UU Church of Meadville (Meadville, PA) 7313
What is your suggestion or idea?
Amend the second paragraph to read,
“Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We
are accountable to one another for doing challenge and support one another to do the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of unconditional, discerning, and nonjudgmental L love.”
The edited paragraph would read, “Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We challenge and support one another to do the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of unconditional, discerning, and nonjudgmental love.”
What is the reason for your amendment idea?
Calling for accountability without a mechanism for accountability is empty. The charge to the bylaws review team adopted at the 2022 GA asks the review to “Provide accountability to our long-standing anti-racist and anti-oppressive commitments.” The appropriate time to address accountability will be when that change to the UUA’s governance has been proposed and is being contemplated for adoption.
Asking delegates to approve accountability without a clear process of accountability or clearly specified consequences for those who are deemed to not be “do[ing] the work of living our shared values” causes anxiety and could sink this proposal. Including the language of accountability without defining it and its bounds is almost guaranteed to cause recriminations and harm.
In the same vein, enough harm has already been committed in the name of love. Consider, for example, Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them,” which is too often used to justify child abuse. Let us remind ourselves in these core values that we do not seek to judge and condemn those with whom we disagree. We seek instead to hold all beings in unconditional love while calling them (and ourselves) to greater wisdom and right action.
Likewise, discernment is essential to our work. We must discern those actions that are harmful and distinguish them from those actions that promote healing and wholeness, so that we may choose and act wisely and encourage others to do the same.
Judgment, which adds condemnation and punishment to discernment, should be beyond the pale. As one who was far wiser than me is reputed to have said, “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone.” Who among us would pass that test?
Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?
We have had two meetings after Church to discuss the proposed Article II revisions. Each was attended by about 20 people, a sizable portion of our regular attendees. The use of accountable here and in this way caused a tremendous amount of anxiety among those present, since it is not clear by what standards we would be judged, who will do the judging, or what the consequences of being found wanting would be.
There was universal agreement that love needs to be defined in some way, and broad support for adding the qualifiers, “unconditional, discerning, and nonjudgmental”