UUA Article 2 Forums

UUA Article II Discussion Sessions

Thursday, May 11th, 1 PM(in person and online — watch our Wednesday eblast for login info!)

As many of UUS:E members and friends are aware, at this years Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly (GA), delegates will be voting on a revision to Article II in the UUA Bylaws. Article II is to be reviewed every 15 years, and that time is upon us. Article II includes a list of our 7 Principles,  a listing of the 6 sources for our living tradition, a statement on the purposes of the UUA, a statement on ‘inclusion,’ and a statement on ‘freedom of belief.’   The proposed Article II will make significant changes in ALL of these sections.  Below are links to information about these changes, including a sermon from a congregation in TN, a side-by-side comparison, and a more detailed pro & con analysis. We encourage you to take a look at the proposed changes as they would have a significant impact on Unitarian Universalism and, by extension, our UUS:E community.

Forum Agenda:

Welcome (UUS:E Denominational Affairs Chair, Carrie Kocher)

Purpose of Forum (Carrie Kocher)

Acknowledgement of Disagreement (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

UUS:E Covenant (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Article 2 Commission Video (Josh)

Presentation from Judi Durham and Lorry King

Comments / Questions (Carrie Kocher)

General Resources

Read Article 2 as it currently appears in the UUA bylaws.

Read the Report from the UUA’s Article 2 Commission, which includes the proposal for the new Article 2.

Watch the Article 2 Commission’s statement to the UUA Board of Trustees on its final report.

Read the UUA’s Frequently Asked Questions Document.

Listen to “Whew, My Brain is Tired: Article 2 Project,” a helpful Sermon on the proposed Article II changes by the Rev. Beth Lefever, minister of the Neshoba UU Church (outside Memphis, TN) from Sunday April 2, 2023.

There is more helpful information about the pros and cons of the proposed changes to Article 2 at the Saving the Seven Principles website. Specifically, download a Side by Side comparison here

And read a pro and con comparison here.

Read a reflection in the UU World magazine on the changes to Article 2 that happened in the 1980s, and thoughts about why it’s time to revise Article 2 again here.

You can also review Rev. Josh Pawelek’s sermons on the proposed changes to Article 2 on the UUS:E website:
Have We No Priniciples?, January 22, 2023
Towards a Spiritual Discipline of Love, February 19, 2023

More Resources (added here April 24th)

The following information attempts to provide an overview of  various critiques of the proposed Article 2 changes, grouped by category.  This is a small fraction of available information, but hopefully representative of the major concerns.   Judi Durham and Lorry King have curated these resources. If you would like to receive further resources from them, please feel free to contact them. 

Please know that none of the resources listed below represent in any way an official position at UUS:E by the Policy Board, elected leaders, staff, or the congregation as a whole.

Also, Please know that Rev. Josh offers a brief, different perspective on the Article 2 controversy at the end of this resource list. 

Loss of our Principles?

The UUA Article 2 Study Commission has never made a convincing (or any) case for why the complete rewriting of the principles into values is necessary.  The charge to the Article II Study Commission was to make the principles “more poetic”, but again, no reason was cited for this change.  Importantly, there was no widespread survey of congregants regarding such a radical change of what has come to be known as embodying the spiritual core of Unitarian Universalism through, our Principles.

The Save the 7 Principles website was developed by a group of concerned UU members and associates who came together from around the country for what they felt was a radical overhaul of our faith, beginning with the loss of our principles. There are numerous documents and videos on this website that explore this issue.

The summary document of their concerns is here.

Read a brief commentary by Kenneth Ing here.

A third detailed comparison and with associated meaning of the wording changes in the proposed Article II by Lincoln Baxter  is here.

Don’t be guilted into Giving up the Seven Principles
Dr. Kenneth Christiansen, Nov. 2022

Are we becoming an Anti-racism Collective accountable to UUA?

This video by Ken Ing explains some of the history of the move toward becoming exclusively an Antiracist Collective accountable to UUA.  Ken is a UU and a retired IT professional, who he has had a long interest in liberal social change.

Concerns about UUA’s Progressive AntiRacism Activism;
Are we a Free and Liberal Religion?

 There has been increasing concern with, and resistance to, the type of progressive antiracism activism that UUA has been promoting. Some of the resistance comes from UUA labeling Unitarian Universalism a White Supremacy Culture. But some of the concern is more specific to tactics of the ARAOMC (AntiRacism AntiOppression Multiculturalism) efforts.  The shift appears to have evolved (~2017) when the previous antiracism efforts,  Journeying Toward Wholeness, were seemingly unsuccessful at significantly increasing the number of People of Color (POC) within UU congregations. The following articles will provide a small spectrum of opinions on this subject.

 This first article briefly describes the differences between an “asset based” approach to antiracism and what the author (Rev. Dr. Kenneth Christainsen, a former UU minister and Professor of religion) describes as a “guilt based” antiracism, as currently being promoted by the UUA.

The second article, also by Dr Christainsen explores what works best, “policy based antiracism” or “consciousness raising” antiracism.

This article, Standing on the Side of Power, is by Rev Munro Sickafoose. He received his M.Div. from Starr King School. In this article he begins by describing the turmoil at Starr King, the “coup” in UUA that resulted in Rev Peter Morales’resignation, and Rev. Munro’s eventual loss of trust in UUA and their orthodox version of antiracism.


Is UUA a Democratic Organization? How did we get here?

The following article describes how UUA’s efforts to streamline their cumbersome decision-making process and shift to a Policy Based Governance ultimately made UUA’s governance less democratic, and more centrally located, and ultimately more ingrown. “Our Unitarian Universalist Association adopted a new form of governance in 2010 that has vested power in the hands of a small, self-selected group of insiders who now exercise control of the denomination by the manufacture of consent.”   How The UUA Manufactures Consent, by Rev. Gary Kowalski, Co-Minister, Unitarian Congregation, Taos, NM., Minister Emeritus, First UU Society of Burlington, VT.


Dis-fellowshipping and Censuring of Ministers

Rev. Todd Eklof was the first of several ministers who have been dis-fellowshipped or censured by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (UMF) for expressing views questioning or opposing the direction of UUA. If you look at this link to the page on the UUA website, you will see a decided change in the reasons cited for ministers being disfellowshipped.  Procedures in the UU Ministers Association( UUMA) and the UMF, including the Ministers Ethical Code of Conduct have recently been altered to facilitate these actions.

Rev Todd was disfellowshipped for handing out his book at the 2019 General Assembly.  (The Gadfly Papers: A critique of the illiberal trends in UUism, 2019) Rev. Todd states the book was written to open discussion of the increasing ‘illiberalism’ and ‘political correctness’ he had observed in the UUA.  Here is a sermon he delivered on Sunday, January 16, 2022, in Spokane, WA, describing the events.

What the Media is saying about Us!

 How The Unitarian Universalist Church Melted Down, by Katie Herzog, a freelance journalist and podcaster living in Seattle, WA.

Episode 159: Blocked and Reported, podcast. Edited for segment relating to UU


Note from Rev. Josh on these resources:

First, I wish to thank Judi Durham and Lorry King for researching and sharing the above resources. I am aware these articles, videos and podcasts are generating significant dialogue among us. In fact, I dare say I have never seen so many UUS:E members and friends interested in what’s happening at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) or the General Assembly. It’s refreshing!

I think it’s important to identify, at least at a high level, my perspective on these articles. I note they are uniformly critical of efforts at the national UUA–critical not only of the proposed changes to the language of Article 2 in its bylaws, but also critical of the UUA’s longstanding (40+ year) efforts to develop antiracist, anti-oppressive, multicultural identity and practice throughout the association (national offices, congregations, and affiliated organizations.) I personally am disappointed with some of the proposed changes to Article 2. I am very excited about others. As always, I am happy to discuss my disappoinment and my excitement with anyone who is interested to learn my perspective.

Having said this, please know that I am solidly in favor of the UUA’s efforts when it comes to antiracism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism, and I do not share the opinions and analysis presented in the articles above.  I am aware of the UUA’s many failures over the years in relation to this work. It has made mistakes and will likely continue to make mistakes. However, I am also aware of the UUA’s many successes in relation to this work. It is my perspective that the writers of many of the resources above do not fully know this history, and they at times mis-characterize the UUA’s efforts in their writing. This is unfortunate, because I believe some of the mischaracterizations will generate unnecessary fear about the future of the UUA. I urge UUS:E members and friends to read the UUA’s Frequently Asked Questions document for a more balanced understanding of why we are proposing changes to Article 2 at this time. The UUA’s antiracism, anti-oppression, multicultural work has always been multi-faceted, developmental, and innovative, not the one-size-fits-all, guilt-based, ideological approach about which these writers are so concerned (though certainly the guilt-based approach has been in the mix at times, and certainly the work feels ideological to some who experience it).  My commitment to the work of antiracism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism at the congregational level remains as strong as ever. I have the impression that the members and friends of UUS:E have always supported me in this commitment, have taken this commitment to heart, and will continue to do so (hopefully long after I am gone)!

The effort to change Article 2 of the UUA bylaws may succeed. The effort may fail. My expectation and my hope is that through the General Assembly’s democratic process (admittedly as flawed as any other democratic process) the effort to change Article 2 will result in a revision that retains the best elements of the current version and enthusiastically welcomes the best elements of the proposed new version. Either way, the work of building antiracist, anti-oppressive, multicultural identity and practice ought to continue at the UUA national offices, in our congregations, and in our affiliated organizations.

If you wish to discuss my perspective with me further, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or (860) 652-8961.