Revising Article II of the UUA Bylaws: Initial Draft
Online Feedback Sessions November 5, 6, 8, 9 10, 12, 13 & 14 at various times, by registration
The UUA bylaws were adopted in 1961, when the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Association. These bylaws have been changed and added to since that time, but the last revision was in 1987.
Article II is the part of our UUA bylaws that addresses our principles, purposes, non-discrimination and freedom of belief. The Article II Study Commission was charged at the General Assembly in 2019 to “propose any revisions that will enable our UUA, our member congregations, and our covenanted communities to be a relevant and powerful force for spiritual and moral growth, healing and justice.”
You can find the Article II Study Commission’s draft of the revised Article II here, as well as a list of the upcoming online Feedback Sessions. We encourage you to register for and attend one of the eight Zoom sessions to gather more information and give your feedback.
You can find the current Article II (2 pages) here or the complete current UUA Bylaws (33 pages) here.
These are big changes. There will be more opportunities for conversation at UUC later this fall.
Please reach out to Meta Thayer with questions or concerns. (You can find her contact info in UUC Connect.)
~Meta Thayer, on behalf of the UUC Delegates to the 2022 UUA General Assembly
I like all the values listed in the draft. I’m especially happy to see pluralism and equity as making it into the final seven. (I also like that we’re back to seven so that we can go back to using the rainbow as part of our iconography.) I do, however, sorely miss seeing some other personal values here such as democracy, sustainability, and inquiry (or intellectual curiosity). I’m skeptical of making Love be the core value that the others are all revolving around. Love is an important value, but it’s also ambiguous and can be applied to many different areas of focus. For example, I’m thinking of the end of the novel 1984 where Winston Smith loves Big Brother. Love can also inspire a sense of blindness in its adherents. For example, the people who love Donald Trump love him so much that they are blind to his many faults. For me, personally, love really needs to be tempered with realism. Unchecked love can be the basis of extreme nationalism. (I guess I’m more of a “head” person than a “heart” person?) Also, I have heard this phrase “Beloved Community” being bandied about quite a bit among UU circles for some time, but it feels like jargon to me. I’ve never known what it means. I would probably vote in favor of some version of this although I’m also of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought, and I didn’t see what was wrong with the previous 7 Principles. I’ve only ever been a marginal UU as it is, and I’m really only here because of a lack of viable alternatives. I wonder if the new regime will push me further away? I really don’t know. It doesn’t excite me more than the previous 7 Principles, which was one of the factors in favor of me attending a UU church in the first place.
Thanks for sharing, David. Lots of us love the seven principles, and the last time the UUA tried to change our article 2, a grassroots response voted them down.
David and Jonathan:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I understand the 2009 efforts were narrowly voted down and from what I heard, included plenty of enthusiasm and valuable suggestions, such as adding the arts as a Source (see p. 62 of Tom Owen-Towle’s “Theology Ablaze”). I am incorporating this Art as 7th Source language in my own proposed rewrite draft I hope to do for my feedback response.
I would propose to keep but edit the new language of Values and Covenants, but also, following the intent of the Charge to “lead us into the second quarter of the 21st Century, while honoring the historic roots of our liberal, progressive faith,” I would retain, edit, and condense the Principles and Sources. I don’t believe the “Inspirations” paragraph works as a substitute for the Sources. I think the “Values and Covenants” have a lot of important components but don’t retain everything of value in the Principles.
Also, I do hope that UUC and WSUU get a chance to maybe discuss together as we move closer to GA, if there is enough interest in our congregations. Nice to see your group (though it was too small on my screen to see faces) attending together at that feedback session the other night!