Covenant Groups

In April 2007, the community decided to embrace a concept known as "Covenant Groups" or "Small Group Ministry" in other UU congregations, which came directly out of the feedback from the January forum on Congregational Paganism.

Here are the guidelines that were agreed upon:

Covenant groups are groups formed to meet a spiritual, social, or recreational need among the membership of Gaia Community which is not generally addressed by the Sunday service. Covenant groups could form for any number of purposes, including but not limited to: study and/or practice of a particular religious, spiritual, or magical tradition; social contact and discussion of similar life experiences; pursuit of recreational activities in a sacred context, and so on.

A covenant group must be organized by a Full Active Member of Gaia Community. This convener would be responsible for performing administrative duties related to the group, including acting as a liaison between Gaia Community and the group, ensuring that the group met often enough to serve its needs, overseeing the creation of the group's covenant, scheduling any time that the group would use Gaia Community's leased facilities, and so on. The convener would also be responsible for notifying the Committee of the Whole in the event of a covenant group's dissolution. In addition to the convener, at least 50% of the membership of a covenant group must be Full Active Members of Gaia Community.

Membership in a covenant group would be limited to those people willing and able to agree to the group's covenant, a document which describes the purpose and function of the group, lists any requirements for membership, sets out any financial expectation placed upon group members, and includes any other information that prospective new group members would need to know before joining the group. In addition, the covenant must include a statement that the group will affirm and promote the Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes.

Responsibilities of Covenant Groups:

  • To draft a covenant, as described above.
  • To present their covenant to the Committee of the Whole at a regularly scheduled Ritual for Business, and have that body review and approve the covenant.
  • To present the covenant to each prospective group member for review, and to have each new group member sign in agreement.
  • To meet regularly enough to serve the needs of the group.
  • To contribute to the welfare of Gaia Community. The recommendation is that groups take an offering at their group meetings and share that income with the Community, but other forms of contribution would also be welcomed.
  • To review their covenant annually and participate in an annual 'check-in' with the Committee of the Whole at the March Ritual for Business.
  • To conduct their business in a way that is consistent with their covenant.

Responsibilities of Gaia Community to Covenant Groups:

  • To offer space on the website, in the Earth Healer, on the gaiauu e-mail list, and in the weekly printed announcements to covenant groups to promote their work.
  • To offer meeting space to covenant groups where allowed by Gaia Community's lease agreement.
  • To provide the opportunity to covenant groups focused on spiritual or magical practice to present Sunday services, in partnership with Gaia Community's ritual teams.

So far, these covenant groups have been approved by the Committee of the Whole: