Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Activity 4: Building a Group Covenant

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • For your own use, list the elements of covenant that you would like to suggest as the facilitator. You might include:
    • Start and end on time.
    • Practice respectful dialogue.
    • Honor diversity of opinion and approach.
    • If you desire confidentiality, ask for it.
    • Share the floor.
    • Learn something new.
  • Write the title "How We Agree to Be with Each Other" on blank newsprint, and post.

Description of Activity

Read aloud, or say in your own words:

Our Unitarian Universalist tradition is covenantal. Walter Herz offers this definition of a covenant: "the common understandings, agreements, and promises made, one to another, that define our mutual obligations and commitments to each other as we try to live our faith and vision." Because much of this program will touch on our Unitarian Universalist understanding of covenant, and because covenants are foundational in Unitarian Universalist faith communities, let us establish a covenant before beginning our work together.

Invite participants to suggest guidelines for how they will be with each other during these workshops. Use these questions:

  • When you are in a faith-centered group, what do you need in order to feel comfortable, safe, and able to be yourself?
  • What are your growing edges when you are in a group? What is hard for you? What are your limits?
  • What gifts do you bring to a group?
  • Some workshops may raise themes or historical events which may make some participants uncomfortable. How can the group address in its covenant the need to keep the workshop safe and productive for all?

Write all suggestions on newsprint. Then, add any items from the list you prepared. Ask participants if they have concerns about or difficulty agreeing to any item listed. Discuss those items and amend the covenant by consensus, as needed.

On a new sheet of newsprint, rewrite the covenant title and list the agreed-on items. Read the covenant aloud and ask for verbal assent from each participant.

Save the written covenant to post in future workshops.