THEME FOR GA 2024: LOVE UNITES, STORIES IGNITE
General Assembly is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists, where we conduct business of the Association, explore the theological underpinnings of our faith, and lean fully into our mission and principles.
In a world filled with division and challenges, the theme for this year’s General Assembly is a powerful reminder of the core principles that unite us as Unitarian Universalists. “Love Unites, Stories Ignite” celebrates the profound impact of love as a binding force that transcends boundaries and fosters connections within our faith community and beyond.
Our faith has always been rooted in the power of storytelling, and this year we’ll explore how our stories can ignite change, inspire compassion, and help us build a more just and equitable world. Through storytelling, we share our experiences, our dreams, our struggles, and our triumphs. It is through these stories that we can find common ground, deepening our understanding of one another and the world around us.
Dates: Thursday, June 20 through Sunday, June 23, 2024 (Virtual Only)
For more information about GA 2024, including Programming and Scheduling and Delegate Information, CLICK HERE.
IMPORTANT BUSINESS ITEM: VOTE ON PROPOSED ARTICLE II REVISION
At last year’s GA, the Article II Study Commission’s proposed revisions to Article II were discussed and then voted on, with the assembly voting to move ahead with the proposed Article II changes. At this year’s GA, a vote on FINAL APPROVAL will occur. The following information will help you understand more about Article II and address WHY the revisions have replaced the exiting 7 Principles contained therein with a Values approach.
TEXT OF PROPOSED REVISION of ARTICLE II of the UUA Bylaws – PURPOSES AND COVENANTS
(As of October, 2023)
Section C-2.1. Purposes
The Unitarian Universalist Association will devote its resources to and use its organizational powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are:
- to assist congregations in their vital ministries,
- to support and train leaders both lay and professional,
- to foster lifelong faith formation and spiritual development,
- to heal historic injustices,
- to support and encourage the creation of new Unitarian Universalist communities, and
- to advance our Unitarian Universalist values in the world.
The Unitarian Universalist Association will actively engage its members in the transformation of the world through liberating Love.
Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant
As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our Association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.
Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.
Inseparable from one another, these shared values are:
We honor the interdependent web of all existence. With reverence for the great web of life and with humility, we acknowledge our place in it.
We covenant to protect Earth and all beings from exploitation. We will create and nurture sustainable relationships of care and respect, mutuality and justice. We will work to repair harm and damaged relationships.
We celebrate that we are all sacred beings, diverse in culture, experience, and theology.
We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love, curiosity, and respect.
We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive.
We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions within our congregations, our Association, and society at large.
We adapt to the changing world.
We covenant to collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect.
We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope.
We covenant to freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources. Our generosity connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality.
We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worthiness.
We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.
Section C-2.3. Inspirations
Direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder are primary sources of Unitarian Universalist inspiration. These experiences open our hearts, renew our spirits, and transform our lives. We draw upon, and are inspired by, sacred, secular, and scientific understandings that help us make meaning and live into our values. These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times. We respect the histories, contexts, and cultures in which these sources were created and are currently practiced. Grateful for the experiences that move us, aware of the religious ancestries we inherit, and enlivened by the diversity which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.
Section C-2.4 Inclusion
Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be an Association of congregations that truly welcome all persons who share our values. We commit to being an Association of congregations that empowers and enhances everyone’s participation, especially those with historically marginalized identities.
Section C-2.5. Freedom of Belief
Congregational freedom and the individual’s right of conscience are central to our Unitarian Universalist heritage. (Language from the current 5th Principle)
Congregations may establish statements of purpose, covenants, and bonds of union so long as they do not require that members adhere to a particular creed.
SIMILARITIES IN LANGUAGE BETWEEN THE CURRENT 7 PRINCIPLES AND REVISED SECTION C-2-2. VALUES AND COVENANT. (The similarities are shown below in the text that is italicized and underlined, and provides the number of the current principle. The language of the 8th Principle, which UCS adopted in June of 2022, is embedded in the entire Article II revision. )
–We honor the interdependent web of all existence. With reverence for the great web of life and with humility, we acknowledge our place in it. (7)
-We covenant to protect Earth and all beings from exploitation. We will create and nurture sustainable relationships of care and respect, mutuality and justice. We will work to repair harm and damaged relationships.
-We celebrate that we are all sacred beings, diverse in culture, experience, and theology.
-We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. (4) We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love, curiosity, and respect.
-We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive.
-We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions within our congregations, our Association, and society at large. (5 –conscience is mentioned in Section C-2.5. Freedom of Belief )
-We adapt to the changing world.
-We covenant to collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Openness to change is fundamental to our Unitarian and Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect. (3)
-We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope.
-We covenant to freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources. Our generosity connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality. (2)
-We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worthiness. (1)
-We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.
HISTORY/TIMELINE OF ARTICLE II
- 1961 – Article II is one of the “C” Bylaws, created as a result of the 1961 merger between the American Unitarian Association, established in 1825, and the Universalist Church of America, established in 1793. Much of the “C” Bylaws reflects compromises that were made in order to achieve merger. 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. It is the covenant to which all of our congregations and covenanted communities pledge themselves when they become members of our UUA and it is considered a living document that can and should be changed when needed to reflect our evolving faith. As such, an Article II Study Commission was intended to be established at least every 15 years to review Article II of the UUA Bylaws, Principles and Purposes
- 1984 – The first major rewrite of the Principles and Purposes post-merger was introduced at the 1984 General Assembly and received final approval at the 1985 GA. It included our current 7 Principles and 5 of our current 6 Sources. Some slight changes were made after that, but the language has remained largely unchanged.
- 1985- a Sixth Source, earth-centered religions, was added in 1985
- 2009- The 5th Principle was the subject of a report in 2009, which dealt with the ways in which GA and other Unitarian Universalist (UU) gatherings do and don’t embody an inclusive democratic process.
- 2017-Our current Principles and Purposes were last revised in 1987. Additionally, during the General Assembly that year, there were discussions around amending some additional principles (i.e the 1st Principle, addressing nonhuman life) as well as adding an 8th Principle to specifically address racism.
- 2020 – A new Article II Study Commission was fully seated and convened with the instruction to review Article II. Their mission: to “propose any revisions that will enable our UUA, our member congregations, and our covenanted communities to be a relevant and powerful force for spiritual and moral growth, healing, and justice,” and respond specifically to the call within the 8th Principle to “accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” The heart of the Commission’s final report: “Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.” This is graphically displayed in the flower image of a chalice with an overlay of the word love over the flame, with six outstretched arms that create a circle around each of the core values and form a six-petal flower shape. (As shown on page 2)
- 2023-The Commission completed its assignment and offered up a revised Article 2 which was debated during the 2023 GA. After discussion, the assembly voted to move ahead with the proposed Article 2 changes. CLICK HERE FOR PROPOSED FINAL REVISION.
- 2024 – A vote on final approval of these changes will take place during the 2024 GA.
- Article II Study Commission (lots of helpful information, including some history of Article II)
- 2.13.2023 UU World Article by Carey McDonald, UUA Executive Vice President. In the article, McDonald articulates how he sees the revision as “a deepening and expanding of the language of the Seven Principles to include commitments and actions,” not a rejection of them.