#397 | Kathleen MacLeod | Both/and Values and Principles

Submission 397
Kathleen MacLeod
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego

What is your suggestion or idea?

Note: Attempts to strikethrough the proposed values text for each item exceeded the 300 word limit; if requested, the appropriate edited text can be provided, albeit without the 300 word limit.

Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm, promote and act on seven values-based Principles:
1st: Equity for every person to flourish in their inherent worth, dignity, right of conscience and inclusion in society.

2nd: Compassion in human relations, acceptance of one another with empathy, generosity, atonement and forgiveness.

3rd: Transformation through spiritual growth with openness to life and change.

4th: Pluralism through culture, experience and theology, learning from one another in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

5th: Democracy practiced in our faith and society at large, building Beloved Community, while lifting up marginalized voices, centered in Love.

6th: Justice for a diverse world community, dismantled of racism and all forms of systemic oppression, where all thrive with peace and liberty.

7th: Interdependence cherishing Earth, all beings and our place in the great web of all existence.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Compromise is essential in a democracy. This suggestion modifies values by linking them to the familiar intent of the 7 principles – a both/and option, instead of the typical either/or option of values or principles. It puts requested verbs in the preface and also restores Democracy to its congregationalist foundation in our faith, as religious authority for social action in society, per James Luther Adams.

The A2SC’s bold charge (pg. 6) doesn’t fit current bylaws that exclude congregational authority to repeal and replace original text. In 1961 when principles were adopted as the core of UUism, congregations had voted in two plebiscites (pg. 11) to arrive at initial Article II wording. The bylaws (line 1649) require congregation involvement in amendment studies, but don’t require congregational plebiscites to repeal Article II. Until bylaws are updated, delegates to GAs should only consider proposals that revise or add to Article II as has been done previously. UU principles deal with life in depth individually (1), relationally (2), spiritually (3), rationally (4), communally (5), globally (6) and existentially (7). In line with the A2SC’s charge (pg. 8) to consider framings of our principles that allows them to be brief and poetic, this suggestion re-arranges the values in order of the 7 principles and updates principle wordings with a values emphasis – a compromise appropriate for consideration by GA delegates.

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

This compromise suggestion has been promoted by 3 GA delegates and posted on our large church’s Article II webpage for response from congregants. It was also emailed directly to our Board of Trustees and members attending a church forum on Article II. There had been no formal involvement of our congregation in a A2SC survey; sermons in early 2023 began to raise awareness.

Despite our efforts to promote conversation, the response has been minimal (10 out of a membership total of 497 replied): 50% (5) support the compromise; 30% (3) voted no and 20% (2) abstained. Of note is one No vote who cc’d over 25 others): ““I’m concerned that the proposal doesn’t address the 8th principle that our congregation (and many others) have adopted. Without addressing that, any proposal is a non-starter in my opinion””. The 8th Principle Learning Group (8PLG) reports 241 congregations have adopted the 8th principle as of a month ago; this is just 14 congregations short of the 25% threshold for consideration at GA.

1 Like

I agree with this compromise proposal because it clearly states the principles and the values on which they are based. In addition, it gives democratic process and principles the prominence they deserve. I left my congregation because of “banana republic” practices of appointing friends to the Board and to committees of the board and the president of the Board denigrating the anti racism work of the Journey Toward Wholeness team and gloating about how she got rid of everyone working on that team, then picking her friends for a new Good Relations committee. During her 2-year tenure on the Board as VP and President, the Board banished a congregant from membership for a year without an opportunity to be heard (due process), and our membership numbers plummeted from 1000 to 450. Open and transparent practices must be at the core of everything our churches do!

I really like this Kathleen!

It’s a very effective compromise.

I think you have included the concepts of the 8th principle.

I like how you addressed the Value issue.

The part that stands out to me the most is in #2: “empathy, generosity, atonement and forgiveness.” I think we could all use a little more of that!

  • Kara

Our church is becoming divided. Article 2 Compromise is possible. The addition of a descriptive value word that would precede our current principles may add clarity for those who want more simplicity. For those are concerned that racial justice must be empathized, either the concept could be strengthened by the insertion of clear statements of desire to dismantle racism or the addition of an Eighth Principle phrased as a principle. I like the insertion of building a Beloved Community “while lifting up marginalized voices” to overcome our faiths’ current white congregational majority rule. Elimination of our Seven Principle was an overkill but the inclusion of much of the good work of the Commission should be used to advantage to modernize the way we present ourselves.

Thank you, Kara, for your thoughts and support.

Thank you, Jane, for your feedback. I think your last sentence summarized the situation well: Elimination of our Seven Principle was an overkill but the inclusion of much of the good work of the Commission should be used to advantage to modernize the way we present ourselves.