Monday, June 24, 2013

Circle Process

The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years.   The circle process will  guide our time together at the July conference as we engage Mission and Ministry in the 21st Century.

The Circle Process we are using is outlined in detail in The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea. You may also download a simple yet detailed guide, Basic Guidelines for Calling a Circle, at

How does a Giving Voice Circle Work?
Intention:  Intention shapes the circle and determines who will come, how long the circle will meet, and what kinds of outcomes are to be expected. Our Giving Voice circles will be a time to share with your age peers in religious life (an intergenerationally) in the conversations you most long for and need.

Center:  The center of a circle is like the hub of a wheel—all energies pass through it, and it holds the rim
together. To help us remember how the hub helps the group, we invite you to bring a meaningful object such as a cloth, candle or icon that represents the intention of our circle.

Roles:  The circle process invites an equality of presence, contribution, and responsibility that is shared out among all members of the circle. Rotating positions of leadership enhances everyone’s experience.
  • Host:  A circle host is like the host of a dinner party.  The host joins the group process while maintaining and observing the pattern of the circle.  The host and guardian work together.
  • Guardian:  One circle member at a time volunteers to watch and safeguard group energy.  The guardian employs a bell or chime that signals everyone to stop, take a breath, and rest in a space of silence.  The guardian makes this signal again and speaks to why she called the pause.  Any member may call for a pause.
  • Harvester:  The person serving as harvester serves as record keeper or historian in circle process and may be the first one to articulate emergent wisdom, decisions, or completion.
Three Forms of Council:  The circle uses three forms of council: talking piece, conversation and reflection.
  • Talking piece is often used as part of check-in, check-out, and whenever there is a desire to slow down the conversation, collect all voices and contributions, and be able to speak without interruption.
  • Conversation council is often used when reaction, interaction, and an interjection of new ideas, thoughts and opinions are needed. 
  • Reflection, or Silent council gives each member time and space to reflect on what is occurring, or needs to occur, in the course of a meeting. 
Pattern of Circle:  We will begin each circle with a prayer, poem or something else that shifts our attention from social space to sacred space. Will then check-in, join in council, and check-out.

We will be using this blog as a way to gather the harvests of our conversations at the 2013 National Giving Voice Gathering.

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