Covenanted Communities, Incarnating Justice

Covenanted Communities, Incarnating Justice

Crowdfunding Completed: November 22, 2017

Amount Funded: $15650

Project Owner: Sacred Fire

Short Description of Project

Building and training a nationwide team of leaders to plant covenanted communities of interdependence and solidarity.

How was this project connected to UU?

Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist takes small group ministry out into the world, bringing us into relationship with those who resonate with our values and our vision of the Beloved Community, but who are not seeking church. It is a model of covenanted community that serves as a vehicle for alternative expressions of UU theology and practice.

This ministry is vital to our faith because the fastest growing religious group is the unaffiliated, the “nones.” We all know that more and more people are defining themselves as spiritual but not religious, and we know that our UU congregations lose about 90% of our youth as they age out. Moreover, Pew Foundation surveys show that there are three times more people that identify as Unitarian Universalist than there are members of our congregations (~450,000 vs. ~150,000). Lastly, we know that there are millions out there that share our values and our vision. Who among us hasn’t said, “My friend so-and-so isn’t into church, but they’re pretty much a UU!”?

People seek personal and spiritual growth, communities of belonging and care, and opportunities to do the transformative work of justice building. Huge numbers are thirsty for what Unitarian Universalism offers, but they aren’t seeking a congregational model through which to do it. If this model is all that we offer, then we are letting go of all those potential relationships and all of that potential beautiful work. To be in relationship with them we must create alternative forms and expressions of our faith; for they are our people, and we are theirs.

Sacred Fire UU creates covenanted communities to build just these relationships. The goal of the ministry is not to create more UUs, just as the goal of Unitarian Universalism is not to make more UUs, but, rather, to build the Beloved Community. The model that we have developed is a way to bring the values and vision of UUism to those that seek depth of spirit, authentic community, and a foundation from which to engage in social justice work. It is a way of working to build a better world alongside those who resonate with our content, but not necessarily our current forms. While many people will not identify as Unitarian Universalists, through building these relationships they will identify with UUism.

This work is vital to the world because in this age of separation our lives are terribly fragmented from one another’s, and we are unfulfilled within ourselves. We are starved for truth, meaning, and purpose. Only from the foundation of deliberate communities can we transform the world into a more just, sustainable, and compassionate place. In the words of the UU minister John Haynes Holmes, if our work is that of social salvation, we must make religion “coincident with life.” In that, our ministry truly seeks to give life the shape of justice.

Full Description of Project

For the past five years, Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist has been the ministry in our faith that actively plants and grows covenanted communities. Now, we are developing a training program for leaders in order to greatly increase our capacity in that work. This training program will form leadership teams equipped with the tools and the methodologies for expanding our successful model: planting justice-seeking communities across the country. Join us in making this program a reality, and in planting more of these vital and life-giving communities. The Unitarian Universalist Funding Program is matching this Faithify campaign dollar-for-dollar!

This campaign will fund:

1) Enlarging the ministry team of Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist by transitioning our board from locally-based to nationally-based, and reconstituting our leadership team to include more ordained and lay leadership at that scale.

2) The continued growth of our four existing covenanted communities, and support for their social justice work in the areas of local food systems, housing empowerment, and immigrant & refugee rights.

3) A comprehensive training program for covenanted community planters, enabling the creation and connection of more covenanted communities.

4) Consultation with congregations on how they can be more missional, engaged in their communities, and with increased impact in their social justice efforts, all grounded in our UU covenantal theology