First Unitarian Society in Newton

Chalice Circles

Join a Chalice Circle to Expand Your FUSN Connections

Chalice Circles are open to all in the FUSN community. You can join a group by emailing bnroberts [at] comcast [dot] net (Brenda Roberts).


Chalice Circles provide a structure within which the members can take time outside the everyday swirl of life in order to delve into each other’s stories, experiences and understanding of who and how we are in the world as individuals and members of a faith community. Chalice Circles encourage people in their spiritual growth and help them develop relationships of substance and depth. The primary subject matter of Chalice Circles mirrors the monthly worship themes.


Chalice Circles will have 8-12 members and will be facilitated by a member of the FUSN community. Groups meet monthly—most but not all will meet on a rotating basis in the homes of the members—some circles will be meet at FUSN. Each session lasts two hours.

Chalice Circles enrich our community with conversation and attentiveness that can be difficult to find in the busy life of a congregation. The focus is on deep listening, reflection, and an interchange among group members. Although group members listen to each other, but don’t attempt to solve each other’s problems the circles are not therapy or support groups. Of course, if a member is in real need, the facilitators and other group members may work with the member to provide and/or identify support outside the meeting. For example, they may suggest that the individual can consult with the Erin, as needed.


Chalice Circle Benefits

1. Find and build a safe and trusting community.

2. Experience mutual commitment to shared goals.

3. Encounter something sacred in yourself and others.

4. Enliven us spiritually, socially and intellectually.

5. Enhance deep listening skills.

6. Know yourself better by seeing your life in the context of others’ experiences.

7. Draw us into shared ministry.


Suggested Format of a Chalice Circle Meeting

Though each Circle will agree on a format, which works best for them, this is an example of what is possible:

1. Chalice lighting.

2. Clearing—a time to share any concerns or unfinished business from the previous


3. Reading.

4. Check-in—each member shares something of their life since the last meeting and how they are currently feeling.

5. Sharing—each person shares their feelings and reflections on a series of questions related to the session topic. It is a time for everyone to be heard without interruption.

6. Discussion—the members can share additional thoughts on the topic or respond

to something another member said.

7. Checkout—respond to “As I leave I am feeling”.

8. Closing Reading—extinguish the chalice.


Expectations of Participants

1. Commit to coming to each meeting.

2. Be on time.

3. Listen deeply while letting each person be respectfully heard.

4. Share from your own experiences using “I” statements, without giving advice to others.

5. Grow by trying to live our values and reminding each other of these shared values and having the opportunity for spiritual growth and emotional maturation.

6. Honor the basic format, which includes a ritual such as lighting the chalice, and view the Chalice Circle as an extension of Sunday worship. There may be moments of silence and meditation or prayer.

7. Treat what people share in the circle with respect outside the circle. Assume that matters of a private and sensitive nature are not to be shared outside the circle without the explicit permission of the participant. This explicit adherence to confidentiality is critical for creating a safe environment in which member can do the kind of sharing which will enrich the circle. By the same token, members must honor the function of the group as a supportive forum for personal sharing and recognize that it is not a support or therapy group.

8. Bring significant pastoral care needs to the attention of Erin. Chalice Circle facilitators can help individual participants discern if a situation warrants referral.


Small Group Ministry Topics

FUSN has a long history of providing well organized small groups that meet to explore significant questions and to experience community through deep, intentional listening.

Although FUSN does not currently have a small group ministry practice, you will find topics for discussion below that may help your individual or a group have a similar experience.

Learn about SMG discussion topics.


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