Affinity Groups

Affinity Groups

An Affinity Group gathers several times per year around a specific topic, learning goal or type of ministry work. These groups are led by a topic expert who plans each gathering, resources the group and facilitates group conversations.  These Affinity Groups are conducive to creating a safe space in which clergy can learn and grow through deep sharing and honest reflection.

The Rainbow Path II - An Affinity Group for LGBTQIA+ Clergy - postponed to early 2023

This small group will provide an opportunity for members to share joys and challenges and to receive affirmation and support. We'll also explore areas of common interest to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our community and build skills for ministry. Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community gives us a unique perspective on life and ministry. We'll explore together how our experiences can enhance our vocational lives. This will be a safe space to wrestle with the complexities of our intersectional identities and will be a community of support for one another.

Rev. Dr. Ciarán Osborn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, currently serving in the Boston metro area. He has served as pastor of several UCC churches and Clinical Spiritual Advisor in a drug and alcohol recovery center. He regularly teaches and preaches on the topic of LGBTQIA+ affirming ministry and loves exploring intersectional identities with individuals and small groups. Rev. Ciarán also writes, teaches, and preaches regularly on the topics of mental health, mental illness, and faith, including writing for the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network Blog.

Past Affinity Groups include the following:

Millenials in Ministry

This group is open to all Authorized/Rostered/Parochial Ministers born in years 1980-1995. Led by a Millennial Pastor and Leader, it will explore the unique joys, perspectives and challenges of those serving the Church in our current context. through some research and content presentation, as well as connection across group members. 

Intentional Interim Affinity Group

Interim Ministry is a special calling and one that requires unique skills, gifts and training.  In a time when effective Interim ministers are in high demand and yet often serve in challenging situations, support and colleague connections are even more essential.  Led by a seasoned Interim and experienced Coach, this group seeks to provide a community of colleagues who can challenge, encourage and learn from one another while exploring the context of Intentional Interim Ministry.

Becoming More Racially Conscious:  A Learning Journey for White Ministers

These cohort-based sessions create a trusting and confidential environment where white ministers can deepen their understanding of how race shows up at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels and how they are called to recognize and interrupt racism within their congregations and beyond. When individuals engage in personal reflective work, an understanding of their racial identity development occurs. When people have opportunities to listen and talk to each other in an environment of mutual respect, perspectives on the impact of race in society can change.

Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change

Ask any leader and she will tell you that leading change is hard work. But the hardest part of all? It's the part that almost none of us expect. The most soul-sucking thing for most leaders is not the challenge of a changing world, but overcoming the resistance of our own people to make the changes they need to survive and thrive. 

Ministers of Color Affinity Group

The purpose of this group is to create a mutually supportive, safe space in which ministers of color can develop deeper community, build additional skills for managing and navigating their contexts and systems, and prioritize care of self. Participants also are expected to experience enhanced self-awareness and strengthened leadership capacity.

Touched by Jesus: Playing with Prayer

This group invites participants to step out of their often overly serious and word-filled head by attending to the physicality of grace and praying with childlike playfulness. It is a space to rekindle freedom and trust throughout the body with deep breaths, simple movements, and creative formats.

Clergy Women Connections: Learning to balance, juggle and breathe

Although many denominations profess equality among all people, including clergy of different genders and identifications, female clergy and those who identify as female often experience pejorative treatment from peers, leaders and parishioners. This small group of female and people who identify as female clergy gather to explore the joys and manage the challenges of being in ministry.

The Rainbow Path: Small Group Experience for LGBTQIA+ Clergy

This small group provides an opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to share the joys and challenges of being in ministry and to receive affirmation and support. It explores areas of common interest and builds further skills for ministry.

Tending the Holy Fires in One Another: Group Spiritual Direction

This small group of up to six participants gathers with an experienced spiritual director to be companions and guides for one another. The primary purpose of this peer group is to listen for God’s presence in the lives and stories of those in the group, applying the lens of theological reflection to everyday life, where God’s Emanuel-ness shines. 

A small portion of the Lilly Endowment grant funding for Together We Thrive and a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation cover a large portion of the cost of running these groups, which allows us to offer these incredible opportunities for a reasonable fee. Payment plans and scholarship suggestions are available; please contact the Program Director for additional information.