The UUA is doing what to the Principles and Sources?
Changing them up completely, that’s what! They’re envisioning 6 core values centered around Love as “the enduring force that holds us together.” Pluralism, Interdependence, Equity, Generosity, Justice, and Evolution. Each value has a brief statement and an explicit Covenant of actions associated with it. They are in a circle rather than numbered or hierarchical. The sources are changed to a statement that “we draw upon, and are inspired by, the full depth and breadth of sacred understandings, as experienced by humanity. Grateful for the religious lineages we inherit and the pluralism which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.” Full draft proposal (linked here)
The Article 2 Study Commission of the UUA was charged in the fall of 2020 to review Article II: Principles and Purposes of the UUA Bylaws which is where our Principles and Sources come from. It is the foundation for all the work of the UUA and its member congregations and covenanted communities. The UUA includes 15 of Canada’s 43 CUC congregations who kept their UUA membership in 2002. The current Principles and Sources of the UUA were last revised in 1987 and the CUC adopted them by resolution in 2002 after consultation with our member congregations upon withdrawing from UUA membership. Last year, of course, the CUC added an 8th Principle, along with 222 other UU congregations and associations across North America.
This commission was formed in response to many discussions, proposals, and resolutions that have come from the UUA Board, from other commissions, and grassroots groups periodically since 2009. The Commission has engaged active participation of UUs across all demographics, identities, and theological/philosophical beliefs. The Commission itself consists of people from a broad demographic, including two full voting youth members. They were encouraged to review all parts of article II and given freedom to revise, replace, or restructure them as needed to meet the objectives of their charge. As stated in the Charge to the Commission ”There is nothing sacred about the number of principles or sources, nor their specific wordings, nor in the way Article II is laid out. We encourage creativity. The Board would like to see an Article II that is inspirational, memorable and poetic.“
The inspirational draft proposal (linked here) is now open for feedback via live forums, anyone can register to attend a draft feedback session—registration is freely open and not dependent on UUA congregation membership. There is a special forum for youth and young adults on November 9th. The forum registration links can be found here: https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission/blog/draft-feedback
Does this affect Canadian Unitarian/Universalists or the CUC?
The CUC Board has undertaken the beginnings of a by-law review, some points of which will come to the AGM in May. We are also waiting on recommendations from the Decision-Making Exploration Team which may impact our considerations around consensus-based decision making, Robert’s Rules, and how the CUC conducts business. As a part of that, we will also be exploring a process by which to amend, revise, or re-write our Principles and Sources that we migrated over from the UUA in 2002. We did not include them in our by-laws or in our statement of purposes. They live as adopted by simple resolution at an AGM and the current process by which to change them is the same resolution process we use for any other decision. We have heard from many sources that it is time to review our Principles as a whole and rewrite them for a new age.
I encourage Canadians to be part of the conversation with the Article 2 Commission. If their proposal is voted in at next June’s GA and ratified the following year it will inevitably have implications for us in Canada. All of our professional associations are continental, Ministers, Religious Educators, Music professionals, Administrators, Membership professionals. Credentialing of religious educators and fellowshipping of ministers is through the UUA. Our theological seminaries are in the U.S. The CUC does not have the capacity to independently create substantial religious education resources, or to be involved with credentialing of professional leadership or ministerial transitions.
It is important that we have the CUC as a national body and voice and it is very true that Canada is an independent country, not a 51st state. However, Canadian Unitarians/Unitarian Universalists are not a fully independent national denomination and we never have been. Therefore, it would be meaningful to engage in the conversation. About 1/3 of Canadian Unitarian/Universalist congregations retained their membership in the UUA, 15 out of 43. Even if we do end up diverging further in how our principles and sources are stated, we should identify our commonalities and connective through line.
–Kiersten Moore, CUC Board rep for the BC region