#323 | Nancy LaPelle | New Section: Covenants

Submission 323
Nancy LaPelle
Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton & Upton (Grafton, MA) 4522

What is your suggestion or idea?

Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant.

As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our association, to support and assist one another in our ministries.
We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.

We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values resting on the foundation of transformative love.

Inseparable from one another and based in transformative love, these shared values are:

Love. We acknowledge that love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values.

Equity. We declare that every human being has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worth.

Interdependence. We honor the interdependent web of all existence.

Diversity. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings, diverse in culture, experience, and theology.

Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive.

Transformation. We learn from one another and evolve in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Benevolence. We cultivate a spirit of abundance, sharing and gratitude.

[New Section] Covenants ordered the same way our values

In order to realize each of our 7 values, we covenant to:

  • build community and strive towards liberation from all kinds of oppression through transformative love

  • use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.

  • cherish the Earth and all living things by creating and nurturing relationships of care and respect. With humility and reverence, we acknowledge our place in the great web of life, and we work to repair harm and damaged relationships.

  • learn from one another and embrace our differences and commonalities with love, curiosity, and respect.

  • dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions.

  • evolve with the changing world in accordance with our values and collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect.

  • freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources. Our benevolence connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

A key criticism of this section was
that it was too wordy and not memorable. To solve this problem, we suggest:

  • Breaking this into 2 sections - one on values and one on covenants. This makes it easier to describe to potential newcomers what our shared values are and makes it much less verbose.

  • Include “Love” as one of the values and shorten the lead paragraph of the values section. Use some of the language from that paragraph to define Love as the core value.

  • Move “Equity” up so that it follows Love and change “worthiness” back to “worth” because it resonates with us better and should be more prominent.

  • Change “Pluralism” to “Diversity”. Most thought “pluralism” was too abstract and had not much impact.

  • Transformation – “Adapting to a changing world” could be good or bad. We moved this idea to the covenanting section and qualified it. Instead, we suggest language closer to the existing 4th principle to define “transformation”.

  • “Generosity” was universally not liked and seemed to lean too much towards the monetary. We suggest “Benevolence”. We also did not see how “hope” fit in here. It is already in the lead-in paragraph. We suggest changing the definition to “We cultivate a spirit of abundance, sharing and gratitude.”

We broke covenants apart from values because the values were too wordy and not memorable. These are ordered the same way our 7 values were which is: Love, Equity, Interdependence, Diversity, Justice, Transformation, Benevolence

We suggest having a separate section that formulates the covenants supporting each of the values so that the values section can stand by itself. We added a covenant statement at the beginning related to the core value of “Love”

In the covenant for Interdependence, we suggest changing “all beings” to “all living things”, so that it includes plants, trees, etc.

In the covenant for transformation, we suggest, “evolve with the changing world in accordance with our values” since “evolve” implies “growth” where “adapt” does not. We added “in accordance to our values”, because we do not want to adapt to some of the ways in which the world seems to be changing.

We also replaced “generosity” by “benevolence” as we did in the values submission.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

30 members of our congregation made themselves available on short notice to discuss the revision (more than 1/3 of our congregation). Our Board also reviewed our suggested edits and voted to submit them. Given the short time frame after we realized the UUA was seeking input (only during the month of April), we were not able to arrive at total consensus during these few weeks, but we did arrive at a consensus to submit 2 different proposals which were about equally endorsed by participating congregants and the board. They hold together better in the entire text of Article 2 but since we have to submit them section by section, this will probably involve about 6-7 submissions (of which this is the 2nd)"


I really like how this reads. Separating the values from the covenants makes both more memorable. I might choose to word some of the values and covenants differently, but I would welcome reorganizing whatever wording comes out of this process in the way suggested here.

Thanks, this is an improvement