Starting Healing Circles in Communities of Faith

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People gathered in circle

In our commitment to community outreach, Healing Circles Houston has found fertile ground for the seeds of compassion among faith communities. Interfaith partnership provides a natural home for healing circles, as circle gatherings offer the type of deep intentional healing many seek in their faith communities.

In his book, Thank God for Evolution, Michael Dowd posits a twofold purpose of religion: to create an experience of personal wholeness and to provide a context for social coherence for the practitioner. In other words, healing the self and belonging in community are integral aspects of religious faith practice. With this in mind, healing circles offer faith communities an avenue to fulfill their mission. Through interfaith work, our approach to sharing the circle experience in our community has evolved to incorporate lessons learned along the way and to develop a teach-the-teacher approach.

One of the most effective first steps in collaborating with an organization is to connect with its leader(s). In forming these relationships, you can share the opportunity that healing circles present. I recommend that the first meeting with leadership include an introductory circle, which gives attendees the opportunity to experience the value of circle first-hand. Often this introductory circle will also reveal a theme or topic that impacts future members, staff, and volunteers.

After you’ve agreed to collaborate, you will work together to select topics, form a team, and create a schedule. The next critical step is training hosts. Training is easier for new participants to embrace if they have some circle experience on which to build. You can hold an introductory/discovery circle to engage and identify those who would like to become hosts. The emphasis in this circle is on agreements and practices. Be curious, gentle, supportive, kind, and firm in the purpose of the circle. This is a great opportunity to form a team of hosts, guardians, leaders, and rim holders who can attend further training.

Once trained, the hosts/guardians are ready to call a circle on a chosen theme (such as grief and loss, divorce, or survivorship). Your role as a partner is to support the hosts’ progress as a participating coach, attending circles, and offering advice and support behind the scenes. Healing Circles Houston offers additional support with our monthly host gatherings, which are open to all our trained hosts/guardians. These two-hour gatherings include a snack and social time followed by a learning/discovery circle in which we share both the challenges and rewards of hosting.

As Healing Circles Houston continues to grow in our community, we also look forward to growing in our awareness and ability to become an impactful interfaith partner.

We warmly invite you reach out to us with questions by leaving a comment below.