St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church

Relational Covenant for Christian Living

Adopted by the Charge Conference of December 12, 2006

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sorrow, joy.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

As members of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, we are called to love one another as Christ loved us and to make Christ’s love real in the ways we relate to each other in our congregation and the world around us.  In our time, civility, common courtesy and mutual respect have eroded.  Anger, aggression, and violence—physical, emotional, and spiritual—have become much too commonplace.  Because we are called as the Body of Christ to include and value each other, we must steadfastly reject, resist, and refrain from acts of hostility in all of our relationships.  Relational aggression* must not be present in our life as the Body of Christ.  This commitment must begin within our own congregation.

Therefore we covenant together (1) to deal with our differences in a spirit of mutual respect and (2) to refrain from actions that destroy the emotional and physical well being of others—actions that are inherently contradictory to the fundamental Christian precept to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

As we live according to this covenant, the following principles will guide our actions:

  • We will treat others whose views may differ from our own with the same courtesy we would want to receive ourselves;
  • We will listen with a sincere desire to understand the point of view being expressed by another person, especially if it is different from our own;
  • We will respect each other’s ideas, feelings and experiences;
  • We will be non-blaming and non-judgmental in our attitude and behavior towards others;
  • We will communicate directly with persons with whom we may disagree in a respectful and constructive way;
  • We will place primary emphasis on where we share common ground rather than on differences and disagreements;
  • We will seek feedback to ensure that we have truly understood each other in our communications.

By entering this covenant, we will affirm and support each other in our respective faith journeys.

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* We define “relational aggression” as unacceptable behavior on the part of any and all members of the congregation toward another member or group of members or toward any member of the community at large.

Relational aggression, includes, but is not limited to:

  • intimidation: either physical or verbal, written or spoken
  • verbal abuse:  name-calling, threats or disparaging language, whether to a person’s face or behind his or her back
  • physical abuse:  either implied, so that a reasonable person would infer intent to do harm, or physical contact that a reasonable person would reject