Board decision on timely public statements on social justice issues.

In the last several months, the UUCF Board of Directors and congregation have had thoughtful discussions concerning how to best communicate our liberal religious values. The board heard a variety of opinions in meetings, emails and conversations. The majority of voices called for UUCF to be a beacon of liberal religious values in accordance with our principles, and for us to stand up for all marginalized people. We also heard that in this process, it was important that the elected board leadership exercise sound judgment and oversight.

After careful consideration of our governance, policy and congregational input, the board withdraws its Congregational Endorsement that was tabled on Feb. 5. Instead, we will be using the following procedure:

Where the need for public witness by UUCF arises in a situation that is deemed to require a timely and specific response, the Coordinating Team (CT) will propose an appropriate action or response, which will be forwarded to the board by email for review and approval. UUCF members may also propose urgent actions to the CT for consideration. If an action or response is not clearly within the bounds of UUCF’s principles, mission or vision, or if it is known to be contentious among the membership or involve significant risk to the congregation, the CT may request that the board consider additional review steps, up to and including a congregational vote, before approving the action.

We base this decision on the existing policy on “Taking Public Positions on Social Justice Issues,” which states: “Not all issues concerning social justice activity need to be brought before the entire Congregation” and that in some situations, public witness can be determined by approval from the ministers, board president and Social Justice Council (which is overseen by the CT). This used to be a board policy, but was moved to a CT policy by the board last year as part of a revision of the Governance Manual. It has been modified by the CT to include the procedure outlined above. (Read the revised policy here.) As always, these decisions do not imply that all UUCF members must adhere to any particular opinion on a subject – diverse beliefs are part of the free faith that we enjoy.

The Board of Directors is committed to transparent and effective communication. We are adding additional communication channels to ensure the congregation is aware of our initiatives and processes. We will be issuing quarterly reports of board activities, which will be publicly available.