Circle of Care Takeaways from 2018 COHI Conference

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by jennifer sassin

Have you ever wondered why our monthly gatherings are called “Circle of Care?” The circle has no beginning and no end. It was used in ancient Christianity as a symbol for God, community, and the universe.

Early Christians didn’t form communities merely for community’s sake — they gathered for a common purpose: for worship and study, for mutual support and the sharing of stories about how God was working in their lives, and for the welcoming of strangers in order to offer them the same transforming love of Jesus Christ they themselves had experienced.

Spiritual formation takes place in community; we are formed in community. Community implies relationships among members.

Benedict realized we are not formed alone in the desert, but in community with one another. His “Rule” helps us learn how to love God and each other in community. Community is a Benedictine value. It is in community that we are called to grow. It is in community that we come to see God in the other. It is through community that we find the strength to belong and to journey forward. It is community that gives us the gifts we do not individually have. Benedictine community calls for the open mind and the open heart. Circle of Care provides this community for us as lay chaplains in the Community of Hope.

Attendees divided into small groups and were asked to select a photo from those provided that best reminded them of their Circle of Care and to consider the following questions as they worked with each other:

  • What are six words that sum up what is essential to your center?

  • What challenges or problems touch you the most right now?

  • What is working well for you right now?

We discovered that Circles of Care are in various stages of maturity and have similar as well as unique issues. We talked about things we can do that help build community and support each other, such as the use of prayer partners so that each person has someone to pray with and for. Attendees left with samples of an agenda a yearly meeting schedule as well as a handout of Circle of Care continuing education topics. We acknowledged that as leaders, we must be good stewards of our servant ministry.