#299 | Cheryll Paull | Give the Process More Time to Simmer and Ponder

Submission 299
Cheryll Paull
First Universalist Church of Denver (Denver, CO) 2623

What is your suggestion or idea?

Do NOT Make Any Changes At This Time – Give it More Time to Simmer and Ponder

For whatever reason, and despite the Commission’s diligent work and engagement on Article II, many people did not really become aware of the seriousness (completely revising/changing/re-wording/eliminating) some or all of the Principlas and Sources that they have come to love and live by. Part of the reason could be that many may not have really known or understood that the Principles and Sources are housed in “Article II” – and therefore, when they heard mention of Article II, they tuned it out because it supposedly didn’t pertain to them. I mean, really, who pays attention to Articles and Bylaws, etc. (I say this as one who DOES pay attention to things like that).

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Since the Study Commision now has the full attention of all member congregations and all seem to be actively discussing the changes and voicing how this is affecting them personally, I think it would be wise and extremely beneficial to not rush this to a vote at the 2023 GA. With something that is so far-reaching and at the very core and foundation of so many UUs, this is a BIG, BIG change.

Let’s take a step back and really wordsmith this and take whatever extra time is needed to get this right. After attending several listening sessions at my church and hearing the pain and anguish many are experiencing at the thought of losing their Principles, right now it’s causing much more divisiveness than it is bringing people together; and I know that’s the last thing the Commission or the UUA Board want to do.

One of our beloved congregants, a gentleman who has attended our local church for 63 years, is very distressed at the thought of losing the Principles and Sources as they are currently written – the very things that brought him to a UU church and that have kept him engaged for so many years. I see this in other congregants as well.

My suggestion is not a plea for or against the proposed changes to Article II. I can see both sides of the equation. My hope is that the Commission will take note that though much work has been done, all of their dedication and work will not be lost if things are allowed to slow down a bit and more time is given to soften the edges and really finetune the language in the hope of allowing more people to see the value of change and growth.

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

Yes, I have discussed this with others in my congregation. As mentioned earlier, I have attended several listening sessions conducted on the proposed changes to Article II, and it’s abundantly clear that this caught most, if not all, of our congregation completely off guard. Now that they are fully aware of what is going on, this all feels incredibly rushed for such a momumental change as this. It’s true, as UUs we do not have a creed per se. But we do have our Principles and Sources which give us something to covenant with and which so many rely on for guideance in their every day lives.


Agree on all points. Evolution may be called for; revolution is not.

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I agree. Having spent a considerable amount of time in this forum, it seems that many people are still catching up, and we are a long way from a consensus. Pushing through these changes on the current timetable may result in its acceptance, but I suspect the votes will be close and the wounds will be deep. Or, it may result in a narrow loss for the proposal. Again, the wounds will be deep. Taking a year to more fully discuss and refine the proposal seems the more prudent approach.


I agree this process needs to be restarted, or at least, yes, given more time to simmer!! I also agree that the wounds could be deep.

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This is important. We must have more time. A lot of it.

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Related: #454, #477, #401

The commission is comprised of just a small group of people, and it took at least a couple years between the formulation of this idea and the draft we have now. But just at least week’s Zoom meeting, there were 200 people attending – mostly delegates it seems – surely representing many thousands of congregants. Larger groups take longer to communicate, give feedback and find consensus. Thousands or even hundreds of people cannot possibly respond in a few months, especially when most people, delegates included, have limited time in their week to participate. It’s not practical for people with obligations to read and discuss >450 amendments in a matter of weeks.

There are a few aspects of being rushed that feel manipulative to me. My experience is that when someone wants me to make a decision urgently for their own deadline, it’s because they want a blind agreement under pressure. The fact that the first draft was published with little publicity reminds me of laws that congressional representatives try to slip in without people noticing. I don’t think any of this was intentional, but I think it adds unneeded friction either way.


Agreed. Take more time to provide congregants with a chance to distill the main differences – not identifying the sources, using the graphic, replacing principles with values, adding covenants, including accountabilitym and changing the purpose – and obtain feedback to determine whether most congregations are on board in each area that departs from our current article II. Then, if there is widespread acceptance, offer congregations a way to rank the values.

I don’t see any reason these seven values are integral to Unitarian Universalism and also think there are too many. If someone asks me what’s UU, there’s no chance I would rattle off these seven values. Plus there are ill-defined. We need lucid language that inspires.

The answers to the FAQs sound defensive to me, which isn’t surprising when the process wasn’t democratic. Finally the Comission should actively consider alternate views so as to build trust.