About small groups posts

Posts tagged as small groups posts form an occasional series of items of interest to people involved with – or wanting to find out more about – one or more of the groups, committees, or teams listed in the documents linked to below.

Come here anytime to browse or download an online PDF of the List of UCV Groups and Gatherings, the list with its first page shown on the right. See also an online PDF of the Committee and Team Directory.* New versions of these PDF documents are published from time to time, and these links are then updated. The source document, a spreadsheet, is also available. To view it, click here. To view a backup copy, click here. / 2021-02-17

Come here anytime as well to review the list of all posts tagged as small groups posts. Each entry includes a snippet view of the post.

Find your way here from any page on the UCV website by entering “about small groups” in the search box on the right in the page header and clicking on the title you want when you see the search results.

*The two items used to be combined in a PDF titled Directory of UCV Small Groups & Committees/Teams, also known informally as the small groups directory.

UCV Directory of Small Groups and Committees

UCV Directory of Small Groups and Committees

Wanting to get involved with a group but not sure what’s available?  Our newly updated Directory will help you navigate our complex Unitarian community. You can find hard copies on the Welcome Tables or in the office.

If you’d like an electronic version, please contact Sheila at sresels@gmail.com

Directory of small groups, committees, and teams

updated 2019-04-24 … this post now looks like the legacy post it is: here for the record and to direct you to the post about small group posts, a post updated with each new edition of the directory

The featured image shows the cover of the March [2019] edition of the directory, announced in March [2019]. The latest edition is available in hard copy at the welcome table. Click here if for some reason you want to read the March directory online instead of the latest edition. For more on the latest edition, see below.

This is a small groups post. Be sure to read the post about small groups postsit is kept up to date: unlike this one it always links to a copy of the latest edition of the directory and features an image of its cover.

updated 2019-04-24 … this post now looks like the legacy post it is: here for the record and to direct you to the post about small group posts, a post updated with each new edition of the directory

Women’s Groups Update

Hello, As we’ve had some inquiries from women interested in joining a women’s group, I thought I’d put out a summary of what’s available and invite those of you currently in a women’s group to let me/us know if you’re willing to have new members.

The Canada-wide (but still small and informal) Feminist Book Club sponsored by Canadian U*U Women’s Association continues on the 2nd Sunday usually – but for October it’s on the 3rd Sunday. Cathy Sevcik will be attending and is a regular participant and you can contact her if you want a chat by email beforehand.

Inspired by the Morning Meditations Rev. Lara has been offering on Tuesday through Friday, and in conjunction with CUUWA, Mary Bennett has initiated Women’s Meditative Poetry gatherings. These are 15-minute poetry readings/meditation on Sat. and Sun. at 9 am and on Mondays at 4pm (Pacific time) Open to women and non-binary persons. Check events for details or contact me, Mary. Leadership will rotate. Poems will be by Canadian women or non-binary poets. You can join an email group or slack workspace if you want to see a list of poems and add to our list.

Annual Women’s Gathering. For several years UCV has hosted a women’s gathering with 40-50 people attending. Right now the maximum # who can attend the Hall is 15 and the Sanctuary 25, but we might go ahead. If you’re willing to be on a planning team, contact Mary. Usually this is scheduled in January.

Soul Matters Neighbourhood Drop-in. Not only, but mostly, women, drop in monthly on the 1st Tuesday 7:30-8:30pm to discuss the theme of that month’s Soul Matters package.

The CUUWA will be offering a free online program of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, starting on Saturday, November 7 at 12 pm Pacific, 3 pm Eastern time, and meeting every three to four weeks for eleven sessions.

We offered this program at UCV last year led by Laurie and Paula.

Cakes for the Queen of Heaven

Any of these events that have dates and times can be found in the Events List on this website.

Need contact info? Check with UCV office or if you’re a member or friend, use our directory.


CUUWA https://cuuwa.org/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CANUUWA

Poetry email group: send message to womens-meditative-poetry+subscribe@googlegroups.com

Slack workspace: meditativepoetry (Check Canadian Women poets channel)





Women’s Groups Forming

WANT TO ENRICH AND EMPOWER THE LIVES OF WOMEN? Thirteen women participated in a discussion group at the 4th Annual Women’s Gathering (http://vancouverunitarians.ca/events/annual-womens- gathering/) and decided to form not just one, but TWO NEW WOMEN’S GROUPS. One meets on the third Monday evening of the month, and the other meets on the first Friday afternoon of the month. Registration is required. Both groups are now full. Contact Sheila at sresels@gmail.com if you would like to be put on a wait list or to register for a third Women’s Group (date TBD).

Our intergenerational groups ranges in age from 26-78 yrs. old. Most are in their 30’s and 40’s.

Contact Sheila sresels@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

Sheila has notes from the gathering and some proposed dates for the first meeting.

“I am delighted that we are a diverse group in terms of age and experiences. Should broaden my horizons.” – Bev

“I’m somewhat new to Vancouver and want to join a Women’s Group to get support from women.
I think it’s important to foster that for myself and for other women.”  – Cayla

“I thought forming a women’s group would present me with an opportunity to meet with others to construct a safe space to address concerns, challenges and tools for empowerment.
Truly, it is through shared experiences and stories that we grow, reflect and expand who we are. In life and in the context of this group we all shift through life through our interactions with others and thus we assume many roles that include: teachers, mentors, students and leaders.” – Naomi

They were asked:

  • Why do you want to join a women’s group?
  • What would a women’s group focus on? 

Here are some of the responses:

  • having a group that supports the 7 Unitarian principles
  • enriching and empowering the lives of women
  • increasing the sense of self-worth and self-confidence of women
  • finding out what current women’s issues are
  • Interested in change and with a group of women it’s easier to make change.
  • getting support from women and fostering that for myself and for other women
  • meeting others with different ideas, cultures, ages
  • empowering each other, e.g. equal salaries
  • receiving help and guidance from others re guidance with difficult, challenging situations both professionally and personally
  • sharing experiences from different cultures…learning about Canadian attitudes and sharing views my background
  • discussing: parenting concerns, relationships
  • how much sexism we have incorporated within ourselves (perhaps unconsciously)
  • how to have a women’s group that maintains an open attitude toward men (avoiding an us vs them attitude).
  • being solo in today’s society which doesn’t support being single; being childless in a society which doesn’t support being childless

Structures to consider

  • meet once a month
  • duration of the meeting: two hours
  • have one person in charge of administrative issues
  • rotate facilitation of group. Facilitator chooses a topic and facilitates discussion.
  • discuss the topic selected by facilitator
  • ensure confidentiality, respectful discourse, equal air time for everyone, etc.

Meet at UCV in Hewett Hall. Book the Fireside room (if available)

Some suggestions for logistics:

  • Size of the group: maximum 12 per group
  • invite other Unitarians and their friends through website, Order of Service, word of mouth
  • closed group once maximum number is reached
  • as people drop out of the group, it opens to new members

There’s lots going on by and for women. Check here for news and events.

Covenant Groups

Covenant Groups are “Mostly Listening”

Covenant groups are a special kind of group meant to deepen members’ spiritual lives through sharing matters of “intimate and ultimate” significance. We have several small groups called “covenant groups”. Usually the group size is between 6 and 10. Current groups tend to meet at the congregation but have also met in members’ homes or in off-site cafes.

Once formed the groups are closed to new members until or unless there is a vacancy in order to keep the intimacy and deep connection. Usually the groups covenant (promise) for a year at a time.

The goals are to:

  • Listen and be listened to in a safe place
  • Learn about the mysteries of our world and our spiritual paths
  • Build new and deeper personal connections
  • Serve our community and the needs of one another
  • Maintain personal connections and a caring community

Each group rotates facilitators and other leadership roles. The groups choose their own themes for exploration.


Covenant groups can deepen and broaden personal spiritual growth. This is done through five components:

  • Listening: Deep listening is a gift for both the speaker and the listener. A connection forms when we share and give this gift to each other.
  • Worship: Worship is central to the life of our congregation. Covenant groups augment and strengthen our shared experience.
  • Community: Small groups meet the need for connection and intimacy that is both a hunger in our society and essential to the ongoing life of a religious community.
  • Learning: People come to the church seeking spiritual growth, seeking to know themselves better, to grow into their understanding of the world and to ponder the age old questions of faith: how to live, what to believe, how to act, what meanings we can decipher from the mystery of life.
  • Service: A life of faith is a life of service. As human beings, we seek to be of use, and a healthy congregation needs to provide avenues through which we may serve.

How do Covenant Groups work?

Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or religious topics through a process of deep listening and service projects. Topics that may be shared during meetings include: sacred places, perfection, mothers, community, living simply, music, and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace. Most groups offer a service project once a year. In general, projects tend to be ones that serve the church community or the local community, but they can be larger projects that reach beyond our community.

A covenant is a promise

Group members are expected to commit to regular meeting times and to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or simultaneously formulating a response. Deep listening also gives an individual an opportunity to speak without interruption or comment.

What are the sessions like?

Typically a group session will be one and a half or two hours in length and include the following elements.

  • Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, reminding participants of the special opportunity of the gathering, possibly reflecting the topic of the session. The session usually begins with lighting a chalice.
  • Check-In: Participants share news of what has been happening in their lives. Each group develops its own customs as to the length of sharing. This portion of the meeting may expand from time to time when circumstances call for it.
  • Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done in one evening.
  • Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
  • Closing Words: This brings the formal session to and end.
  • Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.

Our groups rotate leadership and are self-governing. They take turns leading a topic, booking rooms, advertising etc.


Pagan Group Fall News

by Mary Bennett ucvconnect@gmail.com

The days are noticeably shorter and after the heat dome in the summer, many of us are welcoming the autumn days that bring a cooler, but still warm, temperature outside. As a gardener, I am grateful for the harvest that is still coming. There are herbs for drying or crafts in the UCV Earth Spirituality herb garden.

The UCV pagan group is approximately 40 people in total. We connect with each other through an email list by sharing information and invitations.  We encourage everyone to take initiative by sharing their knowledge and energy.

Our group plans to host two “public rituals” – celebrations for the sabbats (for example winter and summer solstice) that we will invite anyone in the community to attend.

We are also now coordinating small groups using the covenant group model. If you’re interested, fill out this form:


These groups will

  • meet approximately monthly
  • share leadership and responsibilities for the group
  • once a year do a service project for the wider community
  • determine their own topics and schedule for meetings
  • once formed with 6-10 members will usually remain a closed group for a year

See more about covenant groups here. 


There are two upcoming sabbats (sun celebrations). If you want to plan a solitary or small group celebration with friends you’ll find lots of suggestions online for decorating your home, planning activities and readings.

Mabon – Autumn Equinox

This celebrates the second of three harvest periods. It’s a time of balance.

Samhain – Hallowe’en

This is the new year for pagans and when the veil is thinnest between the living and the dead.

UCV honours this time with a special worship service, Encountering Our Ancestors, and creating an Ancestors Shrine. 


If you want to know the exact day and time of solstices, equinoxes and moon phases, we recommend this website: timeanddate.com


IBPOC is back – Fall plans are underway

The IBPOC Caucus is back! (IBPOC = Indigenous, Black, People of Colour)

After taking a break for the summer months, the IBPOC (aka BIPOC) caucus is meeting again, feeling rejuvenated and ready for the Fall.

We are continuing to share our lived experiences of being IBPOC in a White society, which is the main focus of our group. We are also discussing what else we would like to do. Ideas include inviting in refugees, IBPOC artists, or social justice organizations as guest speakers, and working with our “IBPOC+Allies” group to put on congregation-wide events such as Heritage celebrations, film nights, and FUNdraisers.  (All in-person plans subject to the latest pandemic regulations of course).

October is Latin American Heritage Month. If you have ideas or could be involved to help plan and coordinate some events, please contact Mary ucvconnect@gmail.com.

Currently we have IBPOC members from UCV, Beacon, and North Shore congregations. We also have inquiries from Unitarians as far away as Victoria and Calgary. Some of our members have connected with the BIPOC caucus in Ontario and DRUUMM, the UUA People of Color Ministry and anti-racist collective in the US.  Zoom has been one of the bright spots in the Pandemic as it gave us the ability to bring individuals and small groups together despite the distance!

Get involved!

If you are a UU IBPOC and would like to join us, please contact Tamiko at bipoc@vancouverunitarians.ca

If you are not IBPOC but would like to support IBPOC events and initiatives, contact Mary at ucvconnect@gmail.com  She will put your name on the IBPOC+Allies email group to be alerted when help is needed.




Ministerial Transition Team: Rethinking Our Identity Workshops — Now In-Person at UCV

The Identity phase of our Ministerial Transition is the time to envision the congregation we want to be(come) in our future. It is arguably the most important step to complete before we search for a new settled minister.

The Rethinking Our Identity workshop is based on Appreciative Inquiry principles, an approach to organization transition that focuses on moments of exceptional pride and performance and creates a future that nurtures and supports even more pride and performance. In the workshop we will share our responses to eight ‘thought-provoking questions’ (see below) that probe our best and most memorable experiences of our lives in this congregation.

Over 60 congregants have already completed this 2 1/2 hour workshop and all have found it worthwhile and enjoyable. Many appreciated the chance to see and talk to others in this congregation, something we have been missing during the pandemic. Here are some participants’ comments:

“Very enjoyable and useful.”

“I was very engaged.”

 “The questions are all about meaningful things.”

 “The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.”

“Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.”

“[The interview questions] are thought-provoking…I found the process good –

helpful, informative, stimulating.”

“This workshop was wonderful opportunity to share stories of what gives meaning to my life at UCV – 

and to learn about others’ experiences too.”



We have scheduled workshops on Sept. 1, Sept. 9, Sept. 11 and Sept. 15, with more to follow.

Contact us to register:





Here is an abbreviated version of the workshop’s thought-provoking questions:


  1. Reflecting on your entire experience at UCV, remember a time when you felt most engaged, alive, and motivated. Who was involved? What did you do? How did it feel? What happened?


  1. What are the healthiest, most life-giving aspects of the relationships among people at UCV? What would you say has been most valuable about your friendships in this community? Give some examples of how we live together at our best.


  1. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What makes your worship alive and meaningful? What shapes your Unitarian faith?


  1. What do you believe are the most important and meaningful elements of our congregation’s engagement with the local community, the nation, and the world?


  1. What are the most important things our Unitarian community has contributed to your life? Who or what made a difference?


  1. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation – your personality, your perspectives, your skills, your activities, your character? Give me some examples.


  1. What do you think is the most important, life-giving characteristic of our UCV congregation? What makes Unitarians or UCV unique?


  1. Make three wishes for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation. Describe what this religious community would look like as these wishes come true.


  1. Is there anything else you would like to add?


Join an ROI Workshop and help create our future.