Small Faith Groups

A new/old  manifestation of Church has emerged recently.
Sociologists call the contemporary culture of Spiritual networking
a new consciousness,
luring many people of faith into a post-ecclesiastical space.
Some retain tentative links with a local church;
some attend for feast days or for baptisms, marriages and funerals;
but otherwise they drift rather vaguely,
seeking an alternative community that embraces today’s bigger personal and planetary  issues while providing Spiritual Support and Nurturing.

Perhaps more obvious in the US and Australia than in Europe,
this space consists largely of people in the second half of life who have discovered that the institutional closed systems of doctrine and dogma are not transformative.
There seems little common ground for dialogue
between these post-ecclesiastical Christians and formal church structures.

Our Small Faith Group

Home Churches

Small Faith Groups

Characteristic of Small Faith Groups

Keys to Small Faith Groups

Small Christian Communities Down Under

Kateri Liturgy

Aspects of Effective Liturgy

A Charge for New Small Faith Groups

Small Christian Communities Overview

Small Faith Group Links:

Intentional Eucharistic Communities

Inclusive Workshop Aids

American Catholic Council – IEC’s

Alternative Catholic Experience – IEC’s

Women’s Ordination Conference  (Women Ministers)

Roman Catholic Women Priests  (Worshiping Communities)

Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests (Women Ministers)

Spirit of St Stephen’s Catholic Community

Cathedral of St. Anthony – Detroit

Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles

California Liturgies

24 Responses to Small Faith Groups

  1. Judith Burkhardt says:

    Just FYI:

    I have been a member of a house church that has functioned, without interruption, for 40 years. We meet monthly, alternating homes. Our number has averaged 25. I am also a member of St. Ignatius Catholic Community, formed when St. Ignatius Church was closed in 1989. We worship together each Sunday at the Samaritan Center in Detroit. Our core group is about 35-40 people. We are very active in the community and are a vibrant group.’

    Judith Burkhardt

  2. Resources for Advent and Lent that help faith groups deepen their awareness of God’s gifts of creation (Air, Soil, etc.), of present threats to these gifts/creation/everyone, and of our call to respond are found at This material is free and can be adapted as desired.

  3. Deacon Carl says:

    We, St. Thomas Waterford WI/St. Clare Wind lake WI, Have a ‘lectio divina’ group of 12-17 that meets every week looking at one of the up-coming Sundays readings. The same core group has been doing this for over 10 years. We started doing the gospel and then moved on to selecting any one of the readings. We have all grown in our relation ship with our God and comfort able in sharing what the reading has said to each of us. We go for 11/2 hours.
    Dcn. Carl

  4. Dear John,
    You may want to add Agape.
    We celebrated our 30th Anniversary this year with Roy Bourgeois, Jean Marchant, Arun Gandhi and lots of young people who comprise our small faith groups in a sustainable community on an ongoing basis.
    Lovely site by the way and a terrific idea.
    Here is our website: where you will find our history, etc.

    Suzanne Shanley, co-founder, Agape Community

  5. John Hydar says:

    St Anthony Catholic Community is a small faith in Santa Barbara, CA that started in the late 1960s. We celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday at 9:30 AM in the chapel of the former St Anthony Seminary. The members of the community take their faith seriously and are involved in many social justice projects in Santa Barbara. We welcome everyone to our community and exclude no one from Communion. Visit out website at
    I am one of four married priests serving the people of St Anthony Community,

  6. Dear friends,
    please spread the news that there are more and more former Roman Catholics worldwide who built new loving church communities. So is ours here in Detroit, and we love our new faith family, just two years old, and growing, because we believe that all who are created into this world are God’s beloved children. We also have missions worldwide. Visit our website:
    or worldwide:
    Be all blessed and thank you for sharing your stories.

  7. Name Withheld says:

    Something nobody seems to talk about is the sharing of bread and wine at House Churches. Our group of 15-20 regulars shares. I think our situation is a way around the “consubstantiation”. Our sharing of bread is doing what Jesus said to do (supposedly) – Do THIS in memory of me. What is the THIS if not our sharing of our lives as he did and asked us to do. So – I don’t think any of us think we are changing bread and wine into anything else but the real sacramental symbol of our sharing. Any thoughts??

    • Nympha Marrucci says:

      Yes – to me God is truly present with the gathering of people and the sharing of the bread and wine means that God is with us and within us.

  8. Pat Callahan says:


    We are fortunate in Western Washington to have 5 active small faith communities who gather regularly (see below). The Seattle Group is lead by an ECC priest who was a husband and father with adult children when ordained. The other ECC group in Olympia is lead by a resigned priest and an ordained woman. The other Olympia group is lead by a Womanpriest. Tacoma and Olympic Peninsula groups include resigned priests who play a leadership role, but liturgies are communal.

    A very healthy development……………….

    Pat Callahan
    CTA Western Washington and Coordinator of Seattle Group of 120 resigned priests

    SEATTLE: IGNATIUS CATHOLIC COMMUNITY meets weekly on Sunday at 10 AM at Ravenna United Methodist Church.
    TACOMA: 1ST & 3rd Sundays at 10:30 AM, Location varies but often at 923 S. 8th, Tacoma: Contact Bob & Marcia Riler 253/566-4078
    OLYMPIA: EMMAUS CATHOLIC COMMUNITY meets Sundays at 11AM at the First Christian Church,
    OLYMPIA: HOLY WISDOM INCLUSIVE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY meets St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, 910 Bowker St. SE, Lacey on the 2nd & 4th Saturdays at 5 pm. All invited to a potluck dinner after the Liturgy.
    OLYMPIC PENINSULA GROUP – Meets on the 2nd & 4th Sunday at 10:30am at various homes. Contact Lee & Martina Abba-Richard at 360 379-9002 or Don & Geri Zanon 360 452-8677

  9. Jozef de Groot says:

    I read this blog with interest. There are also Small Christian Communities which are healthy and ongoing within the Catholic church and are part of the parish structure. There are several organizations who fit this description. For example, we have well over 10 small Christian communities within our parish ( There are many, many more around the country and in other countries. These small church communities originated in South America and continue to thrive within the Church.

    • Jozef, Many healthy Small Faith Groups do Eucharist.

      SFG’s typically include people who still regularly attend institutional liturgies, some who occasionally attend, and some who have Moved On.

  10. Kathleen Herrick says:

    Hi John: Thanks for sharing these impressive experiences. It’s clear that people will find new ways to celebrate their Christianity unencumbered by the destructive messages and practices of the old RC church which as B16 seems to desire is shrinking into a 19th century or earlier exclusivity that is purposefully out of step with the modern world. We are in the Venice Diocese of SWFlorida which has banned all groups such as VOTF, CTA from meeting on church grounds. VOTF is sponsoring a series of talks (last week Sr. Simone Campbell) that must meet in a friendly Presbyterian church. It just gets weirder and more ridiculous. At a recent meeting, a group of people from Ave Maria showed up and asked carefully rehearsed questions implying that the several hundred VOTF supporters present really should join the Episcopal church, reading from the RCC catechism and in general, acting like brainwashed, wacky, cultish Scientologists. Life goes on. Best to you.
    John and Kathleen

  11. John:

    I applaud you and your efforts on behalf of Small Faith Groups (SFG).

    Here in Columbus, OH I belong to a SFG named ‘Simply Catholic’ which meets at a ‘Church of the Bretheran’ site, and our ‘presiders’ consist of men (Some former priests who decided to marry) and women (One a former nun who decided to leave her active order, and a couple of others — two of whom were ‘commissioned’ by the group.

  12. Joseph Diele says:

    We are the Church For All People, Brooklyn. We have met as a house church for the past 7 years. We gather weekly on Sunday to share the Word, Break the Bread and Pass the Cup. We are nourished by our community.

  13. Vikki says:

    When you have time, you may like to visit our community website and/or my blog (Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community website) (my personal blog)

    Love and blessings,

  14. Marge says:

    Thanks John, this brings back memories of a group that I was a part of in St’ Louis, almost 40 years ago. We met weekly to discuss the coming week’s scriptures. When I moved to Phoenix we celebrated Mass in my living room. We celebrated in our homes often and nobody appeared to object at that time. The young priest who was a vital part of the group left to get married. I lost track of him but he was great. I was blessed with the memories of that time.
    Blessings to you,

  15. Patricia Zorn says:

    Hi John,
    I will send you the information on a link for our home church/ministry as soon as the name change is finalized.
    We are waiting on approval by the state, etc.
    Thank you for offering to add links on your site.
    Hope you and your family are well.

  16. Please link our blog to yours. It is wonderful to read about so many small faith groups. We are a small ecumenical House Church in West Virginia led by a married couple, Robert and Virginia Graf. We identify our House Church as Saint Barnabas Mission, Capitol Region. Barnabas was the great bridge builder between the Jews and Greeks who followed Jesus. It was in Antioch, the early place of Barnabas’ leadership, that the name Christians was first used. We believe that ecumenical groups such as ours is the key to peace and to real change in human attitudes and behavior. Thank you, John, for putting our groups in touch with each other. Our connection has great potentiality.

  17. Fernando B. Zaragoza says:

    It is a long story how I heard about this but the important thing is that I heard it.
    A pastor from a Pentecostal-like (?) church was preaching about Corinthians where Paul writes about the institution of the Eucharist. He said that everybody had the commitment to elevate the gifts IN EVERY MEAL and DO WHAT JESUS DID ON THE LAST SUPPER, thanking God for every gift, praying for our needs and…
    It was not only the blessing of the meal, as we Christians usually do, but it was the REAL REMEMBRANCE OF WHAT JESUS DID.
    In the non denominational churches and in the sects, as there is not important the apostolic succession, any can be pastor and preside the “Holy Supper” (at least they call it like that in Spanish).
    If I recall correctly some 40 years ago the great Dutch theologian Edward Cornelis Florentius Alfonsus Schillebeeckx O. P. said that the transubstantiation was accomplished by the faith of the community not for the “power” of the priest or bishop, because the power is in the faith not in the person who presides.
    So since I was 12 or 15, I used to “concelebrate in pectore” in every Mass that I attended. So when I was ordained I just continued celebrating the Mass, BUT I felt a real ONTHOLOGICAL chance in my person, the way I think, the capacity to guide and a long, long list of other consequences of the ordination.
    So, I really think that the question of who can preside the Eucharist, home and family Eucharist, is: usually the parents. And in non blood family groups? A person that is been seen as capable by the community specially if (s)he has had a deep encounter with God.
    So… The rest of the dissertation in order to have linked communities (or families) with certain support of ministers-with-apostolic-succession and special preparation looks excellent to me. We could start a directory. By the way in Mexico I have notice of exactly “none”, probably your stats are from USA.
    The administration of other sacraments needs more preparation, especially Penance, because of the orientation the minister is to give.
    Well, for me is easier to talk than to write.
    + Fernando (CDOS Mexico)

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  19. Betty Lou Kishler says:

    Are there any home groups in the South Jersey (New Jersey) locale. I would love
    to find one.

  20. Lynn Norton says:

    I printed to share with our West Side Home Church group.
    I know it was a beautiful, spiritual experience. A wonderful
    environment for an “inclusive” community. The Sun City West
    ELCA Lutheran Church I participate in has an active PFLAG
    community as well as every other group I can think of AND
    TWO WOMEN PASTORS. What a powerful new dimension in
    ministry for me to experience. They “welcomed” me and listened
    to my confessional story of being “told to leave the Catholic church.”
    As a former DRE and Charismatic Prayer leader, they have given
    me complete trust to present weekly programs during 3mo of
    summer using discussion videos “Living the Questions”, Spong,
    Crossen, Borg, Chittister, Rohr, Progressive Christianity, etc.

    Please share our open INVITATION to any you meet who live in this area.
    BLESSINGS & GOOD HEALTH, Lynn Norton 623-214-7508

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  22. Judy Szczesny says:

    John I agree with you but I have found an Ecumenical Catholic Church at St.Anthony’s church in Detroit. It is a small parish with gays, people from foster care, all races and others led by an Austrian married priest. The mass is pre consubstsantiation(?). I do like the ritual of the Mass but not the latest change. All are truly welcome. They truly serve the poor with a free clothes and food pantry as well as a small garden. There is a breakfast every Sunday after the only Mass, in the back of church. Only maybe 35-40 parishioners but have seen double growth in less than a year. Church is only 3 yrs old. I am sure if it would be in the suburbs it would be much bigger. I have decided I will remain catholic with a small c.
    Keep up the good work or should I say writing. I believe I have met you at the Elephants
    If you are in the Detroit area check up on St. Anthony’s. I think you would like it.
    Judy Szczesny

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