#177 | Nancy Henley | Leave Principles in Place & Add 8th

Submission 177
Nancy Henley
Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Durham, NC) 6632

What is your suggestion or idea?

After Section C-2.2, add a new Section C-2.3. Present Section C-2.3 becomes C-2.4, etc.
New Section C-2.3 Principles
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Action toward accountably dismantling racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

The Board, the Article 2 Study Commission and others have advocated for change in UU guiding documents, in this case the Bylaws. Statements of values have been proposed to replace the Principles which have served us in life and congregational work for 40+ years. Principles are to be removed but no statement has been made that our principles are wrong or somehow undesirable. The Principles are defining statements which have drawn generations of people to Unitarian Universalism. They provide a common language for us and are touchstones for actions and behaviors. Beyond this spiritual and guidance role, the Principles are integrated into every part of the UUA, other national UU organizations, and our congregations: UU hymnals, our religious education materials, our publications and marketing materials. Eliminating the Principles will be destablizing for UU congregations and will generate expenses(and distractions) for the UUA and congregations due to redesigning and producing new materials, new curricula, new marketing materials and so forth. The clear path to meeting a variety of needs is to leave the Principles in place and add other language felt to be necessary for 21st Century congregations.

The proposed Eighth Priniciple or an edited version needs to be added to the Current seven Principles. Simplified language is offered above.

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

I have listened to many members of my congregation talk about the changes propose for the bylaws. Individually and in meetings on Article 2 revisions, they express distress. They see no reason to eliminate the Principles. People feel very strongly about this. They are shocked that it has been considered and proposed.


I absolutely agree with this compromise that welcomes the inclusion of the new Values presented in C-2.2, and simultaneously retains the defining statements that are the foundation of Unitarian Universalism that distinguishes us from other religious denominations.


Several members of our congregation have expressed the same ideas. The principles are more concise and better organized, in my opinion. They are easier to explain. In the new values, the search for truth and meaning and the democratic principle have been relegated to a place where it’s hard to see they are our values. I will be writing a suggestion where they are moved more to the center of our values if they are to stay.


Nancy, thanks for submitting this comment. As a fellow member of Eno River UU Fellowship, I concur with Nancy’s representation of how members, especially long-time members, are responding to this radical proposal to eliminate our UU Principals in such a rash and short-sighted manner as to the meaning, purpose, and significance they fulfill in members’ ethical and spiritual lives. I respect and appreciate the need to grow and evolve but evolution “transcends and includes.” It does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keeping our Seven Principles and adding the 8th offers a more respectful and reasonable way forward.


I agree with leaving the 8 principles in place. While congregation-driven exploration of updating UU principles could be fruitfully explored, this process has felt like it has mostly brought distress. It feels rushed and I am concerned about big changes that aren’t coming from the grassroots.


I also agree and support this suggestion.

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I completely agree with Nancy in the importance of preserving our current 7 principles and sources, as well as perhaps adding an 8th principle, that says in addition to affirming those principles, we with act in accordance with them. Then all of the proposed C-2 could be added as a “Discussion of our Values”

Many members of my congregation are hoping that the 7 UU Principles will be retained while adding the 8th Principle. Nancy makes such salient points. The principles serve as a touchstone for what we stand for and are the starting point for conversations with others outside the UUA. Let’s keep the Principles in their own section and add a separate section for the Values. It is also important to many in my congregation that we preserve the historical Sources. As a vibrant faith tradition, new sources may be added, of course, but let’s remember our roots.

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In a ranked-choice voting process,* #177 would be one of my top three choices (#486 by Kara Stebbins being another).

I would just stress that the pandemic era, with so much alteration in our individual lives and the lives of our UU communities, contributes to our sense (the sense among many, I should say) that an incremental approach will better support our emotional and spiritual health.

Abrupt change that might have felt exciting and welcome a year or two or three ago comes now at a time of exhaustion for so many of us!

I’m mostly optimistic and hopeful and energized, in huge part because of my wonderful congregation; but whatever we can do to ease the burdens of emerging from this era, psychological and otherwise, that’s what I hope we will take time and thought to do.

*I respect that we don’t have ranked-choice voting on this, at least not yet! but I keep coming back to it and wondering how it might be implemented in a helpful way.

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I am a big fan of ranked-choice voting (RCV), and am working with a group advocating for it in New Jersey, but with so many amendments, that would really be difficult! When we had 3 presidential candidates, we did use RCV.


Note re amendments that weren’t prioritized or presented: This forum is closing for comment tomorrow, but our lay-led public Facebook group, Blue Boat Passengers, will remain open for another few weeks for commenting (and still be viewable after that).

People who want to find others to coordinate about the 15-congregation amendment process may use the group to do so while it is open. There’s now a specific post for this in the group (“A post for those wishing to do the 15-congregation amendment process to coordinate”). Please read both the rules and the pinned post before posting or commenting there.


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