What is a Covenant of Right Relations?
A Covenant of Right Relations (CRR) is a written document developed by a Board-appointed Committee, that will eventually be agreed to and owned by the congregation, and practiced on a daily basis as a spiritual discipline. It is an important step in clarifying expectations and creating a safe environment in a congregation. It addresses the questions:
- How will we live together when we don’t always understand each other or agree?
- What promises shall we make about how we want to be and what we want to do together?
A Covenant of Right Relations is not a set of rules, but is a set of promises made with the intent of keeping them. It creates a common standard for everyone to follow, and is intended to change behaviors, not personalities. It serves as an affirmative commitment to each other about how we intend to treat each other and those who come into community with us. It is a statement about who we aspire to be as individuals and what we aspire to be as a community.
We will disagree about things; we may feel anger; we may feel hurt. This is a normal part of being in community. A Covenant of Right Relations can guide us in expressing our thoughts and differences in respectful ways and help us navigate these situations in a way that deepens our connection to one another and strengthens our community.
How do we deal with disagreements without creating anger, hurt, and division?
As a diverse community, with explicit acceptance of alternative spiritual views, disagreement will be a constant. This is especially true in today’s divided world. The CRR is a tool for managing these differences, not just to resolve conflict, but to enhance our own spiritual growth, and our ability to understand ourselves and others.
As part of a response to past discord, and the commitment to growing a Beloved Community, the UUCC Board of Trustees chartered the Trust & Reconciliation Committee (TRC) in September 2020 to analyze past conflicts, and to recommend approaches to improving interactions and addressing conflicts in a more constructive manner that aligns with UU Principles and values. It recommended several actions—one of which was to develop a Covenant of Right Relations we could all get behind.
In a few weeks, after a few more drafts based on the initial comments we’ve received, we will post a draft of the CRR for everyone to comment on and hopefully test out. This will be a group project from which we hope to gain much smoother interpersonal communication and understanding as well as spiritual growth.
Robin Hessey (Co-chair), Charles (Scotty) Scott (Co-chair), Ned Tillman, Mark Brooks, Kevin Mercer (Board Liaison)