#372 | Lynn Ann Wagner | Rewrite of Values and Covenant

Submission 372
Lynn Ann Wagner
First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, OK) 7033

What is your suggestion or idea?

Our proposal is a replacement for section C-2.2. Due to word count limits, we will submit it in two submissions, this is the first:Section
C-2.2. Principles and Covenant.

As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant,
congregation-to-congregation, and through our association, to support and
assist one another in our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom,
reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.

Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared
principles. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our
shared principles through the discipline of Love.

Inseparable from one another, these shared
principles are:

inherent worth and dignity of every being. We declare
that every being has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and

covenant to care for all beings with love and empathy, while working toward
justice for all. We cherish the gifts and appreciate the diversity and beauty
of all beings.

equity, and compassion in human relations. We imagine
a world where justice, equity, and compassion in human relations thrive.

We covenant to use
our time, wisdom, attention, activism, and money to build and sustain fully
accessible and inclusive communities. Our collective responsibility is to act
with compassion to achieve equity and justice.

of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations. We accept one another and encourage spiritual growth in our

We covenant to
collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change
is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and
never perfect.

Our proposal is a replacement for section C-2.2. Due to word count limits, we will submit it in two submissions, this is the second:A free
and responsible search for truth and meaning. We seek
truth and meaning with responsibility and freedom.We covenant to learn
from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. In
our religious pluralism, we embrace our differences and commonalities with
Love, curiosity, and respect. With respect for science and world religions, we
celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, experience, and
theology. The
right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our
congregations and in society at large. We support the
use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions. We covenant to
cultivate a spirit of generosity, gratitude, hope, and empathy in our lives in
our decision-making processes.

goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. We adapt to a changing world and imagine a powerful vision of peace by
peaceful means, liberty by liberatory means, and justice by just means.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

  • We like the covenantal language, but there is much discontent within UU communities with the thought of our principles being removed from Article II. It would help to keep the principles and also to include the beautiful covenantal language that the Article II Study Commission came up with. This seems like a compromise that most UUs could get behind, where, as it stands there are many UUs who do not support the Article II Study Commission’s proposal. The principles are beloved by so many and while we know that they would remain if they were no longer a part of Article II, they would not retain the same importance and prominence in our religious movement. In our proposed re-write of Section C-2.2 we retain our beloved principles (add the 8th principle in a more inclusive manner) and also the beautiful covenantal language that the Article II Study Commission spent so much time crafting for us.- The 7 values as they stand in the proposal are limiting as there are many more things that UUs value than those 7 words and we feel that keeping the principles is more expansive and inclusive.- We were also concerned about messaging with the current Article II proposal. It’s hard to have messaging around 7 value words, but in keeping the principles we will retain the easy messaging around our religion that so many love.

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

This a submission, voted on unanimously, from the Board of Trustees at First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City. Our board members are:

President of the Congregation - Marshal Gimpel
President-Elect - Marcia Woodward
Immediate Past President - Lynn Ann Wagner
Clerk - Deborah Shinn
Treasurer - Ron Wasson
Clare Auwarter
Lorriana Lee-Knapp
Larry Little
Laura Lochner
Becky Tallent
Ann Meeks

1 Like

Here is a link to our submission with the correct spacing and paragraph breaks: Proposed Replacement for Article II, Section C-2.2. - Google Docs

I really object to the language, particularly the bit about:

“we covenant,congregation-to-congregation, and through our association, …
We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our
shared principles through the discipline of Love.”

That changes the association from a service bureau, to a central source of authority - completely counter to the notion of congregational polity and accountability to our own consciences.

The UUA has been asserting authoritarian policies already - let’s not grant it more license to do so. Better, let’s make it clear that the UUA is NOT a source of top-down doctrinal authority, and has NOT powers to direct or constrain congregations, or individual UUs. Let’s get back to the spirit of the Cambridge Platform, when it comes to such matters.

Beyond that, the UUA by-laws are NOT a covenant, they are a contract - between organizations. Covenants are statements of intent - and should be kept simple, as with traditional covenants (“Live together in peace, seek truth in freedom, serve humankind in fellowship”). Contracts need to be more specific - able to be adjudicated in court.

I was raised in a UU church, so I never felt a heavily Christian association with the word “covenant”. At my UU summer camp, we use the word “covenant” to mean a set of rules which get their authority from the fact that we (mostly) all want and agreed to them, not from a top-down authority.

I’m okay with the “covenant” language because I see Article II as an agreement about what is the “right” way to behave between ourselves, and this moral authority doesn’t necessarily come from a hierarchal god (though it may, ultimately, for some); it comes from our collective understanding of our inspirations. If that’s what we want “covenant” to mean for us, we need to make that clear.

I like the continued idea of giving the values/principles names rather than numbers, but I think a good (unique and memorable) name needs to be somewhere between a single word and a simple sentence. Even something like “Principle of Compassion”, and “Principle of Democracy” I think would be a great improvement.