the OUUC spark

November 3, 2022

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On Accountability - Rev. Mary Gear

In October we spent the month in reflection on the spiritual theme of covenant. For November, we dive deep into the theme of accountability. It’s not by accident that these themes are together.

Covenants are agreements that we make about how we will be together, work together, live together. Covenants are aspirational, defining how we want to be. At their best, covenants are formed based on our deepest held values, so our behavior when we are in covenant is in alignment with the values that we hold most dear.

We are also human and sometimes we break our covenants, sometimes we hurt others and don’t live in alignment with our values. Good covenants offer a way to return to right relationship, inviting us to acknowledge when we have broken covenant and take responsibility for our behavior. That is accountability.

In our culture, accountability is often associated with blame and shame. The phrase “holding someone accountable” often means punishing them. Our systems usually use a retribution model (reward and punishment) rather than a restorative model (putting back together or renewal).

Covenants come from the fact that we are interconnected, and so does accountability. To be in relationship, we must be able to listen when others tell us about their experience and take responsibility when we have acted in a way that is not in alignment with our aspirations, whether we intended it or not. It is about restoration of the relationship, not punishment of a person.

Accountability requires that we know our values and the agreements that we make. It also requires that we listen when we are advised that it is possible that we have not lived up to our values and have caused damage with our actions. Then we can determine what repair is needed, acting not out of guilt or shame, but out of a desire and need to be in right relationship.

Has your understanding of covenant changed in the past month? What is your understanding of accountability?

I’d love to hear your reflections.

Blessings on your week.

Rev. Mary

The Article II Draft is Out! - Rev. Sara Lewis

If you’ve been reading my columns in the Spark, you’ll have heard about the work of the Article II Study Commission, a group that has been doing the work of reexamining Article II of the UUA Bylaws. Article II is a central aspect of our UU identity, as it contains the 7 Principles and the 6 Sources. And, as a living tradition, we don’t have creeds that are set in stone … we have living commitments that change and evolve with us.

I’ve been following this work with much interest (afterall, I may need to rewrite all our curriculum!). And I was very excited last week to see the new draft that the study commission is proposing. Here is what they posted:

The Article II Study Commission is excited to share a full draft of Article II for feedback. The Study Commission's outreach team will be hosting Zoom feedback sessions in the first half of November, along with gathering feedback through a forthcoming online form for individual comments.

The Study Commission will present its final draft to the Board in January for inclusion on the agenda for General Assembly 2023. It will then be the subject of mini-Assemblies before the initial vote at GA 2023. If it passes that delegate vote by a majority, it will require a 2/3 majority vote at GA 2024 to become the new Article II of the Bylaws.

This draft makes significant changes to Article II. We invite you to read it using one of the practices we have started following in our work:

  • Read it the first time to observe how it makes you feel.
  • Read a second time, observe what it makes you think.
  • Finally read it a third time before thinking about any suggestions.

It will be ideal if you can hold suggestions until the online form is available so that they can be more easily gathered and read. But do feel free to direct questions to

Read the Full Draft of Article II here.

Zoom Feedback Session Registration

Saturday, 11/05 at 3 p.m. (EST)

Sunday, 11/06 at 2 p.m. (EST)

Monday, 11/08 at 10 p.m. (EST)

Wednesday, 11/09 at 8 p.m. (EST)

Thursday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. (EST)

Saturday, 11/12 at 3 p.m. (EST)

Sunday, 11/13 at 2 p.m. (EST)

Monday, 11/14 at 9 p.m (EST)

These feedback sessions are for ALL of us, not just for leaders or ministers. Please do sign up to attend one if you are interested. And, please plan to attend a forum with Rev Mary and myself this Sunday at 11:30 as we discuss these changes and what they mean to us. Who are we as UU’s if we don’t have the 7 Principles anymore? What exciting possibilities do we see in this new language? How are we feeling about change?

We’ll discuss all of that this Sunday at 11:30am. Join us!

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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 Commons and on Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 874 3878 6949
Passcode: 297714

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Covenant Workshop Follow-up - Rev. Mary Gear

We ended our month of reflection on covenant with a service and workshop led by Rev. Carol McKinley and Rev. Summer Albayati. You can watch the service here and the workshop here.

The purpose of the workshop was to get us started on creating a behavioral covenant to add to the current OUUC covenant. The workshop was very interactive, and it was such a delight to see six groups of people in deep discussion-three groups online and three onsite. Each group was given five BIG questions and asked to take time to reflect and share. Most groups didn’t get to all five questions, but the discussion was meaningful and heartfelt.

The next step is for a Writing Team to sift through the shared reflections, the current OUUC covenant, and the OUUC vision and mission to create a behavioral covenant to bring to the Board and congregation. Thank you to Writing Team members Helen Henry, Rich Kalman, Martha Nicoloff and Jenee Wolfram.

If you would like to participate in this process, you can share your thoughts and feelings on these questions by emailing me your reflections. I’ll make sure your input goes to the Writing Team.

  • Why is covenant so important to how we relate to our world?

  • How does the concept of interdependence guide us in our own actions and relationships to each other and the world?

  • Why is the practice of covenant important for you?

  • How does the practice of covenant relate to our work in Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multicultural?

  • How will we call one another back into covenant?

Thank you to all who participated!

Rev. Mary

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Community Dinner Starts at 5:30 PM!

This week’s dinner is pizza. Donations accepted. Volunteers welcome for Community Dinner and setting up for the Book Sale! Sign up here.

Following this dinner, there will be:

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

Thank you Trunk or Treaters! - Rev. Sara Lewis

It was a wet and cold October afternoon, but our OUUC Trunk and Treat last Sunday was still lots of Fun!

A big thank you to all who came, especially to our decorated cars who handed out candy!

Some won prizes based on the votes of the kids:

Best Overall Display

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Scariest Car

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Funniest Car

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Sweetest Car

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Most Clever Car

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

Books, Brownies, and Beans is back! This popular used book sale returns live and in person Saturday, November 5th, from 9—4.

We have the books. (Over 10,000 gently-used books, CDs and DVDs!)

We have the brownies.

We have the (coffee) beans.

Now all we need is you!

Over the years, this sale has raised more than $80,000 to benefit non-profits serving the South Sound community. This year, all proceeds benefit three local non-profits:

  • Thurston County Food Bank ForKids: Weekend Backpacks

  • Pizza Klatch

  • Thurston Climate Action Team

All items are half-priced starting at 1pm, and books are $5 per grocery bag starting at 3pm!

Come find some great books to curl up with this winter.

Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation

2315 Division St NW, Olympia


Looking for upcoming events? Go to the OUUC Calendar.