Borrowed Time

Journeying together through climate grief

How to Run a Deep Waters Group

Thank you for your interest in Deep Waters. These notes aim to help you facilitate this eight-week journey exploring the new terrain of eco-grief and anxiety, towards a place of active hope.

You can be confident in the weekly resources. They have been carefully chosen to reflect varied preferences and learning styles. We strongly recommend that groups do not miss out any of the sessions, and there is no need to adapt the sessions in any way.

You may need several helpers, depending on the size of your group.

We recommend that when you receive the resources, you read them thoroughly and spend time with them before using them with your group. We also recommend that if possible you and your facilitators run through a session or two yourselves, before using them with your church or other group.

We encourage all facilitators to consider themselves primarily as participants, wholeheartedly taking part in all the reflections, discussion, and activities. It is important for everyone to embark on this journey together. Facilitators do not need to have “the answers” – Deep Waters is a safe space for discussion, reflection and prayer, and in our emotional responses to difficult topics there are often no right answers. Respectful listening, and respectful speaking, is paramount, allowing participants to say what is on their hearts without fear. Over time you will find that people get to know each other very well.

It is important not to take notes or make recordings so that people can be confident in the atmosphere of confidentiality. Likewise, group leaders should not share what has been said in their groups with other leaders.

You may find that someone in your group does not enjoy the sessions. They may be expecting something different. If they decide that Deep Waters is not for them, that’s fine. Please don’t contact them to ask why or try to persuade them to come back.

There are many different resources each week to stimulate the imagination and to take account of people’s preferences. Not everyone will be engaged by all of them. There are also various questions for discussion – it’s better to choose one or two rather than attempt them all.

These guidelines may be helpful:

• Consider your group a sacred space.

• One person speaks at a time.

• Speak and listen from the heart.

• Encourage and welcome diverse points of view.

• Listen with discernment instead of judgment.

• Decide together what is to be held in confidence.

• Speak from your own experience and beliefs rather than speaking for others.

• Open and close the circle by hearing each voice.

Session Structure

Each gathering adopts a similar pattern, and takes 90 minutes.

  1. Welcomes, and an opening prayer. Any special notices come here.
  2. A brief reminder of the week’s topic, if needed.
  3. Breakout groups 40 minutes approximately. The groups remain the same week by week, to build confidentiality and mutual support and friendship.
  4. In the breakout groups, discussion of one or two questions from the session. People may also bring a reflection on the week’s material generally.
  5. Plenary: Feedback from breakout groups – one person speaks for several. What new insights have emerged? We recommend 5 minutes’ feedback per group.
  6. Reflective space 5-10 minutes (resources provided by Deep Waters).
  7. There may be space for intercessory prayers if desired. Look ahead to next week’s topic. Close with a blessing.

NOTE: If you have a very small group, and no breakout groups, you can adapt the timings, so that discussion can be up to 60 minutes. In this case you can move straight to the shared reflective space, and then the closing prayer/blessing.

If you have a small group and only two or three breakout groups, please feel free to adapt the timings slightly.

In all cases, we recommend the whole session should take no longer than 90 minutes.

Sample Timetable

Deep Waters is suitable for both in-person and virtual events. The sample timetable below assumes the gathering will take place on Zoom or a similar platform, but it is easily adaptable for a physical meeting.

Zoom opens 6.45pm Allow people in from 6.50pm for a chance to chat. Welcome6.45pm
7pm (For the Induction week, 5-10 minutes; shorter in subsequent weeks)
Waiting room enabled. Facilitators arrive, can catch up with each other, any information shared. People arrive in main room. (If in-person, have a cup of tea or coffee!)
Welcomes, Opening prayer. Induction week: What this journey is about, self-introductions – one or two sentences each. Opening prayer. Following weeks: general welcome and any notices, plus opening prayer.
Reminder of written material7.10 (2-3 minutes)The theme this session, e.g. Lament
Breakout groups

7.15-ish 40 minutesConsider one or two of the questions for the session. Facilitators sensitively ensure that everybody contributes!
Plenary7.55-ish 20 minutes approx. – 5 minutes per group (use a timer to keep to time!)One person from each group gives feedback to the whole group – new insights on this week’s theme. Please don’t break any confidences, and make sure feedback is anonymised unless a person has given permission to quote them.
Reflective space and activity8.15pm approx 5-10 minutes(not in the first introductory session) This space can also lead into shared intercessory prayer, if desired.
Conclusion, goodbyes, closing round, closing blessing8.25pmAny practical arrangements (eg breaking for half term), thanks, goodbyes, closing blessing.
Zoom room open for chat8.30pm

Facilitators’ debrief if necessary (after guests have left)