An Eighth Principle Congregation
ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED
EIGHTH PRINCIPLE OF THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION
Put to a Vote at the Annual Meeting of the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Waynesboro
June 13, 2021
Paula Cole Jones, of the former Joseph Priestley District, Director of Racial & Social Justice, developed the idea of the existence of 2 different paradigms in UU circles: the UU 7 Principles and Beloved Community (deep multiculturalism). After working with congregations on these issues for over 15 years, she realized that a person can believe they are being a “good UU” and following the 7 Principles without thinking about or dealing with racism and other oppressions at the systemic level. She realized that an 8th Principle was needed to correct this, and talked with Bruce Pollack-Johnson about some of the components that should be in it. Bruce put together an initial draft in 2013, and the two of them worked with a group of anti-racist activists in the JPD to refine it. Bruce’s congregation (the UU Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia) incorporated it into their Covenant at that time, then in May 2017 formally adopted it for themselves and recommended that the UUA adopt it.
UUs and the UUA have done very good work in fighting racism, such as during the Civil Rights Movement and in the 1990’s (passing a resolution in 1997 at GA, after a precursor resolution in 1992, to become an Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppression Multi-Cultural, or ARAOMC, Organization), but the funding and support started to wane in the 2000’s – our accountability mechanism failed us. UU’s also have a mixed record historically in other areas of racial justice: e.g., we had people on both sides of Abolitionism, and Unitarians were among the proponents of Eugenics.
For people identified as white, it is too easy to ignore these issues, which is exactly what keeps the system of racism in our society alive and in fact worsening right now. We need to de-center whiteness and other dominant cultures in UUism.
The 8th Principle came from a feeling that we need something to renew our commitment to this work, to hold ourselves accountable, and to fulfill the potential of our existing principles.
The text of the proposed Eighth Principle reads: “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bylaws, Principles and Purposes, is the foundation for all of the work of our UUA and its member congregations and covenanted communities. Our current Principles and Purposes were last revised in 1987. In 2009 and 2017 at General Assembly, there were proposed additions to Article II that were not approved.
There have been many projects, resolutions, task forces and other strategies that have come from the Board, Commission on Appraisal and grassroots groups which encourage us to take a look at our principles, purposes, bylaws and rules.
In response to such current discussions, the UUA Board committed to establishing this Article II Study Commission to consider possible amendments to this Article.
Meanwhile, many Unitarian Universalist congregations have accepted and more are in the process of accepting the Eighth Principle as a guide to their own action and commitments, as well as in pledge that their delegates to a future general assembly of the UUA will vote in favor of accepting the Eighth Principle into Article II of the UUA Bylaws when the revisions recommended by the commission come to a vote.
In the past several months, the Social Justice Team and the Minister of this Fellowship have preached sermons, written newsletter articles, produced video information spots for our online services, hosted an Eighth Principle social on the Fellowship lawn, and hosted an Eighth Principle happy hour on Zoom to prepare the congregation to understand the issues and importance of this vote.
Therefore, with this preparation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waynesboro resolves to adopt the proposed Eighth Principle in our congregation to guide our commitments and action for justice.
We members of this Fellowship commit and covenant, individually and as a congregation, to affirm and promote a journey toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
Furthermore, we commit our delegates to the General Assembly of the UUA to vote in favor of the proposed Eighth Principle when it comes to a vote at a future assembly.
~ Resolved by vote of the Fellowship, June 13, 2021.