CURRENT DRAFT OF COVENANT (as of 4/3/19)
We, the congregational members, leaders, officers, staff, and friends of Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, are a faith community that believes a better world is brought about through our daily actions and interactions. It is with this spirit that we covenant to act with integrity so that the needs of the individual and the greater faith community can be in harmony. We covenant to honor one another, challenge one another, and give to one another and to our institution.
We hereby covenant to honor one another.
- We aspire to live our shared values and shared ministry through our daily interactions.
- We listen appreciatively, being mindful, present, and respectful, assuming good intentions.
- We aspire to resolve conflict in a loving, compassionate way, and to forgive each other out of generosity of spirit.
We hereby covenant to challenge one another.
- We commit to sharing our authentic selves by expressing our personal needs and ideas, communicating honestly and courageously with respect and without anonymous criticism.
- We remain engaged, even in conflict, through daring and difficult communication, collaboration, and facilitation.We hereby covenant to give to one another and to our institution.
- We contribute fair and reasonable amounts of our time, skills and other resources.
- We commit to understanding and supporting our church structure, including administration and governance, and to timely reporting of misuses of power.We will do our best to abide by this Covenant. When we are unable to come to an understanding with one another, we will engage members of the Right Relations Committee for support.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
QUESTION: Why are we considering a covenant and what is its purpose?
ANSWER: Developing a Covenant of Right Relations will: strengthen our bonds by articulating how we intend to be accountable to each other; clarify expectations and create a safe environment; and provide guidelines to help us deal with our differences in a respectful way.
QUESTION: What was the context/purpose behind the writing of the covenant? Were there behavioral issues that made this specifically important at this time?
ANSWER: The Covenant was written to meet the need for an actionable expression of both our Unitarian Universalist principles and NUUC’s Mission Statement. In addition, there have been times in recent history where the congregation, its friends and/or its leadership demonstrated the need for more support in being able to balance integrity and authenticity with civility and kindness.
QUESTION: Who was involved in the development of the proposed covenant?
ANSWER: NUUC members who volunteered to help draft a covenant are: Clyde Derrick, Joe Welker, Joyce Wedseltoft, Wes Louissaint, Irene Burkner, Cybele Garcia Kohel, Julian Juarez, Gail Shand, Dinandrea Vega, and Katherine Gavzy.
QUESTION: How do you define “Right Relations”?
ANSWER: Right Relations are the way we agree to be with one another in Religious Community, including a statement of our shared UU goals and a practical approach to conflict resolution. We value love and hope. To these ends, we who covenant together will do our best to live by this agreement. Conflict is inevitable when we respect diverse beliefs and actions, but it does not have to result in feelings of anger and resentment.
QUESTION: Will someone report me if I say something “out of covenant”? Is this thought police?
ANSWER: No. This is NOT the Covenant Police! We believe that disagreements are best settled through individual communication. But when that doesn’t work, the Right Relations Committee will have a conflict resolution role. It can listen to and assess any issues before escalating them to the Board, Senior Minister or Staff.
QUESTION: When should I approach the Right Relations committee for help?
ANSWER: If you are unable or unwilling to deal with a conflict in a person-to-person exchange.
QUESTION: How and who will be selected for the Right Relations committee?
ANSWER: The Board will be working on this in the coming months. Stay tuned!
QUESTION: What is the process to approach the Right Relations committee?
ANSWER: That will also be determined in the coming months in a dialogue between the Board and the committee members.
QUESTION: Are there any problems we would not take up with the Right Relations Committee? What are they?
ANSWER: The RRC is designed both to directly facilitate interpersonal conflicts and to direct problems to the appropriate party. Most interpersonal member issues or conflicts regarding worship or staff should be directed to them.
QUESTION: Is the Right Relations Committee only for tough conversations and things that need to be reported, or is it for good feedback too?
ANSWER: We would love the RRC to receive positive feedback about things you liked! Positive feedback through this channel may become better organized and noticed than through more informal channels.
QUESTION: How will this Covenant and the Right Relations Committee be used? How is this used in other UU churches? Is there precedence?
ANSWER: A search of the UUA website brings up many examples of right relations covenants and their applications. Many UU congregations use them, and UU’s are of course not the only denomination where congregations operate with covenants.