We have started a Men's Circle at Rosslyn Hill Chapel.
This group, which has met once so far, has already generated a range of feedback. On the one hand, the idea of a gathering for men conjures images of patriarchy and may seem outdated, and indeed I’ve received feedback that the idea is too exclusive. On the other hand, because we have promoted it as male-centered rather than male-exclusive to make room for anyone who may welcome this kind of group regardless of expressed gender or sexual identity, I’ve received feedback that the group is too inclusive.
I don’t want to dismiss either of these reactions, as they each have merit. The way we’ve decided to implement the group leans inclusive in some ways and exclusive in others. For instance, the open invitation for people to self-identify whether they belong in such a group is important to my ministry as a progressive Unitarian. The biology of human sexuality is complex, and fortunately not my field; I’m less concerned with the science than I am with ensuring that Rosslyn Hill Chapel is as open and welcoming as our Sunday service greeting proclaims:
Whoever you are and however you are this morning, there is a space for you here. Whatever your race, gender, sexuality, class, age, or physical or mental capability, we welcome you in the spirit of love.
And yet I also appreciate that there is value in a male-centered space at Rosslyn Hill Chapel. Men often have trouble building meaningful connections with each other, and it's more difficult in a congregation where there are more active women than men. And discussing any kind of relationship can be a challenge for a lot of men. Moreover, some male issues warrant discussion within a group that can ensure confidentiality. Finally, there are times when men may need to unpack their male-dominant perspectives in a manner that, frankly, women shouldn't have the burden of sitting through.
I’ll confess a bias I bring to this work: I believe that if men could learn to communicate more openly, nurture their relationships with each other, and deepen connections, the world would be a better place. In addition to a men’s group being a personally valuable, rewarding, and enriching experience, I believe this is important work that can ultimately make our Chapel community more open, connected, and welcoming.
The presence of a men’s group does not preclude other types of groups, such as a women’s group, parents’ group, non-binary persons’ group, or group centering the disability community. If you have an interest in launching or discussing a new group at Rosslyn Hill, get in touch with me or Rev. Kate through email, WhatsApp, or the website’s Contact Us page.
Adam Slate is Rosslyn Hill Chapel’s Ministry Assistant
The next Men’s Circle is scheduled for 14th Aug 2023 from 7:00-8:30pm on Zoom. More details are available here.