In 2003, when we gathered together to begin writing a statement of faith, we experienced first-hand what statements of belief do. In the same moment that they identify a group, they separate it from others, i.e., beliefs divide people into those who belong and those who don't, those on the inside and those on the outside. We discovered that we would rather create a document articulating how we wanted to live. We felt it reflected an aspect of our Christian roots in the early communities who shared what they had and became known for how they loved.
So we researched statements of principles and values from numerous organizations, created a draft, formed a writing group, created more drafts, shared it with the congregation and small study groups, solicited input from outside groups and individuals, and finally created the document that came to be called VisionWorks. It was determined that to keep it relevant and useful, it would be reviewed and revised where needed every 5 years by writing groups with invitations for input from those involved with West Hill and beyond. VisionWorks has therefore been revised twice, each time with rich discussion, new questions, deep deliberation, and fresh insights.
We hold ourselves, our actions, responses, decisions, and choices, accountable to the principles and values we have chosen as our guides for living in right relationship with ourselves, with others we know, with others we may never meet, and with all life on the planet. Daunting. But no less a standard will do, if love for one another is the ultimate good.
VisionWorks is our guiding document. It articulates our shared values and reflects what we hold to be of utmost significance in our community life. It calls us to examine ourselves in light of these values as we set priorities and make decisions, both individually and as a community.
As individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, we come together, opening ourselves to new ideas that may challenge our previously-held perspectives. With roots in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, we embrace theists, agnostics and atheists. What we share is a reverence for life that moves us to seek truth, live fully, care deeply, pursue justice and make a difference in the world. We respect individual differences insofar as they are not harmful or disrespectful of others.
We draw insight and wisdom from historic religious traditions and evolving ethical and philosophical thought. From these sources, we distill the core values that we believe are foundational to positive relationships with ourselves, others, all life and our planet.
Caring for Ourselves, Caring for Others
We don’t claim to be a collection of perfect people. We have our quirks, our challenges, our burdens – just like you. What our community provides is a safe place to gather, without fear of judgment, and with the assurance that those around us will simply embrace us.
While we share a commitment to the conviction that life has meaning, and that part of what makes it meaningful lies in the impulse to make the world a better place, we acknowledge that we cannot breathe life into that impulse unless we first attend to our own needs.
photo credit this page: Iain Li (c 2017/18)