Statement on the 8th Principle from Rev. Lara Cowtan

While many of us were excited and celebratory after the vote last week at the CUC AGM to affirm an 8th principle declaring our commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, some were also disappointed to have not been able to lend their voices to this momentous decision, and some were concerned about the process with which the vote was taken.

The motion came from delegates on the floor on the spur of the moment and those present appropriately used Robert’s Rules of Order to suspend the meeting rules and take a vote which passed with a majority, upholding both the democratic process and Robert’s Rules. However, upon review of the CUC Bylaws, the CUC Board of Trustees have determined that it isn’t within the guidelines to accept a substantive motion from the floor, so has withdrawn the motion and decision. It will  be put forward again to allow more time for congregations and delegates to be informed.

This will feel disappointing and frustrating to many, especially UU members of colour who have waited a long time to be recognized in our congregations.  We also recognize that the structures that dictate our decision-making processes, including Robert’s Rules and the Bylaws, are deeply imbeded in the system of white supremacy culture that we are committed to dismantling, and so this is a learning and growing opportunity.

It seems that, in a wave of enthusiasm and spiritual democracy, the gathered delegates put the cart before the horse. This doesn’t mean that we are not going to uphold the 8th principle, but that we will be able to do it hand in hand with one another.  There is nothing preventing UCV from holding its own conversations with the membership about what this 8th principle means to our community and whether we chose to affirm it as a congregation.

— Interim Minister Rev. Lara Cowtan


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