#90 | Tim Bartik | Balance Community and Freedom

Submission 90
Tim Bartik
Free-range Unitarian

What is your suggestion or idea?

Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant. As Unitarian UniversalistsUniversalist congregations, 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.

By “love” we mean our recognition with both our hearts and minds of our shared universal humanity, which moves us to cherish and respect one another and all other persons, in all our diverse characteristics and beliefs. Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.

We are accountable to one another for seeking to better understand our shared values, and for seeking to better live out those shared values, guided in both our hearts and minds by a spirit of love. This accountability means that we are always willing to listen to each other’s perspectives, informed by our diverse lives, and to take seriously the critique that we may have missed the mark, in our words and deeds.

Our shared values, which complement each other, include interdependence, pluralism, justice, transformation, generosity, and equity. We begin a definition of these values with the following, which, however, should only be viewed as a beginning: our congregations and each individual members should and will develop these values in their own chosen directions.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 the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.

Inseparable from one another, these shared values are:

Interdependence. We honor the interdependent web of all existence. We covenant to cherish Earth and all beings by creating and nurturing relationships of care and respect. With humility and reverence, we acknowledge our place in the great web of life, and we work to repair harm and damaged relationships.

Pluralism. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, experience, and theology., and political opinions.We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Learning from one another requires that we listen to others’ perspectives, and that we are willing and able to share our own perspectives, and to then see how we can best move forward, ideally encompassing as many perspectives as possible. We embrace our differences and commonalities with Lovelove, curiosity, and respect. , and with a willingness to be critiqued.

Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive and all are free. We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions. Such democracy is valuable for itself as a way of life, and we also believe that democracy leads to better results. Therefore, the association will seek to maximize the participation of as many members as possible in its decision-making.

Transformation. WeAs congregations, we recognize that we must adapt to the changing world. We covenant that we are willing as congregations to collectively transform andour ways. Furthermore, we will encourage the freely chosen spiritual paths of our members, as they seek to grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect. As that UU heritage also teaches, that change must be freely chosen by each individual.

Generosity. WeAs congregations, we cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope. We covenant to freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources., both within our congregations and within our association, and with our communities and with the broader world. Our generosity connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality. , which includes a generous respect for the right to be different.

Equity. We declareAll persons are equal in their potential for freely choosing a moral and ethical path. By their humanity each individual person is inherently imbued with both dignity and worth. To fully express that dignity and worth, every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worthiness, and realize all their chosen capabilities. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.
, in which each person is free to express their own best self, consistent with a spirit of love.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

This amendment’s purposes include: (1) Clarifying that coveant is between congregations, not individuals. (2) Defining what love and accountability mean, so that these central ideas are both more powerful, but mis-use of these terms is more limited. (3) Pluralism is expanded to included diversity of opinions.(4) The call for “democracy” within the “justice” subsection is made actionable by calling on the UUA to promote greater internal democratic participation. (5) Transformation section clarifies that transformation, to be meaningful, must be freely chosen by individual. (6) Generosity and equity subsections also add some language emphasizing individual free expression. Overall, this amendment seeks to balance the current draft’s emphasis on communal action with language that more greatly values individual freedom.

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

Discussed at Blue Boat Passengers Facebook group – several people liked the suggestions at that group.


Lots going on here! I sure like the emphasis on individual choice and differences of political opinion. If we really value pluralism (and I’m sure we do), then we should spell out that pluralism is OK even when it’s about politics (how useful is the “white supremacy culture” narrative? when is “freedom of speech” a good idea? etc.)

Right, which is why it is hard to discuss amendments to this values and covenant section – there’s so much there.

My “reasons for amendment idea” highlights that key changes are: (1) clarify that “we” is congregations covenanting; (2) defining what accountability means; (3) defining pluralism to include diversity of opinion; (4) requiring UUA to promote internal democratic participation. And then there is other language promoting universal free expression. These 4 are separate ideas, which might require separate debate. For example, “Who is covenanting?” is a key issue, as is “What is accountability?”

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I think you can have covenant that both affirms individual choice and individual to individual accountability to covenant. Diverse individuals working toward benevolent community. My take is that pluralism is about who more thant what (as in what ideas they have). However, some political policies are, by design, apposed to uu values. So that does put someone who would want to be a UU in a circumstance of having to choose between holding the public policy stance and being in convenant with UU.