#12 | Matthew Johnson | Replace "Adapt" with "Shape"

Submission 12
Matthew Johnson
The Unitarian Universalist Church (Rockford, IL) 3414

What is your suggestion or idea?

Transformation. We adapt to the shape and are shaped by the changing world. We covenant to collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

This replaces “adapt to the” with “shape and are shaped by the” before “changing world.” We do not just adapt to the world, we are part of it, and we shape it. It is an ongoing dynamic relationship. The “shape and shaped by” language is, of course, drawn from Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” and it reflects our commitments to Process Theology, social change, and evolutionary science. We are part of a living system – we shape it and it shapes us. This more poetic language is also more scientifically and theologically aligned with our practice.

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

Yes, I’ve talked with multiple other colleagues; they loved this new language and encouraged me to submit it.


I had similar thoughts for the same reasons. My suggestion was: "Ours is a living tradition and we adapt to a changing world. We covenant… We support one another in shaping change in accordance with our shared values.

1 Like

Octavia Butler is such an inspirational source for me. I love bringing this in here. Thank you!


I like the use of the word “adapt,” but I would change the second sentence as follows:

We covenant to individually and collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically.

We need to do our work together, but we need to do our own personal work, as well.


I love this proposed amendment. Bless you for posting your thoughtful amendments here.

I like that suggestion too.

Here’s what the group came up with: Transformation. We embrace possibilities in an always changing world. We covenant to grow spiritually and ethically, accept ourselves and one another, and collectively advance transformations that embody Love. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect.

I can’t support “accept others or accept ourselves.” I don’t accept for example Nazis. And I don’t want anything in the bylaws that tells me I have to. It’s not true that Unitarian universalists can believe anything.

That’s in the current principles in #2; the idea here is that we need both acceptance and transformation that embodies love. I don’t think it implies acceptance as in “whatever you say must be true and OK.” More like “I see you, let’s journey to a better place”. FWIW

Yes that’s one thing I don’t like about the Principles.

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