Visionworks 2009

As individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a diversity of viewpoints, we come together in community, holding in common a reverence for life that moves us to pursue justice, seek truth, live fully, care deeply, and make a difference in the world.  While united by life-enhancing values, we are enriched and challenged by our differences in perspectives and beliefs.

As we strive to develop meaningful community, we draw from our origins in an historic religious tradition, the knowledge gained about that tradition over time, diverse sources of insight and wisdom, and contemporary ethical and philosophical thought.  We distill from these sources the core values we believe are fundamental to right relations with self, others, all life, and the planet.  In this progressive work, we attempt to demonstrate openness, intellectual rigour, honesty, courage, creativity, sensitivity, and respect.

VisionWorks articulates those common values and understandings that underlie our choices as we set priorities, make decisions, take action, and relate with one another in community.  It reflects what we hold to be of utmost significance in our community life, and calls us to evaluate ourselves in light of these values.

Our grounding is the interconnectedness of all life

It is with a deep sense of awe and joy that we acknowledge the wonder of life in all its dimensions.  As part of the organic whole we experience life intimately, yet recognize that much is, and may always be, beyond our comprehension.

We attest to the capacity to experience and create meaning and purpose beyond physical survival and material gain. This dimension of living, which may be referred to as the spiritual, reaches to the depths of our inner self and also transcends the self as we connect with others and with all of life.

We experience both freedom and limitations in our lives. Within that tension we strive to engage with others as interrelated, self-reflective beings, responsible for our choices.

Moved by the interrelatedness of life, we choose as foundational the ethical and relational values we believe enhance life and strive to integrate these in the priorities we set and the decisions we make, both individually and as a community.  
We are aware of the wide diversity of understandings of the concepts of truth, goodness, meaning, and spirituality, as well as the many promises, predictions, and truth claims of religions and philosophies. Within that diversity, we ground our choices in our interconnections and, with our core values as a guide, explore and evaluate possibilities, embrace what we each deem helpful, and demonstrate respect for differences.

We open ourselves to new understandings of life and relationship that challenge our previously held perspectives, while availing ourselves of aspects of our heritage that resonate with our values.

Our response to life is love

We choose love as our supreme value.  We understand love to mean the choice to act with justice, compassion, integrity, courage, forgiveness, kindness, peace, generosity, responsibility, an appreciation of beauty, and other life-enhancing values.

We acknowledge that, as a part of the web of life, we have a significant impact on the environment and all other life with which we share the planet.  We therefore strive to live consciously and caringly, increasing our awareness of the consequences of our actions, advocating for rights, and making ethically responsible decisions.

We embrace a vision of peace through social justice for all people, of all races, ethnicities, abilities, socioeconomic situations, and sexual identities and orientations. We identify and resist injustice, including oppressive and de-humanizing conditions, social structures, activities, messages, ideas, and attitudes. We help create, support, and celebrate those conditions that promote rights, respect, equity, dignity, and community.

Seeking a healthy balance between self-care and care for others, we share time, energy, talents, wisdom, knowledge, skills, material goods, and our presence with one another in order that we may inspire, encourage, delight, comfort, and help one another.

We consider relationships to be both serious responsibility and joyful privilege, calling for commitment, humility, and light-heartedness. We strive to relate with one another authentically and supportively. We value assertiveness, attentive listening, and empathetic response, and encourage the sharing of diverse views, requiring only that communication be respectful. We work toward creative problem solving and conflict resolution.  In times of broken trust, we seek mutual understanding, forgiveness, and healing.

In areas of ethical complexity, cultural diversity, and conflicting worldviews, we uphold the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, and support freely-made choice.  When making moral decisions as a community, we study issues comprehensively, acknowledge uncertainty, and apply life-enhancing values as appropriately and sensitively as possible.

Our sources for inspiration are diverse

In order to gain insight and wisdom for individual and communal living, we actively seek out diverse resources that may inspire us, arouse curiosity, encourage questions, and challenge our perspectives.

We regard explanations of life, proposals for beliefs, and historical claims as human, and therefore fallible, attempts to make sense of what is known and unknown. All ideas are formed in particular historical, cultural, and personal contexts and we, in turn, interpret from within ours.  

We consider no text, tradition, organization, person, or interpretation of experience to be inherently authoritative; rather, we assess all resources on their own merit and honour life-enhancing values in whatever setting they occur.

We draw inspiration from ancient and contemporary sources including the arts, creative works, science, wisdom traditions, religion, nature, humanitarian efforts, and each other, directly and indirectly.

In group and individual study of resources, we encourage personal evaluation of content, questioning and reflection, and the sharing of insights and suggestions for application.  

We strive to communicate our perspectives with clarity and sensitivity, conscious that ambiguity and differing worldviews are inevitable.  We take care to own our own stories, experiences, and interpretations.  As well, we may also offer one another alternate views, information, and interpretation of the application of core values. When communicating on behalf of the community, we choose messages that reflect our core values.

Our gatherings are multi-faceted

We meet regularly to celebrate together, share experience and wisdom, develop relationships, and sense and express gratitude, awe, devotion, concern, and commitment to action.

We make use of word, music, silence, art, movement, and symbol, attempting to speak to various personal styles, appeal to all the senses, and address the whole person.

We view all traditions, practices, and rituals as attempts to facilitate meaningful experiences and learning opportunities, recognizing that responses differ among individuals. We create means for acknowledging and celebrating the significance of community and life events such as birth, partnering, loss, death, and personal and community accomplishments.  

We offer a variety of opportunities to focus our thoughts, share joys, express needs and concern, engage in self-reflection, and commit ourselves to action. These are referred to in various ways including prayer, meditation, inner awareness, and connection.

We offer educational, experiential, and social opportunities in areas such as personal growth, spirituality, relationships, social action, the environment, health and well-being, religion, history, science, literature, music, and contemporary issues.

We promote cooperation among all in the visioning, planning, and operational aspects of our community life.  We assist individuals in discovering and developing talents to be offered within and beyond our community, and designate individuals to fulfill specific spiritual and administrative leadership responsibilities.

Our vision is growth

We take responsibility for continuing to seek and create meaning for ourselves, each person choosing his or her own focus and pace and respecting the right of others to choose theirs. We acknowledge the possibility of growth during the inevitable discouraging, static, and challenging periods in our lives.

We seek out resources, relationships, and environments that may nurture and challenge us.  We offer opportunities for nurture and challenge to others.

We evaluate our lives in light of our core values.  We celebrate areas of growth yet also face the reality of our shortcomings and their impact on us, others, and the world. We identify areas in our own lives and the life of the community that we feel need to be addressed, seek forgiveness where appropriate, and attempt positive change wherever possible.  

As we examine ideas and truth claims to determine their worth and relevance for us, we enjoy the freedom to retain or alter our previous understandings.  We recognize that change, even when resulting in positive growth, can involve both loss and gain.

We contribute to the growth of this spiritual community in order that it might thrive as a positive influence in our lives and the broader community.  We also contribute as individuals and a community to the growth of other organizations that promote life-enhancing values.

We seek to increase our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world and improve our ability to make a positive difference. We encourage and support one another as we each strive to fulfill our potential as responsible, loving people.

As we strive to live in these ways as individuals in community, we often soar and often stumble.  Yet in joy and sorrow, in triumph and trial, in certainty and doubt, we are not alone for we travel together in the spirit of love.

© June 18th, 2009 West Hill United Church