The congregational partnerships supported by UUPCC are between Unitarians and UUs congregations. This provides a great way to do "religious action" - for both churches. When you get together as partners and share ideas and practices about your faith and beliefs it provides a growth opportunity for all. There are many people who have said that their faith has been strengthened and their religious understanding has been deepened through their connections in the partnership.
Some U.S. and Canadian churches organize the partner church committee under their Social Justice Committee, but many churches have it as a stand alone committee. International partnership provides fertile ground for social action in many instances. Many, but not all, of the partnerships UUPCC supports are in areas of the world that are economically disadvantaged and many of our fellow religionists are ethnic and/or religious minorities in addition to economic poverty.
Our model emphasizes that relationship comes first. You first get to know your partners, learn about each others' culture and how each practices our faith. Develop the relationship through discussions, visits and over time so that you understand the strengths and needs of each other. Together you might decide to work on a common project to strengthen community or to address a need. When you do so in a thoughtful way within the context of relationship it is in service to each other.
Service is not the same as helping. Helping is based on inequality, it's not a relationship between equals. When you help, you use your own strength to help someone with less strength. It's a one up, one down relationship, and people feel this inequality. When we help, we may inadvertently take away more than we give, diminishing the person's sense of self-worth and self-esteem… Serving is also different to fixing. We fix broken pipes; we don't fix people. When I set about fixing another person, it's because I see them as broken. Fixing is a form of judgment that separates us from one another; it creates a distance. So fundamentally, helping, fixing and serving are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken; and when you serve, you see life as whole. When we serve in this way, we understand that this person's suffering is also my suffering, that their joy is also my joy… We may help or fix many things in our lives, but when we serve, we are always in the service of wholeness.”
Rachel Remen, M.D., author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings.