Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: The New UU: A Program for Welcoming Newcomers to Unitarian Universalist Congregations

Handout 1: Covenant as Promise

Part of The New UU

A covenant is not a contract, but rather a voluntary relationship. The idea of a covenant has biblical origins and traditionally includes the understanding that the relationship is sacred or blessed.

The focus of a covenant is on the promises one person or group of people make to another person or group of people about how they will support one another and what shared values they will uphold together. Thus, when a covenant is broken or violated, the parties involved focus on restoring relationship through reconciliation and forgiveness. Most Unitarian Universalists would agree with Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber, who is credited with describing humanity as promise-making, promise-breaking, and promise-restoring. Covenant, or sacred promise, is at the heart of our free faith.


What relationships in your life have a covenantal quality? What are some of the explicit and implicit promises within that relationship?