Minister’s Column February 2023

Dear Ones:

Love is our ministry theme for February. As I begin to contemplate this theme, I am immediately drawn to the proposed changes to Article II in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s bylaws. [As a reminder, Article II is the section of the UUA’s bylaws where we find the seven UU principles and the 6 sources of our UU living tradition.] I preached about the proposed changes in January. I am planning to say yet more about the changes in my February 19th sermon. This is entirely in keeping with our ministry theme, since the proposed new Article II places love at the center of our faith. Here’s an excerpt from the proposal:

Love is the enduring force that holds us together. As Unitarian Universalists in religious community, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our association, to support and assist each other in engaging our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom and reason, hope and courage, building on the foundation of love. Love inspires and powers the passion with which we embody our values.

I say ‘YES!” I say “AMEN!” I say “HALLELUJAH!”

Of course, assuming our General Assembly accepts the proposed changes, there is much about the current Article II I will miss. I will miss the language of the seven principles, though I feel confident that the new “statement of values” is an excellent replacement. I will likely miss the language of the six sources more. I have always loved the way we name a multiplicity of specific sources for our faith—awe and wonder, prophetic words and deeds, wisdom from the world’s religions, Jewish and Christian teachings, Humanist teachings, Earth-centered teachings. The new language of “inspirations” is fine, but it isn’t nearly as specific. We haven’t lost the concept of multiple, specific sources, we just won’t be naming them in the new Article II.

I say YES to the proposed changes precisely because they put love at the center of our faith. I’m mindful that the seven UU principles make no mention of love. That absence has always created dissonance for me. The principles are excellent expressions of the modern, liberal religious identity and worldview. But for me, the primary purpose of our Unitarian Universalist faith—indeed, the purpose of any faith—is to help people:

  • To feel love in their hearts (for other people, for creatures, for the Earth, for divinity)
  • To feel loved by a community of peers, i.e., a church, a temple, a mosque, etc.
  • To manifest love in the world as justice, compassion and equity.

There are many ways to achieve this purpose of experiencing love and putting love into action. I believe our congregation, and Unitarian Universalism in general, have been pursuing this purpose all throughout our history. And I am excited that we are finally naming love as the central value of our faith. Will this change, assuming it happens, change us in any appreciable way? That’s one of the questions I want to ask in my February 19th sermon. Maybe naming something that’s been with us all along won’t lead to a noticeable change. I suppose time will tell. But for now, please know I am very excited to find out.


With love (genuine, heart-felt, enthusiastic, raucous, boisterous love!),

Rev. JoshRev. Joshua Pawelek