Polity is a word that points to who has authority to make decisions or how decisions are made. When referring to an association such as the Unitarian Universalist Association, it points us to what holds congregations together with common direction and shared identity and purpose.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is an association whose members are the Unitarian Universalist congregations. This association is not a body that hands down directives, rules or regulations to the congregations but a body in which the democratically selected delegates of the member congregations vote for board members, the president, and the co-moderators of the association and also on resolutions and other decisions guiding the action of the board and the administration of the association.
But the association does not have the authority to make decisions controlling the action of the member congregations. Member congregations have their own democratic processes for making local decisions on all matters concerning the congregation and how it presents itself in the world.
We call this arrangement congregational polity. Ultimately, decisions are made democratically by local congregations. Our association provides leadership and resources to congregations, not control over congregations.
Every member congregation covenants with all other member congregations to affirm and promote the principles they have jointly arrived at through our democratic processes.