Five days before the month starts, subscribing congregations should share this letter with congregational leaders.  Being oriented to the month’s theme, and equipped to help others in the congregation get aligned with it, builds the whole congregation’s engagement with the theme.  Which, of course, means unity and energy for the community.



Dear Friends,

A few years ago, as part of a counseling class, I attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This was in a low-slung storefront room in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where I live.  A long dining table down the middle of the room was crowded around on all sides by people from all walks of life.  As the meeting proceeded, I witnessed the most powerful thing: people holding one another accountable.  Anyone who tried to dissemble, to cover over their struggles, to slide in some half-truth?  Was immediately challenged.  Not challenged through shame.  Not challenged through mockery, or to belittle.  What I saw was, when anyone fell short of the honesty they were capable of, they were challenged to do better, to be better.  It was not a peaceful, harmonious environment.  But it was raw, real, authentic, healthy.  Sometimes, in our congregations, Unitarian Universalists will challenge one another, and it can be bullying, or is destructive.  What if our communities were environments in which we agitated one another lovingly, for truth?  What if our communities had the safety enough to be real with each other, to confess our struggles to grow?  What if we were bound not only to challenge each other, but to support and applaud each other, in our real struggles?  To me, this bespeaks a kind of intimacy in community that does people powerfully good.  And it bespeaks a kind of courage and trust that can be rare to find.  The conditions of trust and love that promote this courage are found in covenant.  When people are willing to submit themselves to the promise of mutual care, of moving together as one, in love, they are willing to share themselves, individually.  Without that common promise, that mutual commitment?  Any individual expression arises in an unsafe, unprotected context.  Unitarian Universalist congregations are, more and more, working toward upholding real covenants.  The ones that are serious about living in covenant are the ones where individual growth is happening.  What promises, what assurances, what commitments, what covenant would you need to feel safe enough to be brave?  To share what was really within you?  As we risk greater intimacy in community, as we share what is really in our hearts, we begin to break out of the shell of convention and half-asleep habit, and to wrest free for ourselves the lives we have been meaning to live.  Covenanted community is a sacred vessel for all of that.  Good luck establishing yours, and upholding it through the hard times.


In peace,


Rev. Jake Morrill
Senior Minister ORUUC
Executive Director UUCF
Launchpad Partner