UU Wellspring is an intensive 10-month spiritual deepening program for experienced Unitarian Universalists. Developed within the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, the program has been offered at UUC since 2010. More than 100 UUC members and friends have engaged UU Wellspring so far. UU 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
• Readings and resources – for knowledge, listening, and reflection
• 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||• Our Prophetic Voices|
|• Our European & U.S. Roots||• Process Theology|
|• Transcendentalism||• Forgiveness|
|• Humanism||• UU Perspectives on Death|
|• Buddhism||• The Theology of Joy|
Who should participate in UU 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 group ministry (such as a covenant group) along with dedicated volunteer service at UUC.
How much time is required for Wellspring?
UU Wellspring is a commitment to a spiritual journey that begins with an orientation breakfast in August (the 27th, for 2022), and a Saturday retreat in September (the 10th, for 2022). Both are integral to the program and all participants are expected to attend. The program itself consists of twice a month meetings, two hours in length, from late September through early June. Participants must also allow time for daily spiritual practice, a monthly meeting with a spiritual director, and approximately 4-6 hours per month for reading the assignments and reflecting on them.
How is this program different from other small groups?
UU Wellspring is different because of the focus on spiritual development, the time required, and the commitment to a daily spiritual practice and work with a spiritual director. 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 broad range 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 UU Wellspring to help discern readiness for the program and seek balance in forming groups.
What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is working with an experienced professional guide whose purpose is to help you explore your personal faith journey. It is about intentionally deepening your relationship with the spirit, however you define it. Like psychotherapy, you work with a highly trained professional, most usually in a one-to-one experience in private sessions. Unlike therapy, spiritual direction helps you explore your inner life with your sense of the holy, deity, or higher power 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 companions and mentors who have completed extensive training in the ministry of spiritual direction. They are in your service and are not going to advocate a particular religious view.
What will I experience in UU 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 UU Wellspring is NOT.
UU 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.
Is there a cost for this year-long course?
The particular financial costs of UU Wellspring are: a program registration fee of $125, monthly spiritual direction, and books. However, we do not wish these costs to be a barrier to anyone, so based on financial need and through a scholarship application the registration fee can be waived and/or a scholarship for up to half of the cost of a spiritual director is available. UUC also maintains a UU Wellspring library for borrowing books. Participants do need to have e-mail and internet access for the on-line resources for UU Wellspring. These are available thru public libraries if you do not have a computer and internet connection at home.
Why do I need to apply to participate?
We are not always able to accommodate everyone who applies. Group size is limited to no more than 8-9 participants, plus one or two facilitators, to ensure that everyone in a UU Wellspring group has ample opportunity to share during the meetings. We also need to match available meeting days for the group. In addition, careful consideration is given to aspects that may provide diversity and depth in the group’s experience. For these reasons, some applicants may be deferred to a future year.
Applications for the 2023/24 church year will be available in Spring, 2023.
For more information on UU Wellspring, or to obtain a paper application form, contact Janine Larsen, UUC Director of Ministries (206-454-7724).