Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Principled Commitment: An Adult Program on Building Strong Relationships


Developed in response to Unitarian Universalist adults' desire to build strong relationships and our congregations' desire to meet that need, the eleven workshops of Principled Commitment provide avenues for growing in faith while nourishing committed partnership. Each workshop connects one of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations' seven Principles with a broad principle, quality, or attribute that participants can cultivate in their relationship.

To some, it may seem strange to connect our Principles with romantic partnership; to others, the connection may seem quite natural. In fact, the seven Principles that our congregations covenant to affirm and promote do not mention the word "love." Yet, in many ways, they are all about love. Imagine a love note based on the seven Principles:

I love you. I recognize your worth and dignity. I seek to create a just, equitable, and compassionate relationship with you. I accept you and encourage your spiritual growth and your free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I respect your conscience and its role in our decision-making process. And loving you makes me want to transform the world: to create peace, liberty, and justice; to really respect and recognize our interdependence with all existence.

In bringing together Unitarian Universalist values, relationship skills, covenanting, fellowship, and fun, this program offers participants the opportunity to build and enhance a principled commitment to one another.

As one in a series of Tapestry of Faith curricula for adults, Principled Commitment weaves Unitarian Universalist values, Principles, and Sources with four "strands": spiritual development, ethical development, Unitarian Universalist identity development, and faith development. Each of the strands is described below.

Spiritual Development. In the book Everyday Spiritual Practice, Scott Alexander defines spirituality as our relationship with the Spirit of Life, however we understand it to be. Our spirituality is our deep, reflective, and expressed response to the awe, wonder, joy, pain, and grief of being alive. In this sense, theTapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Know that they are lovable beings of infinite worth, imbued with powers of the soul and obligated to use their gifts, talents, and potentials in the service of life
  • Appreciate the value of spiritual practice as a means of deepening faith and integrating beliefs and values with everyday life

Ethical Development. When we develop our ethics, we develop our moral values — our sense of what is right and wrong. We also enhance our ability to act on those values, overcoming oppressions and despair. In this sense, the Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Realize that they are moral agents, capable of making a difference in the lives of other people, challenging structures of social and political oppression, and promoting the health and well-being of the planet
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice, and compassion

Unitarian Universalist Identity Development. A person's participation in a Unitarian Universalist congregation does not automatically create Unitarian Universalist identity. Personal identification with Unitarian Universalism begins when people start to call themselves Unitarian Universalist and feel part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation or community. Identity is strengthened as individuals discover and resonate with the stories, symbols, and practices of Unitarian Universalism. As individuals find and give acceptance, as they cherish the community's people and values and messages, as they find sustenance for their holy hungers, they grow into Unitarian Universalists. In this sense, the Tapestry of Faithprograms seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Affirm that they are part of a Unitarian Universalist religious heritage and community of faith that has value and provides resources for living
  • Recognize the need for community, affirming the importance of families, relationships, and connections between and among the generations
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice, and compassion

Faith Development. When we develop in faith, we develop as meaning-makers. Faith is not about accepting impossible ideas. Rather, faith is about embracing life's possibilities, growing in our sense of being "at home in the universe." Faith is practiced in relationships with others — it has personal dimensions, but it is best supported by a community of shared symbols, stories, values, and meaning. This strand — faith development — emphasizes each person's religious journey as a participant in a faith community and faith tradition, and each person's lifelong process of bringing head, heart, and hands to what is of ultimate meaning and value.

Each of these strands is woven, to some degree, in each of the Principled Commitment workshops, even though their primary focus lifts up the Unitarian Universalist Identity Development and Ethical Development strands most often.

— Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, Developmental Editor, Unitarian Universalist Association Adult Programs Director