Our Month of Possibility

Dear Friends,

The theme for the month of January is Possibility. It’s of possibilities that I wish to speak about here. On January 27, we’re going to have a shortened worship service to begin the process of creating a congregational covenant. This will serve two purposes, the first being that we will make official the rules of engagement that we’ll have with each other—be that in committee meetings, social gatherings, or in worship services. The second reason being that this covenant will also be the framework for which the Right Relations Team will use to do their work.

Conflict is inevitable—what matters is how it’s handled. Is it handled in such a way that the people or organizations involved figure out a way to resolve their differences and have a way to move forward? Or does it descend into triangulation, name calling and hurt feelings that are never addressed? I don’t believe that most people like conflict. I know I don’t. I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid it. Much like Jonah who in trying to avoid what God had asked him to do, avoiding something has hidden consequences. For me, when I try to avoid conflict, the conflict itself doesn’t get resolved and it usually gets worse before it gets better. As for Jonah, well, we know what happened to him. While I don’t think Tree of Life is going to be swallowed by a literal Great Fish, unresolved conflict can be a great fish unto itself. It might not be an animal that swallows us whole, but unresolved conflict can kind of feel like being swallowed whole.

I have great hopes for the creation of this congregational covenant. And I look forward to walking with you all through the process. To get the process moving in the right direction, I have enclosed some sample covenants for you all to look at and be thinking about when we break into small groups on the 27th. I hope as many of you as possible can join us on that Sunday. See you then!

Kevin DeBeck minister@treeoflifeuu.org

5 Sample Covenants

Atkinson Memorial Covenant of Right RelationsEvanston Covenant of Engagement

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