“There is a deep desire to experience Beloved Community within RVUUF. This Covenant of Right Relations describes to guests and reminds the members of RVUUF how we have agreed to be together. As Unitarian Universalists, we are a covenantal religion, rather than a creedal religion, meaning we understand our behavior is influenced by our values, and not based simply on what we believe. Holding each other accountable is part of what it means to live in community and honoring our interdependence can help us sustain meaning in our relationships with each other as we move through life.” — Rev. Nan L. White
Covenant of Right Relations
Adapted for church year, 2016-2017
This covenant is a promise that we of the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship make to one another. We promise that we will adhere to this covenant which has been agreed upon by our community, and we commit to thoughtful, active participation in the life of our church and the Rogue Valley at large.
- We treat each other with care, appreciation and respect, honoring the inherent worth and dignity of all. (Principle 1)
- We seek justice, equity and compassion in all our interactions. When conflict arises, we speak directly with each other, striving for reconciliation and resolution. We seek direction from our Conflict Resolution Guidelines when conflict persists. (Principle 2)
- We accept each other in all our diversity, supporting the ethical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lives of all ages, as we come together in our search for truth and meaning. (Principles 3 and 4)
- We support the work of our lay leaders and staff, staying informed about issues and policies, and participating in the democratic process both within the congregation and in society at large. (Principle 5)
- We promote peace, liberty and justice for all people in our personal interactions and our outreach. (Principle 6)
- We support the health and well-being of the interdependent web of all that exists by being good stewards of our local environment, supporting efforts to address world environmental challenges, and instilling in our youth a reverence for nature, the earth and its inhabitants. (Principle 7)
The RVUUF Board has approved Conflict Resolution guidelines that identify steps that should be taken when conflicts arise.
STEP 1: Talk directly with the person (member, minister, staff) with whom you have the conflict.
- Anonymous complaints are not acceptable. Own the issue.
- Examine your role in the conflict. Why is this matter important to you? Get clear in your mind what happened and why. Write your thoughts.
- Email is not an acceptable means of communication in a time of conflict.
- As soon as possible after the incident, agree on a mutually acceptable time and place to talk in private with the other person(s) involved.
- During the discussion, use “I” statements (“I feel” not “you did”). Actively listen to the other person. Repeat what the person says to you in order to verify that you have heard her/him correctly. Communicate to achieve understanding.
- If you feel that safety is an issue, or that the conversation is too difficult to manage alone, seek the assistance of an appropriate, mutually acceptable, third party. The Committee on Fellowship Ministry has members who are available to help.
- If the conflict is not with the person, but with how that person is performing a job (staff, RE teacher, etc.), address your concern to the Minister.
STEP 2: If, after having a direct discussion, the issue remains unresolved, go to the Minister
- Counseling by the Minister must be acceptable to all parties. If the Minister is not appropriate or available, seek a member of the Right Relations Team (RRT).
- If the conflict involves the Minister, the issue should be taken to the Committee on Fellowship Ministry (CFM) with strong encouragement to direct them back to the minister, or offer to go with them to the minister. CFM would let the minister know regardless of which direction the person would choose.
STEP 3: If, after ministerial counseling, the issue remains unresolved, the parties involved should seek the services of the Right Relations Team.
- At least two members of the RRT will meet with those involved in the conflict to facilitate mediation.
- If resolution is achieved, the parties will sign a statement that the conflict has been resolved to their satisfaction. This statement will be kept in a confidential file accessible only to the RRT and the Minister.
- If the conflict is not resolved, the RRT is empowered to recommend outside mediation or counseling.
- Should one or both of the parties refuse to participate in the resolution process, or if behavior is unchanged, and it is the belief of the RRT that the behavior is a threat to the Fellowship, the matter will go to the Board for action.
STEP 4: The Board, in consultation with the Minister, will consider matters coming from the Right Relations Team and take appropriate action
- The Board may endorse the RRT recommendations.
- The Board may solicit assistance from the PNWD and/or UUA.
- The Board may take action to exclude a person from attending, for a period of time, based on a refusal to honor our Fellowship’s Covenant.
- The Board, given just cause, by a two-thirds majority may exclude a person from the Fellowship and the Fellowship premises and remove his/her name from membership.
- The Board may specify conditions for returning as a welcomed member of our Fellowship and set criteria for evaluation of compliance.
- Assent of the Board by a two-thirds majority will be required for return to the Fellowship.
- It is expected by the Fellowship and the Board of Directors that conflicts can and will be resolved respectfully by the individuals involved, acting in alignment with Unitarian Universalists Seven Principles.
- STEPS, 3 and 4, will be implemented when behaviors are seen to be dangerous (threatening to people or property), disruptive (interfering with essential Fellowship functions), or image tarnishing (repeated aggressive, hostile or demeaning behavior toward guests or members, including unwelcome sexual advances).
- Finally, when no resolution is possible, concern for the well-being, openness, safety and stability of the Fellowship as a whole shall be given priority over the feelings or actions of any individual.
- The Right Relations Team (RRT) is comprised of three members selected for their mediation skills and knowledge of various aspects of the life of the Fellowship, and who will serve on an “as needed” basis. Members of the RRT will be recruited by the Committee on Fellowship Ministry in consultation with the Minister, and presented to the Board for approval. As needed, the RRT members will receive training from internal sources or an external consultant which will be an expense identified in the annual budget.
- Members will recuse themselves from any conflict for which they have an inherent bias based on the individuals or the topics involved. Additional members may be recruited, if necessary.
- The RRT will report to the President of the Board on the nature and outcome of all unresolved conflicts. Such reports will be held in strictest confidence. The RRT will determine a record-keeping format that provides an abstract of events while allowing for privacy considerations and will be the custodian of all confidential records.