Wellspring is an intensive 10-month spiritual deepening program for Unitarian Universalists, developed within the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. Wellspring offers a spiritual journey dedicated to claiming, re-imagining, and practicing the ever-evolving living tradition of our faith.
The program is based on five core components that contribute to holding a strong center:
• Spiritual practice – commitment to regular, intentional practice
• Spiritual direction – self-reflection with a guide
• Unitarian Universalist history and theology – reading, listening, reflecting
• Small group – participation in a community of seekers
• Faith in action – what we are called to do in the world
Examples of Reading and Reflection Topics
• Our Spiritual Journeys
• Welcoming the Soul
• Our European & U.S. Roots
• Process Theology
• UU Perspectives on Death
• The Theology of Joy
Who should participate in Wellspring?
Anyone who is an experienced Unitarian Universalist, has been actively involved here at University Unitarian Church for a while, and yearns to more intentionally reflect on spiritual questions in our faith, engage in spiritual practices, and find a deeper spiritual life within this church. Recommended previous experience: participation in a small ministries group (e.g. covenant group) along with volunteer service at UUC.
How much time is required for Wellspring?
Wellspring is a commitment to a spiritual journey that begins with a breakfast in August then a Saturday retreat in September, followed by two-hour meetings scheduled twice a month from late September through early June. Participants should also plan on time for daily spiritual practice, a monthly meeting with a spiritual director, and time (approximately 4-6 hours per month) for reading the assignments and reflecting on them.
How is this program different from other small groups?
Wellspring is different because of the time required and the commitment to a daily spiritual practice. It focuses on understanding the roots of our faith and the transformations in Unitarian Universalist thought, as well as our own beliefs. The readings cover a multitude of topics including history, Transcendentalism, process theology, humanism, and the crises of life. We are asked to attend to how our faith sustains us and what it calls us to do in the world. There is also an application required for Wellspring to help discern readiness for the program and seek balance in forming groups.
What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is meeting with a guide (a spiritual director/companion/ mentor) whose purpose is to help you explore your personal faith journey. It is about intentionally deepening your relationship with the holy, however you define it. Like psychotherapy, it is often a one-to-one experience in private sessions, but with a spiritual mentor who has completed extensive training in the ministry of spiritual direction. Unlike therapy, it includes your deity, or higher power, or sense of the holy, as a third partner in the process. While it may be appropriate to discuss personal, relational, financial or health struggles in spiritual direction sessions, the focus would be on how your spiritual life is affected during these struggles. A typical question might be “Where is the holy present/absent in that experience?” Spiritual directors are open-minded guides who are in your service and are not going to advocate a particular religious view.
What will I experience in Wellspring?
Together we will create and experience a safe place for our most inward selves. We will learn to listen with compassionate understanding, not agreement or belief. We will honor silence and experience the speaking of one’s own truth rather than that of another. We will have the support of the facilitators for maintaining our covenant of mutually supportive exploration. We will experience the depths of spirituality that we Unitarian Universalists share with each other and all other faith traditions.
What Wellspring is NOT.
Wellspring is not a discussion group, and there is no cross-talk. Rather participants speak to their own experience or impression, one at a time, while others listen and reflect on their own internal response to what is said. At times there is as much silence as speaking. However, individuals may wish and agree to meet outside of the group to discuss readings or other matters.
Contact: The Rev. Deborah Raible