Will the Principles and Sources of Unitarian Universalism be Changed?

Jul 1, 2022 | Beacon, News, Top News

I attended the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) General Assembly at Portland, Oregon this year in person. An initiative to do a comprehensive review of the UUA’s Bylaws led to drafts of new language being presented at GA for everyone to give feedback on the section describing UU principles and sources.

General Assembly is the annual meeting of Unitarian Universalists at which the UUA’s business gets done, attendee’s go to workshops, to worship, and network with other congregations, the UUA, and a host of ancillary organizations. It’s a time to find out what is going on in the wider UU world and feel the connection around the world of UUism. A time to understand a congregation’s context for living into mission.

This year, General Assembly was both online and in person. Online attendance has happened before but this year it was given a great deal of attention and planning to make it more accessible and effective. It was possible to attend completely online for a reduced fee and be an online delegate for business only meetings for free.

See https://www.uua.org/ga for more general info about General Assembly.

A complete review of the UUA’s bylaws was approved at this year’s General Assembly. One section of the Bylaws – Article II – is its own separate initiative and is under way now. It is being updated by the Article II Study Commission that was established in June 2020. The Commission is examining the Principles and Purposes of Unitarian Universalism (Article II) of the UUA Bylaws.

The UUA Board asked them to root their work in love to not edit only the words. They want a comprehensive evaluation of all parts of Article II. To revise, replace, restructure, hold nothing sacred about the wording. The focus is love as a principal guide, attending to ways we have understood, articulated and acted out of love.

The Principles and Purposes (Article II) section of the UUA Bylaws include the 7 Principles and 6 Sources of UUism, the purpose of the UUA, an Inclusion statement, and a freedom of belief clause. This year’s General Assembly had 3 hours for reporting out what the Commission has been doing and for attendees to give feedback on their drafts of a new Article II at  Padlet.com/a2sc/ga22

You can view all the public videos from GA online, including the Article II presentations, as follows:

Introduction to the work, Purpose, and Freedom of Belief in General Session II (beginning with Dan McKanan’s theological framing at 20:35 and the Article II’s  presentation at 32:30)

Values (Principles) and Covenant in General Session III (Article II presentation begins at 24:15, followed by a break, and then Dr. Elías Ortega’s theological framing, which begins at 1:29:20)

Inclusion and Inspirations (Sources) in General Session IV (Article II presentation begins at 33:00, followed by a break, and then Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt’s theological framing at 1:20:34)

The Article II Commission will continue to have opportunities to contribute to the process of reimagining Article II throughout the early fall. Watch for more information on how you can be involved!

You can learn more at the Article II Study Commission’s website: uua.org/a2sc

Follow them on Facebook: Article II Study Commission or Instagram: RevUU_A2

Send them your thoughts via their feedback hub at padlet.com/a2sc/ga22

The timeline for the Article II Commission’s work is:

  • January 2023 present draft language to UUA Board.
  • June 2023 General Assembly – mini assemblies held to propose amendments in advance of GA 2023 and then a first vote will be done. If a majority approves, then 1 year of study time by congregations happens with no changes in language.
  • June 2024 final vote is held. There has to be 2/3 approval by GA delegates to pass.

by Grace Colton