The Covenant Task Force (Andy Furst, Robbie Kohn and myself) and the Safe Congregation Committee (Clyde Hardin, Molly Smith, Rev. Tim and Anne Principe – our DFD) have been hard at work this year meeting with many different groups to explore the possibility of UUCR adopting a church-wide relational covenant, sometimes called a Right Relations Covenant. So far we have met with 12 groups and gathered feedback from 69 unique individuals from these groups.
We have plans to meet with 4 additional groups in early May. In order to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to meet with us, we’ll also be offering open-attendance meetings after both services on June 2nd and June 16th. Childcare will be provided for the meetings after the 9:15 services (although participation by children and youth in the covenant meeting is encouraged) and coffee and snacks will be provided after both services. If your group has not yet been engaged in our process and would like to be; and if you aren’t able to attend the June meetings, please contact me and we can set up a meeting time before the end of the church year.
It has been our honor to conduct these small group meetings and to harness the wisdom of our congregation on the topic of covenant. These meetings have been vibrant, honest and real with people sharing their enthusiasm and support for the topic and the process as well as their objections and concerns. After each meeting, we have sent our rough notes back to the group to ensure that our understanding of their comments was accurate. We have also used these rough notes to add the thoughts from each group into a cumulative response listing which we also send back to each group so that they can see how their responses fall within the fuller feedback spectrum. After all the small-group and large-group meetings have been conducted, and the feedback has been added to this cumulative response document, we will make it available for everyone to read toward the end of the church year – likely via the members-only section of the website.
Group meetings have been one source of our information regarding covenant. We have also been researching the covenants developed by other churches in our denomination and the process by which they created them by contacting those individuals within each church who had been involved in the process and asking them a series of questions (e.g. What percentage of your congregation had direct input into the development of the covenant? By what process did you adopt it? Has it proven useful?) We have used this research to modify our own process somewhat. We had originally thought to wrap up the covenant work this church year but we are now thinking that we need the summer to reflect and report on all that we have learned and to determine our most appropriate next step.
Early this summer, I will be attending General Assembly (GA) for my very first time. It’s being held in Louisville Kentucky and it will focus on covenant. I’m looking forward to finally being able to attend GA and to hearing the collective wisdom of churches from throughout our denomination on the topic of covenant.
Also this summer, the team will put together a summary report of our work and make a recommendation to the board about whether there is enough interest in, support for and need for a covenant to continue with the process. Assuming that we recommend a continuation of the process and the board approves it; we will draft a covenant over the summer and pilot its use throughout next church year. We’ll be conducting surveys, coffee hour activities and utilizing other means by which we’ll solicit your opinions on the covenant generally and on its content specifically. Around this time next year, we’ll again make a recommendation to the board about whether or not the process should continue. Assuming that we continue, we’d write a final covenant and seek congregational approval at the May 2014 business meeting. That following year, we’d work with teams and committees to find the most appropriate and easily integrated ways for each to keep covenant alive in our congregation.
Thank you to everyone we have engaged so far and we hope to see you at a small group or large group meeting soon.