Introducing Soul Matters at TPUUF

This year, we have begun an experience of focusing on common monthly themes in some of our worship services, learning opportunities for all ages, and circle groups (that we’ll call Soul Matters Circles). We are providing these opportunities for diving deeper into our individual experiences and in explorations and conversations with one another.

You are invited to engage together in a series of common themes for reflection and practice, one each month through the cycle of the year. It is our hope that these common explorations will allow each of us to deepen and strengthen the connections between us. Each month, the Soul Matters reflection questions will be posted here. And, each month a Soul Matters Conversation Circle is held following a worship service (facilitated by Rev. Larry Peers and open to all) and at the Fellowship (details from Lizzie Vena.)

-Rev. Larry Peers and Lizzie Vena

More about Soul Matters:
  1. A Journey that the Whole Church Takes Together 
    Soul Matters small group ministry groups are not a stand alone program. They are designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship and spiritual development ministries. Congregations using Soul Matters, position their small groups “an opportunity to explore our congregation’s monthly worship themes in more depth.” We also provide theme-based spiritual development curriculum to enable parents, children and the whole church to go on the same spiritual journey each month. Breaking down the silos between the ministries within congregations is a passion of ours.
  2. Experience the Theme, Don’t Just Analyze It.
    We know that spiritual development requires more than analysis of 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, our small groups didn’t just read what theologians had to say about it, they also we invited 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 and spiritual discernment.  Instead of asking small groups to go through the questions and discussion them one at a time during group time, Soul Matters participants 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 insight. This technique leads us away from abstraction and intellectualizing and challenges us to think about how the topic (and question) applies to our daily living.
  4. A Reminder that UUism is Distinctive, not an “Anything Goes,” Religion 
    Our monthly themes focus on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honored and calls all of us to embody in our lives. At each small group meeting, participants 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 ____________?”