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Chalice Circles

Chalice Circles at First Parish of Sudbury

In our Chalice Circles, we look within ourselves and
find stories drawn from the wellsprings of our own lives.
This group process brings forth stories of individual
victories and defeats, personal fears and disappointments,
private insights and concerns. As each person speaks, others
listen intently. Everyone speaks. Everyone is heard.


What Chalice Circles Are

Six to ten people, chosen randomly based on availability, meet monthly for two hours, usually in someone’s home. A trained convener leads the meeting using a standard format: opening words, Chalice lighting, check-in, exploring a topic, check-out and closing words. The format requires that only one person speak at a time and that there be no cross-talk.

Each Chalice Circle agrees together on certain guidelines for their group. The group also agrees to two other things: 1) that the group will remain open to new members and, when necessary, grow and sponsor new groups, and 2) that the group will commit to doing a service project together at least once during the year.

What they aren’t

Chalice Circles do not replace worship, but rather complement and strengthen the experience of worship.

Chalice Circles are not adult courses, but they provide an opportunity for exploration to those seeking spiritual growth, those looking to know themselves better and those who simply want to discuss questions of faith and meaning.

Chalice Circles are not a committee or a service group, but they do seek ways for participants to live out their most deeply held beliefs and values by serving one another and the larger community.

Chalice Circles are not therapy, but through good times and bad, the group offers to one another compassion and support, community and connection.

What’s in it for me?

Learning to listen. Doing some spiritual deep-diving. Getting to know a few others really well. Making time for some spiritual exploration.

You won’t be judged, you won’t be given advice, you won’t be challenged. You will be heard. You will be supported. You will be energized by compassionate listening and the genuine relationships that grow in the circle.

What’s expected of me?

You will be asked to commit to a Chalice Circle for at least one year. Once committed, you will be expected to attend regularly. Each fall, everyone will be invited to review his/her relationship to this process and either recommit to the same circle, join another one, or opt out.

You need only a positive attitude, a willing spirit, an open mind and heart. Come ready to share and learn. Make a commitment to your Circle for yourself and the others in it.

What people are saying about Chalice Circles?

I’m not sure what my soul is, but I am sure that it grows with every meeting of our chalice circle. I always come away with a deeper understanding of myself, and a wider understanding of human life, as told in the comments and stories of the others in my circle.

None of us would put our minds to these topics if we did not sit down together intentionally to clear the path for our souls to show up.

The Chalice Circle is an oasis in my life – a place I go to be, not to do.

I am stunned by how a simple format of intentional soul-searching opens our hearts.

There’s so much pressure in our society to put on a happy face and keep conversations superficial, and the Chalice Circle gives me permission to speak my truth with relief, and allow others’ truths to comfort and inspire me.

I look forward each month to a dedicated time to explore my thoughts and feelings and to listen deeply to the thoughts and feelings of others about a topic that I may never have taken the time to consider before.

Listening to different ones grapple with what makes them human and how they respond to things that affect us all, helps me do my own grappling.

The format has taught me the value of silence. Free of the need to talk to fill up the silence, I find, instead, that the silence permeates my being and sets me free of social expectation.

I feel so much more connected to this congregation.

This is the most profound thing I’ve done in years.