Amendment 30 to Article II - Proposed by Viola Abbitt

Bold underlining indicate insertion ; [brackets indicate deletion.]

I propose the following change to line 6

6 professional, to foster lifelong faith formation and spiritual development, to heal historic injustices, and to advance our


Since I have not heard an answer to my question below yet, would it help if I tag @vabbit? Viola, could you answer the question for me?

"Iā€™m sorry to be ignorant, but what is the difference between ā€œfaith formationā€ and ā€œspiritual developmentā€?

Since this is now selected as a preliminary priority Amendment by UUA, would someone from UUA be willing to post a definition of each phrase? Maybe @CharlesD ?

Thank you!"

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Iā€™m not sure that there is as much difference as strong preferences/discomfort with each phrase, so this acknowledges the diverse perspectives. (goal of being more inclusive)

My own personal interpretationā€¦ faith formation sounds more cognitive (e.g., research and exploration) and spiritual development is more experiential (e.g., how do I experience the world; how do I experience my spirituality).


Seems both are interchangeable, could even read ā€œfaith formation through spiritual development, etcā€¦ā€

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I agree that spiritual development must be re-emphasized. That was the major reason some of us joined the church. Also, please include current racial injustices. We have just ended a pandemic where racial incidents were daily occurrences for those who were scapegoated.

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I agree. One approach would be to just take out the word ā€œhistoric,ā€ because then it would be just ā€œheal injustices,ā€ which includes past and current.


FYI, this is the draft UUFMC Statement about Amendment 30:

We are concerned about this Amendment because according to some dictionary definitions, the phrase ā€œfaith formationā€ relates to nurturing a transformative relationship of trust with God. Whereas the phrase ā€œspiritual developmentā€ relates to pursuing fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of life which affect everyone and is NOT dependent on a specific religious belief. Therefore, we encourage the deletion of the phrase ā€œfaith formationā€ and replacement by the phrase ā€œspiritual development.ā€ Presumably, ā€œspiritual developmentā€ could conceptually INCLUDE ā€œfaith formationā€ (but not visa versa).

Parenthetically, as long as this line is already under consideration, we also suggest (as in our Amendment #22) that the word ā€œhistoricā€ could be deleted from the phrase ā€œheal historic injusticesā€ - then the word ā€œhealā€ would by implication refer to both historic and current injustices.


The word heal addresses what has happened in the past, both distant and recent. It does not address current injustice which persist and must be confronted and rectified.

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In this thread, others have argued that faith formation refers to developing a relationship and trust in God presumable as defined by a dictionary. I found that most of the definitions of faith formation are offered on Catholic websites. I think UUs mean something much more expansive and would include spiritual development. If you asked Catholics or Christians to define worship, they would offer description far different than UUs. Regardless of what language we use, UUs are always going to have to explain to newcomers our more expansive understanding of the words we use.

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Faith Formation in a UU context means being a seeker, being curious, developing a personal morality / theology, ideally while you are nourished and feel accepted in your community. I like this term more than spiritual growth or spiritual development because ā€˜formationā€™ can be fairly passive, like bread rising. So it applies to all stages of our existence, including infancy and end of life.

It is a bit of splitting hairs, though. No one seems to have the same definition, just like ā€˜loveā€™ is left undefined, and up to the reader.

In a sense, yes, different definitions, but the context needs to be clear without an explanatory footnote. I donā€™t particularly want passive formation, I want people to choose their path, to actively develop it.


In congregations, Faith Formation Director is the title of the professionals we used to call Religious Educators. So itā€™s exploration and path blazing for kids and adults too. And I think the term applies to unchurched UUs too.

I donā€™t have super strong feelings about this amendment, but it does feel lower priority than some of the ones that did not get selected. It feels like adding a synonym without adding any action or adding clarity. We have so little time to dig into these.

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I agree to delete ā€˜historicā€™.

That is not universal; we have I believe resisted the change; we certainly reversed it the first time it was proposed by an interim DRE (hired under that title). I am not sure now, but I would certainly add an alternative phrase if folks feel strongly about keeping faith formation.

Sorry for the delay in response. My addition of the words ā€œand spiritual developmentā€ grew out of a comment made to me by one of my congregants who was not able to serve as a delegate. And I am sorry that I did not think of it myself. To me, in this context, faith development contemplates the building blocks of understanding Unitarian Universalism and what comprises our identity. Spiritual development is what we do within that context that gives us internal grounding and helps us develop tools necessary in assisting us in navigating this difficult world, and probably in some ways, help us cope. We seek a world in which we want Beloved Community. But not everything that we want to change will change in our lifetimes, no matter how hard we work. And maybe, inspite of our best efforts is never will in the ways that we hope it will. Spiritual development can help us do the work within, and fortify us, while we do the work without.


I strongly support this amendment. Spiritual development is a core piece of why we are a religious body.


I do not support language like ā€œfaith formationā€ or ā€œspiritual development.ā€ We are Humanist. We look to Science, Reason, Our Intellect for guidance, not a deity that requires ā€œFaith.ā€

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I am an atheist, but recognizing the religious nature of UUism, I accept ā€œspiritual developmentā€ as a needed alternative to ā€œfaith formationā€ alone.

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