Small Groups ~ Community Building in Our Growing Congregation
Many churches find that members experience a deeper sense of community by sharing a common interest with 4 to 10 other people. Small groups complement shared activities such as worship, witness, faith formation, and hospitality. In the spring of 2013, the people of St. Paul’s UCC voted to further develop small group ministries as a strategic move for the present and future. We're committed to journeying together in faith and friendship in small and changing groups.
What is a Small Group Ministry?
A small group forms around a common interest. It could be almost anything--from gardening to card games, baking to theological conversation. Our small groups usually gather for 90 minutes, either weekly for 4 to 6 weeks or biweekly for 2 to 3 months. There's no charge to take part with the possible exceptions of the cost of materials (books, yarn) or activity fees (bowling, movie tickets, etc). As an Earthwise congregation, we encourage people to produce as little waste as possible and to clean up after themselves.
A small group gathering incorporates 3 basic components:
- Engagement in a common interest
- A spiritual practice (prayer, silence, mindful stretching, etc.)
- Food (group members take turns bringing a simple snack)
How Do I Start a Small Group at St Paul’s UCC?
Pick up a copy of the 2-page “Small Group Ministries at St. Paul’s UCC/St. Paul’s UCC Small Group Registration Form." Completed forms should be turned into the church office. If you have questions, please call us (651-224-5809).
Called to Care support group
The Called to Care support group meets on the first Sunday of every month from 12:30 to 2:00, usually in the Fireside Room. Led by Rev. Cindy Mueller, Rev. Clare Gromoll, and others, this is an opportunity for members and friends of the congregation who provide special care for a loved one to come together for mutual support and prayer.
Common Ground small groups
Many members find common ground through meeting over a shared interest, experience, or activity. Topics and shared activities include mental health, parenting loss, prayer-shawl knitting, recovery, DVD yoga, and walking.
It started out with a request from the Minnesota Conference UCC to make a quilt for camp. That led to three quilts! Then our group created a fourth that was sold at the Summit Avenue Artisan Festival. We work on our own projects or, when there’s a need, on a project together. Sewing, knitting, crocheting—whatever your craft, join us in the Fireside Room. We generally meet on Thursday afternoons from 1:00-3:00.
Small Groups have included...
Lenten book studies
Each year we read a different book. Topics have varied with recent offerings including Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren F. Winner, Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings of Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers) by Eric Elnes, and Lillian Daniel’s Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong to. In 2020, due to social distancing because of the coronavirus outbreak, we've been meeting via Zoom.
A small group met to learn how to can fruits and vegetables in the fall.
'Saturday Night Live' Golf
This group was '"for all who don’t know the difference between a hook and a slice, as well as those who do." We gathered to play nine holes of golf on Saturday evenings.
We started with God Girl at the History Theatre in downtown Saint Paul, then checked out Drawer Boy at Minneapolis' Theatre in the Round. We finished our first series with two plays at the Guthrie--A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Crucible. Some also took in These Old Shoes, at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis.
Then, in the next theater season, we attended My Children! My Africa! at Park Square Theatre and Emilie/Eurydice at the Illusion.
This small group, including people with varying levels of experience, met weekly for a month to bake cookies, cake, pie, and a gluten-free dessert. They also helped host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour on a Sunday morning, providing baked goodies.
Our Wildflower, Peace, Corner, and Rain gardens need gardeners, and SPUCC member Becky Galkiewicz headed up such a group. The Gardeners met biweekly throughout the growing season, alternating between Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Prayer Shawl knitting
A group met for four Sundays, both to learn how to knit prayer shawls and to knit together.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atil Gawunde
As an outgrowth of the sessions offered by the church on aging and living wills, a reading group gathered twice to discuss Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by physician Atul Gawande.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
We met at a local independent bookstore to discuss Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This novel tells the parallel stories of two young people coming of age during World War II, one in France and the other in Germany.
Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.
Dr. Alexander, a highly trained neurosurgeon, suffered a rare illness leaving him in a coma for seven days. As a scientist he believed that near-death experiences were simply fantasies produced by the brain under extreme stress. His recovery was a medical miracle. In this book he describes his experience and how he now believes that true health can only be realized when we recognize that God and the soul are real. Two groups met to read and discuss the book.
The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle
Groups met both at church and in members' homes over a 3-week period to discuss Phyllis Tickle's book, which declares not only that every 500 years, the church goes through a period of dizzying upheaval and hopeful promise, but also that we are in such a historical moment right now.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
In this 12-session group, we discovered the important connection between spirituality and creativity. We met twice monthly to experience Julia Cameron’s book and process through The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.