healthy relationship committee

Cultivating Healthy Soulful Connection through Covenant and Communication

Cultivating Relationships through Covenant

The Healthy Relationship Committee (HRC) was established by the Board of Trustees to serve as an educational resource to support UUCA’s Covenant of Healthy Relationships, and, as the need may arise, to provide facilitated conversations with willing congregants who experience conflicts in relation to their involvement in UUCA. 

Below you’ll find information and links to learn more about the work of the HRC.  All congregants are encouraged to become familiar with the content of these documents.  If you have a question about the HRC, contact us here.  An HRC committee member will follow-up with you.

Communication Resources

UUCA’s Covenant of Healthy Relationships

History and Meaning of Covenant in UUism

  • “Reflections on Right Relationships” – Rev. David Miller believes that “…living into our covenantal relationships” is a spiritual practice unique to UUs. In this brief article, he poses questions focused on deepening our understanding of covenantal living.

Communications Skills 

  • “Respectful Conversations” – A light-hearted look at an important issue! This 4+ minute video illustrates 6 strategies that promote positive, respectful conversations when people have differing opinions.  
  • “The Power of Listening.” This 15-minute Ted Talk focuses on listening as a learnable skill that contributes to problem-solving and to the building of productive, caring relationships.
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.  (2nd Edition) Authors:  Roger Fisher and William Ury.  A step-by-step guide for coming to mutually acceptable agreement.
    Availability:  Check local library and book sellers.
  • Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.  (2nd Edition) Author:  Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.  Focuses on resolving conflict peacefully and developing relationships based on mutual respect, compassion, and cooperation.
    Availability:  Check local library and book sellers.
  • We Need to Talk: How to Have A Conversation That Matters.  Author:  Celeste Headlee.  As an NRP radio host, Ms. Headlee has interviewed hundreds of individuals from well-known super-stars to the proverbial ‘person-in-the-street.’   Her book is filled with practical suggestions on how to have meaningful conversations with strangers, friends, family, and colleagues.  Headlee is featured in a variety of short, entertaining YouTube presentations.  From your web browser, search on “YouTube Celeste Headlee” to find her presentations.
    Availability:  Check local library and book sellers.

Conflict Resolution Skills 

  • “Resolving Conflicts” – An animated 2+ minute video that presents 8 easy to understand and follow steps for resolving conflicts between people. Produced by the Kawartha Pine District School Board, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
  • “Finding Confidence in Conflict – In this 11+ minute TED× Talk, Kwame Christian, a Dayton, Ohio, lawyer, and negotiator discusses “compassionate curiosity” as an effective conflict resolution strategy. (Note: Click on “Skip” to bypass the ads.)
  • “Difficult Conversations” – This is a recorded, interactive webinar presented by Rev. Laura Shennum and Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto to member congregations in the Pacific Western Region of the UUA. Strategies for working through difficult conversations are presented and discussed.  The presentation runs 55+ minutes.
  • “Return to Covenant: A Drive Time Essay”  “No person is perfect.” So begins this 5+ minute audio essay by Rev. Karen Brammer of the UUA which focuses on steps individuals and congregations can take to prepare themselves for a return to covenant conversations.
  • “Faithful Dissent” – UU Minister Renee Ruchotzhe narrates this 2+ minute video exploring the nature of dissent in UU congregations and focuses on the benefits of well-managed disagreement, dissent, and creative conflict.
  • Taking the War Out of Your Words. Author:  Sharon Strand Ellison.  Provides tools for healing conflict, enhancing self-esteem, becoming more open and spontaneous, strengthening relationships, transforming organizations, and guiding the way toward peace in our global community.  On Ms.  Ellison’s YouTube channel, you will find a variety of short presentations that highlight skills and practices presented in her book.  From your web browser, search on “YouTube Sharon Strand Ellison” to locate her presentations.
    Availability:  Check your local library and book sellers.

Exploring Vulnerability

  • “The Power of Vulnerability”At the link below is a 20-minute Ted Talk by renowned vulnerability researcher and educator, Brené Brown. Dr. Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
  • “Embracing Vulnerability – Asking for Help” This May 2, 2021, sermon by Rev. Taryn Strauss encourages congregants to consider vulnerability as a resource for building connections with others by asking for help when help is needed. She explores how feeling vulnerable can lead to increased awareness of one’s needs and fears. This awareness is “the power of vulnerability” that can contribute to an increase in one’s capacity to meet needs and develop resilience when faced with adversity. 
  •  “True Colors” – Delivered during Pride Month on June 27, 2021, Bryce Thomason speaks about his life experiences as a gay boy that left him traumatized and filled with shame and guilt. His coping mechanism was to create “masks” behind which he could hide to be accepted by his family and community. Bryce acknowledges that learning to “lean into vulnerability” was vital to his becoming his “…true and authentic self…” as a proud, gay man. Bryce urges congregants to identify and eliminate the self-destructive masks that keep us from being who we truly are. 
Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have a Healthy Relations Committee (HRC)? – The Board of Trustees established the HRC for the purpose of promoting respectful and loving relationships in our community. By this action, the Board has given expression of its convictions that:

  • All congregants share UUCA’s aspiration of becoming a Beloved Community;
  • Deepening awareness of UUCA’s Covenant of Healthy Relationships can contribute to individual and congregational well-being; and
  • Sometimes, passionate congregational involvement can lead to conflict between individuals or groups within the community. While such conflict can play a positive role in the growth of our community and lead to creative change, if left unattended, conflict is potentially destructive to our community.

What is the HRC’s Vision? – That UUCA will be a thriving, healthy, spiritual community where interactions between congregants are characterized by caring, direct, open, and honest communication with trust and respect, consistent with our UU Principles and our UUCA Covenant.

What is HRC’s Mission? – To serve as a resource to promote and foster respectful, loving relationships within our community where members hold many different perspectives. The HRC will work to achieve its mission by:

  • Facilitating education and training related to UUCA’s Covenant and topics related to healthy communication skills, such as active listening, setting and respecting boundaries, empathy, etc. In addition, HRC maintains a library of relevant resources.
  • Facilitating constructive, healthy conversations when parties are in conflict by offering:
    • Consultation – HRC consults with congregants experiencing interpersonal difficulties with others in the community. HRC works confidentially with one or both parties to clarify their concerns, needs, and options to address their concerns.
    • Facilitated Conversations/Conflict Resolution – HRC offers facilitated conversations for community members or groups who find themselves in conflict and request help in addressing their concerns.

How do I contact the HRC? – To contact the HRC Team you may send an email to Contact information for individual members of the HRC is located at the bottom of this page below their headshot.

How will confidentiality be handled? – Communications with the HRC team are kept confidential.* An individual requesting assistance from the HRC may for any reason request that specific members of the HRC not be included in their consultation.

*The HRC is required to report some cases, including those involving child or elder abuse, for example. For more information please consult the ‘UUCA HRC Mission and Vision’ link below.

Have other questions? – Contact the HRC at

Our Covenant

UUCA Covenant of Healthy Relationships

“We need not think alike to love alike.” One of our Unitarian Universalist ancestors, Francis
David, spoke those words more than 400 years ago to describe the foundation of our unity as a
religious community. The purpose of this covenant is to increase awareness of actions that each
of us can take to nurture and support our beloved community. To this end, we, the people of the
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, affirm the following Covenant of Healthy

We will be mindful of how we communicate with and about others.

We intend to:

  • Listen actively and seek to understand the perspectives and opinions of others
  • Use “I” statements when expressing our own views, always mindful that our thoughts and
    opinions may not be shared by others
  • Be respectful and kind in our words, tone, and body language
  • Use email and other forms of electronic communication with respect, kindness, and
    special care

We will seek a peaceful and constructive resolution process when conflicts arise.

We intend to:

  • Communicate directly with the person or group involved, instead of gossiping or
    speaking negatively about others in the wider community
  • Assume that others act with good intentions
  • Check the accuracy of our perceptions and assumptions
  • Be forgiving and loving when we or others make mistakes
  • Apologize, when warranted, and seek to make amends
  • Call on congregational resources when help is needed

We will celebrate the diversity within our community.

We intend to:

  • Reach out to others with warmth and kindness in a spirit of welcome
  • Recognize and honor the diversity of beliefs and spiritual paths within our community,
    including the words and ways people choose to express their spirituality
  • Be curious, appreciative, and informed about perspectives that differ from our own
  • Honor the contributions and needs of those who have been historically marginalized in
    the larger world and in our congregation, and seek growth in our ability to be welcoming.

We will build the common good.

We intend to:

  • Build mutual trust through an honest and responsible use of information
  • Contribute our gifts of time, talents, and financial resources
  • Encourage and support the involvement of everyone in the life of our congregation
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for the contributions of others.
  • Respect the roles and responsibilities of congregational leaders
  • Respect UUCA’s established policies and procedures

This Covenant of Healthy Relationships affirms the foundation of our unity at UUCA. Our
commitment to one another ensures that our community will be a safe and inspirational place in
which we, as individuals and groups, can live out our spiritual journeys.

Created April 2008; Confirmed November 2011 – Download Printable Version

The Meaning of Covenant: Presentation

This presentation is for UUCA members and friends who wish to:

  • Deepen their understanding of Covenant and its place in Unitarian Universalism;
  • Increase their awareness of what it means to be a congregant in a covenantal faith community; and
  • Obtain information about UUCA’s Healthy Relations Committee.

The presentation is available by sending an email to

HRC Vision & Mission

Healthy Relations Committee (HRC):
Mission, Vision, and Functions Statement
Updated: July 23, 2022

HRC Mission

a. The purpose of the Healthy Relations Committee (HRC) is to promote loving and respectful relationships within our community.
b. At UUCA, all congregants share responsibility for doing their best to abide by our Covenant. The HRC is a resource that will engage the congregation in living more deeply into our Covenant. The HRC will support congregants and our Covenant by:
         i. Facilitating education on topics related to healthy communications skills, methods, and perspectives.
         ii. Facilitating constructive, healthy conversations with willing congregants who experience conflict in relation to their UUCA involvement.

HRC Vision

    1. UUCA will be a thriving, healthy spiritual community where interactions between congregants are characterized by caring, direct, open, and honest communication with trust and respect, consistent with our UU Principles, UUCA’s Covenant of Healthy Relationships, and UUCA’s ARAOMC Resolution.

HRC Functions

    1. To embed the concepts and practices of our Covenant of Healthy Relationships into the life and work of the congregation.
    2. Promote awareness of our Covenant of Healthy Relationships with newcomers, visitors, friends, members, UUCA teams/groups and on the UUCA Website, social media, and worship services/ceremonies.
    3. Facilitate workshops, presentations, and resources on topics, such as, peacemaking, appreciating/valuing others, living in covenantal relationships, active listening, empathy, expressing gratitude, communication skills, conflict resolution, and forgiveness.
    4. Bi-annually assess the overall quality of healthy communications within the congregation and recommend improvement strategies to include updates to our Covenant as needed.
    5. Support teams/groups within the community who wish to develop a team or group specific covenant.
    6. Facilitate constructive conversations with willing participants when disagreements or disputes related to their UUCA involvement result in perceived or actual harm to the well-being of a congregant or to UUCA.

HRC Structure

    1. HRC is a Committee of the UUCA Board of Trustees. At least one UUCA Board member and an ARAOMC Committee member will serve as liaisons to the HRC.
    2. The Committee will report to the Board general information of a non-sensitive/non-confidential nature, such as number of inquiries, upcoming activities, training opportunities, requests from other committees and other needs. No sensitive or confidential information, such as the name(s) of an individual(s) requesting assistance from the HRC nor any concern/information shared by such individual(s) will be reported to the Board nor to the ARAOMC Committee.
    3. Once fully established, the Committee will be composed of 5 members and the Board and ARAOMC liaisons. The Committee will strive to reflect the diversity of the UUCA congregation in its membership.  Only UUCA members in good standing may serve on the committee.  Current committee members recruit additional members and consider suggestions from the congregation and UUCA staff members.
    4. As the need arises, the Committee may request advice from persons who have special expertise of value to the Committee’s work.
    5. Committee members serve 3-year terms with one or two people joining each year and one or two dropping off. The year follows the UUCA custom of the congregational program year. Terms of service, number of Committee members, and other specifics may be modified.
    6. The HRC will design its own operational procedures, such as frequency of meeting(s), coordination of activities, committee member assignments, internal process for managing /responding to request(s) and other operational issues. Special attention will be paid to situations when a member of the HRC or UUCA Board have a real or perceived conflict of interest in a specific concern brought to the attention of the HRC.
    7. In general Committee members are chosen based on personal attributes, such as, good listening skills, ability to be neutral, ability to maintain confidentiality, and experience in working with people in a conflict situation.   Professional experience in counselling, social work, education, psychology, mediation, or similar field is preferred but not required.

HRC General Procedures

    1. The HRC will operate from the perspective that most conflicts can be resolved in good faith by individuals who live by our UU Principles and who do their best to abide by our Covenant of Healthy Relationships.
    2. The HRC will respond to congregants with compassion and respect so that congregants will feel safe enough to risk being honest, feel empowered to express their feelings, and acknowledge mistakes.
    3. Members/friends may contact the HRC in person, by email or by telephone with a concern.
    4. A member of the HRC will respond to a request as soon as is practical.
    5. The HRC will not accept an anonymous request.
    6. Information shared with the HRC will be held in confidence within the limits of applicable laws. Permission to share information with a non-HRC individual will be requested. If permission is granted, a high degree of discretion will be used in disclosing any information.
    7. When assistance is requested, the congregant can expect HRC member(s) to deeply listen to their concern(s) and to respond in an impartial, neutral, and non-judgmental manner. The HRC may recommend written resources, processes, and action steps the requestor can use to address their concern.
    8. A member/friend requesting assistance may request that an HRC member not be included in any meeting/conversation related to their concern based on their perception of a conflict of interest, inability to be impartial, or inability to maintain confidentiality.
    9. Any statement, report or impression conveyed to an HRC member that involves possible harm to self or others; or any allegation(s) related to child or elder abuse; or any conduct as described in the UUCA “Serious Covenant Breach Policy” will NOT be held in confidence. In such instances, the HRC will involve appropriate UUCA senior ministerial staff and the Board President.


Doug Abell

HRC Member at Large

John Merkel

Board Liaison to HRC

Ines Hoster

HRC Member at Large