Several folks from ESUC have been attending an ongoing series of meetings of the 8th Principle Learning Community, organized by Paula Cole Jones, an experienced facilitator skilled at organizing people for systemic change. Early last year at a nationwide meeting, 171 folks were present to learn about applying the 8th principle and the UUAs Jubilee program in RE. Testimony by kids about the importance of the 8th principle and antiracism work opened the meeting with poignant testimony about why this is important. The Community was organized by Paula Cole Jones on Facebook as a private group and has grown to 307 members across the continent. Members of ESUC can join the private Facebook group if interested by being invited in by a current member. More than 40 congregations have already voted to add the 8th Principle to the seven we all know.
Here’s the language of the proposed 8th Principle: “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.” ESUC has a small group ministry working on this, and members of ESUC are invited to join this transformative journey. We hope to hold some town halls in the future to answer more questions. Until then, here are some FAQs.
Why the 8th Principle?
This Principle was developed by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU), an organizing collective within the UUA. They found the systemic racism within Unitarian Universalism to be inadequately addressed by the 7 principles. We are listening to them, as are many others.
I don’t like the language. Let’s adjust it.
The language was drafted and vetted by BLUU, and has been adopted intact by more than congregations, and counting. This is a grassroots effort to modernize and change the UUA. It is not top down. Think of it like amending the Constitution. We are voting on an 8th Principle to add it to our 7. While UUs love to wordsmith, this proposed principle will take final form when it comes before the GA via the UUA procedures, so wordsmithing it is not advisable nor necessary. The question before is: do we support what our BIPOC UUs are asking of us?
Children may recognize the 8th Principle as: “Build the beloved community, free from racism and oppression.” This was created by DREs in collaboration with Paula Cole Jones and is used widely across the country in RE programs.
Why does THIS congregation need this?
The nation and the UUA is in ferment. Marginalized people are speaking up for change. Our congregation had, last time we counted, an average age of 65 and was 96% white, while our community is already majority minority. We need social action, change, growth, and have been unable to grow using our current methods. This principle embeds racial justice work into our core principles and will become part of everything we do. We believe this is core also to retaining some of our leadership and long time members who are already committed to this work, and is a means of attracting young families who want to see social change but are relatively detached from church as a means. This is a time for rebuilding UUism in rapidly changing times. Can you think of a better way?
Where can I learn more?
There is a whole website with more information, you can find that here.
by Paul Buehrens, member 8th Principle Group