Board Buzz: The 8th Principle

Apr 30, 2021 | Beacon, Members Only, News, Racial

As a member of your Board of Trustees, I am writing to talk about a “milestone” congregational initiative. The Board is to be considering this initiative to support ESUC in its journey of becoming an anti-racist church through a congregational vote on the adoption of the 8th Principle in June of 2021:

“We, the members of the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington, 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.”

More than forty UU congregations have already voted to adopt the 8th Principle. The UUA is currently assessing the existing seven principles and the addition of the 8th Principle at the national level with a report out scheduled for January, 2022. However, we believe recent current events call us to consider acting immediately.

Why should we adopt this principle? What does it offer that the other principles don’t? And why now?

History of Evolving Principles

Our Seven Principles have always been evolutionary, not set in stone like the Ten Commandments. As new truths emerged, those learnings and experiences have been reflected in our adaptive principles. Our seven denominational principles were revised in 1984, 1985 and most recently amended in 1995. UUA bylaws require periodic reassessment – we’re in the midst of one right now.

Commitment

The existing Seven Principles “don’t go far enough” in expressing our commitment to a multicultural, anti-racist anti-oppression vision for our congregation. “The other seven principles do not explicitly express the ethical and spiritual thread that we need to live into a multicultural anti-racist anti-oppression vision for our religious communities and our world. Otherwise, we would already have made a lot more progress.” Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees, First UU Church of Berks County, PA (January 2020).

Accountability

The 8th Principle is a mechanism that will help hold ourselves, each other and our congregation accountable. The phrase, “…accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions…” is unmistakably clear. The Board believes it is no longer enough to “do no harm” when it comes to racism and other oppressions, or “treating everyone the same” in how we live into the First Principle. The 8th Principle empowers us to dismantle such behaviors in ourselves and our institutions; our congregation is capable of much more.

The last twelve months of tragedies and anti-democratic politics in Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan and other states sadly reconfirm a systemic threat to our spiritual and moral health. It’s our time to come together, in spiritual wholeness, to build a diverse, safe and loving (Beloved) community inspired by the 8th Principle. What a terrific opportunity for ESUC to live into being “who we say we are” and making a congregational vow to embrace the 8th Principle and the moral power it unleashes.

The Pathways to the 8th Principle Ministry Team at ESUC is delivering a series of events and activities to support the congregation in its exploration of the 8th Principle. We look forward to sharing these opportunities to gain greater knowledge, enter into conversations, and hear each other as we build our Beloved Community together.

The 8th Principle team currently includes Paul Buehrens, Maury Edwards, Louise Wilkinson, Marcy Langrock, Lynn Roesch, Milly Mullarky, Ryam Hill, Grace Colton, and Karin Pierce, with Nicole Duff and amanda alice uluhan as staff, and with the support of Rev. Steve Furrer.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our congregation and our journey to a Beloved Community. Your ESUC leadership, both professional and lay, is ready to listen to your thoughts about this initiative – making this journey as inclusive as possible. We intend that our collective decision will ultimately account for everyone’s engaged and sustained reflection.

Learn more about the 8th Principle at https://www.8thprincipleuu.org/background.

Board Meeting Date Change

Recently, the Board agreed to change the date of their Board Meetings to the 4th Tuesday of every month. This change is to accommodate the bookkeeping aspect so the most up-to-date numbers can be shared with the Board.

by Maury Edwards, Board Secretary