When I worked in elementary schools, RESPECT was the most important word we used with students: Respect Self, Respect Others, and Respect Property. That pretty much covered it all for the children. In my mind, Respect Self, Others and Property easily translates into Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church’s Covenant of Right Relations. While our Covenant mainly speaks to relationships of individual to congregation, it could also be interpreted as individual to self.
Dani Slader, in her May 6, 2018 sermon at BBUUC, told the fascinating story of how BBUUC’s first and current Covenant of Right Relations was developed. If you missed that service, Dani’s sermon is on our website and is worth listening to. Dani ended her sermon by saying it may be time to update our Covenant, which was written in 2005. But whether or not we revisit our Covenant this year – it is currently an active and valuable document for us. Ideally we would not need to have a covenant to remind us to respect ourselves and others. But we do. It is easy to “know and say” our Principles and to “know and say” our Covenant, but it is harder to practice in our daily lives.
Why do we have a Covenant of Right Relations? Historically Unitarian Universalist congregations are covenanted in nature. Covenanted means we are a community based on our relationships and the promises we make to one another. The promises we make have to do with how we relate – thus – relationships are important. A covenant focuses on the relationship and how to attend to relationships. A covenant helps members understand how to function with others in the community.
A covenant is not the same as a creed. A creed based community is based on beliefs. So the members believe the creed that is put before them.
A covenant is not the same as a contract. In a contract there are consequences that focus on guilt or innocence.
Having a written Covenant helps us to remember the way we want to conduct our relationships. Reviewing a Covenant frequently also helps us to remember. I am asking the BBUUC Board, Council, and Committees to each develop their own Covenant this year and to review it prior to each meeting. I think that will help us practice Right Relations during our meetings and use Right Relations in our daily lives.
Here is our current Covenant. Take a careful look at it. Then think about your relationships with others. Does remembering our Covenant help you improve your relationships at BBUUC and on a daily basis? Do you think we need to update our Covenant? Let me know your thoughts.
In order to foster a healthy community with an open and safe environment, we the members of the Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church do hereby covenant to:
- Practice gentleness and kindness with one another,
- Speak respectfully and honestly,
- Know that we will sometimes disagree, so do so in the spirit of equity; do as much as possible to reach a mutually acceptable solution,
- Practice fair treatment and respect differences,
- Address issues and behaviors rather than people and personalities,
- Speak personally and privately with one another about concerns or disagreements, avoiding gossip and indirect communication through another person,
- Acknowledge the spirituality of the community, maintaining a sacred focus,
- In the midst of conflict, keep perspective – take a breath,
- Seek denominational or professional help for resolutions when needed, and
- Trust and use this covenant.
BBUUC Board President