Thematic Ministry involves small groups facilitated by Rev. Samaya and each month a theme is explored. Together we engage in generous listening to each other as we share our experiences of engaging with the theme over the month.
What Does it mean to be a People of Memory?
The thematic package on what it means to be a people of memory can be found here! As a teaser here’s one of the spiritual practices you’re invited to engage into the end of November.
From a spiritual perspective, memory is not just about holding pictures of the past in our head; it’s also about holding on to our core values. There’s a reason we say, “I need to remember who I am.” Indeed, this has long been the way UUs think about church. Church, for us, is the place where we come to remember who we are.
To honour and engage this, you are invited to spend some time this month “reminding yourself who you are” by making a simple list of “10 Things to Remember.” Think of it as self-talk. As your better self-helping your forgetful self-return to your centre. Pull out a sheet of paper or pull up a document on your computer and type out a list numbered 1-10. Then spend the month filling it in with 10 pieces of wisdom or advice that are important to you but that you also often forget.
Bring this “spiritual reminder list” with you to your group and be ready to share the three items on the list that were most surprising or engaging.
You’ll have to check out the theme packet for some ideas to get you started!
What is Thematic Ministry?
You may be wondering what Theme Ministry is. Like other small group programs, its central goal is to foster circles of trust and deep listening. However, theme ministry adds four unique components:
1. Explore the Worship Themes in More Depth
Theme ministry is not a “stand-alone” program. It is designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship experience. Congregations using theme ministry position it in their system as “an opportunity to explore our congregation’s monthly worship themes in more depth.”
2. Experience the Worship Theme, Don’t Just Talk about It.
Unitarian Universalists want to do more than just read and talk about spiritual topics. Discussing a topic is important. But there is nothing like experiential learning. Honouring this, our thematic package provides participants with a spiritual exercise each month to engage prior to their group meeting. For instance, when we wrestled with the concept of grace, small group participants not only read what theologians have to say about it, but are challenged to find a way to bring grace (a gift one doesn’t expect, earn or even deserve) into another person’s life.
3. Questions To Walk With, Not Talk Through.
In traditional small groups, questions are an opportunity for the group to think together. Theme ministry uses questions differently. We see them as tools for individual exploration. Instead of asking our groups to go through the questions and discussion them one by one, participants are asked to read all the questions ahead of time and find the one question that “hooks them”—the one that speaks to and challenges them personally. Participants then live with–or “walk with”-that question for a couple weeks leading up to the group. People come to their meeting, not with an answer to each of the questions on the list, but with a story about how this one particular question lead them to deeper, personal learning. This technique leads us away from abstraction and intellectualizing and challenges us to think about how the topic (and question) apply to our daily living.
4. A Reminder That UUism is Distinctive, Not an “Anything Goes,” Religion
Our monthly themes are not just interesting topics. Rather they focus us on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honoured and emphasized. At each meeting, we are reminded that our faith promotes a preferred way for us to be in the world.
At the start of each month, a resource packet will be made available via hard copy, on our website, and through the Chalice Lighter. Resource packets include articles, poems, quotes, questions to wrestle with, and spiritual exercises all related to the theme. Of course, if you have material related to the theme, you’ll be encouraged and invited to submit them to Rev. Samaya for inclusion into the packet. The services during the month will be related to the theme in some way shape or form – it could be as simple as a chalice lighting that folds in the theme, or the entire service.
Please feel free to contact us for any further information.