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Circle of Hands

Monthly Theme Circles

Registration for 2021-22: CLOSED

What is a Theme Circle? Theme circles are monthly small groups that deepen and support the spiritual journeys of participants in community with each other and in connection with the church’s monthly worship themes.

Is this a sermon discussion group? No, the goal is not to explore the sermons in more depth, but to explore the monthly themes in more depth. Sunday services enrich the experience of the theme, but are not the focus of Theme Circles.

What is the focus of Theme Circles? Connection to self, others, and that which is larger than ourselves through engaging reflective questions, short readings, spiritual exercises and sharing our experience in a space of trust.

What do we mean by spiritual exercise? Spiritual exercise goes beyond the question “What do you think?” and invites us into the deeper question: “Where are you willing to let your faith take you?” The goal is to get us out of our heads and into our lives. This is not to say we leave thinking behind. Instead, the aim of the spiritual exercises is to challenge our tendency to use “objective analysis” as an escape. By pushing us to engage and talk about “what is really going on in our lives,” we find ourselves challenged not just to think differently, but also to live differently.

Who can participate in a Theme Circle? Theme Circles are open to First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee members, pledging friends and regular guests who register during the annual fall registration period.

What is expected of Theme Circle members? Each month, members engage in pre-reading and contemplation exercises based on that month’s worship theme. Materials are sent in advance for participants to delve into whatever level works for them.

Because Theme Circles only meet once a month and focus on spiritual exploration within community, we expect participants to make every effort to attend all meetings. If you already know you will miss more than two meetings, please wait to register until next year.

What do Theme Circle meetings look like? Here is a sample format:

  • Centering (Opening words, chalice lighting, followed by a moment of silent reflection)
  • Brief Check-In – around 15-20 minutes
  • Spiritual Exercises – around 40 minutes (Members share which spiritual exercises they chose and how it went)
  • Engaging the Questions – around 40 minutes (Members practice deep listening as they share their experience ‘living the questions’ related to the month’s theme)
  • Check-Out – around 10 minutes
  • Closing Words

How often do Theme Circles meet? Theme Circles meet once a month for two hours during the third week of the month from October to June. Circles include up to eight participants guided by a trained facilitator.

Theme Circle options include two online-only circles. As COVID conditions permit, we also offer six circles with different combinations of online and in-person.

2021-22 Schedule

Day Time Type of meeting Facilitator
Third Mondays 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. In-person with option to join via Zoom Nancy Spransy
Third Mondays 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Fall in-person, winter online, spring in-person Candice Haight & Sally Lewis

Third Mondays


6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Fall in-person, winter online, spring in-person Diane Horne
Third Mondays 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. In-person with option to join via Zoom Robert Szymanski
Third Tuesdays 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Online only Juanita Mast & Barbra Lancelot
Third Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. October in-person, Nov-May online, June in-person  

Jeanne Durnford


Third Wednesdays 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Online only Lisa Gies & Dan O’Keefe
Third Thursdays 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. October in-person, Nov-May online, June in-person Katy Phillips & Pat McFarland