To Dwell Together — A Covenant
Adopted by the members of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto May 31, 2015
I promise to do my best to:
- be open with myself and others;
- listen empathically;
- celebrate diversity;
- offer advice to build community;
- embrace my capacity to learn and change;
- serve as I am able with my time, talents and treasure;
- seek help if serious disagreements arise;
- willingly apologize if I have offended others;
- accept disappointments with equanimity;
- strive for peace in myself, our community and the world.
The purpose of the Healthy Congregation Team is to be a team of trained volunteers who, guided by the congregation’s covenant, provide ongoing education, training and support to the members of the Toronto First community. We will seek to assist in developing skills to:
- listen openly to the views of others;
- be respectful of each other’s views;
- take personal responsibility for addressing hurt feelings.
HCT will be available to act as a thoughtful third party to support individuals directly in managing conflict.
The HCT will also make itself available, upon request, to have one or more members of the Team attend a meeting as an Active Listener, to:
- advocate for a chance to speak during meetings for those who may be too shy or are overlooked by the moderator;
- intervene if exchanges become unusually heated;
- engage with members and friends who appear to have something to say and provide them with a forum to express their thoughts.
The team, which meets monthly, is presently comprised of six members of the congregation. During the initial stages, to provide for continuity, the team consists of two members who will serve one year, two for two years and two for three years, after which each member will serve for three years.
The current (2015-2016) members include:
- Jack Dodds (chair)
- Barbara de Beaupré
- Linda Dowler
- Joshua Grant
In early 2012, a Healthy Congregations Task Force was struck, under the auspices of the Committee on Ministry, to find ways to support Toronto First in dealing with the inevitable conflicts that arise in our community.
Conflict and diverse opinions in organizations are healthy and natural, but have a habit of escalating. The purpose of the Healthy Congregation Team is to provide resources, be it education, prevention, or resolution, to help ourselves come back to the call our Seven Principles make of us, when, from time to time, they inevitably grow quiet in our ears.
In January 2013, the Task Force dissolved and the Healthy Congregation Team was born. Inspired by the model used by the Olympia UU Congregation in Olympia, Washington, we meet monthly and work collectively toward a seven part mandate. One goal has been the development of a behavioural covenant; and after much discussion in the congregation, the members at the May 2015 annual meeting adopted the covenant "To Dwell Together — A Covenant" which appears above.
Read the November 2013 Healthy Congregations Policy document.
We envision a future where we will be, collectively, less afraid of conflict. More importantly, we will have the mechanisms and skills to handle divergent views more constructively and with a loving attitude.