A covenanted free church is a body of individuals who have freely made a profoundly simple promise, a covenant: We pledge to walk together in the spirit of mutual love. The spirit of love is alone worthy of our ultimate, our religious loyalty. So, we shall meet often to take counsel concerning the ways of love, and we will yield religious authority solely to our own understanding of what these ways are, as best we can figure them out or learn or remember them, together. — Alice Blair Wesley, Unitarian Universalist minister
In Today's Workshop...
We explored the meaning of covenant and the different type of covenantal relationships. We examined the role of covenant at many levels in the rebuilding, renewal, and rebirth of New Orleans Unitarian Universalist congregations after Hurricane Katrina. We felt the importance of interdependence and community in our bodies through playing a trust-building game. Then we explored the ways covenant operates in Unitarian Universalism—within our congregation, between congregations, and in the larger Unitarian Universalist movement.
Explore further with family and friends...
- At the core, covenant is about relationships. Look at the relationships in your life—with your family, your peers, fellow Unitarian Universalists. What spoken and unspoken covenants or agreements do you have with these people? What happens when someone breaks covenant and no one calls them out on it? What effect does this have on your relationship? Try creative visualization. Imagine confronting the person with whom you feel your relationship is damaged. How do you feel? If you face fears you have about the experience through visualization, it can be easier to carry out your actions. Imagine the worst-case scenario. What could happen? Thinking calmly, how would you handle it? You might want to journal about this—to evaluate your relationship covenants and agreements with others in your life, and to reflect and prepare before confronting someone to rebuild your relationship. Paula Cole Jones, an organizational consultant and lifelong Unitarian Universalist, has developed a practice of reconciliation that may be helpful in considering how to approach rebuilding relationships.
- Do some online research about the Unitarian Universalist community beyond your congregation. What are other Unitarian Universalists doing locally, regionally, nationally, and worldwide? Look for things they are doing that you find interesting and opportunities for you to be involved. Join a Facebook group for Unitarian Universalists, become part of a blogging community, sign up for a mailing list, or join an e-mail list to discuss topics of interest with other Unitarian Universalists.
- Four years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) created a video called "Rebuilding the Gulf Coast." It is available for viewing on YouTube.
- Watch the movie Doubt (2008), which is the story of a nun who confronts a priest at the school where they both work after suspecting him of abusing a student. The movie addresses morality, authority, and how people relate to each other in a religious community. As you watch the movie, reflect on the following questions: Which covenants, explicit and implicit, are being broken, and by whom? Do you think some of the characters uphold covenant more than others? What do you do when covenants or promises you have made conflict?