Covenant and Community

Covenant and Community

As Unitarian Universalists we don’t work from a single sacred text or share a singular belief.  We operate within a larger framework shaped by our belonging to the earth and living within the greater mystery of the universe, but it is an expansive frame that allows for multiple spiritual perspectives.

In practical terms, our congregations are organized by polity, each congregation is an independent entity that makes its own decisions. We are linked with other congregations across Canada through our participation in our denominational body, the Canadian Unitarian Council.

As we have no hierarchy or external authority, Unitarian Universalists often describe themselves as covenantal communities, that is, we come together freely but make promises to one another about how to be together as a spiritual community. We often make covenants, such as in our theme groups, about how we want to treat one another. Many UU congregations have a community covenant.

Unitarian minister Frederic Muir describes five ways that a covenant can support and facilitate clear expectations and deepening of relationships in a congregation. A covenant

is a statement of agreement about how congregants choose to be in relationship with each other. When they live by these statements, they are modeling their Unitarian Universalist values for each other, their children, and the wider community.

comprises of promises, not rules. Unlike rules, promises are discussed, lived, broken, and renewed. Promises and commitments describe how we wish to live together as a faith community, knowing that if these promises don’t work, the congregation may choose to rewrite them.

is a framework of expectations. Virtually every context we enter has behavior expectations. Our congregations should be no different; in fact, given the reason that we come together—to create a Beloved Community—clear expectations are vital.

is about behavior, not personality. Behavior that encourages, nurtures, and supports our “free and responsible search for truth and meaning” is important to the life of the faith community, not the qualities that have shaped and show a person’s character.

offers an opportunity to explore and deepen our spirituality. Promises made to others in a faith community and the relationships that can form from such a practice can strengthen and broaden commitment in deliberate, intentional, and disciplined ways.

The Committee on Ministry is working to create a community covenant for the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga.  This covenant will focus on how we want to be together, developing clear expectations around behaviour. It is our hope that this will be a living document, used by the board and committees to help us work well together.  




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