Statements on the Proposed 8th UU Principle

The following are statements prepared for the January 30, 2022 congregational meeting during which we voted to approve UUC’s adoption of the proposed 8th UU Principle.

Scott Renschler

University Unitarian Church has been my spiritual home for 18 years. I speak in strong support of UUC’s adoption of the 8th Principle today—not next month or next year, but now. Reading its words, I have struggled to understand the opposition to this affirmation of values so central to our faith us Unitarian Universalists. I’ve continued to search for the objectionable language. Could it be the “journey toward spiritual wholeness”? “Building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community?” “Accountably dismantling racism?” I say “Amen!” to all of that.

Now, I was an English major, and I understand obsessing over word choice, grammar, and syntax. But now is not the time for that. These are details, my friends, and to wordsmith, or to defer approval of the 8th Principle because it doesn’t sound quite right to our ears, is to miss the forest for the trees—bigtime. To delay because we have misgivings about the process through which the 8th Principle came to be—a process that, while inevitably imperfect, has been thoughtful, intentional, years-long, and has centered the voices of those who have been historically marginalized—is, I believe, to do harm to members of our UU family. This harm has continued for too long, and it must stop.

How long are we going to ask members of our UU family to wait for this acknowledgement and affirmation—to wait until we can get the words “just right,” to wait until we can “get comfortable”? “Why the rush?” some ask. “It’s only been a year.” But that’s far from accurate. The UUA committed to become an antiracist organization in 1997, and the 8th Principle began as a grassroots movement in 2013—nearly a decade ago. Given how long some members of our church family have waited for this explicit acknowledgment, this commitment—far longer than decades, in fact—I believe that those of us who feel hesitation and anxiety can and must tolerate that discomfort in the service of love, justice, and our UU family.

There can be no more waiting, friends. The time to affirm the 8th Principle is now.

Becky Andrews

I’m speaking in support of the 8th principle on behalf of myself and my family. We’ve been discussing the 8th principle at home with my 9- and 12-year-old sons.

My oldest son has been learning about the history of racism in the United States for several years now and was excited to learn that UUC was considering adopting a principle in which we would work to dismantle racism in ourselves and our institutions. At home, we discuss voting rights, the criminal justice system, the education system, and other places where systemic racism shows up in our country—including Sunday mornings in churches across the country. We also regularly discuss the privilege that comes with being white and affluent and living in the United States and how we can use our privilege to end systemic racism.

I’d also like us as majority white congregation to not let our desire for controlling the language here distract us from taking an accountable position on antiracism.

It’s important to me to support the 8th principle so that I’m demonstrating for my kids that we belong to a church that is actively working towards becoming an anti-racist institution.

Steve Carlson

I support the anti-racism 8th Principle and hope you will join me in voting for its adoption today at UUC. Three reasons:

  1. I believe racism is real and ongoing and that I —and we members of UUC — have an important role to play in living more anti-racist lives. We should say so. 
  1. I take to heart our UUC Vision, our statement of who we hope and intend to be. In it we say: We will vocally and actively oppose injustice and stand in prophetic judgment of all that would diminish the equality and dignity of human beings—for me the 8th principle is one more way we can make real this Vision we have; and, demonstrate once again that we are a living and breathing religion, always responsive to calls for greater justice in the world.
  1. And finally, even though I’m an English major—and would love to tweak the language of the 8th principle to say, for example: “we a member congregation”—such very minor concerns pale in comparison to my desire that we act now in opposition to racism. We have two years to fine-tune the language with our fellow UUs before a denomination-wide vote in 2024. In the meantime, let’s challenge ourselves! Please join me in voting to adopt!

Elizabeth Leber

I have been a part of UUC since I was born. I love this church. And, UUC is a very white space.

When I reflect on what it would mean to put a stake in the ground and commit ourselves to working on becoming an anti-racist space, I think of our elementary school. It is a beautiful and highly diverse environment, filled with love. Our teachers and staff are wholly committed to seeing the wonderful individuality of each child and bringing out their unique stories. Why do I bring up the anti-racism work at our school? Every time I’ve spent time there (pre-COVID, that is), I leave with a fuller heart.

We owe it to ourselves at UUC to do this work and we owe it to our children to show how we do this work. My hope is that by making this commitment and leaning into this work we will create a warm home for all who enter our doors and ALL of us will have fuller hearts and a more joyous experience at UUC.

Dave Mentz

I’ve been thinking about the many months and years of dialogue and discernment that have led us to today. Over 10 years ago, our congregation overwhelmingly approved its strategic plan. One of the most notable elements of that plan was the statement that:

We will vocally and actively oppose injustice and stand in prophetic judgment of all that would diminish the equality and dignity of human beings…

Since the adoption of the strategic plan in 2011, we have invested thousands of hours of time within the congregation in discerning how we can embody this vision. More recently, in 2020 the Board adopted its Open question around anti-racism, and over the past 8 months the 8th Principle team has led a comprehensive effort to provide information and many opportunities for input. After a great deal of input from the congregation, the Board, along with many other groups and individuals, has chosen to endorse the 8th principle.

All of this is to say that we’ve prepared ourselves extensively for this point. I encourage you to oppose the motion to refer this to committee and, instead, choose that we will actively work to address inequities in concert with our mission, vision and full set of principles, including our new 8th principle.

Judy Oerkvitz

I grew up in a small UU church in Philadelphia; it was my extended family.  My teen group, Liberal Religious Youth, was an integral part of my teen years. I was a Youth Delegate to General Assembly in 1969, during which the Black members present staged a walkout as the denomination struggled with issues very similar to those that the UU Church struggles with today. 

I truly want to be part of a “Beloved Community” of diverse and multicultural people as defined by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is clear that we need to work together to overcome racism, and what we’ve been doing so far has not been working very well.

It is time to listen to the voices of people of color within our denomination who have experienced racism and injustice. They have been deeply involved in carefully crafting this 8th principle. 

It is time to follow the lead of people of color to take meaningful action to dismantle racism in an accountable way. 

Join me and vote YES on the 8th Principle!