Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 2: Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources (already in participants' folders)
- Handout 4: Suggested Group Covenant (already in participants' folders)
- Newsprint sheet with suggested group covenant (see Preparation)
- Optional: Poster or photocopies of the covenant used in your congregation's worship services (see Preparation)
Preparation for Activity
- Write the text of Handout 4, Suggested Group Covenant, on a sheet of newsprint. Leave space for the group's additions, modifications, and signatures.
- If your congregation has a covenant or a "bond of union" that it recites each week in worship, obtain a copy of it. Make enough photocopies for each individual or couple to have one, or write the covenant on a poster or sheet of newsprint.
Description of Activity
- What is a covenant?
After discussion, note that the idea of covenant has deep religious and secular roots. It is a formal and binding agreement made between one or more individuals or the members of a group.
Ask participants to refer to Handout 2, Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources, and find references to the word "covenant." Explain that the Principles are indeed a covenant made between Unitarian Universalist congregations. The Principles are what the congregations covenant to "affirm and promote."
Introduce the group covenant process with these or similar words:
Today we will have the opportunity to create covenants, both as a group and as couples. In Unitarian Universalist environments, covenants are often used to help groups work together. A covenant is a set of agreements about our relationship to one another. The spirit of the document is stronger than its physical form.
Rebecca Parker, a Unitarian Universalist theologian, states that "we inherit covenant before we create covenant." When we enter a congregation's community, we recognize that the covenant has been shaped by the experience of those who have gone before.
And so, in making a covenant for our group, we have a "Suggested Group Covenant" to start with. These suggestions are taken from the experience of workshop-going Unitarian Universalist adults who came before us. They will help us define the covenant that will shape our interactions in this program.
Display the "Suggested Group Covenant" poster or newsprint that you prepared in advance. Ask participants to find Handout 4, Suggested Group Covenant, from their folders. Read each statement aloud, then ask:
- Would you like to make changes or additions to the list? [If so, discuss the changes.]
- Does everyone feel comfortable trying to uphold this covenant to the best of his/her ability?
Invite participants to sign, initial, or make a mark on the newsprint under the covenant. Leave the sheet up during the rest of this session, and save it so that you can post it at future workshops.