A covenant is not a definition of a relationship; it is the framework for our relating. ... This calls for a level of trust, courage and sacrifice that needs to be nurtured, renewed and affirmed on a regular basis. ... Abiding in covenant is an art form. A mutual creation.
— Rev. Lisa Ward, in a sermon, "From Creed to Covenant," delivered November 17, 2002 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County ( Churchville, Maryland )
This session introduces the children to the intangible gift of covenant. Children will explore the concept of covenanting through their own real-life experiences and make a covenant to guide their time together in Wonderful Welcome.
While covenant is also important in Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, the covenant that Unitarian Universalists share is the one we make with one another, not with God. The children will learn that as Unitarian Universalists, they belong to a covenanted community of people and congregations make commitments to certain agreed-upon values — our seven Unitarian Universalist Principles. The story for this session describes how, in 1960, Unitarians and Universalists discussed, debated and compromised to articulate six Principles which members of both faiths could covenant together to affirm and promote as Unitarian Universalists.
It may help children understand "covenant" if you use the word interchangeably with "agreement" or "promise." In Session 3, The Gift of Forgiveness, children will have opportunities to tackle the question of what to do if someone breaks a covenant.
In Activity 5, the children make a paper chain symbolizing their experience making a covenant together. If you have time, replace Activity 5 with Alternate Activity 1, Paper Chain Covenant, in which the children decorate links in the chain not only with their names but also with the promises they have agreed to keep. In the Closing, you will wind the paper chain around the Wonder Box poster to symbolize the gift of covenant.
This session will:
- Introduce the concept of covenant as an intangible gift we give and receive in community
- Showcase how covenants work and their role in a variety of contexts such as classroom, playground, family, and faith community
- Present the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles and their origins as a covenant.
- Learn how a covenant — agreeing on rules together and promising to follow them — supports everyone's safety and the group's success
- Understand a covenant as an intangible gift they can give and receive as members of a community
- Discover how their Unitarian Universalist faith is based on covenant
- Create a group covenant together
- Express covenanting through song.