Correction: Ours is a Liberal Religion, not a “Covenantal” One

In his October 17, 2021, sermon, Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, straightforwardly and understandably, explains how UU leadership is attempting to transform UUism from a liberal religion founded on freedom, reason, and tolerance to a covenantal one.

You are encouraged to share the URL of the sermon on your social media platforms and with others. https://youtu.be/MKakVDyKLqs

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Judi McGavin
Judi McGavin
25 days ago

Re: Covenant As a former trustee, elected by the district I served,I am in agreement with the stated mission of this project. However, I respectfully disagree, or see differently Rev Ekloft’s position on “Ours is not a covenantal religion.” While in the religious meaning his quote is correct, it does not mean we can’t use covenantal in it’s broader meaning. I think he is being to narrow in his thinking. I believe it is extremely valuable to state we make promises to walk together in our congregational life. In my district we made covenant congregation to congregation. I further don’t… Read more »

Stuart Hurlbert
25 days ago
Reply to  Judi McGavin

So much strife is caused by the deliberate or careless use of language for purposes of deception, distraction, innuendo, etc. This is an art well developed by politicians and especially by university “chief diversity officers,” etc. The abundance of neologisms and changed definitions often make it impossible for many people to know exactly what is being said, even if they have an unabridged dictionary by their side. Consider “social justice.” Back in the 1960s that meant pushing for and then implementing, inter alia, the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now, for many, it means giving priority to “group equity” over the… Read more »

Chuck Schneider
Chuck Schneider
25 days ago
Reply to  Judi McGavin

“…..,we must make those decisions as a whole..”. Does Bill mean as a covenantal action ( army) of the UUA? Why can’t you, and each of us, individually fight to rid society of racism, ( and other xxisms) in our own way? We can band together at times – even with other religious societies- for specific purposes. But, that does not mean there is or must be only one way to solve social problems. What works in Texas may not work in NYC. We certainly do not need to tell our ( non-woke) free thinking church elders they have been… Read more »

Jay Kiskel
Jay Kiskel
24 days ago
Reply to  Judi McGavin

Judi, thank you for your clarity on the need to reform our Association so that we can again have democratically elected national representation, transparency, and renewing leadership. I and other UUs share your vision.   BTW: The liberal nature of UUism makes room for those who, in their search for truth and meaning, wish to enter into a covenant with their communities, congregations, and the world.  It is not the role of our national leadership to determine the promises and to whom those promises are made.  As one who has been declared “out of covenant” at the national level, I can attest, that… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
24 days ago
Reply to  Judi McGavin

Aren’t “walk” and “stand” ableist metaphors? Aren’t you and Bill Sinkford “out of covenant” for using them?

Even if we extend the meaning of covenant to mean “walk together in our Congregational life,” the UUA is insisting we all walk the same path. If we deviate from that path, we can expect to be thrown off a cliff.

Bob Lamb
Bob Lamb
23 days ago
Reply to  Judi McGavin

I agree with Judi that it is a stretch to say ours is not a covenental religion. I also note that Rev. Eklof glosses over the fact that he was told that the covenant was in the UUMA Guidelines, in the section called “Covenant”. I looked. There is, in fact, a Covenant labeled clearly as such, and according to the UUMA website it was adopted in 2009 at the annual meeting. It can be argued either way that he violated the Covenant, but it’s there. I am disappointed that Rev. Eklof does not address this.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob Lamb

The opening paragraph of that section you refer to reads: United in our call to serve the spirit of love and justice through the vocation of ministry in the liberal religious tradition, we, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, covenant with one another: Notice the phrase “on the liberal religious tradition.” This is precisely what Rev. Dr. Eklof defends and in fact does refer to our covenant to affirm and promote the heart of that faith as stated in the 7 Principles. The point is, to the extent we have a covenant, it is to promote and advance… Read more »

Howard Weisman
Howard Weisman
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob Lamb

Thanks, David for pointing out the ‘vagueness’ of the brief 2009 statement of the covenant. How can I best locate and read all 160 words? In Dr. Eklof’s October sermon, he presented the UUMA use of the term ‘covenant’ was purposively so, to be a cover ( He used the term euphemism.) for whatever future top-down credo or practice they could next spoon-feed the laity. It’s a sharp power play if so but also deceitful. Like you, David pointed out there was no communal input nor agreement behind this so-called covenant at its inception. It is simply a shell. Oh,… Read more »

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
25 days ago

The word “covenant” has apparently come to mean whatever UUA and UUMA leaders want it to mean.

Interestingly, this is not much different from the way that many right wing religionists toss around the word “cult” to refer to any religion or denomination they don’t happen to like.

Stuart Hurlbert
25 days ago

A brilliant sermon and excellent foundation for the future of UU. Now just need to come up with a whole new Principle 8 to replace the proposed one that builds on all the worst ideas that are producing so much dysfunction and divisiveness in universities, K-12 education, government, and the private sector. Read the handwriting on the wall! A uniting Principle 8 would be one that builds on what modern science is telling us about humans, like large numbers of social animals, are genetically hardwired for behaving with empathy and compassion not only to individuals in their own species but… Read more »

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
14 days ago

There is no way of prioritizing one race over the others which does not violate the 1st principle.

Deborah C. Donovan
Deborah C. Donovan
24 days ago

I do not covenant my politics to a church- any church.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
16 days ago

Although I agree completely with Dr. Eklof, a presentation on whether or not we are a covenantal religion is really a diversion from the goal of preventing the erosion of the 5th Principle and the fall into authoritarianism. If the UUA and UUMA want to now claim ours is “covenantal religion” let them. But then turn the argument against them. If we are a covenantal religion, explain how it is they who have “broken covenant” by allowing congregations to adopt an 8th Principle and ignore the 5th Principle in the process. They must agree that the central core of our… Read more »

Jim
Jim
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

This is an interesting point. But the word “covenant” is another one of those words that means what they want it to mean. Technically, adopting the 8th principle is, indeed, “out of covenant” as you point out. But they’ll hang you on the “technically.” The Article 2 Study Commission says  https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission/blog/8thprinciple-0 In the “UU congregations’ role” Adopting the 8th Principle at the local level is an act of covenant making amongst the members of that Congregation, to be anti-racist. The Covenant between Congregations can be shaped by engaging in the A2SC process, and voting on the amended Article 2 at… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
14 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim – it’s only a faint hope if we stay silent. Their interpretation is a bogus justification for an illegitimate act under the guise of eliminating racism. I reject it. The problem is that there are too many nice people who won’t stand up and call Bulls**t and instead get stuck arguing semantics. Maybe they’re afraid of dealing with issues of race. I have no problem with the Principles being a “living tradition” but their “evolution” is managed by the 5th Principle of democratic process, not by anarchistic individual congregations. The need for “evolving” the principles has been co-opted to… Read more »

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
14 days ago

Gee… and here I thought we WERE a covenantal (and congregational) religion – at the level of individual congregations, with members in covenant with each other. The issue would seem to be that the UUA leadership seems to think that it has the final say on a covenant for all of us – which is a rather broad overreach for what was created as a service bureau and marketing arm for a group of independent congregations. The notion of a covenant among congregations, that is binding on members of those congregations, seems fatally flawed. That’s like imposing a Nicean Creed… Read more »

Tim Bartik
8 days ago

I think this was an interesting and thought-provoking sermon. I agree with Rev. Eklof that “out of covenant” has clearly been stretched to mean disagreeing with ever-changing fashions of UU national leadership. In fact, a key problem is that much of the “covenant” that is supposedly being violated is either not written down, or is vague. However, I wish the sermon had emphasized more that the “principles commonly agreed among us” go beyond freedom of thought and speech. The other principles were briefly mentioned, but the overwhelming stress was simply on our religion being a free religion. I agree with… Read more »

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