MBD LogoCBD Blue Logo
 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

Upcoming Programs

The following programs can also all be found on the 
CBD-MBD Calendar.

2014 General Assembly

Providence, RI  
Facebook CBD     Facebook MBD
Like Your District!
G.R.A.C.E. Summit
Learning Congregation Workshops
May 17:
Sermon Writing for Lay Preachers with Rev. Sue Phillips    


Boston Gay Pride 2014
Our Whole Lives Facilitator Trainings
Covenant? What covenant?!
by Rev. Sue Phillips,
District Executive 


The covenant binding Unitarian Universalists together isn't worth the paper it isn't written on.


Member congregations "covenant to affirm and promote" our Principles, but our UUA bylaws lack any mention of the promises that our congregations make to one another.  They describe the work of the Association as an institution, but are silent on how congregations will show up for each other outside of General Assembly. The Ends of our Association call for "congregations and communities [that] are covenanted...." But right now there is no such covenant.


Many UU congregations share a sense that we are connected to each other, that we are companions in faith; but a sense of connection is not a covenant.


It is time for us to fix that. It is time we create an actual covenant among Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities. Why?


  • Because we need to know not only that we will show up for each other but how
  • Because our commitments to one another would be clarified and strengthened
  • Because beyond-congregation and congregationally-based ministries want and need to be explicitly connected to each other
  • Because the deep covenantal roots of our congregational polity require more of us than mutual institution building

No covenant is real if it isn't intentional, specific, transmittable and usable. [Scroll down to read MORE]  





UUA Bylaws and Rules:

Complete Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) bylaws and rules as amended through July 1, 2013.  


ENDS for the Unitarian Universalist Association: (UUA Governance Manual Section One) These ENDS are also known as the "Global ENDS" and as the "Shared Vision" of the Association.


Cambridge Platform: A declaration of principles of  church government and discipline, forming a constitution of the Congregational churches. It was adopted by a church synod at Cambridge, Mass. in 1648, and remains the basis of the temporal government of the churches. It had little to do with matters of doctrine and belief.


Covenant? What covenant?! - continued from above

ABOVEOur religious ancestors were extremely specific about the web of connection they wanted to weave. In the Cambridge Platform, churches promise to take care of one another, consult one another, welcome members from other churches, share ministers, and provide "relief and succor" in times of need. New congregations promise to offer the "right hand of fellowship" to existing ones, and large congregations pledge to propagate new ones. We would be hard-pressed to construct a more relevant list today.


I want our people to be and feel connected to the larger community of faith, not in a general way, but in a specific way. I want to see groups of leaders show up when a neighboring congregation is in trouble or celebrating. I want to see leaders from one congregation show up to help another figure out what to do with their building and legacy when they dissolve. I want our Association to become brokers of these relationships, to re-focus on enabling meaningful covenantal connection among and beyond congregations. A good first step would be to help our people engage in real, tangible covenant making.


Last month in the Mass Bay District, a group of six leaders from three neighboring congregations showed up to help another congregation's leaders discern how to transform a conflict situation. They weren't there as experts or consultants but as benevolent companions. They listened and asked questions. It was beautiful to behold.


Their presence made a difference. The visiting leaders were wise and soulful and experienced in the same dynamics. Yet it was their presence that mattered most, not their counsel. What mattered was the embodied companionship and witness.


It's time to galvanize these implicit connections into something deeper, more explicit, and more accessible - something that will help us reinterpret and reactivate congregational polity for the 21st century.

In faith,