Living our UUCM Covenant of Right Relations (Approved by UUCM Board of Trustees June 14, 2012)
Options for Addressing Challenges
The following are suggested options for addressing challenges encountered in living our UUCM Covenant of Right Relations. They should be adapted as needed, since every situation will be different. They are intended to support and supplement but in no way replace the Covenant of Right Relations approved by the UUCM congregation in May 2009.
Conversations to address disharmony, different points of view, or outright conflict, are likely to be uncomfortable, perhaps extremely so. These situations offer the opportunities to grow and learn, and call us to be our best, most mature, most compassionate selves. The welfare of the larger community is the primary and guiding focus in addressing challenges in living our Covenant of Right Relations. Reconciliation is desired for the sake of the individuals, and the larger community and its mission.
Everyone in our community is encouraged to think of right relations broadly, as they are about the entire spectrum of interactions between us – the challenges of occasional differences and the celebrations of day to day loving, respectful, life-affirming communications – which can include compassionate reconciliation.
(The following steps are adapted from the work of Rev. Robert Latham.)
1. SPEAK WITH THE OTHER PERSON – BY PHONE OR IN PERSON
A person who feels hurt, misunderstood, offended, etc. (for purposes of this example, person A), has a responsibility to speak, in person or by phone, with the person whose words or actions they find upsetting (person B). Such a conversation would be for A to convey his/her feelings, provide an opportunity for both A and B to clarify misunderstandings, and see if both are open to reconciliation. If person B is aware of the discord, s/he is, of course, free to initiate a conversation. Use of email is strongly discouraged. If it is not feasible for this to happen as the first step (for example, one or both parties do not feel safe doing so), the following steps offer alternatives.
2. SPEAK WITH THE OTHER PERSON ALONG WITH A NEUTRAL THIRD PERSON PRESENT
If step 1 does not occur for some reason, person A and person B may speak with a neutral third person present. This person may or may not be a trained mediator. The role of the third person is to observe and offer guidance that can point the way to reconciliation. This third person can be a trusted congregation member or regular attender who feels s/he can maintain neutrality. The Committee on Ministry can offer suggestions for people who could fill this role.
3. REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM THE COMMITTEE ON MINISTRY
If the disharmony is not sufficiently addressed by step 1 or 2, then the Committee on Ministry (COM) can be asked to assist. The role of the COM is not to resolve differences between people but to offer neutral guidance and empowering options to those experiencing disharmony. The degree of success will likely depend on the extent to which the parties involved are willing to engage in the process offered. The COM seeks to be creative and flexible in designing gatherings and processes that are in service to restoring harmony in each unique circumstance.
4. SEEK ASSISTANCE FROM THE PACIFIC CENTRAL DISTRICT
If all steps above do not address the situation sufficiently, assistance may be requested from the staff of the Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association.