#114 | Jay Kiskel | Statement of Welcome

Submission 114
Jay Kiskel
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) 3032

What is your suggestion or idea?

Section C-2.3. Inclusion.Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons and commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.

Section C-2.3. Statement of WelcomeThe Association affirms its special responsibility and that of its member congregations to welcome and promote the full participation of all people regardless of religious backgrounds and beliefs, nationality, sexual or affectional orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, marital status, family structure, age, mental or physical health and ability, political affiliation, or educational or class status.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

The Inclusion statement is the only section not changed. The A2SC stated, “it was largely in line with current thinking and future needs.

No such section appeared in the 1961 version of Article II. In 1967, Section 5 was added that affirmed the Association’s “special responsibility” to promote the full participation of everyone regardless of “race, color, sex, or national origin.” Over the years, the list expanded. Then in 2009, a different approach was taken. In that last attempt to rewrite Article II, the current Inclusion language appeared. GA delegates rejected this language and other proposed changes to Article II. Supporters pursued an alternate bylaw path and relegated the list of “race, ethnicity,” etc. to a Rule in the bylaws and, in 2013, inserted the language we have today.

“Systems of power, privilege, and oppression” is an unfortunate choice of language in a statement intended to affirm our welcoming nature. The language communicates more a warning than a welcome. It also begs the question, what commitment has there been to “replace such barriers?” This language has been in Article II for a decade. The A2SC’s intention to renew this characterization of Unitarian Universalism for another 15 years is disheartening.

It is recommended that the current language again be rejected and a clear welcome statement be adopted. Change the section from Inclusion to Statement of Welcome. The opening sentence is based on the language used in 1967 when UUism made a bold statement in the tumult of the Civil Rights Era. We have continued being bold by expanding the list of those we wish to accept for who they are. Let us celebrate our boldness.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

I have had many, many discussions with fellow UUs. I follow a very active discussion group on the website Save the Seven Principles (https://savethe7principles.wordpress.com). My congregation’s Men’s Group discussed Article II at our weekend Retreat. My congregation will be holding a congregation-wide discussion on June 3.

BTW: Much of the discussion on Article II has not been supportive of the changes. There is generally a lack of awareness of this rewrite. Those who are aware do not understand the rationale for making such substantial changes to the Seven Principles.


UUism is a positive movement about community, truth, freedom, and justice. It deserves a positive statement.

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