Starting in September 2016, members, friends, and newcomers to Kelowna Unitarians will have a joyful opportunity to explore what it means to be a community where "Soul Matters." That's the name of a Unitarian Universalist program of theme-based ministry, currently used by many Canadian and American UU congregations across the continent.
Soul Matters is a distinctive small group curriculum. The group begins with a kick-off session led by Rev Meg Roberts on Saturday, September 24, from 1:00 to 3:00 downstairs at the Unitarian church 1310 Bertram Street. The group will then choose one evening each month to explore ways in which the theme for the month is expressed in our lives. New members are welcome and do not need to be a member of the Fellowship.
Please contact Marilynlraymond@outlook.com if you want to sign up or ask some questions.
One significant aspect of Soul Matters is that it provides a reminder that Unitarian Universalism is distinctive, not an "anything goes" religion. Each theme focuses on a spiritual value that our faith tradition has historically emphasized (with evolving levels of awareness), promoting a preferred way to be in the world and in relationship. So each monthly theme is framed by the question, "What does it mean to be a community of _______?"
Beginning in September, and changing monthly, the final word in that question will be: Covenant, Healing & Blessing, Story, Presence & Expectation, Creation, Love & Justice, Risk, Transformation, Embodiment, and Zest.
The September 2016 theme, Covenant, is one of those words that can initially sound kind of stuffy, academic and out-of-date. But when you unpack its meaning and its practices, covenant holds a whole vision for how to live in this complicated, beautiful and broken world. It is a vision that says we are most human when we bind ourselves in relationship. But not just any relationship – relationships of trust, mutual accountability and continual return.
This month we'll be reflecting on this idea of covenant as the truest promises we make to each other -- and to ourselves. Join us!
Sample Questions for the theme of Covenant ~ Have you made a covenant with the holy? What promises have you made to Life itself? To God? To your inner voice? What is the most life-giving promise you’ve made?
Like other small group programs, its central goal is to foster circles of trust and deep listening. However, Soul Matters adds four unique components:
1. Explore the Worship Themes in More Depth
Soul Matters is not a “stand alone” program. It is designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship experience. Congregations using Soul Matters 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. Honoring this, Soul Matters participants are given a spiritual exercise each month to engage prior to their group meeting. For instance, when we wrestled with the concept of grace, we didn’t just read what theologians had to say about it, we also challenged ourselves 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. Soul Matters 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, Soul Matters 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, coming 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 honored and emphasized. At each meeting, we are reminded that our faith promotes a preferred way for us to be in the world. This is why each monthly theme is framed by the question: “What does it mean to be a community of ____________?”
Let us covenant with one another
to keep faith with the source of life
knowing that we are not our own,
earth made us.
Let us covenant with one another
to keep faith with the community of resistance
never to forget that life can be saved
from that which threatens it
by even small bands of people
choosing to put into practice
an alternative way of life.
And, let us covenant with one another
to seek for an ever deeper awareness
of that which springs up inwardly in us.
Even when our hearts are broken
by our own failure
or the failure of others
cutting into our lives,
Even when we have done all we can
and life is still broken,
there is a Universal Love
that has never broken faith with us
and never will.
This is the ground of our hope,
and the reason we can be bold in seeking to fulfill the promise.
~ Rev. Rebecca Parker
“Nothing More” by Alternate Routes
“We are Love / We are One / We are how we treat each other when the day is done.” Watch the video
“Would You Harbor Me?” by Ysaye Barnwell Watch the video
“Count on Me” by Bruno Mars Watch the video