Final Proposed Revision to Article II, as Completed by the Article II Study Commission in October 2023



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Thank you for posting this, thus providing a place for further conversation about the Proposed Revision as a whole!

The conversation I personally am interested in is between folks who whole-heartedly support the Revision, and folks who still have some concerns.

Maybe we can listen, understand, respect, and respond to one another?

I think my congregation’s support has increased over time, but there are still concerns. I don’t know how they will vote at our May annual meeting. But however they vote, my first job as delegate will be to discern the degree of congruence between the vote and my individual conscience.

Let’s support each other’s discernment process - so that Love supports the growth of our Living Tradition.

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I would like to see Accountability as its own central value, as it is so central to social justice, welcoming, respect, and Beloved Community. The text could also include mention of accountability by leadership in particular to respond to oppression in congregations and work toward our principles and change.

There are also still issues with this process not *sufficiently including input from Canadian congregations who are members of the UUA, or the young adults.

IDK how to reply to the original post, so I am piggybacking here (btw, I see my role as a delegate as you do—represent our membership in alignment with my conscience).

Is there a way to download the 3 pages? I can take screenshots, but presumably they will not blow up to full letter size very clearly.

found it; will add the rest of my thoughts as a new reply.

What I really came here to find was what amendments were proposed by Feb. 1st and which were accepted for inclusion in the GA agenda. The sooner we see those, the sooner we can share and the deeper the discussion—but the elite, who are used to attending in person, might not want that. (BTW, I am one who has attended every GA since 2009, either online or in person, but definitely want to discuss with fellow society members so that our delegate [me or another, not yet determined] can represent us accurately, with nuanced input to navigate the changes that last week without scrambling during a really busy time).

Hi Sally, Five amendments were proposed and four met the 15+ threshold by 11:59pm ET on Feb. 1–the two Equity ones, which dovetail with each other, plus Reason and Peace.

My congregation’s 7 Principles as Preamble amendment got 13—SO close! Here it is in marked version–we use “worthiness” not “worth”, and it’s compatible with the four that did make it. It is intended as an expansion or gloss on the meaning of “love” and “foundation” in Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant. Changes are to lines 15 and 16:

13 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant.
14 As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our
15 Association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. [DELETE: We] [INSERT: As UU congregations, we] draw from our heritages of
16 freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love [INSERT: and principles that continue to nourish us, including:
The inherent worthiness and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part].

I note that my congregation, Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ), uses “UU congregations” in line 15. This is a nod to the “UU” designation, and underscores that the statements are being made by congregations as opposed to individuals.

BTW too late to change my name, and no, thankfully I’m not related to Henry Hyde, but can’t help wondering if having to call this the Hyde amendment was, uh, unhelpful. Although someone was kind enough to refer to it as “the good Hyde amendment,” I’ll take it!

Thanks, Katherine! I tend to use “CFS” (congregation/fellowship/society), as Central Unitarian is a society; there is only one use of the word congregation in our constitution, many references to us as a society. However, most UUA materials refer to congregations, which is O.K.

Sally

| KHyde Katherine Hyde
February 14 |

  • | - |

Hi Sally, Five amendments were proposed and four met the 15+ threshold by 11:59pm ET on Feb. 1–the two Equity ones, which dovetail with each other, plus Reason and Peace.

My congregation’s 7 Principles as Preamble amendment got 13—SO close! Here it is in marked version–we use “worthiness” not “worth”, and it’s compatible with the four that did make it. It is intended as an expansion or gloss on the meaning of “love” and “foundation” in Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant. Changes are to lines 15 and 16:

13 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant.
14 As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our
15 Association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. [DELETE: We] [INSERT: As UU congregations, we] draw from our heritages of
16 freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love [INSERT: and principles that continue to nourish us, including:
The inherent worthiness and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part].

I note that my congregation, Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ), uses “UU congregations” in line 15. This is a nod to the “UU” designation, and underscores that the statements are being made by congregations as opposed to individuals.

BTW too late to change my name, and no, thankfully I’m not related to Henry Hyde, but can’t help wondering if having to call this the Hyde amendment was, uh, unhelpful. Although someone was kind enough to refer to it as “the good Hyde amendment,” I’ll take it!

We were wondering if discussions had gone differently some 20 years ago maybe this concept of Values and Covenant would not seem so strange that has upset some UUs. The UUA Board asked the UUA Commission on Appraisal (COA) to undertake a thorough review of UUA bylaw Art II, a regularly scheduled action we delegates had approved to keep Art II current so that the Principles will not become dogma and/or doctrine. I do remember well that I and others implored COA to consider revising the UUA Principles into forward looking statements as we have been using such (Mission Vision) for many years. Sadly, when we got to the SLC 2009 GA, we found a weak Art II makeover which we delegates could not amend. The UUA Board promised to bring a bylaw change to next year’s GA that would allow amendments (which is being used now) and we turned that Art II revision down by 13 votes. I feel that if we had updated Art II then with forward looking Principles (like the 2017 8th Principle proposal) we would be having a better discussion now.

GA 2009 was my first GA; I had no information before arriving other than what I read on the plane in the actual paper program book that used to be mailed out (sad that this is no longer an option, though I understand the justification). I was one of those voting No, as I did not have enough positive information to vote for such a big change (particularly as I was representing my society) and I preferred the older language.

Communication has been somewhat better this time, though it does not seem to get far outside the ”GA bubble”—itself reduced years ago by the ending of the e-mail list (still many list topics active here, but the GA list was discontinued). The first iteration of online discussion was much less used than this one, though the quick lockdown of these pages after last year’s GA was not helpful. I personally do what I can to forward information and point people here to discuss, but official communication from the UUA itself goes to an individual at each CFS (congregation/fellowship/society), and IDK how many are forwarded further (I personally never see them, and have heard from others that that is the case for them as well). UU World has been cut to 2 issues from 4 annually, and no longer prints Letters to the Editor, apparently for fear of controversy. I do subscribe to and forward the weekly GA e-mail; that is a good step forward, but that is basically one-way communication.

If we were to call these Mission and Vision, I would understand what to expect; however, those are different from Principles (Mission is substantially equivalent to Purpose, but Principles, Vision, and Values are all different [though principles and values are similar, they are not really the same). Maybe part of the issue is a square peg/round hole situation? Yes, the more I research “principles vs values”, the more I realize that this is an issue: Principles vs. Values - What's the Difference? | This vs. That.

I’m hoping to start a conversation by posing 5 questions about the Proposed Revision.

Maybe you have something to share that would help me see things from a different perspective!

I hope we can listen, understand, respect, and respond to each other with Love as we grow our Living Tradition.

Question 1 is in regards to Purposes, lines 11-12: Where is our humility? How can we transform the world if we do not also – or even first - transform ourselves?

Question 2 is in regards to Freedom of Belief, lines 62-63: If freedom and conscience are central to our heritage, why not simply add “and practice” for the sake of clarity?

Question 3 is in regards to Inclusion, line 58: Do we want to exclude folks who do not immediately and fully “share our values”? Why is there no Amendment to change it to “respect and seek to share our values”?

Question 4 is in regard to Values and Covenant, lines 18, 24, 29, 32, 36, 39, 43: Why is the word “covenant” NOT in line 18? Why is the word “covenant” used repeatedly in lines 24, 29, 32, 36, 39, and 43? Why can’t the verbs in those lines stand on their own?

Question 5 is in regards to Equity, line 44: Why is there only one sentence describing the Equity covenant? Why is there no concluding sentence, parallel to the other Values? Why is the relationship between “every person” and “communities” not clarified in a concluding sentence?

Thanks for considering these questions.

answers:

  1. I have a problem with the “transforming the world” language and have had from the beginning; hubris.
  2. good point, but probably too late to change
  3. No, I for one don’t—I have been opposed to the narrowing of inclusion from the beginning.
  4. I dislike the repetition; I think we have been overemphasizing covenant in the last few years. For some of these, covenant works, even if annoyingly redundant; but for others, we could just as well do without it. Line 32 is particularly prideful: “We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression.” Just how will we do that? I note that the previous, 1985 article II, has the congregations “covenant to affirm and promote” our 7 principles, without repeating “covenant” for each principle—much more compact.
  5. See lines 41 to 44 above; it seems as though this was addressed.

In balance, I am having trouble considering a vote in favor of the revision, though the 4 amendments do improve it.

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Please try to be kind as you read this post.

Today, as I wrestle with the wording of the Final Proposed Revision and what it would mean for me personally, I struggle with my ideal of “diverse multicultural communities where all thrive” vs. the fact that my congregational community is not very diverse.

I’m sure the lack of diversity reflects, in part, “racism and other systemic oppression” and “failure to use time, wisdom, attention and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.”

I assume the lack of diversity in my congregation is also partly due to the demographics of where I live – but I realize that those demographics may in turn be partly due to racism and other systemic oppressions and the failure to build and sustain accessible and inclusive communities!

At the end of today’s struggle, I still feel inclined to want to re-write the first two sentences of the Justice Value. But I wonder what my preference for this wording says about me:

“We strive to be diverse multicultural communities where all thrive. We work to understand and dismantle racism and all forms of oppression within ourselves and our institutions.

Any comments? Constructive criticism?

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@klsteb2 Below is a comment/reply I posted today in a thread in the FB “Support” group. To relate this to what Kara has said: If forgiveness allows conflict be set to one side, temporarily anyhow, then that strengthens our ability to inquire into the details of someone else’s ideas, to be curious about the nuances of those ideas. Kara’s wording, “we strive… We work to understand and dismantle…,” I think helps to underscore that GA 2024’s decision process takes place in an ongoing history of struggle. Each element of the conversation speaks differently to each of us, and that doesn’t worry me. It’s challenging, for sure, but readers here are listening and that’s the main thing.

Expanding on [Maureen] Salamon’s piece “Not just good for the soul” (link above https://www.health.harvard.edu/…/not-just-good-for-the…), another quote:

"'But what forgiveness doesn’t mean is a bit more nuanced: it doesn’t condone the harm you’ve suffered — and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re expected to forget it, says Craig Malkin, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School.

“‘It’s not excusing, explaining, or exonerating,’ he says. ‘Saying you forgive is easy, but doesn’t change the feelings inside. We can be sad for what we experienced and angry about what happened. But above all, a state of forgiveness is accepting that what happened is over.’”

In circumstances where the hurt is ongoing, where pro and anti forces face off and there’s confusion, stalemate, risk of continuing harm, is Malkin’s point lost? (or, in fairness, is the point Malkin seems to be making lost–the quote is so brief).

The saving grace to me is that our pro and anti sentiments aren’t simple.

If you look close and closer at the sentiments expressed … in our FB “Support” group, and similarly with other FB groups that are exploring Article II, you’re put in the position of solving a bunch of face/vase or figure-ground puzzles. Each puzzle asks the viewer to decide which is closer, face or vase. The viewer answers by adding detail; add eyes to the shapes to left and right and they are the subject that pops out in the foreground, and so on.

Once you have that inquiry going on, there’s more of a possibility that the reality of painful opposition can be set to one side; can become something that “happened [and] is over,” at least for the time being. In which case, pro and anti aren’t seen as monolithic. We have to hear the details from everybody; at the very least the puzzles call us to inquire into those details. And that’s what I’m grateful for.

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Thank you Katherine, what a beautiful, nuanced and thought-provoking post!

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Thanks for your post. I hope that people are kind when they read what you wrote and when they read my reply.

In HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, Ibram X Kendi writes, “Through lynching Black cultures, integrationists are, in the end, more harmful to Black bodies than segregationists are.” He suggests that Black Americans would rather be the majority in their own spaces that are for them than be the minority in spaces that are predominantly white. We see this on Sunday mornings, when African Americans demonstrate that most of them would rather be in majority-Black churches than in majority-white churches. Should we expect African Americans to change their ways so that we can advance our own agenda?

In my congregation, we read & discussed HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, but we delicately avoided this part of the book.

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Thanks for sharing words from Ibram X Kendi and your experience with your congregation’s discussion!

I assume part of an anti-racist agenda is to make all spaces more comfortable for all people, thereby broadening the range of spaces each person MIGHT choose to be in. (No expectations regarding what choices SHOULD be made.)

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This is one of only a few threads now live for discussion that was restarted in February (after the deadline for gaining 15-congregation support for amendments had passed). Discussion has been ongoing in other places ,including of course congregations. Perhaps those wishing to continue the conversation more broadly might want to include links to relevant online discussions and resources here .

The link below is to a UU Facebook group run by individual laypeople (I am an admin) that was started in December 2022, suspended not long after GA 2023, and reopened in December 2023. This group also includes links to other resources.

Folks wishing to help expand the national (sorry, Canada, international!) conversation are welcome to post more resources and upcoming events in the Blue Boat group, but please review the group rules and updates before posting. Thank you. (The group is open and public, so you can post there without joining and do not have to be on Facebook to just read the posts.)

Blue Boat Passengers Facebook group

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Actually, clicking that link, I got a log-in page for Facebook. I do wish that they had not shut down these pages after GA, but now that they are reopened, hope that the discussion comes back here.

Yes, you can view Facebook public content without logging in, though it may still try to get you to log in. I have done it from my phone plenty of times. If the link takes you to the log-in screen, try Googling the name of the group and then clicking on the group (or sometimes, clicking on the cover picture helps). You also have to be careful that you don’t seem like you are trying to comment, so sometimes it can take a bit of effort to see all the comments on the posts. And I believe you cannot access files that are uploaded into the group.

@Sally , I have gotten used to navigating around Facebook’s attempts to force me to join when I am accessing from outside its platform, but if you find it too annoying to try to follow discussions in the group that way, maybe focus on the three resource-gathering posts (“pro,” “con,” and “all sides” posts to gather links to pieces, sermons/services, discussions, etc.) These links include some non-Facebook resources (including a link to this Discuss board).

I did suggest in both the groups mentioned in my previous comment shifting to this wider, non-Facebook context. However, the discussion is going to continue to (and should) take place in many different venues, which all have their own parameters, advantages, and disadvantages.

A plus of the Facebook group is that (within certain parameters based on ones my own congregation found helpful in discussing and voting on the 8th principle), people can add their own posts, threads, polls, etc., rather than being limited to the structure of the few threads created here by those who control this space.

Another plus of both Facebook groups I mentioned is that they fill in some of the context missing on this Discuss site due to the long gap between the shutdown of discussion shortly after GA 2023 and the recommencement only after the deadline for 15-congregation approval of amendments had passed. @BekWheeler 's and @clandrum 's group was started I believe maybe a month or so after last year’s GA. The Blue Boat group was reopened in late December 2023, about a month before discussion resumed here.

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