the OUUC spark

October 20, 2022

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More Covenants! - Rev. Mary Gear

This month we have been exploring the spiritual theme of covenant, the agreements we make to be in right relationship. Have you noticed covenants in your life this month? I have noticed them everywhere! How we are together in society with things like driving on the right side of the road and stopping at red lights. How we let other people in line when the line is long. How we say hello to visitors and guests. We may not call these covenants, and yet they are agreements or promises that we make, sometimes kept and sometimes broken.

Many groups at OUUC have covenants. And, OUUC has a covenant, agreements that we make when we come into this community.

Here is the Text of OUUC’s Covenant:

We the members, staff, and ministers of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, enter into this covenant as an expression of our commitment to each other.

Because we value our congregation, we promise to…

enhance its health with our time, talent, energy, and financial resources; and honor our commitments here.

Because we seek to be a friendly and inclusive congregation, we promise to…

provide a safe and nurturing environment for all our members, young and old; assist those among us who have urgent needs for care and support; and provide opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.

Because we choose to walk together, we promise to …

create and support an organizational structure that is responsive, responsible, identifiable, and accessible; share our gifts as we participate in the leadership of the congregation; and encourage our congregational leaders to listen and speak openly, understand deeply, work with fairness, and serve with passion.

Because we need not think alike to love alike, we promise to…

speak and work openly, honestly, and lovingly with our leadership, providing informed, constructive feedback when we believe change is needed.

Because we recognize that conflict is normal, we promise to …

speak with each other directly and honestly from a position of respect, kindness and love, recognizing that to do so, there will be times we need to seek counsel from the community.

Because we strive to live our Unitarian Universalist principles, we promise to …

inform ourselves about and engage issues that concern our larger communities.


You will hear the current covenant read by Board members in Sunday’s service. Listen deeply to the words and cadence. What do you notice?

I am told that the current covenant was written in response to challenges and hard times. Yet isn’t that always what happens with promises? We revisit them when they are strained, challenged or broken. Covenants are living things, just like Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition.

Next Sunday, Oct. 30, we will begin the process of revisiting and adding to our current covenant. There is ableist language in the current covenant that we might want to change in order to be inclusive (Because we choose to walk together...). And we will create a behavioral covenant, so we know when we are in and out of covenant.

There is one other covenant that includes the whole congregation-the Covenant of Installation. When you installed me as your settled minister on June 4, we made promises to each other. (You can watch the service here.) Thank you to Chris Parke, Anne Radford, and Curtis Tanner for co-creating the covenant of installation with me. Thank you to James Trujillo, Board president at the time, for helping to lead the ritual on that day.

Here’s the text of the Covenant of Installation:

James Trujillo:

We gather today to install the Rev. Mary Mangione Gear as the settled minister of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation. In doing so, we rededicate ourselves to the values of this liberal religious community. We are mindful of the Unitarian Universalist Principles and the OUUC Mission that bring us together.

Today’s ceremony symbolizes and strengthens the mutual covenant between the people of this Congregation and the minister we have chosen. Through our words today, we acknowledge and celebrate our commitment to a shared ministry.

Members of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, whether you are present in-person or online, we invite you to rise in body or spirit and join together in this Covenant of Installation by reading our parts from the Order of Service.

Please join me in saying our Mission:

Our spiritual principles affirm the worth and dignity of every person, and that we are part of the infinite, interdependent web of life.

We: Welcome and Wonder; Embrace and Empower; Bridge and Become

James: Rev. Mary, will you join us in fulfilling our Mission? Will you inspire us to more spiritually enriched lives?

Rev. Mary: I will. OUUC members, when called to action, will you share in the Leadership of our Congregation as we seek to fulfill our mission? You may respond with “we will.”

Congregation: We will.

James: Rev. Mary, we come to you with our hopes and fears. Will you lead us in building a welcoming religious community, tolerant and appreciative of our differences, loving and compassionate of heart, and courageous in spirit?

Rev. Mary: I will. Members of OUUC, will you be honest and truthful with one another and with me, recognizing and appreciating all our differences, our strengths, and the talents we all bring to this community?

Congregation: We will

James: Rev. Mary, will you work for justice with us, helping us find our paths toward making the world better, and supporting us in our struggles?

Rev. Mary: I will. OUUC members, will you share your talents and gifts to fulfill our mission and work for justice? Will you work with me to serve our neighbors, to feed their bodies, their hearts and minds, as we feed our own?

Congregation: We will.

James: Rev. Mary, we ask you to minister to our whole selves; to minister to us in our joys and sorrows, to be with us in our successes and in our brokenness. Will you listen to us, walk with us, challenge us, and dare us to grow?

Rev. Mary: I will. OUUC members, will you accept me as a whole person, recognize my joys and sorrows, be with me in my successes and learning, and challenge me to grow?

Congregation: We will.

James: Rev. Mary, acknowledging this awesome responsibility, will you be our settled minister?

Rev. Mary: With joy and gratitude, honored by the trust you place in me, I will. I commit to serve as your Minister to the best of my abilities, to offer my care, support, and presence in service to our Mission and the commitments of our faith. I look forward to growing, learning, creating, and playing alongside you as we create a religious community that values love, healing, and justice.

I come to lead, and you are leaders, too.

I come to inspire, and you have vision, too.

I come with gifts, and you bring talents, too.

OUUC Members, acknowledging this awesome responsibility, will you join me in this shared ministry?

Congregation: We will.

James: Now we make official our commitment to one another. OUUC members, please join me in the language of installation:

Congregation: We acknowledge the awesome responsibility of this shared ministry. After searching our hearts and finding the courage for commitment, we hereby install you, the Rev. Mary Mangione Gear as the Minister of our Congregation.


Unitarian Universalists are a people of covenant, because we are interconnected. How we live into our covenants defines who we are as a people and as a community. I look forward to co-creating and living our covenants with you.

Blessings on your week,

Rev. Mary

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Thursday Evening Spiritual Practice

Thursday Evening Spiritual Practice is an opportunity to pause and catch up with ourselves mid week. Spiritual practice is the act of connecting to ourselves, to each other, and to something greater.

What to Expect:

The Spiritual Practice session begins at 7 p.m. in the OUUC Sanctuary and on Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 874 3878 6949
Passcode: 297714

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Faith Made Real: Living Our Principles and Covenants

Last week I was “away”, attending via zoom the Fall Conference of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). This is a conference that has been postponed several times due to covid, and it was a joy to be in community again, even if I chose not to make the physical journey to be with colleagues in Birmingham, Alabama.

The theme for the conference was: Faith Made Real: Living the 8th Principle. For those of you who don’t know, the 8th Principle is a proposed new principle and would read:

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

To date, over 200 UU congregations and the Canadian Unitarian Council have adopted the 8th Principle. And, as of this Fall Con, LREDA voted to include the words of the 8th Principle in our mission statement.

LREDA's new Mission & Vision Statement now reads:

LREDA is creating a world guided by love, justice, and equity through our mission of:

  • Advocating for and supporting professional religious educators

  • Advancing the field of Unitarian Universalist faith development

  • Engaging in the transformative power of shared ministry

  • Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institution

Why do we need an 8th Principle? Why weren’t the 7 Principles enough before? Why wasn’t the old LREDA mission statement enough?

Here is a creative message for all ages that does a lovely simple job of explaining the answer to that:

What is the 8th principle? A Message for All Ages

We need an 8th Principle, or something like it, something that makes an explicit and accountable call to address racism and other forms of oppression, because all of our deepest held values and aspirations are harmed and damaged by the existence of systems of oppression. The 7 Principles are damaged by the existence of systems of oppression. Our mission as people of faith is damaged by the existence of systems of oppression. We must explicitly work to dismantle those systems of oppression if we are to build a beloved community.

This conference that I just attended was full of inspiration, calls to action, sharing of resources, and support for the work of bringing the 8th Principle to our faith development or religious education work. I say “our” work, because this is not just “my” work here at OUUC. The work of faith development in this congregation is Our work - a shared ministry.

And we are doing it! This year our annual theme is explicitly calling us to do this work:

Building Beloved Community with a focus on anti-racism and the practice of coming together again, in-person, online, and in covenant.

We are addressing antiracism in our worship services, our educational programs for all ages, our study circles, and more. Please join in, in whatever way is right for you.

Register for the Building the World We Dream About class

Join the Defund Fear Study/Action Circle

Or join the new AntiRacism Team

Email me for help with any of those actions, or to chat about what action feels right for you. Together, let us make our faith real, let us live all our principles and values.

P.S.: wondering about how the 8th Principle fits in with the other work to re-examine Article II (see my previous articles about Article II)? Plan to attend an after-worship forum with myself and Rev Mary Gear all about Article II, on November 6th!
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Community Dinner Starts at 5:30 PM!

This week’s dinner is rice and salad bowls. Donations accepted. Volunteers welcome! Sign up here.

Following this dinner, there will be:

  • 6:30 p.m. Growing Anti-Racist Kids Class (Spirit Play Room)
  • 6:30 p.m. Young Adults (Youth Room)
  • 7 p.m. Spiritual Practices (Sanctuary)

Community Dinner FAQ’s

The Thursday Community Night Dinners have been a great success so far! And I’ve heard some wonderings and questions, and I know many of you are curious just how this is working, so here we go:

1.) Just how are we paying for these dinners?

Folks are wondering, how is this funded. We didn’t have a pre-existing budget line or fund to support this program, but I believed it to be something really worthwhile to get going. So I have been personally purchasing most of the food for the dinners in order to get them started. We are collecting donations at the dinners, which are going into the Community Life Fund and will begin to pay for the costs going forward.

Here’s the costs and donations so far:

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2.) Who is the dinner for?

Anyone! All are welcome to come to dinner, OUUC folks, friends, family, visitors, any community member that would like to.

3.) Are people coming?

Yes! It’s been great to see folks enjoying each others’ company and building community. We had 42 people at the first dinner, then 25 for soup night, then 35 folks, and then last week we had more than 60 people!

4.) Is this sustainable?

I believe it is. There are many of us who really enjoy feeding people, and there are many of us who enjoy eating! So that’s a perfect match. If you are one who loves to feed people and would join me in planning and leading this effort, I’d love to have a Community Dinner Team work with me! And as we collect donations for the community life fund, it will start to even out financially as well.

5. ) How else can we help?

We’ve got three easy ways you can volunteer to help with a dinner. There is a prep crew that comes in at 3:30 and sets up all the tables and chairs and helps make the dinner. They don’t need to bring anything, all the tools and food is there and there’s a plan to follow. And it’s super fun to hang out and cook together in the kitchen!

Another way to help is to bring cookies for the dessert table. These folks just bake at home and come with treats at 5:30. And the final way to help is to be on the clean up crew at 6:30. We have to do the dishes and put away the tables and chairs.

A huge thank you to the folks who have volunteered at these first four dinners:

Diana Finch

Sally and Bob Brennand

Shelley Ferer

Melanie Ransom

Diane Daly

James Browne

Carol Williams

John Gear

Holly Porter

Ginny Taylor

Dan Donohue

Anne Radford

Sally Alhadeff

Beth Johnson

Lee Doyle

Gail Wrede

Liz Clement

Beth Henriquez

Maggie Post

Lucas Morse-Morrill

Connie Ruhl

Martha Nicoloff

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Thank you for all your book donations for Books, Brownies, and Beans!

We do not need any more donations. We DO need more volunteers to make the sale a success. You can sign up in the Commons or on the OUUC website. Volunteers are especially needed for setup on Thursday evening and the day of the sale. Volunteers are invited to a special pre-sale event!


Looking for upcoming events? Go to the OUUC Calendar.