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Extended Family Group FAQ

It may sound as though the form below goes into way too much detail. But this form represents real questions that people asked me as I began to float the idea of Extended Family groups. For example, I have found that people who are unchurched and new to organized religion (and there are increasing numbers of such people in our UU congregations) may not know how to arrange a potluck meal -- and I have talked with other ministers who say they have run into the same problem.

While you should always have experienced church members in every Extended Family group who will know such details of church life, an information sheet like the one above ensures that all participants have an idea of what to expect, and an idea of what is expected of them.


Extended Family groups an intergenerational program
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
about Extended Family Groups at UU Church of Berkeley

1. What is an Extended Family Group?

An Extended Family Group is an intergenerational group of 12 to 20 people who commit to sharing a meal once a month for a year. The goal is to open up new connections between people at UUCB simply by sharing a meal and socializing informally.

2. How do I join an Extended Family Group at UUCB?

You fill out the "2004 UUCB Extended Family Group form" and leave it in Dan Harper's mailbox in the church office by March 1, 2004. Ministers and lay leaders will assign people to an Extended Family Group based on this form.

3. Since Extended Family Groups meet for meals, how are meals arranged?

All meals are "potluck," that is, each person will bring a dish to share with the rest of the group. Often, one or two people in a group take on the responsibility of deciding what type of dish each person should bring (someone brings salad, someone brings dessert, etc.). Other groups just trust that things will work out (and in such groups, usually things do work out!). If you have special food requirements, you should tell your Extended Family Group directly. If you have an unusual diet, some people in your group might want recipe suggestions.

4. What kind of commitment do I make to join an Extended Family Group?

You are asked to make a formal commitment to attend Extended Family Group meetings monthly for a year (12 months). Please take this commitment seriously! Pick a meeting time when you are sure you will be available. Obviously, something might come up that means you or a family member has to miss a meeting, such as unexpected travel for your job, a funeral or other family responsibility, illness, or an annual family vacation. But please do not sign up and then decide that something else (drama group, church committee, soccer practice, etc.) is more important. By signing up, you are committing to planning your volunteer, school, and/or sports responsibilities around your 12-month Extended Family Group commitment.

5. What happens if there's a serious argument between people in my group?

Just as in real-life families, sometimes people in Extended Family Groups have disagreements, or even fights. (Yes, it's true, even Unitarian Universalists fight!) Part of your commitment to your Extended Family Group is to try to resolve any conflicts in a way that reflects Unitarian Universalist values. This mostly comes down to respecting other people, being willing to apologize when needed, and committing yourself to staying in relationships with people in your extended family. Of course, if you run into a really tough conflict, feel free to call on a UUCB minister for help or advice (and if worse comes to worst, a minister can help an Extended Family Group end gracefully before the first year is up).

6. What can I do to help my Extended Family Group succeed?

Successful Extended Family Groups say to relax, share jokes, maybe play some games together. Spend some time getting to know the other people, especially people who are quite different from you. One very specific suggestion comes from a successful Extended Family Group if you decide to spend time socializing after you share a meal together, a good way to start out is to have a jigsaw puzzle available for those who want to work on it. Working on a puzzle together is a low-stress way to get to know each other. (Board games also work well.)

7. Do you have a suggested schedule for a meeting of an Extended Family Group?

Yes. Try this two-hour-long schedule:

8. What happens at the end of one year?

Your formal commitment to your Extended Family Group is over in one year. At that time, you decide if you want to continue. People with busy lives may find that a year is a long enough commitment, and some people may find that an Extended Family Group is not for them. After twelve meetings of your Extended Family Group, you may choose to stop. But some Extended Family Groups find they want to continue meeting. In one Unitarian Universalist church, there's an Extended Family that has been meeting for more than 30 years. People in this group have formed deep and close bonds, and have kept in touch with those who had to move out of town. Perhaps your Extended Family will turn out to be this satisfying, and last this long!

9. Are there any other requirements or commitments?

Nothing except a willingness to have fun and meet other people from UUCB!

10. I have more questions....

Feel free to contact Rev. Dan Harper at church 525-0302 x 307.