Minister’s Moment, April 2018
In mid-March I sat on a panel hosted by the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County as part of a series called “Know Your Neighbors.” Throughout the series all of the panelists made it clear that we were not speaking on behalf of everyone in our entire faith tradition.
I made sure to emphasize that not every UU believes the same thing! But it turns out we are not alone in this. Other panelists described similar levels of diversity of belief. At one point someone in the audience asked the panel, “Well if not beliefs then, what is it that holds your religious community together?”
I am sure you all know the answer for us as Unitarian Universalists by now: covenant. You have heard me preach about covenant and return to it again and again. Covenant is the core of our tradition which allows us, despite our theological differences, “to walk together in the ways of truth and affection.”
But did you know that our covenants extend to all other UU churches? Our 7 Principles after all are a covenantal agreement with all other Unitarian Universalist communities. Through this we are never alone. We are always in relationship with all other UU churches, held in a loving network of mutuality and support. Theologian Rebecca Parker calls this our “freely chosen and life-sustaining interdependence.”
This practice of interdependence dates back more than 350 years to our founding governance document, the Cambridge Platform, which states, “Every particular church is the equal of every other such church in authority; none may have dominion over another. Yet all are united to Christ as their common head, and so ought to preserve friendly communion with one another.”
As historian Conrad Wright points out, this communion with other churches includes “concern for one another’s welfare…relief and succor when poor churches stand in need of assistance…and consultation when a question arises on which a church may benefit by disinterested advice from without.”
These commitments remain today. Like our Puritan ancestors in faith, we need one another to survive. And so we covenant with other UU churches in “mutual consent for mutual benefit.” We are not forced to do this but we choose it freely and lovingly because we know we cannot possible exist alone. We are interdependent.
This month at Peoples Church our theme will be Interdependence. We will look at what it means to be in relationship with one another, our faith, all of creation, and the Earth. Join us as we explore what it means to be part of something bigger than ourselves!