What is a Chalice Circle?

A Chalice Circle is a small group of 10-12 people, including two trained facilitators, who gather once a month for two hours in a safe setting to speak from our lives and experience, knowing that our words will be heard and respected. Each group covenants how participants will relate to each other.

Through the spiritual practices of deep listening, authentic sharing, and respectful silence, Chalice Circles affirm and promote our third UU principle – acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.

What happens at a Chalice Circle?

While not a discussion group, each month we do focus on a monthly theme that is shared throughout congregational life, from the music and sermon at Sunday services, to children’s and youth religious education, and other groups in the Fellowship. We use session plans developed in collaboration with Rev. Nica, using resources from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle, a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations who are following the same monthly themes.

What do the session plans look like?

The session plans are simple and typically consist of these elements:

  • Opening words/Chalice lighting
  • Check-In
  • Centering Reading
  • Reflection and Sharing
  • Check-Out
  • Closing Words

What is the purpose and benefit of a Chalice Circle?

The purpose of the Chalice Circles is to strengthen and expand the life of the congregation. In Unitarian Universalism we recognize that each person has learned some share of truth and each has gained some hard-won wisdom. Many past participants have expressed gratitude for the chance to make deep and meaningful connections by sharing their own stories and deeply listening to the stories of others—personal connections they otherwise would not have made.

This simple but profound experience of carefully listening to another without preparing a verbal response or offering a fix can, over time, have a deep spiritual effect, one that transfers to other aspects of our lives. Speaking, and in turn listening, without interruption offers a kind of growth not found in most other social encounters both within and outside the congregation.

A Chalice Circle is:

  • A way to deepen our spirituality through shared practice.
  • A way to share our thoughts on life’s big questions.
  • A way to connect across age, gender, ethnic, economic and other differences.
  • A way to bring together the newer and the long time members in our community.
  • A way to deepen our practice of shared UU principles.
  • A way to practice fellowship as each circle performs a service project for the
    congregation or larger community.

The Chalice Circles are open to any member or friend of the Fellowship, age 18 or older.  The Chalice Circles meet at the Fellowship and form anew each church year to help develop wider connections over time.

Carol Flanagan, member of the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, is the current Chalice Circle Coordinator.  Contact Carol at


Our CVUUF Chalice Circles program begins its 6th year in October. Thank you to everyone who has helped this important ministry thrive! This year we continue our collaboration with Soul Matters Sharing Circles, a UU program shared by 150 UU congregations.

Our Chalice Circles follow the Soul Matters model with these key elements:

  • We explore the worship themes in more depth.
  • We experience the worship theme, not just talk about it.
  • We walk with questions individually, then talk through them together.
  • We listen to each other.
  • We listen to our lives.

Each month, facilitators will share a reading and related questions with their groups in advance of the circles. Participants will receive an email at the beginning of each month then the Chalice Circles will meet during the 3rd or 4th week of that month.

Learn more about Soul Matters Sharing Circles at

For more information, come by the Chalice Circles table in Fellowship Hall during coffee hour on September 16, 23 and 30.