Monthly Minister Column
Engaging Our Faith at a Deeper Level
When I first heard of the thematic ministry approach developed by Rev. Scott Taylor, I was excited and enthused! Finally, I thought, here’s something where we can engage our faith on a much deeper level than we have in the past. In many cases, people find us and declare that we can believe anything we want, and then stop doing the work and being actively engaged in developing a spiritual life that provides richness, depth, and meaning in our lives.
Thematic ministry allows the whole church to be engaged in the same conversation, essentially giving us all the same pair of glasses to look out into the world. Its theological basis allows us to connect to our deepest selves, to see and recognize life’s gifts, and to become aware and act on those who have needs greater than our own. The spiritual exercises help us connect to life at large while the questions to wrestle with are designed to focus on our daily living
Earlier in September, Joan Wilson-Jones, Dorothy Randall, and I (Rev. Samaya) attended a small group facilitator’s training session for the thematic packets with Rev. Scott Taylor. The three of us found the session to be very engaging and it contained a great deal of information, some of which can be found in the Participant’s Handbook. The handbook is now located on our website and can be found here. (Note for Karin and Stasia … please include the link to the Participant’s Handbook).
The small group model is based on the Quaker model of discernment and spiritual introspection in a safe space. Initially participants are asked to choose one spiritual practice and one question to wrestle with over the time of the theme. Then in small groups in two separate rounds, each person is allowed an opportunity to speak to their own experience of engaging the practice (the first round), and then the question to wrestle with (the second round) while receiving the gift of deep, attentive listening from the other participants.
Parker Palmer is a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. In his book, A Hidden Wholeness, he talks about how we have dialogue circles to improve communication, negotiate crises in cases of conflict, to explore our emotions, problem solving circles, team building circles, and collaborative learning circles but none of them have the singular intent of making it safe for the soul to show up and offer us guidance. (If you are having trouble with the word soul, please feel free to think of it as your deepest inner self.) He calls these circles circles of trust – and it is this model that we engage as we explore in a circle what the practice and question bring up for us. In these circles we offer the gift of our presence with no advice, fixing, shaming, or blaming.
Our small groups start up this month as each person reflects on what it was like to engage in a spiritual practice and question they wrestled with over the theme of what it means to be a people of vision. If this intrigues you and you’d like to join a circle, please let Rev. Samaya know.
South Fraser Unitarians Go Orange!
Why I Come to Church?
Do you feel passionate about coming to church and want to share a brief message with everyone in the community about it? Starting in October, we’ll be adding a new element to our Sunday services where you can share a brief (2-300-word maximum) message about why you come to church. Please contact Rev. Samaya if you have questions, would like to sign up, or would like more information.
When to Call the Minister
Many people wonder when it’s appropriate to call the minister to deal with pastoral care concerns, particularly with such an active caring community such as SFUC and with a three-quarter-time minister. Samaya is available to meet with you in times of difficulty for pastoral guidance visits at a coffee shop, at a hospital, or in your home. Her visit with you would typically be for short-term sessions of listening, support, and spiritual guidance. If longer-term conversations are needed, she would be happy to refer you to someone with skills in the area needing assistance. For more information please contact us.
Samaya’s Office Hours:
Tuesday mornings are reserved now for one-on-one appointments so that a confidential conversation can take place if you feel the need. To book an appointment, please contact us.
Office hours take place on Thursdays between 10 am and noon. This month, you can find Rev. Samaya at the following locations:
- For the week of October 18 to the 25th, Rev. Samaya’s office hours take place on:
- Thursday, October 18th at McBurney’s Coffee and Teahouse located at 20504 Fraser Highway in Langley, and
- Thursday, October 25th at Java Express located at 15090 North Bluff Road.
Rev. Samaya is travelling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after the service on October 7th, returning in the wee hours of Thursday, October 11th. She is available in emergency cases by phone call 604-323-4341.
Please feel free to drop by and have a visit with me to talk about what’s on your heart or mind or arrange for a one-on-one in-home visit on Tuesdays.