Amendment 26 to Article II - Proposed by David Schwartz

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2 Section C-2.1. Purposes.
3 The Unitarian Universalist Association will devote its resources to and use its organizational
4 powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are
5 to assist congregations in their vital ministries, support and train leaders both lay and
6 professional, to foster lifelong faith formation, to heal historic injustices, to support and encourage the creation of new Unitarian Universalist communities, and to advance our
7 Unitarian Universalist values in the world.


This amendment was run through the workshop and met with universal support. New communities were in the purposes from 1961 and 1985 and we need to support and encourage them in our times as well.


As the current minister of a new-start community first gathered in 2007 (WellSprings Congregation, in Chester Springs, PA), I strongly encourage us to consider this amendment. New start congregations have tremendous advantages when it comes to growing our faith - through adding new members, building healthy congregational cultures from the ground up, supporting the leadership (clerical and otherwise) of folks who represent marginalized groups in our movement, and embodying our anti-racist and anti-oppressive values - again - from the start. There is tremendous flexibility and innovation that can come from new congregations, much of which is simply not possible in long-entrenched systems, and it’s a worthy investment of the denomination to support these communities. We are now in our 16th year gathered, still have 150+ members (even after pandemic losses), we’re about to welcome and train our 4th Ministerial Intern and host our 3rd ordination. Congregations like ours can absolutely thrive, and denominational support is key, most especially when it comes to the realities of finances and sustainability. The one disadvantage new starts have, when compared with long-established communities, is assets. Without buildings, endowments, or even robust reserves, new starts are likely to struggle or fail, once the first big bump in the road is hit. This has happened, sadly, to countless new starts in our tradition - both long ago and in recent decades. WellSprings is fortunate to have weathered the Covid-19 pandemic, and we want more strong, new sibling churches like ours, to help grow our movement for the future.


The removal of “supporting new congregations” in the Proposed Revision as a purpose of the Unitarian Universalist Association, whose members are congregations, after all, is inexplicable.
However, if, instead of supporting its independent member congregations, the new purpose of the UUA as proposed is, instead, to work toward creating a corporate franchise brand for UU congregations, where their conformity to the brand standard is regularly monitored and enforced, then the omission is understandable.


The additional language seems redundant to me because line 5 already speaks of assisting congregations in their ministries. I want the UUA to be equitable in using resources toward assisting congregations. Adding this amendment sets a foundation for prioritizing a specific type of congregation, new ones. Although I recognize the benefits of new congregations, as eloquently described elsewhere in this thread, I oppose this amendment.

I disagree; new congregations need extra support at first to get to a settled level. Others with specific issues may also need extra support from time to time, of course.


I think this is a critical proposal. Our congregations start was successful almost 30 years ago because of the help from the UUA’s new congregation development program. If we want to grow as a denomination we need to help new congregations start.


Exactly! A new congregation program can still exist within bylaws that merely refer to “assisting congregations in their ministries”. The new bylaws language creates a pressure for the UUA to “choose sides” in shaping its assistance, biased toward new congregations. I will always support keeping bylaws as simple, fair, and free as possible.

It is to the denomination’s benefit to support new communities. I don’t see any problem with stating that clearly.

You are speculating that insisting in the Bylaws that the UUA will support and create new communities is always a benefit. I disagree. It creates a risk that the UUA will be limited unnecessarily in deciding how to encourage the growth of UU congregations.

As I previously stated, it creates an unnecessary bias toward a certain type of congregation. The Bylaws are certainly meant to limit what our desired actions and outcomes as an organization might be. They aren’t the best place to declare special support for a subclass of the organization’s members.

I’d like to hear more about the perceived limitation, because it is apparent that you are seeing something that I am not. “Insisting” seems a pretty strong word, but I take your point about priorities.

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My perspective comes from the dismaying experience of serving on both the Board of Trustees at my congregation and on more than one Bylaws committee. These are old experiences (pre-2004) but reading Article II and the many amendments has reminded me of some of the lessons I learned at the time. Boards are constantly aware of the limitations the Bylaws place on their efforts. The Purpose can be as lofty and poetic as we want, but it is cold comfort for fiduciaries who are trying to balance the budget in compliance with a wordy, out of date document. Keep the Board and Congregation as Free to Act as possible! Keep the Bylaws Fair! Keep the Bylaws Simple! These are the measures I need to apply as I consider both the revision and the amendments.

Thank you for asking! I understand that this amendment has already garnered near universal support in a Mini-Assembly. I humbly request that everyone slow down their enthusiasm for proclaiming our UU faith and consider the consequences to all of us before any vote.

I am not seeing that limitation, in part because this is fifth on the list, with assisting congregations as first on that list.

FYI, this is the draft UUFMC Statement about Amendment 26:

A key obligation of UUA should be to maintain existing communities and support the creation of new UU communities. This is a necessary amendment to the UUA proposed statement. We recommend this amendment be put in place.

In addition, we want to be on record that we would like 2 additional changes to this line (as in our Amendment #22): (1) change “faith formation” to “spiritual growth” or “spiritual development”; and (2) remove the word “historic.”


I notice that this amendment says “communities” not congregations. I hear from many community ministers the vision for places that might not look like “CHUCH” does now. What I like here is that I might have a Unitarian Universalist community center, or a youth drop in space, or a family support center or something else that doesn’t fit our current models but would absolutely spread Unitarian Universalism and build community.