All the reading will tell you this: change brings about the potential for conflict. I get it: I move into change kicking and screaming. And yet I find that the fear about the change is almost always larger than the realities that change brings.
Conflict is unavoidable. What is avoidable is the damage a poorly managed conflict can do. When conflict arises in a church, I think we need to begin with the reminder that we are a covenanted community, comprised of individuals who have freely bound themselves to one another to create something larger than ourselves.
I think covenants are binding on the heart. That means that even when we are at our worst or the most upset or stressed, we need to reach for the best in ourselves and lead with that. And if we cannot do this, listen when others try and bring us back to that self. Who wants to be a part of a community where individuals can drop verbal bombs or act out and then walk away without taking any responsibility to clean up the damage? Myself, I am not interested in being around people who engage in destructive behaviors and will not be held accountable.
Church is where we get to live into covenant. We get to practice it. And be reminded of it. It is a place where we aspire to come into our best selves. That takes some willingness to be self-aware. It means listening deeply to others. To be curious rather than judgmental. It means learning to apologize. To ask for forgiveness and to offer it. To begin again in renewed relationship.
So as we negotiate some changes around the edges here at WUUC, please be patient and generous with one another. We may not agree on the changes that are facing us. We may even experience conflict. But let that conflict be guided by the covenant relationship we entered into when we entered into this community:
We come together in the spirit of love,
creating sacred space to share life’s transitions,
embrace diversity, and grow our spirits.
As we tell our stories and deepen our bonds,
we share our hearts and help to heal the world.
Guided by our Unitarian Universalist principles and recognizing relationships with ourselves, our community, and the world, we:
Strive to create and sustain a safe and sacred sanctuary when we come together in mind, body, and spirit.
Provide opportunities and support to each other in our spiritual and intellectual development.
Share life’s transitions, celebrating our joys and mourning our losses as we encourage each other to explore and grow.
Embrace diversity in all forms, including age, race, gender and affectional expression, socio-economic situation, and faith perspective.
Deepen our bonds by reaching out, affirming, forgiving, repairing, and sustaining relationships.
Aspire to listen deeply to each other’s stories and to share our own.
Promote and strengthen our community so it will embody our values and carry them into the future.
Nurture and help to heal the world through our work for justice and peace.
-Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church Covenant
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,