#378 | Barry Mahoney | Revision of Values

Submission 378
Barry Mahoney
First Universalist Church of Denver

What is your suggestion or idea?

Revise proposed Section C-2.2 to read: As Unitarian Universalists, 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 values. Our shared values include:Interdependence. We recognize that we are in many ways dependent on one another and on the larger world and universe in which we exist. We seek to create and foster nurturing relationships of care and respect.

Pluralism. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, experience, and theology. We aspire to learn from one another and to embrace our differences as well as our commonalities with love, curiosity, and respect.

Justice. We seek honesty, fairness, and accountability in our relationships with others, in the larger society, and in the processes and outcomes of deliberations that we undertake in our congregations and in this association.

Transformation. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages. We adapt to the changing world and seek to grow spiritually and ethically, grounded in our principles and values.

Generosity. We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope. We will freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources.

Equity. We recognize that historic inequities have led to oppressed, underserved, and underrepresented populations. We seek to ensure that every person gets the opportunities and resources needed to succeed in our congregations and in the world.
We covenant to act on our shared values, our purposes, and our principles, as we work to serve our members’ needs, strengthen and deepen our connections with others, repair damaged relationships, end racism and other oppressions, and build and sustain accessible and inclusive communities.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Reasons: (1) The list of values in the Commission’s proposal implies that these are the only or the predominant values for UUs. However, there are many other values that are important to UUs individually and to member congregations (e.g., compassion, inquiry, tolerance, truth, logic, spirituality, wonder, mystery, resilience) which are not mentioned in the Commission’s proposal. It seems desirable to say that our UU values include those that are listed in this section. (2) The descriptions of the six values seem unduly narrow (e.g., the discussion/explanations of “Justice” and “Equity). (3) The Study Commission’s draft contains too many covenants, some of them clearly unachievable; and (4) the commission’s adaptation of language drawn from the seven principles will be unnecessary if the current principles are retained in a revised Article II as many have recommended, a position that I strongly support. This suggested amendment contains only a single covenant: to act on our shared values as we work to serve members’ needs, strengthen and deepen our connections with others, repair damaged relationships, end racism and other oppressions, and build accessible and inclusive communities. Rather than covenanting to achieve ambitious objectives that are not likely to be met, this suggested draft covenants that we will work to achieve them.

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

The basic idea underlying this suggested amendment—that, while there is much to like in the Commission’s proposal, there is also much that is missing or needs further refinement—was discussed at length in a couple of small group meetings of members of the First Universalist Church of Denver in which I participated. The suggested amendment was also included in a written preliminary draft of possible amendments to the Study Commission’s report that was prepared by a colleague and me. That draft was made available to participants in the four listening sessions that First Universalist held during April 2023. While the suggested amendment was not discussed in detail at these sessions, comments from participants indicated strong support for seeking to meld the best of the Commission’s proposal (edited in some instances, as here) with what is currently in Article II including retention of the seven principles.