Study Groups

Small group studies and book discussons are offered periodically throughout the year.  Often there is a study series during Advent and Lent; book discussions happen throughout the year.  These groups offer the opportunity to get to know others in a small group setting, to dive deeper into our Christian faith, and to exchange ideas.  Stay tuned for upcoming study groups.  A sampling of past study groups can be found below. 

Past study groups

Animate: Practices, an adult introduction to the central practices of the Christian faith.

The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development by Richard Weissbourd

America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. In connection with our Social Justice theme, End Mass Incarceration, the Adult Deepening and Stretching into Justice Ministry Teams sponsored a month-long small group study of this book, which Dr. Cornel West describes as “a grand wake-up call in the midst of a long slumber of indifference to the poor and vulnerable.”

Love God, Health Earth by Sally Bingham.  A collection of essays features writings from all parts of the religious and political spectrum, explaining why caring for God's creation is a spiritual practice and social justice mandate.

Animate: Faith, an adult education course that imaginatively explores central topics of Christianity.

Called to Life, an adult education course to explore questions of vocation and calling—how God works in our everyday lives.

Made for Goodness by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu.  Over the years the same questions get asked of Desmond Tutu, the archbishop, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and veteran of the moral movement that ended apartheid in South Africa: "How can you be so hopeful after witnessing so much evil?" "Why are you so sure goodness will triumph in the end?" This book is his answer.

Happiness by Joan Chittister.  Everyone wants to be happy. Many, however, wrongly believe that happiness comes from having enough money, fame, personal comfort, worldly success, or even dumb luck. Happiness just seems to be so elusive and arbitrary—something all too often just out of reach. Joan Chittister sees happiness differently. To her it is not a by-product of wealth or success but, rather, a personal quality to be learned, mastered, and fearlessly wielded. Happiness, she says, "is an organ of the soul that is meant to be nourished."

Latest Study Groups News

Join us for "A Song to Sing - An Advent Journey"
Posted: Nov 17 2021 - 3:34pm

Join us for A Song to Sing - An Advent Journey

November 28 – January 11

This past year has revealed that our faith is adaptable, can respond readily to great change, and can maintain the space to encounter the Divine regardless of distance or lapse of time. Our faith journey is meant to challenge us. For more than 2,000 years, people have been exploring what it means to be a Christian community. 50 years in, United Parish has the opportunity to consider what it means to be a church of three Protestant traditions… and a whole lot more.

Our seminarian Thomas Mitchell, working with the pastors and the Adult Deepening Team, has created a framework for discussing our personal faith journeys, and what it means to be a faith community. Over the weeks of Advent through Epiphany, you are invited to explore these probing questions:

Week 1: Why are you here?

Week 2: Do you call yourself Christian?

Week 3: Why do you choose this faith?

Week 4: What does your faith look like outside of church?

Week 5/ Epiphany: Why does this practice of your faith matter in 2022?

Given our hybrid model for church, we are offering three ways you can participate in A Song to Sing – An Advent Journey:

1. In person sessions weekly on Sunday after worship from 12:15 – 1:15 pm (indoors, masked and socially distant) on November 28, December 5, 12, 19, January 9. Meet in the Parlor.

2. Zoom sessions on Tuesday nights from 7:10 - 8:00 PM (after Advent worship from 6:30-7:00 PM) on November 30, December 7, 14, 21, January 11. Find the Zoom link in the weekly email newsletter.

3. Self-scheduled, 30 minute paired weekly discussions of the questions with a United Parish congregant, starting the week of Nov. 28. Similar to the past “Prayer Partners” program, the Adult Deepening team will assign you a partner or you can sign up with a particular person you would like to discuss your faith journey and pray for each other during Advent.

Please contact to let us know which type of session interests you, so we can send you materials for each week’s session.  

Adult Deepening Opportunities for Lent
Posted: Feb 4 2021 - 5:32pm

The season of Lent is an ideal time to find new and creative ways to grow in faith and one’s relationship with God and others. This Lent, we are delving into what it means to cultivate “the fruits of the Spirit,” (inspired by Galatians 5:22-23). Each week we will choose one of these Christian spiritual virtues and explore what it means to practice humility, gentleness, gratitude, generosity and service, patience, self-control. In Holy Week, we will look at love (Maundy Thursday), compassion (Good Friday) and joy (Easter).

This year, we hope you will make time to join these Lenten Adult Deepening activities:

Small Group Study: During Lent, United Parish worship services will be exploring Christian virtues such as humility, love, patience, joy, gratitude, self-control - the “Fruits of the Spirit” discussed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Weekly Small Groups will explore how we can cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit in ourselves and as a church community.

Monday evenings, 7:30pm on Zoom, Contact: Deb Hall (

Sunday afternoon, 20/30s Group at their regular time on Zoom 12:45-2:15pm. Contact: Katharine Henry (

Sunday morning: our regular Drop-In Bible Study, 10-10:45am on Zoom. No prep necessary. Contact: Deb W. (

Lenten Study Archives

February 21: Humility

Post-Worship Questions for Consideration: Humility

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #1

February 28: Gentleness

Post-Worship Questions for Consideration: Gentleness

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #2

March 7: Gratitude

Post-Worship Questions for Consideration: Gratitude

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #3

March 14: Generosity and Service

Post-Worship Questions for Consideration: Generosity

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #4

March 21: Patience

Post-Worship Questions for Considertaion: Patience

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #5

March 28: Self-Control

Post-Worship Questions for Consideration: Self-Control

Lenten Study Curriculum Packet: Week #6

Mini-Prayer Retreat: "Leaning into Lent: Deepening Your Personal Prayer Practice": A virtual mini-prayer retreat for the United Parish community. Sunday, February 21 from 4-6pm on Zoom. Please join us for a Lenten mini-prayer retreat, “Leaning into Lent; Deepening your personal prayer practice” via Zoom on Sunday, February 21 from 4-6pm. We will look at our own personal relationship to prayer, applying a spacious and inclusive definition of prayer in all of its beautiful and sacred manifestations. We will explore together how we might deepen our own personal prayer and contemplative practices during Lent, moving towards a more hope-full and inspired Easter. Lightly facilitated by Adam Sutton, United Parish member and ordained interfaith minister and coach. Gathering will be limited to no more than 15 participants, to allow for more intimate sharing and community-building.

Prayer Partners for Lent: One of the best ways to help us strengthen spiritually as a community and to ward off some loneliness during this continued pandemic is to have a prayer/conversation buddy. We strongly encourage you to try this. Please contact if you would like a Prayer Partner for Lent. We’ll pair you up with someone, or you can choose someone you know. Make a covenant with your Prayer Partner to connect at least 15 minutes each week of Lent by phone or in person. The Adult Deepening team will also provide Prayer Partners with a brief guide for ways you might get to know each other, and ways to try praying together or individually on behalf of the other.

Tuesday Lenten Dinner Church: 7pm-7:45pm on Zoom — February 23-March 23
During Lent, we invite you to join us on Tuesday evenings from February 23 through March 23 at 7pm for Lenten midweek worship on Zoom. Prepare your own meal at home and sit down with us for a worship service of prayer, contemplation and song. Dinner church is a postmodern return to an ancient worship model, just like what the early Christians did in their own homes. (This will replace the regular Tuesday Evening Prayers.) For more information, contact Seminarian Katharine Henry at or Associate Pastor Amy Norton at

Morning Midweek Meditation - Thursdays from 8-8:30am via Zoom

If you are looking for a calming, caring congregational connection in the middle of your chaotic week, join Adam Sutton on Thursday mornings on Zoom. We will hold space for some simple prayer sharing and will offer a relaxing and centering guided meditation that will leave you relaxed and renewed, ready to move into the rest of your week. Sign up by contacting Adam Sutton at or find the Zoom information in the weekly newsletter.


Lenten Dinner Church

Music and worship over a sacred meal on Zoom

Tuesdays, February 23-March 23

7pm on Zoom


Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 28

11am Worship on YouTube


Maundy Thursday

Thursday, April 1

6:45pm Guided Foot and Hand Washing Ritual on Zoom

7pm Worship and Communion on Zoom


Good Friday

Friday, April 2

7pm Tenebrae Worship on YouTube



Sunday, April 4

11am Festival Worship on YouTube

1-3pm Easter Flowers Available for Pick-Up on the Front Lawn



Join Us for the Simply Sacred Summer!
Posted: Jul 1 2020 - 10:11am

Responding to requests for more opportunities to simply recharge and connect, both virtually and in person, this summer United Parish will be offering a variety of small group opportunities for adults to feed your body, mind and spirit. Some of us are ready to venture outdoors for some socially-distant small group conversation and shared spiritual practices in nature; others will prefer to engage in discussion of a book or podcast from our homes or patios via Zoom or just joining by calling in by your good ol' cell phone.

The first round of July Simply Sacred Summer events are summarized below and we will also keep them on the calendar at These intimate sharing and learning gatherings will offer the opportunity to get to know others in a small group setting, to dive deeper into our Christian faith together, and to exchange hopes, concerns and support strategies for remaining resilient and connected through the summer and beyond!

We welcome your ideas for spiritual practices/programs that could be scheduled later in July or in August.  If you would be excited about a shared facilitating experience, please contact Deb H. or Adam S. at



Join us for a Simply Sacred Summer Stroll: 


Sunday, August 30 from 4:30-6pm at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline (rescheduled from August 16 & 23).  We will meet near the Cupola next to the pond. The park is bounded by Goddard Ave and Newton Street and the parking on the site is accessed on the Goddard Street side. The pond is on the side of the park near the intersection of Goddard & Newton. Participants are welcome to bring a picnic dinner if they want to stay for a socially distant outdoor dinner when the program is over at 6pm, but may not share food. Please RSVP to Kent at


Sunday, August 9 at 4pm at the Arnold Arboretum, meet at the main entrance at 125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain.

Saturday, August 1, at 10am at Hall's Pond Sanctuary in Amory Woods, at Amory & Freeman Streets in Brookline. 

Saturday, July 25 on the Riverway. We enjoyed the beauty of God's creation, the art installation and expressed our own creativity through art and haikus.

Saturday, July 18 at 10am at Griggs Park. We took time reflecting and doing lectio divina on the Psalm and Gospel texts for the day.

Saturday, July 11 at 10:00 AM at the Boston College labyrinth. Holly V., who teaches at Boston College, joined us as we took turns walking the labyrinth and enjoying some time in small groups – while keeping our distance. 

Saturday, July 4 at 10 AM at Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain. Since there are many abolitionists buried at Forest Hills, we read Frederick Douglass’ famous Independence Day speech: “What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July?” 


Wednesdays in July and August from 8:00-8:30 AM, via Zoom, starting July 8

If you are looking for a calming, caring congregational connection in the middle of your chaotic week, join Adam Sutton on Wednesday mornings in July and August via Zoom. Adam will hold space for some simple prayer sharing and will offer a relaxing and centering guided meditation that will leave you relaxed and renewed, ready to move into the rest of your week.  

See the Zoom info in your weekly all-parish email or contact by the night before and we will send you the Zoom information to connect by phone or online. 


During July, you can join Bible Study on Sundays at 10:30am. Contact for the Zoom details. BIBLE STUDY WILL NOT MEET IN AUGUST AND WILL RESUME IN SEPTEMBER.


Image credit: Forest Hills Cemetery,