Materials and Preparation
- A People So Bold DVD
- DVD player, TV/screen, and speakers
- Chalice, candle, and matches
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Singing the Living Tradition (1)
Time: 40-80 minutes
A. Chalice Lighting
Welcome participants. Recruit a volunteer to light the chalice.
Offer opening words 418 from Singing the Living Tradition as the volunteer kindles the flame.
B. Covenant as Aspiration
Watch “Covenant” segment of video (9:48). Participants may find some of the language Paul Rasor uses to be unfamiliar. Terms such as “polity” and “prophetic” are defined in this guide’s glossary.
After the video concludes, solicit and respond to clarifying questions. Then choose from the following discussion questions to get participants talking.
- As Meg Riley asked in the video, “If you were charged with being Unitarian Universalist in a court of law, would there be enough evidence to convict you? If so, what would that evidence be?”
- What do this segment’s stories about the youth group and the Peace Action group say to you about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist? To practice Unitarian Universalism?
- Theologian Paul Rasor states that covenants ought to describe the kind of community we want to create. What are some of the primary characteristics of Unitarian Universalist community as you’d like to create it?
- Rasor also invites us to look at covenant as a promise that we will work to make the world beyond our community more just. How might that look for our group? Would that be easily integrated into our group’s vision and identity? Or would it be a stretch?
- Each speaker in the segment spoke of accountability to a covenant. How did they hold themselves accountable when their community fell short of its covenant? In your experience, what are some effective ways of holding ourselves and others accountable to our promises and commitments?
D. Optional: Creating a Covenant
Invite your group to create or revise its covenant. If you already have a covenant, begin by sharing it with the group in print and/or verbally. The process for covenant creation or revision will vary significantly from group to group. However, we offer some best practices:
- Offer a time for the group to generate ideas for the covenant.
- Offer time to clarify and discuss the ideas.
- Encourage thinking about not only “what we’ll do or not do” but also “how we’ll be.”
- Encourage thinking about the group’s vision for making the world a better place. How does the group’s action contribute to creating a more just society?
- Include, as the video segment suggests, some means for holding one another accountable to the covenant.
- Ask for the group’s active commitment and assent. A list of individuals’ ideas is not adequate as a covenant. Each piece of the covenant must have the support of all covenanting parties.
If your group has just created a covenant, invite participants to take turns reading it aloud.
If your group has not just created a covenant, invite participants to take turns briefly naming something—a value, a principle, an emotion—that they aspire to affirm and promote in their work for social justice.