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Soul Matters

The UUFA is part of a wider theme-based ministry network called Soul Matters.  This group of over 150 Unitarian Universalist congregations follows the same monthly worship themes, so group materials, reading resources, music, and religious education resources can be shared.  Sharing resources helps us avoid duplicative work and frees us for other ministry. However, the greatest gift is deeper connection.  Despite great distances between us, we are spiritually connected by the themes, traveling each month on the same journey. Like a favorite reading from our hymnal says, "alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen, and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed.”

You'll see Soul Matters themes worked throughout programs at the UUFA: small group listening circles, worship & sermons, our monthly newsletter, and in our Religious Education programs.  Below you can read a little more about the uniqueness of Small Group Listening Circles - if you're interested in participating, just let the office know and we'll get you started!

 

2017-2018 Monthly Themes

September:  Welcome
October:  Courage
November:  Abundance
December:  Hope
January:  Intention
February:  Perseverance
March:  Balance
April:  Emergence
May:  Creativity
June:  Blessing

 

                                             

9/2017: Welcome     10/2017: Courage     11/2017: Abundance

 

The Soul Matters Small Group Model

Soul Matters is a distinctive small group curriculum. Like other small group programs, its central goal is to foster circles of trust and deep listening.  However, Soul Matters adds these unique components:

1. Explore the Worship Themes in More Depth
Soul Matters is not a standalone program.  It is designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship experience. Congregations using Soul Matters small groups position them 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.
We know that spiritual development requires more than analysis and thinking about a topic. There is a deep hunger in all of us for experiential engagement. Honoring this, we include spiritual exercises in each small group packet.  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, going through each question one by one.  Soul Matters engages reflection questions differently.  We see them as tools for individual exploration.  Instead of asking our groups to go through the questions and discussing them one at a time during group time, 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 their one personally chosen question led 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 calls all of us to embody in our lives. 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 with the question: “What does it mean to be a people of ____________?”

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