How We Do One Thing is How We Do Everything

Mary Anderson on behalf of the Right Relations Task Force
with Louise Wilkinson, Mark Norelius, Aisha Hauser

How we do one thing is how we do everything. Reverend Elaine introduced me to this phrase and, I must confess, it has taken me awhile to fully appreciate its meaning. It has its roots in the Golden Rule, it is the foundation of how we act and operate as individuals in this world, in our interpersonal relations, in our church.

Within our community how we do one thing is how we do everything means that like situations – good and not so good – are dealt with consistently and fairly. Guidance is provided in East Shore’s Bylaws and Policies that support its mission and vision. Bylaws tell us many things including what is expected of members and staff, and they provide the framework to help us deal with problems and conflict in a fair and consistent manner. Take a look!

There are bylaws that state how we deal with one another: Obvious examples are that membership is open to anyone in general agreement with the purpose and ministry of this church, and we have an anti-discrimination clause for membership and staff. There are lists of membership privileges and responsibilities that imply how we deal with one another in ways that support our community. There is also a bylaw that informs how membership is revoked due to problematic conduct.

We have Policies that adhere to the Bylaws. You will find these on the website under “About Us”. Policies provide more guidance about how we do one thing is how we do everything. Our policies provide a more complete picture of how our staff must treat each other and the membership. However, there are no policies that speak to how members must treat staff, another member, or the community. There are no policies that define what behaviors would result in having one’s membership revoked for example. If we are to hold each other in right relations, policies are needed that address how conflict is managed and how people are held accountable for the good of our community. This is where Right Relations lives and embodies how we do one thing is how we do everything.

One of the observations of the UUA team that was called in to help us resolve current conflict stated:

“This appears to be a system which subtly encourages, or at least is helpless around behavior that in most congregations would be considered attention-getting, uncivil, untruthful, or out of covenant.”

This team recommended:

“Step up your work on Right Relations You began the work of drawing boundaries and articulating what is acceptable behavior or not. This work should result in policies and procedures that are well publicized. Right Relations also includes the informal ways that congregations hold each other accountable for such community-building skills as truth-telling, refraining from gossip, undermining legitimate authority, and applying to ourselves the same standards we expect of others. Living into covenant is a great way to build trust.”

East Shore needs to establish policies and procedures that define what are acceptable/unacceptable boundaries around behavior, when these have been breached and must be addressed, and how to address breaches. Some of these processes are included in our policies, some are not. Clearer, consistent policies around Right Relations will get us to how we do one thing is how we do everything.

The Right Relations Task Force has begun this work, but we have a long way to go. The Task Force sponsored two workshops in the fall that addressed how to interact with one another and how to approach conflict in a constructive way. A Right Relations Facilitation Team has been created and is undergoing training on how to facilitate conflict between individuals. The Task Force has asked for your input in creating a Covenant of Right Relations that will be voted upon at the June 3rd Congregational Meeting. We are also researching policies and procedures of other congregations and will present our recommendations for ES to the Board in the coming months.

Your participation, assistance and input are vital:

Thank you and remember – how we do one thing is how we do everything.