Creating Covenantal Relations

The second piece in covenantal relations is the
intentionality of establishing the covenant or promise between persons and
groups. As a minister I will have the
privilege of entering into relationships with individuals as well as leading
relationships between groups internal to my ministry constituency as well as
externally to community groups and organizations. I expect, as I try to conduct myself now, to
bring an explicit intentionality in forming a covenant, or reviewing and
re-committing to a covenant if there is one already. The establishment of a covenant, a shared
promise to one another, is a task that I am still learning how to do
effectively and meaningfully. It is
often not a lengthy process when between individuals, but requires a level of
intentionality in language, question and answer, and agreement to have
authenticity.

The role of intentionality in establishing covenantal
relations requires a commitment to anti-oppression. In our world where oppression multiplies and
persists through the culture and colonizes each of us to perceived societal
norms and stereotypes, I wish to be a minister and a person who is equally
conscious of this reality, the ongoing changes, my own internalized sense of
privilege, and understands myself to be imperfect. Within this imperfection is the explicit awareness
that my attitude, behavior and intentions are inherently influenced by
oppressive creeds and practices, not to mention the history and culture that it
has shaped. To truly foster an authentic
covenantal relation, I need not let my actions be or become superior and my
judgment of other’s actions be judged inferior. This will happen no doubt, and I must remain open to the push back, the
dialogue and the possibility that I am wrong as much as I want to be right. 

I place significant value on the effort at establishing a
covenantal relationship, particularly between those that I work and minister
with intimately. I realize however that
there will be a continuum of levels of covenants, at one end those in their
beginnings, or renewal phase, and at the other end an ideal sense of covenant
that reflect co-equal authenticity, shared development and commitment to the
covenant. I believe that this intention
of relating through intentional covenanting is an appropriate role as a
minister. For as a guide, teacher and
mentor to those seeking to develop their spiritual life, the covenantal process
creates a dialogical and reflective space to name and ideally agree upon
fundamental concerns in the relationship dynamics. This may include issues such as the frequency
and timing of interactions, expectations for pastoral care and support, and the
nature and purpose of the relationship.

Unitarian Universalism I believe places a religious value on
covenantal relationships, and regard them as the basis for our congregational
constitution. In a theology that has no
required creeds or dogma established that members must subscribe to, it is a
way to achieve a sense of community with the authority to develop and agree to
such a code being shared among the members. The component that makes this uniquely Unitarian Universalist is the
liberal religious history, grounded in reformist Christianity, that forms the
traditions and ethos the leadership, namely the ministry draw upon as covenants
are introduced, developed and confirmed. I draw upon such history with a growing maturity as I develop a deeper,
critical and knowledgeable understanding of Unitarian Universalist
history. The pieces of our tradition,
such as liturgy, language, prayer and physical elements, are as powerful as my
objective to foster covenantal relationships. I expect to use, interact with, and at times criticize parts of this
tradition in order to effectively build anti-oppressive covenantal
relations. Clearly there is diversity in
approach, method and outcomes, and I acknowledge that my way may differ. However I believe that there is a Unitarian
Universalist quality that is important to name and strengthen.

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