The beginning of this new year offers a perfect time to take on a need the Board of Trustees has identified for Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, namely: creating a congregational covenant.
A congregational covenant describes who and how we seek to be with one another and in the larger community as we pursue our mission.
Every Unitarian Universalist congregation is unique, and our covenant will articulate –at the congregational level–our most important values, organizing principles and identity for who Beacon is as a body. Watch Rev. Emilie’s sermon on covenant.
What purpose does a covenant serve?
A covenant offers a touchstone for our community at our best of times, and also during times of challenge and change, as we find our way through an increasingly complex and often embattled world. A covenant also offers new members insight into the community they are joining, and the promises and commitments required from members of this community.
How will we create our covenant?
The Board has charged a task force to lead all members in a participatory process to create our congregational covenant, culminating in congregational approval at the annual meeting (June 2nd). Over the next few weeks you will see a number of invitations to participate in the process, please join in this important process!
You are invited to participate in a number of ways:
- Sign up to be part of a 1-time dialogue
- Volunteer to facilitate these dialogue groups, or
- Volunteer to help write the covenant.
You can sign up here.
Rest assured, a covenant seeks to express, not to change, our community’s nature. It will serve to complement and support our mission, and a covenant is especially not a limit to our diversity of opinion and beliefs – in fact it supports bridges to embrace and reconcile differences when they arise.
As we forge our way sometimes courageously, sometimes with uncertainty through the wilderness of a changing world, our covenant can be our compass reminding us again and again how to get back to “true north.”
What do we mean by a Congregational Covenant?
As a non-creedal, covenantal religion, our covenant describes how we want to be together as we live toward our mission and vision. Our Seven Principles are the covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Association. However, we currently don’t have a congregational covenant.
Why is this effort being made?
In a diverse community, we must make explicit how we will be together. Our covenant is an act of commitment to deepening our community bonds, supporting one another on our spiritual paths, and making more powerful Beacon’s impact on healing the world. It will also provide an understanding for new members about the congregation they are joining and their commitment to it.
Is there some kind of problem or conflict prompting this?
No. In fact, the most useful time to create a covenant for how we want to be together is when we are not in the midst of resolving conflict.
What does a congregation covenant actually look like?
Some are short, inspirational covenants spoken each week in worship: Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law; this is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.
Others are longer, seeking to demonstrate healthy behavior and relations as the community works towards its mission: https://austinuu.org/wp2013/about-us/values-mission/
Isn’t this redundant with our mission and vision?
Our mission declares our purpose in the world; our vision paints the image of what the world could be; our covenant reminds us how we want to work together to live out our mission.
Don’t we already use covenants?
Yes, many of our teams and small groups create a covenant for their specific work. However, there is not one covenant to which we all promise.
What is our role as members in creating the covenant?
Just as our name, mission and vision was created with your input, a covenant for our congregation cannot exist without all of us voicing our community’s aspirations. In January/February, we will begin small group facilitated conversations. Then, a small working group will write a draft covenant for review. We will vote on the covenant in June 2019. If you’d like to help facilitate conversations or write the covenant, please reach out to Nancy Skinner, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Covenant Task Force is charged by the Board of Trustees to create a congregational covenant. It is led by Carol Conger Miller (Board member), Rev Emilie Boggis (Leadership Team member), and Nancy Skinner (lay leader).