What is a Chalice Circle?
A Chalice Circle is a group of up to twelve people who meet in one another’s homes at least once a month. These groups set out how they want to be together, how frequently they will meet, and so on, and then covenant together to do so. They covenant together, promising to listen respectfully, share generously, speak honestly. Each Chalice Circle is led by a lay member of the congregation, who meets regularly with the minister and a small group of other facilitators.
What happens at Chalice Circle meetings?
The format for what happens when a Chalice Circle comes together is simple, but its simplicity belies the profound ministry that takes place. People gather, opening words are spoken and perhaps a candle is lit. There is time for each participant to “check in,” to describe what is happening in their lives, what struggles they might be having, what accomplishments they are celebrating. It’s a lot like the sharing of personal joys and sorrows that happens on Sunday morning, but extended and deeper with each person getting a turn. There is then a time for the discussion of a theme or topic during which participants, rather than arguing ideas, share personally from their life experiences how they have experienced the topic at hand. For example, the topic might be how we as a liberal religion deal with suffering and Chalice Circle members share the ways they have individually coped, what helped them, what hindered them and how they got through it. Closing words are then spoken, the candle extinguished, and people linger for a while socializing before departing.
• To make more and better connections with others in the congregation
• To get to know others well and to be known well.
There are two ways to join a Chalice Circle:
1. You may sign up for one and be placed in one by the minister and coordinating team
2. You may be invited by a Chalice Circle to join the group
What are the norms and expectations for Chalice Circles?
Chalice Circles exist to help integrate newcomers, new members and seekers into the life of the congregation.
Chalice Circles exist to deepen our spiritual, moral and ethical lives. Participation in a circle includes exploring the religious terrain of our lives, and becoming adept at reflecting on life events theologically. Participants connect their daily lives with the essential liberal religious values of First Parish.
Chalice Circles exist to deepen relationships. Becoming better connected to others is an objective of the Chalice Circle. It is not the only one. Friendships and intimacy develop as participants experience and explore ultimate matters.
Chalice Circles exist to deepen commitment to First Parish. This is true for longtime members as well as newcomers. A primary endeavor of Chalice Circles is to integrate newcomers into the life of the congregation. Chalice Circles do not replace participation in the worship, stewardship, and programs of First Parish.
New participants are always welcome. New members to a Chalice Circle are always welcome. Always.
New participants come to at least four consecutive meetings before deciding whether to join the circle.
New participants are integrated graciously into the circle.
Chalice Circles are meetings of the First Parish in Lexington. They are identified as such at each meeting. Though private, they are not secret. Though confidential, they are not clandestine. Exploration among leaders, apprentices and the minister of the sometimes tricky boundary between public and private is ongoing.
Chalice Circles are not group therapy. Participants support one another through listening and even practical help if needed and welcomed. Nevertheless, Chalice Circles are not meant to replace psychotherapy or counseling. Those in need of this sort of help are encouraged to seek it.
The focus of a meeting is on discussion, not check-in. The circle’s attention is focused on the given topic at hand and how they relate to it, not the ongoing events in one’s life.
Chalice Circle facilitators participate in the monthly facilitators meeting with the minister that includes evaluation of groups, support and training.
Chalice Circles follow the monthly themes in concert with other programming and worship.
Chalice Circles commit to growing a new group from the very beginning.