Message From Our President
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This is an article to introduce you to anti-racism initiatives being proposed by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), including the adoption of an 8th Principle and the pending re-write of Article II of the UUA Bylaws, which contains our principles, purposes, and sources. Such changes are important for old and new UUs alike—because they have the potential to change our entire faith tradition. The current draft of the 8th Principle reads: We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. (For a brief background on the Principle from the UUA, please go to 8thprincipleuu.org.)
This Principle and the upcoming changes proposed for Article II are based on recommendations in a report from the Commission on Institutional Change submitted to the UUA Board in 2020 called “Widening the Circle of Concern” (WCC), which you can download as a PDF through the UUA’s web site Widening the Circle of Concern so you can take your time reading. The now accepted report contains recommendations for wide-ranging changes, including governance of the UUA, congregational autonomy & polity, program direction and support, preparation and credentialing of religious professionals, etc. How all this will impact every congregation is not yet clear.
Personally, I have very serious reservations about many of these recommendations—not about the end goal of dismantling oppressions, but about the recommended strategies for doing so. My chief concern is that these proposed changes tip the scale away from “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning” and individual “right of conscience”, and increase the UUA’s authority over local congregations. It is really important for each of us to be informed, so I hope you will also familiarize yourself with the 2021 Implementation Plan for Widening the Circle of Concern uua.org/files/2021-06/widening_circle_concern_implementation.pdf
Both this additional Principle and changes to Article II will be discussed in more depth in the upcoming General Assemblies of 2022 with voting scheduled in 2023. Meanwhile, the imperative for the UUCC is to understand what’s happening overall and begin intentional conversations about these issues. Should we support an 8th Principle? What does it mean for us to do so? What about changes to Article II? How do we best move forward as a congregation?
Please, I urge you to read the WCC report! You may disagree with my stance—disagreeing has long been a UU hallmark, but we must have some serious congregation-wide conversations about all of this. Folks in leadership at UUCC are looking at a variety of ways to address these topics. There are a lot of excellent sources (pro & con, UUA & non-UUA) on the issues, which we will make available. If you have ideas for engagement that you have found effective in other places, please contact me and/or your Board members.
Let the conversations begin… remembering that we don’t have to believe the same to treat each other the same, with respect, dignity and compassion—and deep listening.
Pat Mohr, UUCC President