Tend the Spark, Carry the Flame

 

UUCT’s Affinity Groups Provide Important Connections

By Jennifer Carver

Many of the ongoing groups that met routinely pre-COVID adapted and turned to Zoom meetings or safe, socially distanced in-person activities, providing a way to stay in community with each other. Some groups took a hiatus, others have recently restarted, and some new groups have even formed during this time, all providing opportunities for fellowship and support. While these “affinity” groups have served an essential role in our UUCT community over the last year, there are UUCT members and friends who may not be part of any of these groups. The Membership Outreach Team quickly mobilized last March and coordinated phone calls to check in on these members of our community.

Ranging from purely social to spiritual pursuits and in between, these groups have been meeting and providing fellowship and caring spaces – for UUCT members, friends, and others in the wider community.

Let’s start with the Lunch Bunches – the Women’s Lunch Bunch gathers on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and has switched to a virtual lunch conversation for now. The group is purely social to keep people connected, especially important for those who live alone. The Old Guys Lunch switched to Zoom meetings for a while and has resumed meeting on the UUCT veranda on the 2 nd Wednesday each month (with strict adherence to UUCT safety guidelines) to discuss current events (and some of the guys even bring lunch)!

The Indwellers and meditation groups offer a more reflective experience. The relatively-new Indwellers group brings together adults ages 25-49 for socialization, community connection and spiritual exploration. The group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month on Zoom and also holds social events at outdoor locations (families welcome). Singing Meditation meets weekly on alternating Tuesday and Thursday mornings on Zoom (for now). Led by UUCT’s Music Director Angel de Armendi or volunteers, their time together is made up of singing songs and chants, followed by silent meditation after each selection. There is often a time for sharing, reflection, and support of each other in the group. Mindful Meditations meets on Sunday afternoons on Zoom and hopes to get back to meeting on the church grounds when it is safe. It is always a joy to see the group members during the walking meditation portion of their meeting as they slowly and silently circle the buildings.

Moving to explorations of faith, the UU Explorations and Christian Spirituality groups offer space for learning, reflection, and fellowship. UU Explorations provides a monthly opportunity for new members, supporting friends, and others interested to become more familiar with our faith and our congregation, and to reflect on a deeper level about twelve topics relevant to UUCT membership and what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. This small group ministry is a way to connect with others in the congregation, build relationships, and get connected to the life of the congregation. The twelve topics are cycled through annually, and this year, space was made for a new topic: Widening Our UU Circle of Concern about diversity, equity, and inclusion in Unitarian Universalism. The UU Explorations Sampler met over the summer of 2020, with mostly long-time UUCT members, to discuss the same 12 topics in a simplified format. We were excited that facilitators of the group included 2 of the “ministers-in-formation” who are part of our UUCT community. Christian Spirituality took a hiatus from its weekly Sunday morning meetings and has recently started up a twice-monthly Zoom Bible study on Wednesday evenings. The main purpose of the Christian Spirituality group is to create a friendly association, give and receive support, and find our lives expressed in the Bible.

There are so many ways to connect and deepen at UUCT. This isnt even all of the affinity groups! Knowing these groups are available at UUCT for all of us and the broader community gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of deep gratitude. Thank you to all for the part you play in creating our beloved community.