WUU Covenant of Right Relations

Preamble

We affirm the Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Covenant of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists. Our Covenant of Right Relations is a statement of how we, as a congregation, strive to support and work with each other to create a living, growing spiritual community. The goal of this document is to provide clear statements about how our principles are demonstrated through our actions. Ultimately, it is the way we treat each other that reveals who and what we are as a congregation. Each of us is responsible to make, and support each other in making, good-faith efforts to abide by this covenant in both letter and spirit.

Our Principles

1. We practice manners and civility in our membership. We act as stewards of our sacred spaces.

In behavioral and observable terms we promise to

a. Allow all a chance to speak and listen so that all are heard and understood.
b. Help each other as we are able with time, money, talent, and spirit
c. Support congregation leaders and programs unless we have strong reasons to challenge or oppose them; abide by existing structures, leadership directives, and bylaws while working for change.
d. Refrain from gossip and from ridiculing, attacking or invalidating others through word or deed.
e. Remind others kindly of the spirit of this document when needed.
f. Show manners appropriate to a church or sanctified space e.g. silence, quiet contemplation or prayer, reverence and heart-felt spiritual self-expression, during the worship service.

2. We accept conflict in our community as inevitable and healthy. We are guided by the principle that properly managed conflict between people in right relations to each other can be a positive force for creativity, growth, and enrichment. Our task is to find appropriate ways to express and resolve our conflicts.

In behavioral and observable terms we promise to

a. Allow the necessary time to identify and discuss differences before making decisions.
b. Listen to competing ideas with respect, tolerance, and honest consideration.
c. Speak openly on matters of controversy, using “I” statements.
d. Solicit, encourage and integrate minority contributions into a democratic resolution.
e. Make decisions that serve the common good.

3. We value openness in our communications and decision making.

In behavioral and observable terms we promise to

a. Share strongly felt convictions openly rather than withholding input from the group.
b. Make committee and governance meetings open, with rare exceptions such as personnel matters.
c. Give visitors to board and committee meetings the opportunity to speak within established guidelines.
d. Make all minutes, accounts, and transcripts available to the congregation.
e. Participate actively in church governance and decision making.

4. We direct controversial congregational-related communications through appropriate channels.

In behavioral and observable terms we promise to

a. When feasible, attempt to resolve interpersonal disputes or grievances directly and privately.
b. Attempt to resolve non-personal controversies e.g. on policies, programs or finances through the relevant committee or channel.
c. Follow established procedures for mediation and conflict resolution if our efforts to resolve issues are unsuccessful.
d. Abide by outcome of the conflict resolution process.

5. We strive to focus on the issues and behaviors, not on people and personalities.

In behavioral and observable terms we promise to

a. Address the issues and points under review in our discussions and deliberations; avoid “naming and blaming.
b. Use “I” statements to set a tone of presenting and sharing rather than attacking and criticizing.
c. Consider the message on its merits; avoid personalizing communications about issues and remembering that the message is about the matter at hand, not about the sender or receiver .
d. Follow established conflict resolution process when a personality trait,
perceived character flaw, or unsatisfactory fit between temperament and a position in the congregation is the issue, and direct approaches have been unsuccessful.

In Closing

We promise to maintain a solution-oriented position on identifying, acknowledging and assessing issues as they arise and working actively to resolve them. Our goal is the resolution of problems through solutions which serve the common good. We offer the gift of forgiveness and are aware that reconciling conflict allows us to remain in fellowship.