Article II of the Bylaws of our Association is more commonly known to us as our Purposes and Principles. They come to us from the time of merger in 1961 and have had some changes over the years. Last year the UUA Board asked the Commission on Appraisal to review them on our behalf. Not only did they review them, they have revised them and posted the revision for the review of all of us. You can read the current P&P at http://www.uua.org/aboutus/bylaws/articleii/index.shtml and you can see the proposed changes at http://uuworld.org/news/articles/119311.shtml.
To make these somewhat easier to view I am including them at the end of this article.
These have not just been tinkered with, they have really been amended significantly. There is hardly any statement we make, as a non-creedal religious body than our Purposes and Principles. They draw many of us to our commitment and for many form the covenant of faith we have with each other. They are not to be taken lightly, which is why I ask you to take a good look at the current and the proposed by-law change. You can then go to http://www25.uua.org/coa/ and leave your comments to the COA .
I am still in the process of studying these myself but I will leave my comments by the October 16 deadline and I will post them here.
You can also look at http://uuworld.org/news/articles/119308.shtml for additional information and links.
The bloggers are also into this and you can see the critical, the humorous and the mundane at
http://philocrites.com for Monday, September 15th.
Here is the timeline for the whole process:
- October 16, 2008 Deadline for congregational and other responses
- October 23-26, 2008 COA meets to consider responses
- December 15, 2008 Final draft of our proposal sent to UUA Board
- June 24-28, 2009 General Assembly. At GA the CoA will hold a hearing, provide a written and verbal report, and host a Mini-assembly. Delegates will vote on preliminary approval (simple majority required).
- June 23-27, 2010 General Assembly. 2/3 majority vote required for adoption.
As you can see the UUA Board will be asked to review the final draft at its January meeting. I would like to hear your comments on this. You can either leave them here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTICLE II: Covenant
Section C-2.1 Purposes.
As a voluntary association of free yet interdependent congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association will support the health and growth of existing congregations and the formation of new congregations. The Association will devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. It will empower the creation of just and diverse congregations that enact Unitarian Universalist Principles in the world.
Section C-2.2 Identity.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is composed of congregations rooted in the heritage of two religious faiths: the Unitarian heritage ever questioning and ever seeking the unity in all things, and the Universalist heritage ever affirming the power of hope and God’s infinite love. Both traditions have been shaped by heretics, choice-makers who in every age have summoned individuals and communities to maintain their beliefs in spite of persecution and to struggle for religious freedom.
Section C-2.3 Sources.
The living tradition we share draws from many sources.
Unitarianism and Universalism are grounded on more than two thousand years of Jewish and Christian teachings, traditions, and experiences. Unitarian Universalism is not contained in any single book or creed. It draws from the teachings of the Abrahamic religions, Earth-centered spirituality, and other world religious traditions. It engages perspectives from humanism, mysticism, theism, skepticism, naturalism, and feminist and liberation theologies. It is informed by the arts and the sciences. It trusts the value of direct experiences of mystery and wonder, and it recognizes the sacred may be found within the ordinary.
Wisdom and beauty may be expressed in many forms: in poetry and prose, in story and song, in metaphor and myth, in drama and dance, in fabric and painting, in scripture and music, in drawing and sculpture, in public ritual and solitary practice, in prophetic speech and courageous deed.
Grateful for the traditions that have strengthened our own, we strive to avoid misappropriation of cultural and religious practices and to seek ways of appreciation that are respectful and welcomed.
Section C-2.4 Principles.
In order that we might work together in harmony to make our communities and our world more likely to protect and nurture all that is positive and hopeful; and in order that members of our congregations might find spiritual challenge to become their best selves as they worship and work together to create the Beloved Community, we, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to honor and uphold:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person
At the core of Unitarian Universalism is recognition of the sanctity of every human being across the lifespan. We are relational creatures, capable of both good and evil. We have experienced enough brokenness, including in ourselves, to seek the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. We are called to make choices that help to heal and transform ourselves and the world, and to move toward solidarity with all beings.
Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
Grateful for the gift of life and mindful of our own mortality, we seek to respond with generosity and loving action. We are called to live in right relationship with others.
Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth
We seek to enter dialogue with one another in mutual love and respect, honoring our varied backgrounds and paths. We are called to stretch and deepen our faith through religious education, creative engagement, and spiritual practice in our congregations and in our lives.
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
Unitarian Universalism is an evolutionary religion that encourages and supports lifelong spiritual exploration. Unitarian Universalist religious authority lies in the individual, nurtured and tested in congregation and wider community. In a spirit of humility and openness, we are called to seek truth and meaning, wherever found, through experience, reason, intuition, and emotion.
The right of conscience and the use of democratic processes
We seek to ensure that all voices are heard, especially those often left out on the margins. We are called to promote fairness, accountability, honesty, and transparency.
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
We seek to create, sustain, and celebrate multigenerational and multicultural communities where oppression cannot thrive and where hope and peace flourish. We are called to counter legacies of injustice and to foster reconciliation.
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
Inspired by the beauty and holiness of the Earth, we become more willing to relinquish material desires. We recognize the need for sacrifice as we build a world that is both just and sustainable. We are called to be good stewards, restoring the Earth and protecting all beings.
As free yet interdependent congregations, we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust, kindness, and support. Should we break this covenant, we will seek to repair the relationship and recommit to the promises we have made.
Section C-2.5 Inclusion.
We strive to be an association of congregations that welcome persons of every identity while calling them to act in right relationship. We encourage the fullest participation allowed by law, with no person excluded solely on the basis of age or identity.
Structures of power have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with certain identities, abilities, and histories. Dissatisfied with mere non-discrimination, we commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance the efforts and experiences of every participant.
Section C-2.6 Freedom of Belief.
Freedom of belief is central to the Unitarian Universalist heritage. Nothing in these bylaws shall be deemed to infringe upon individual freedom of belief. Although no statement of belief can be required as a creedal test for individual membership in a congregation or congregational affiliation with the Association, congregations are free to establish their own statements of purpose, covenants, and bonds of union.