Covenants of Purpose and Covenants of Right Relations
Wrapping up our Feature Focus Sunday for March
Thirty years ago, the UUA gave a steering committee the task of developing a covenant in order to start a new religious community. Many months went into “learning the organizational skills necessary to start a new congregation and developing a vision for the future as a religious gathering.”* Out of that effort, the Covenant of Purposes that hangs in the hallway at the University Gathering was written those decades ago. Some of our current members were instrumental in that task–particularly Sandra Woolsey, a charter member of this congregation. Last Sunday I spoke to you about creating a covenant, but that was not to replace or revise our Covenant of Purposes created by our founders; it was to create a Covenant of Right Relations–a different document.
The following Covenant of Purposes is a vital part of our past, our present, and our future:
Our Covenant (of Purposes)
We encourage and support individual freedom of religious beliefs for all.
We share in a loving ministry each for the other and thereby provide for our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
We are dedicated to providing religious education for our children which will enhance the positive worth of each child.
We will strive toward social responsibility with the purpose of strengthening an individual commitment to self, congregation, and community.
We will seek the truth to enlighten and acknowledge human accomplishments and possibilities.
Our March 25 service focused on the power of covenants to help guide our interactions and help bring balance and peace to our relationships with one another. The sermon addressed the value of the covenants we honor within ourselves, between one another, in Chalice Circles, and in the context of Beloved Community. What I was referring to on that day was creating a Covenant of Right Relations. I thanked Beth Foreman for her preliminary work and dedication to this task in 2017 in her role then as lead of Healthy Congregations. I also thanked Meredith Norman and Marilin Campbell for their more recent efforts on a Covenant of Right Relations.
At this point, we offer the draft below for your consideration . We’ll be in touch soon to request your feedback and input. To honor the stated identity of Piedmont, words we use weekly (nurturing the spirit, cherishing diversity, and cultivating justice) were included. We then took those intentions a bit further to add desired behaviors (kindness, hospitality, peace). Finally, we added the one thing we can’t do without: Love. (Thank you, Marcia Howden, for that missing piece).
As a community,
We covenant to …
Nurture the spirit with kindness,
Cherish Diversity through hospitality,
Cultivate justice in peace,
And radiate love as a beacon of hope
For all beings.
Covenants are frequently visible and often spoken as reminders of who we aspire to be together. Covenants of Right Relations shape identity and contribute to a culture of kindness and groundedness, serving as a beacon that calls us back to our highest selves. May it be so.
~Rev. Mary Frances
*Special thanks to Jeff Blum and Sandra and Jim Woolsey for sharing a bit about the history of this covenant.