I enjoyed being one of your delegates to the 2022 Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. Please come to the HUUC worship service, on August 7, to hear from all of your delegates, about the business of the UUA.
One of the things that struck me is how little involvement many congregations, across the country, have with the UUA, and how many members are uninformed about the changes being implemented by the Board of Trustees.
Business resolutions are usually voted on by less than 20%* of our electorate, that is, potential authorized delegates, and usually pass with high margins. When I spoke with delegates on site, many did not know that rules severely limited the ability of Board candidates, by petition, to campaign or voice their concerns; that a number of ministers resigned from the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association en masse in protest of certain decisions; that letters to the editors of UU World are no longer being published; or about many other Board and UUMA actions that I find troubling.
Most of the Portland GA agenda focused on discussing Article 2 of the UUA’s Bylaws. Massachusetts requires our Bylaws to state the purpose of our organization. We considered two different drafts of the purpose clause. We did not vote on these, but were encouraged to provide feedback. The final proposals will be presented to the UUA Board in January 2023, and will be voted on at the General Assembly in Pittsburgh in June, 2023.
The UUA Board’s Charge to the Article II Study Commission is lengthy. You can find it here: https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission/charge
In considering these drafts, keep in mind that the charge to the Article 2 Study Commission, at one point, states, “The Board would like to see an Article II that is inspirational, memorable and poetic. The language should be inclusive and welcoming, and explicitly anti-racist.” For several years the Board of Trustees has encouraged staff to move away from language of the “Enlightenment,” as they claim it is the root of “White Supremacy Culture,” and instead use “Post Modern” terminology.
This is our current Purposes Statement:
Section C-2.2. Purposes.
The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational and humanitarian purposes. The primary purpose of the Association is to serve the needs of its member congregations, organize new congregations, extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalist institutions and implement its principles.
This is Draft Purpose A:
The UU Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its organizational powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are to equip congregations for vital ministry, to support and train leaders both lay and professional, to heal historic inequities, and to advance UU values in the world. We do all this consistent with our theological pluralism.
And here is Draft Purpose B:
The UUA’s purpose is to grow and resource faith communities that support people through their lives’ journeys and transform the world by liberating ourselves through love. We make that love real through care and justice for ourselves, for our communities, and for the larger web of existence that we are all in. We are called upon to risk ourselves for love.
What do you think of the drafts? Does either one convey your understanding of the purpose of the UUA? Let me know.
Please, join us on August 7 and learn more about our UUA and your delegates’ experiences at GA.
*For example: 2022 Business Resolution 2. To suspend a portion of the bylaws: Vote held on Thursday, June 23, 2022. If every congregation sent their full slate of delegates there would have been 4,828 delegates voting, but in fact only 821 delegates voted on this resolution. (A 17% voter turnout) The measure passed with 95.6% of those who voted, voting in the affirmative. Only about half of the registered delegates even voted.