By Susan Bennett, President, UUCF Board of Directors
Did you know there is a proposal to update our current Unitarian Universalist Principles with new Values in the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)? If not, maybe it’s time to turn your thoughtful reflection to this issue. I encourage you to read the entire Report to the UUA Board of Trustees from the Article II Study Commission. The report includes the background on what led to the proposed changes, the process they used and the timeline for what happens over the next year and a half as well as the current version of Article II and the proposed revision.
We started our congregational reflection on this work on Jan. 8, when Rev. David A. Miller preached a sermon, Article II Commission: Orthodoxy vs. Heresy, followed by a congregational conversation about the proposed changes. The purpose of the conversation was to explain the proposed changes, the history of what led to the changes and to give people a chance to share their thoughts and feelings and hear from others. Forty people attended.
Why should we care about this and engage in the process? The most important reason is that it gives us all an opportunity to examine what we believe as individuals, what shared values draw us together and how we want to live our values. In the 30 years I’ve been a UU, I’ve never seen so much engagement in a denomination-wide dialogue about our shared values and beliefs. I think it’s a very good thing for us to examine our beliefs in this way and really ask ourselves to articulate what this faith calls on us to do. My personal opinion is that we UUs have too often defined ourselves by what we are not. If we can make progress on defining ourselves by what we do believe, we will be a more robust and enduring faith. Whether or not the proposed changes pass, we will have engaged in a conversation that will make us better UUs.
Here at UUCF, the board and the Leadership and Nominating Committee (LNC) will hold two identical opportunities to hear from congregants on this issue. One will be after the service on Mar. 12 and the other will be Zoom only on the evening of Mar. 13. Each event will provide an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings about the proposed changes to all attendees. Look for more details in the weeks to come. We will also be providing information through a variety of avenues to help everyone become aware of the process.
Article II forums will be held at the regional level by the UUA to get people talking about the proposal this spring. There will be a mini assembly in May 2023 for congregational delegates to offer amendments to the proposal. In order to change a UUA bylaw, it must be voted on at two General Assemblies (GAs). Details on the process are in the Article II Commission’s Report.
When we met on Jan. 8, we focused on gathering initial feelings from small groups. At our forums on Mar. 12 and 13, we will provide an opportunity for everyone to speak directly to all present. My hope is that we can listen to each other deeply and actively, with open hearts and minds, as we engage in this process, and that we especially listen to the voices of people in our faith whose experiences may be very different from our own so that we can grow in our understanding of each other. I encourage you to consider joining me at GA and applying to be a UUCF delegate. Look for more information on how to apply to be a delegate in the coming weeks from the LNC or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.