#248 | Kara Stebbins | Individual Freedom and Equity before Justice

Submission 248
Kara Stebbins
UU Fellowship of Madison County (Richmond, KY) 3726

What is your suggestion or idea?


Equity. We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worthiness.

We respect every individual’s freedom of belief and right of conscience. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money resources to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities that support every person to express who they are.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Our Fellowship understands the Values are in “random” order, but they’ll inevitably appear in a particular order whether in graphic or list form. Equity (including inherent dignity) belongs right before Justice – like in our Principles. That order makes more sense and flows as a whole: Acknowledge Interdependence; Celebrate Diversity; Support Equity; Seek Justice; Adapt with Change; Share Generosity.

(Others may disagree, but one summary of Values and Covenant that makes sense to me is: “If we acknowledge interdependence and celebrate diversity, we will naturally want to support equity and seek justice – which will necessarily require that we adapt with change and share generosity.”)

Regarding the first sentence of Equity: “Declare” is a strong word. But the intensity of the sentence is increased too much by “the right to flourish.” Note the common phrase, “right to pursuit of happiness." We prefer to simply declare that every person HAS inherent dignity and worthiness.

It’s important to add the second sentence – to include the ideas of freedom of belief and right of conscience within Section C-2.2. We include them specifically under the Equity Value, since they are part of respecting each person’s dignity and worthiness. (And all the other Values have 2 sentences each!)

In the final sentence, we removed the repeated religious word “covenant.” We replaced the crass(?) and specific word “money” with the more encompassing word “resources,” but then decided to delete that entire phrase.

Last but not least, we suggest adding the final phrase “support every person to express who they are.” Without that phrase, it isn’t clear how the final sentence relates to Equity. Also, without that phrase, it sounds too similar to “Beloved Communities” in Justice, or “share our resources” in Generosity.

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

Our Fellowship had a democratic approach to the Amendment process. While a straw poll indicated a slim majority would prefer to keep Article II as it is, the other votes indicated we should try to come up with Amendments that could conceivably change some “no” votes to “yes.” We began writing this Amendment in response to input from the Fellowship during two Sunday Services. We later word-smithed a suggested Amendment with our weekly zoom group. Finally, the full Fellowship had an opportunity to review this written Amendment. No objections were voiced.

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