Proposed Amendment #3 - Add text “A written report of the UUA Bylaw Review…”

Update 6/17: The board incorporated this amendment

Proposer: David Michel, East Shore UU Church, Kirtland, OH

Text of Amendment to Business Resolution #1:

Therefore the 2022 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association calls on the UUA Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough review and rewrite of the UUA Bylaws. This review should involve stakeholders in collaborative discernment and conversation about considered changes. A progress report of the UUA Bylaw review detailing which changes are being considered will be issued by the Board of Trustees at least annually beginning in 2023 prior to the annual General Assembly. This report should include the rationale for each change. These new bylaws should create a governance system that supports the UUA in accountably achieving its mission and aspirations consistent with our core values.

Rationale: This resolution states a replacement of the UUA Bylaws is expected and not just a major rewrite. The members and congregations of UUA will need time to review and understand what changes are being considered.

Having been involved in bylaws revisions in my home congregation and in a number of other organizations, I understand the time it takes to properly update bylaws. We need to give all the stakeholders time to understand the considered changes. It will smooth the process of adoption.

I suggest dropping the sentence about “This report should include the rationale for each change.” That would make me not want to read/listen to it, and it sounds like it would create a burden of detail that is not needed. I support adding the amendment calling for a progress report at least annually. It does make me wonder however, how long this is likely to take (how many years might it stretch out?)
– Marianna Tubman Mt Diablo UU Church, Walnut Creek CA

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Hi everyone! I am not in support of this amendment. Mandated periodic progress reports covering such a large endeavor will have the high potential to add confusion to the iterative work being performed. This amendment will needlessly expose the public to work-in-progress ideas that may or may not make it to the final product years down the road.

  • Juan Carlos Flores, UU Church of Long Beach, CA
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During the discussion of this amendment, the UUA board said they would be sending out progress reports to keep all the congregrations informed. This amendment just formalizes the process.

I disagree; to me, that is the most important part, that is what i really want to know—why are particular changes suggested. I am really interested in transparent democratic governance, and this is a way for those of us not involved day-to-day to understand the process, the decisions, and ensure that our votes are educated (I should speak for myself, not us—it would help me feel that I understood enough to vote intelligently).

I want to be involved as the process goes along, I don’t want to be presented with a final document without knowing how it developed, without feeling like a participant, without knowing that Uus across the nation have been included, or at least had the opportunity to be informed at least annually.

I agree with Sally G. I anticipate much better understanding the final product and the need for it if I can follow its development in detail. This proposal has the potential of deeply, if not radically, altering the mission and governance of the UUA. Transparency in its development is needed, if not necessary, for understanding and trust.

It seems to me that the
Work of the bylaws committee prior to the hard work of becoming a beloved association of congregations barely raised an eyebrow. Ask ourselves why now do we distrust the work of the bylaws committee? Is it possible that change makes us less comfortable? Thank you

I understand the desire for updates about the process as this goes along, but as someone who has gone through the bylaw rewriting process within a church and created bylaws for a non-profit, I think we need to keep the language in this clear and simple. The more complicated language in bylaws, the harder it is to follow them and the more stifling they can be to the process. I also want to second Jim’s statement and ask us to trust that the committee will update people during at important points in the process and include as many voices in the process as possible.

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Please note that the board has incorporated this amendment.

I am not sure of exactly what work you cite “prior to the hard work of becoming a beloved association of congregations”—if you mean before the Unitarian and Universalist merger, I understand that it was indeed quite controversial.
It is not a question of trust—a topic that seems to come up very often, it seems—but of understanding. It is easier to follow a process as it goes along—and easier to make midstream corrections if necessary—than to try to absorb it all at once at the end, probably at a GA when we would be expected to propose amendments and vote while we are also doing all the rest of the UUA’s business.
There are so many of us with so many different thoughts and perspectives; a small committee would have a hard time creating something taking so much into account without feedback along the way.

Thanks, good to know.

I was making reference to the work from the June 2020 Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, Widening the Circle of Concern, which uses the “Beloved Community” language and addresses the problem of race in Unitarian Universalism is not broadly seen as a theological mandate. If you have not had a chance yet to read the document, I highly recommend it, regardless of our personal positions.

I have read it, actually purchased it at the first opportunity, as I do all of the Commission on Appraisal’s reports (at least, once I learned of the CoA’s existence). It certainly has some good material, but we need better communication at and between all levels of UUism—this subdomain is a good start on that, but top-down—we average UU folk can reply, but cannot start topics outside the Q&A category (and I am having a cookie issue with starting topics even there; apparently I will need to make a new account with a different e-mail address to do that [early-version tech issues, totally understandable, but why such limited topic creation?]).

The Business Resolution amended by this proposed amendment received significant support and was adopted by the General Assembly. Discussion is now closed.