriented SGs which appeal to more diverse populations (particularly those under 40 yo, and men)
- Strengthen facilitator training in the linking topics and discussions to spiritual growth
- Create electronic versions of all SGM session material to facilitate access by facilitators, participants, and others
Create more groups with specific focus on a spiritual topic or area