#236 | George Beach | Give Congregations Direct Voice First

Submission 236
George Beach
Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge, Sperryville, Virginia

What is your suggestion or idea?

I oppose the proposal for two reasons:

First, the proposal replaces the covenant of congregations
by which the UUA is constituted with a covenant of individuals, thus remaking the UUA as a membership organization of individuals.

The present
Article II says that the UUA is constituted by a covenant among congregations. The proposed
Article II begins: “As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant,
congregation-to-congregation, and through our association, to support and
assist one another in our ministries.”
In short, the UUA is constituted by individuals who identify as
Unitarian Universalists. Saying “congregation-to-congregation”
and “through our association” are meaningless; and no public way of joining this
association mentioned.

Second, the elimination of the Sources section undercuts the
very concept of “covenant.” A covenant
is a mutual commitment to “walk together” in days to come, rooted in gratitude and affection for all we have received, our
spiritual heritage. Just so, the Sources section in the present Article II names
the spiritual traditions in which our basic values, named as seven Principles,
are rooted. This is the multi-faceted heritage, the gift we are grateful for; it underlies and supports our principles, our value-commitments—our task. The diversity of these Sources legitimates the
diversity of personal beliefs among us; it also draws us into a community where
we gain new appreciations of meaning and value from one another.

The single sentence in the proposed Article II seems intended to mollify us: “We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage
building on the foundation of love.” This
does not root those “heritages” in identifiable, historical sources, but leaves
them as a free-floating spirituality.
This is a pale reflection of the multi-faceted “living tradition” we know
and treasure. The entire proposal should
be rejected.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

The proposed change was circulated to all congregations, asking for their opinions, which means that the entire proposal by-passes the democratic process expected by our UUA By-laws. My two main objections to this text are given in the body of my statement.

Your form presumes that the proposed text can be modified, but not, as I suggest, set aside at least until the congregations have been consulted and given a direct voice, as is essential under congregational polity (or self-government).

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

Yes, I shared a longer version of this text and discussed my concern with my congregation last Sunday morning in a congregational meeting.


The last time Article II was changed, congregations discussed it for years first

I do think they should start over. I didn’t hear about this until late last year. I was extremely surprised they did a complete rewrite. It was uncalled for. I’ve grown to like what we have now over the last 20+ years. It was on my refrigerator, and it made me think.

I hope it gets voted down so we can have a pause and a do-over.

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