Our Covenants With Each Other

The concept of covenant is most central to my understanding of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist today. “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote” – and our Principles follow.

In the children’s Religious Education program, every class starts the year by creating a covenant for the students and teachers in that class. The Worship Associates read their covenant aloud, member by member, line by line, at the beginning of every meeting.

Our Covenant of Right Relations opening statement concludes, “Therefore, whenever we worship, work, or relate to one another, I covenant that I will,” and then guides us in respectful ways to interact with each other. Unitarian Universalists turn to each other regularly and say “I promise…I believe…I have faith…in you.”

The power of our faith, of our religion, lies in our covenants with each other. The work of our faith, of our religion, is how we choose to live out these covenants with each other and the wider world.

The Board of Trustees believes that we can only live out these covenants if we are all keeping them in our hearts and know that they belong to all of us. When we are all actively participating in maintaining (or repairing, if needed) these covenants we can be assured that they truly benefit our community.

The church meeting is a microcosm of the UUCWC world. To open, we may light a chalice, offer opening words, have members check in, and then begin the practical, spiritual work. How are we with each other now that the agenda must be addressed, the plan made, the recipe cooked, the song rehearsed, the budget balanced? Every one of us can ensure that we stay in covenant during our time together. And, if we don’t – when we don’t – every one of us can help address the misstep. By naming when a mistake has been made, or observing treatment out of covenant, we make space to acknowledge and move past it. This builds trust in the small group and the larger congregation and offers us the chance to keep saying “I promise…I believe…I have faith…in you.”

Covenant is such a lovely word – when it is spoken I hear “a coming together in and with promise.” May we continue to realize the power of our chosen faith and do the work of our given religion. May we personally own our covenants and fully engage in how we live them. Each time we come together may it be in, and with, promise.

In faith,
Marianne Alt
President, Board of Trustees