the OUUC spark

October 6, 2022

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On Covenant and Save the Date for October 30th - by Rev. Mary Gear

Our spiritual theme for the month of October is “covenant.” This is a foundational part of Unitarian Universalism, connecting us now and connecting us to our Unitarian ancestors. In last Sunday’s service, which you can watch here, I offered this definition of covenant from the UUA Commission on Appraisal Report titled “Unlocking the Power of Covenant:”

A covenant is a mutual sacred promise between individuals or groups, to stay in relationship, care about each other, and work together in good faith.

It is relationship that causes us to agree how we will be together, making sacred promises and compromises.

The seventh principle of Unitarian Universalism says that we are part of the interdependent web of life. It is because we are interconnected that UU’s are drawn to covenant, not creed. We don’t require that we all hold the same beliefs or a creed because we are different—and we are connected. We do share values and accompany each other as we discern our values and beliefs throughout our lives.

This year OUUC’s annual theme is “Building Beloved Community with a focus on anti-racism and the practice of coming together again, in-person, online, and in covenant.” This theme is helping us focus our worship and faith development efforts this year. And you’ll notice that covenant is part of our focus.

OUUC’s current covenant was developed some years ago and, while it is beautifully worded, it’s due for a revisit to make sure it is representative of who we are now. It is also hard to tell when we are out of covenant with the current version. So, we will be welcoming two ministers to help us revisit our current covenant and create a behavioral covenant. (You can see an example of a congregational behavioral covenant here from Saltwater UU in Federal Way.) Rev. Summer Albayati from the UUA Pacific Western Region and Rev. Carol McKinley, OUUC’s Affiliated Community Minister will lead the worship service on October 30, then offer a workshop to help us re-covenant. Both will be multiplatform, so you can participate in-person or online. We hope you will offer your presence and input.

During this month of covenant, I invite you to notice all that you are connected to and to what or who you make agreements with. Covenanting is sacred work. Let’s do this work together.

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. Rev. Mary Gear is joined by OUUC Music Director Troy Fisher on this month's theme of Covenant.

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Meeting ID: 874 3878 6949
Passcode: 297714

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The Article II Covenant - by Rev. Sara Lewis

As I wrote two weeks ago, (you can catch up here) the “Article II Study Commission” of the UUA is currently engaged in the work of re-evaluating and reflecting on possible changes to Article II of the UUA bylaws. This article of the UUA bylaws is the covenant between member congregations, and it contains the 7 Principles and the 6 Sources, along with the Purpose statement and the Freedom of Belief clause.

So the UUA is in the process of re-examining its covenant, just as OUUC is about to do. So far, the commission has released some draft language and invited feedback, with online feedback sessions being held during the last two weeks. I know some of you all attended one, as I did last week. In the feedback sessions we shared our thoughts on the draft language, which is as follows:

Draft: Sept 2022


Visual description: An oval with the word Love in the center, and surrounding it on a larger oval, the words Pluralism/Diversity, Interdependence, Equity, Generosity, Justice, and Evolution/Growth.

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Questions for Session/Feedback Form:

  1. Will these values serve to ground our covenant together?

  2. What will these values require of us in terms of action?

  3. What else do we need?

The following sections were discussed in a previous session. If you’d like to provide feedback on them, you can do so in the “other thoughts” section of the form you will get a link to in the session.


The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations shall devote its resources to and exercise its organizational powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are to equip congregations for vital ministry, to support and train leaders both lay and professional, to heal historic inequities, and to advance our Unitarian Universalist values in the world. We will transform the world by liberation through love.

Freedom of Belief

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test. In expressing our beliefs, we do so in the spirit of love, in ways that further our values of pluralism and beloved community.

Feedback Session Questions for Purposes and Freedom of Belief:

​ Purposes

  1. General Reflection: How are the Purposes of the UUA distinct from the aims of Unitarian Universalism as a whole?

  2. Specific to draft: Does this statement of the UUA’s purposes match your vision of what the UUA should be doing in a broad sense?

  3. General: What are the biggest challenges that the UUA and UU congregations face in the near future?

  4. Specific: Does this statement of purposes help focus our energies on those challenges?

    Freedom of Belief

  5. Specific: At GA, we asked the question “How do we balance our deeply held value of individual freedom of belief with the common good we strive for in our covenant?” Do you think this draft reflects a good answer to that question? Why or why not?

  6. General: How much does a statement on Freedom of Belief that applies to the UUA affect individual freedom of belief?

    Questions in feedback form:

  1. How well does this statement of the Purposes reflect your understanding of the purposes of the UUA? (1-5 Likert scale)

  2. What feedback do you have about this version of the Purposes?

  3. How well does this statement of Freedom of Belief affirm our tradition of freedom of belief at the associational level?

  4. Why?

  5. What other thoughts or questions do you have for the Article II Study Commission?

I found the feedback session I attended very interesting. My small group wrestled with the values (what does “Love” actually mean? What about “compassion”?) and with the idea of a behavior covenant that would apply to all UU’s (the “they can’t tell me what to do” opinion was expressed for sure). We submitted our notes, which will be added in with all the other small group feedback notes and the individual responses to the feedback forms, and now the commission goes off to do their work again, and they have announced that the next draft will be released in January.

How might all of this change our understanding of ourselves as Unitarian Universalists? What if there aren’t 7 (or 8) Principles anymore? How can these things change?

Well, it’s important to remember that the 7 Principles are not a creed. They are a covenant. They are aspirations of how we will be together. And covenants are living documents, not historical legacies we receive from our forebears. It’s time, once again, for us to come together and decide how we will be, as Unitarian Universalists. That is what the practice of covenant asks of us.

Personally, I think it’s pretty exciting!

We Will All Be Newcomers - by Rev. Mary Gear

Thank you to all who so thoughtfully participated in our forum last Sunday morning. We discussed the blessing of a full sanctuary and what it might look like if we return to two services on Sunday mornings.

We noted that we offer two services per week now as we continue the weekly Thursday Evening Spiritual Practice. This service follows the Community Dinner which starts at 5:30 pm. The spiritual practice starts at 7 pm and lasts about 30 minutes. It usually includes words, music and meditation or reflection. I think of it as a time to catch up with ourselves mid-week.

We shared that this is the schedule of what we do on Sunday mornings now:

10 - 11 a.m. Multi-platform Worship Service, with Nursery Care and Spirit Play Class; Worship Together

11 - 11:30 a.m. Coffee Hour and Break Out Rooms; Be Together

11:30 a.m. Program: Forum, Talk Show, Board, etc.; Practice Together

12:30 p.m. Youth Groups; Be Together

This is what two services might look like:

9 - 10 a.m. Multi-platform Worship Together (in-person and online + recorded); with Nursery Care and Spirit Play Class

10 - 10:30 a.m. Coffee Hour; Be Together

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Program: Forum, Talk Show, Board, etc.; Practice Together

11:30 - 11:45 a.m. Break and Reset for Worship

11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Worship Together (in-person only) with Nursery Care and Spirit Play Class

12:45 - 1:15 p.m. Coffee Hour and Youth Groups; Be Together

As some of us return to in-person worship, it is a time when we are all newcomers. Let’s make room for everyone. You can help now by sitting in the choir seats when they are available, sitting in the classroom that we’ve set up for extra seating, and using the beanbag chairs under the TV.

You can also help by lending your talents to the may hands that make Sunday morning happen. Here’s who you can contact to volunteer:

We’ll likely return to two services before long and we’ll need help to make sure everyone is welcome. Won’t you join us?

Thank you!

Rev. Mary

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Community Dinner Starts at 5:30 PM!

This week’s dinner will be a delicious baked potato bar. 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. 7th-9th grade Our Whole Lives (Classroom 5)
  • 6:30 p.m. Defund Fear workshop (Classroom 3)
  • 7 p.m. Spiritual Practices (Sanctuary)
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Show up for Reproductive Justice!

This Saturday, October 8th, 11am, there will be a gathering at Tivoli Fountain in front of the Capitol as part of the Women’s March October 8th “Women’s Wave”. This will mark 30 Days until the Election, and they hope to create a wave of change in the struggle for reproductive justice.

For more information: Olympia for Abortion Rights! | Women's March (


Looking for upcoming events? Go to the OUUC Calendar.