8th Principle Update: Where are UUs in Adopting Across the Faith?

August 20, 2020 / Revised April 15, 2021

Two years ago (June 3, 2018), UUCWC voted by a supermajority to adopt the 8th Principle. This vote is an important step in our congregation’s racial justice journey which began back in the 1960’s.

“We 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.”

Our faith movement allows congregations to adopt a principle when they are ready, while the discussion of officially changing the Principles as an Association continue.

At this most recent General Assembly (GA), 17 UUCWC-ers attended. The GA Sunday service that all of UUCWC was invited to attend was followed by our “ask me about GA” session. Both attendees and members who joined this discussion asked the question, ”Where is the UUA in adopting this principle?” After some research, here is an update.

Q: How many congregations have adopted the 8th Principle on their own?
A: Over 32 congregations have adopted it individually so far, with a good number working on it right now. It was introduced in a Responsive Resolution at General Assembly in 2017.

Q: What’s the process for getting in adopted as part of the UUA overall?
Technically, the Article 2 Commission (Principles & Purposes) is to be established…and that should set up within the first year. However, the UUA Board determined it should wait until the Commission on Institutional Change, who had a related mission, had submitted its report. This was done in June 2020 and is available for all congregations to review, “Widening the Circle of Concern.”

The Article 2 Study Commission has now been formed and has started its work. Paula Cole Jones, whose work really gave birth to the 8th Principle and co-wrote it, is on the Article 2 Commission. The mission of this Commission is to make a recommendation to the UUA Board by January of 2022. This recommendation could then be voted on at GA in 2022 (and again in 2023 to make any change final). It is very likely that the content of the 8th Principle will be in this recommendation, although it’s not clear yet what format it will be in.

What this will all look like is exciting. For example, at this past GA, there was talk about having the 8th principle become the preamble to the overall Principles! So while it’s being discussed at each GA, we are a bit away from a “vote.” Many groups are involved and congregations will be pulled back into it as well, but this all takes time. That’s why congregations’ were encouraged to pass their own 8th Principle, while the UUA goes through the required democratic process of review discussion and introduce a bylaw revision.

Changing the Principles at the UUA level as mentioned, is a process. It is democratic and not quick. Here is a link that outlines the process since this requires changing our bylaws AND the principles themselves. The discussions continue and we’re several years away. Normally the Principles are reviewed every 10 years, but in 2017 BLUU and others asked that a special study commission be formed.

Q: What’s next?
There are monthly gatherings of the 8th Principle Learning Community via Zoom, most recently with 70-90 participants, including congregations who adopted the 8th Principle years ago to those just starting to think about it. Questions are shared, experiences, and advice with each other, and serve as a support group, especially for those working on these issues in small congregations without a lot of company.

UUCWC is now part of that group and I attend. If anyone else at UUCWC would like to join these Learning Community Zoom gatherings, just email PColeJones@gmail.com request that your name gets added to that Community’s mailing list.

Holly Bussey, Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing
Denominational Affairs Liaison
Revised article, April 2021