Search This Blog

Friday, April 1, 2016

Covenant for Men’s Group

Our agreed upon ground rules have given us parameters that have assured us of accountability, confidentiality, mutual care  and encouragement … and to tell the truth in love.  It is a subtle reminder that we have each made a decision to make the group a priority, and to count the cost of commitment to our own personal growth as well as to one another.  Our Covenant is not a cure all, but it has given us structure that we need to draw us closer together to encourage personal growth and open sharing. 

Our written Covenant is a guideline to help us work through small conflicts which may arise among us in future weeks and months.   Each alternate Tuesday we agree to meet I.  am convinced of our need to fellowship together and share the richness of small group life and I am further convinced that using a clear written road map, our men’s group will continue to thrive and grow and become a safe haven for other men who have yet to experience this way of being together.

We recognize that our Covenant will develop and change over time.  It is always subject to change according to the will of the Men’s Group.

General Ground Rules

Initial Group Commitment          Four meetings, then evaluate to consider further meetings

Criteria for Membership              Membership is limited to men or people who gender-identify as male. 
                                                                Spouses or partners of individual members are not allowed to join.
                                                                Minimum age limitation is 18. There is no restriction on the top end
There are no restrictions as far as any of the criteria: religious affiliation,
political belief, sexual orientation, race or nationality.

 Accepting New Members           Potential  candidates for future membership will be initially discussed by
the group prior to being invited to attend a meeting.  Vote must be unanimous to invite a potential new member to a meeting.  Invitees will attend two meetings following which there will be a vote as to whether or not to accept the member.

Leaving the Group                          Any member wishing to leave the group will attend one follow-up
                                                                meeting to effect closure with the group.           

Attendance                                        Members need to prioritize their commitment to attend meetings as
the continuity and value of the meetings relies on members being present. 
Starting and Ending times            7:00 to 900 p.m. Tuesdays
&  Meeting Location                       VUU Church Office and/or member homes

Late arrival to Mtg                           Try to arrive on time, more than 20 minutes late, skip meeting

Notification of Missing Mtg        Call Michael Woomer 602-819-2630 or notify him via email with sufficient time that members can be alerted to your absence at the meeting (so they won’t worry)

Group Activities                               This is currently envisioned as a “Discussion Group” and does not
include social, advocacy or volunteer activities.

Membership Responsibilities   Show up for meetings.  No financial or time commitments are required
other than scheduled two hour meetings twice a month.

Confidentiality and Accountability

Confidentiality                                 Information shared by members during Men’s Group meetings is
considered confidential  and should not be shared outside the group.
Members need to be assured that confidentiality is maintained without the need of specific statements in advance such as “the following information is confidential.”  It is permissible to mention the general topics of the meeting and to disclose the Covenant and Mission Statement of the group.  It is important that information identifying individuals and what they discussed not be disclosed.

In the event that an individual member shares information that is considered by one or more members to be of a nature indicating the possibility of a serious injury or harm to anyone will require that the group meet and discuss with the individual how to resolve or restore the situation to one of safety.

The Group will not discuss a member when he is not present at the meeting.

Accountability &                              Group members recognize and value the time and emotional 
Ownership of statements            investment that each member makes in meetings.  Individual members
will weigh in with and own their individual opinions, thoughts and feelings and represent them as such. 

Mutual Care, Encouragement and Truth Telling

Level of participation                    Members are encouraged to share information at meeting that is within
 the bounds of their individual comfort level.  There is no requirement to match others in terms of subject or depth of disclosure.  There will be NO PRESSURE to share more than you want to share, just because  someone else has.  Discussing something through to resolution or a plan of action is not necessarily  required. “Pass” is always an acceptable statement when its one’s turn to speak.

Respect for Members                    Feelings are not right and wrong.  They are right for the person who has
them.  When people share deeply their experiences of childhood and their personal family stuff they make themselves vulnerable.  Sharing vulnerability is the basis of building Trust.  That Trust is sacred.  People have “blind spots” , perceive things differently, may not even perceive them at all.  Our task is not to “set people right” in their thinking but allow them to grow in their feeling and thus understanding.  Consequently there is no need to come to agreement, consensus or even understanding at the end of a meeting.  It is simply to be present , caring and thoughtful .

Group Process and Topics

Check-in Process                             Each Men’s Group meeting will include a time for individual members to
“check-in.”  This is a time when members describe what has happened to them in the time since they were last in a meeting of the Group.   It may be a description of events that have occurred, issues they have delt with or other ongoing issues, concerns or roadblocks that have occurred for them, or people with whom they regularly associate.   Each person shares briefly  while everyone else in the group remains silent, listening. 

When all members have had an opportunity to check-in there is time for a discussion about any issue  or issues raised that have particular importance.  Anyone is free to identify an issue.  In terms of the individual who raised the issue, that member often elaborates further on it, providing details and often sharing his feelings about the issue.

 Other members sometimes ask for further descriptions of the event or situation.  Members’ most effective contribution comes usually in the form of relating to similar events in their own lives that bear some similarity in subject or content.  Feelings expressed beyond simple statement of fact is particularly valued.

We generally discuss items couched in terms of our own life experiences.  We are not inclined to offer “advice” . . .  “ I think you should…” for example.

We take ownership for what we say.   We often encourage people to explore their own FEELINGS about a situation to explore more deeply their own thoughts about a situation.  We may, for example see a connection with things they have previously expressed and ask them if they see the connection . . .  if there is one.  We do not necessarily reach closure or resolution on an issue.  At least it is on the table.  Sometimes things take  weeks, or even months to work themselves out

Discussion Topics                            Discussion Topics are determined by collective decision of the Group.
                                                                Typically these will be focused on subjects  of interest to men. 
Specifically excluded are topics related to Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  Here is a sampling of future Topics, subject to amendment and addition by the group (listed below):

Where do I stand in terms of my father …. Or being one myself?
What being a man means in 2016
What is success ?
What is my mission in life?
What does the term "A good father" mean?
Defining ourselves apart from our work, redefining ourselves as being more than work.
Coming into “authentic power” as a man
Has an external event ever fundamentally changed what you believe?
Describe your biggest failure
Describe a moment of private enlightenment or achievement that you hold dear
Living with our loneliness and sense of separation – the male lone-wolf syndrome…..
Finding mentors, role models and being one
Developing intimacy in our lives
Learning how to share feelings
Not being dominant or submissive in life, achieving balance of strength & vulnerability
Nurturing our relations with spouses, lovers, children, fathers, mothers and friends
Developing a more in depth understanding of our relationships with women

Converting our own rage and violence into a constructive force

No comments: