Right Relations Launched – And the Road Ahead

by Louise Wilkinson, Lee Dorigan, Mary Anderson, & Aisha Hauser

Lee Mun-Wah at East Shore

East Shore’s Right Relations Initiative was launched on October 14 with an all-day workshop. We were inspired and given tools to develop the curiosity, respect, and skills to bridge barriers of difference and discover each other — and ourselves — in deep conversation. One participant called it “a forum in which to humbly and courageously explore deeply entrenched assumptions, expectations, and practices that subtly undermine our ability to live deeply our simple (but not easy) UU principles.” We walked away with words and steps we can use to engage each other authentically and openly even when we disagree.

The Right Relations Task Force (RRTF) invites all those who attended:

  • To share their experiences with those unable to attend.
  • To share with the RRTF ways we all can keep the conversations of openness going.
  • To take time in your church teams to use your learning to create guidelines for how you will communicate and respect each other’s differences and opinions. These can be processes or agreements about how you will hear each other that fully honor and include each person on the team. They might include ways you can proactively come to know each other more deeply. Then send your list to the RRTF so we can share it with others!

Some of you who were not able to attend on October 14 have asked for mini-workshops in the future. We will do our best to accommodate — probably after the holidays.

The Road Ahead: Sunday, November 4, 9:00 am

On Saturday, November 4, we will again gather from 9:00 to 4:00 — this time to build skills specific to conflict resolution. We will have a facilitator from the King County Dispute Resolution Center who has trained professional conflict mediators all over the County. She attended our session on October 14 and will build on our learning. Please know that you need not have attended the October session to be able to fully engage on November 4. Please pre-register so we can offer you a good and filling lunch!

Over the next three months the RRTF will be inviting your input and participation in the creation of a Covenant of Right Relations. This all-church covenant will provide guidance in communicating our perspectives, differences, and points of view in a respectful, open, and loving way. And the guidelines your teams develop will help inform our Covenant. On Sunday, January 21, we will have a Right Relations service and signing celebration as we commit to practice love, build community, and be the best people we can be.

The RRTF will create a Right Relations Team to provide conflict mediation between people and groups in the church. This team will gain further training and be committed to finding the benefit in differences and the common ground of resolution. We invite you to nominate people you think would make good conflict resolution facilitators to apply, and you can certainly nominate yourself! A “job description” and further information on applying is forthcoming.

The Goal

The goal of the Right Relations initiative is to create a culture of love, respect, and community in this congregation. It is to encourage healthy conflict, and the commitment and skills to actively understand and care for each other as we negotiate our different views, passions, and needs. The goal is to build a beloved community at East Shore that sustains us all, and enables us to light up the world around us.