November 22, 2015

After becoming a member of UUCM, it took me 2 years, before I started to understand what membership really meant. When I was a Lutheran all I had to do was say I believed what the church said and I could be a member. The UUCM bylaws say all I have to do is make a pledge and sign the membership book. I have finally learned it is so much more than that. Being a Member gave me a vote and a voice in decision making. But I made a serious commitment that is not addressed in the bylaws.

I never understood why people remained visitors or UUCM Friends for so long. I understand now. It should take time to decide what responsibilities I wanted and seriously consider making the commitment that I took so lightly 5 years ago. I have also learned that I don’t always remember the promise I made and that I continually need to be reminded of the importance of our covenant and what it means to live it.

The term ‘covenant’ is Latin for coming together. It is when two parties agree on what they promise each other. A covenant has stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities. Marriage is a covenant that 2 people make with each other. It is a pledge, a promise and a bond….and hard work.

UUCM is not a club or just another non-profit organization. What sets us apart is our promise – not to an organization, but to one another. We pledge ourselves and our financial support not just for the wellbeing of our Community, but for our own personal health and growth. We pledge to promote and live the principles that guide our lives. We promise to each other that we will live by the Covenant of Right Relations. This is what binds us together.

What does being in covenant with you mean to me?

It means:

  • I will search for shared purposes and values as we work together
  • It requires that I have a willingness to dialog with those with whom I disagree

It means:

  • I will not criticize or belittle a person or group because I do not agree with their opinions or actions, and that
  • I agree to participate in meaningful conversations about those things

It means:

  • I must do the hard work of ‘being community’ and that
  • I promise not to walk away physically or financially when things get rocky or they don’t go the way I want them to go

It means:

  • I work together with you to make this Community a safe, loving, and respectful place. And it means
  • I lift up and care for you as we do our work together.

I am still an individual with my own opinions and preferences but our covenant calls me to respect people. It does not require that I agree with them or that I like the same things they do. It requires that I speak with love.

Is everything here done the way I like it to be done? No. But I am not the center of the universe, and I am not the center of UUCM. Not everyone likes the same songs I do, or the same speakers, or the same elements in a Sunday Service. I prefer not hearing the word ‘God’, but others want and need to hear this. I prefer not struggling with a new hymn, but others enjoy the complexity and challenge. I don’t just allow others to have their needs met but our covenant calls me to encourage meeting the needs of others as much as possible.

At UUCM , it is my hope that all people’s needs may be met here, but that’s unrealistic. Not every visitor who comes through our doors finds what they seek. And sadly, sometimes I have to say goodbye to a member who needs to leave and move on to another stage in their life. At those times, I wish them well and grieve the loss.

While writing this, I realized what big promises I have made. The truth of my covenant stares back at me from the page. Suddenly these are not just words that we have all heard before, but actions I need to take each day inside and outside our Community. It is hard work that carries the reward of learning about myself and those with whom I live. It’s about feeling vulnerable and safe at the same time.

Have I always lived up to the covenant I have with you? No. Have I faltered? Yes. But I have found forgiveness and healing here. And for that, I thank you deeply.