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


For I say—whether you ever heard, directly, of this little event in Dedham or not—to understand in any depth our liberal free church tradition, or to make much sense of deeply rooted everyday realities of Unitarian Universalist churches now, today, you must understand in your bones the historical importance of the spirit of love manifest in the doctrine of covenantal organization, as this little group of people in Dedham understood it in New England in 1637. — Alice Blair Wesley

This workshop considers the history and meaning of covenant in our religious tradition. It explores the difference between a covenant and a statement of belief and examines the importance of covenant in the free church tradition as it pertains to both freedom of thought and freedom of governance.

Before leading this workshop, review the Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters in the program Introduction. Prepare to accommodate individuals who may be in the group.


This workshop will:

  • Trace the history of covenant through the Unitarian Universalist tradition
  • Consider the importance of covenant to Unitarian Universalist identity.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Understand the meaning of a covenant
  • Understand the centrality of covenant to Unitarian Universalist congregations
  • Delve into the connection between covenant and congregational polity
  • Become familiar with the evolution of the language and concept of covenant in our tradition
  • Be able to differentiate between a covenant and a statement of belief
  • Make links between the use of covenant in Unitarian Universalism and its use in other religious traditions.