A Circle Ministry group meeting in a member’s home.

In 2005, Rev. Jan Carlson-Bull, then the minister of First Parish, introduced the concept of small group ministry. Small group ministry — what we call Circle Ministry — is designed to foster friendship and caring, to provide an avenue for personal growth and spiritual exploration and to strengthen the fabric of our spiritual community.

Circle Ministry groups meet twice a month from October through May, either at the Parish house or a member’s home. Sessions are generally two hours long and follow a structure that is designed to foster “active listening” and respect for the open and honest sharing of ideas.

The group begins its session by lighting the flaming chalice and a short reading. Participants then check in, briefly relating recent events and whatever is affecting their lives. After all have had a chance to speak, the facilitator, a member of the group who leads the discussion, will introduce a topic for discussion that has been prepared by the Program Coordinators. Participants are asked to reflect on the topic and respond to suggested questions. Each one in turn speaks if they wish, or they can pass if they would like. During these responses, as during check-in, there is no cross-talk or comment. This covenant to actively listen without challenge or comment fosters a deeper level of sharing and openness and we learn much from each other. After everyone who wishes to has spoken without response, the topic is opened up for open dialogue. The session closes with a short round of reflection on what was learned, and there is a closing reading.

Circle Ministry participation is not limited to members of First Parish. It is open to anyone who is interested in this kind of mutual exchange of ideas and any member of the greater community is welcome to join.

If you would like to participate or learn more, feel free to contact our office admin@firstparishcohasset.org and we will be happy to share your interest with our Circle Ministry Coordinator, Annie Spang.