About the Social Witness Process
While called by various names, the social witness process is the method by which the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) comes to understand and act on the social issues of our times, finally bearing witness through statements adopted as Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) policy by the delegates of a General Assembly (GA). The process has been an integral part of our faith the since the merger between the Unitarians and the Universalists in 1961. This process is congregationally driven and is facilitated by the Commission on Social Witness (CSW).
The UUA makes two different types of social witness statements: Statements of Conscience (SOCs), which arise from Congregational Study/Action Issues, and Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs). At the 2016 General Assembly, delegates voted to suspend AIWs for 2017. Therefore, no AIWs will be submitted, voted on, or adopted in 2017. This will provide an opportunity to re-think how the Association does social witness work – and your voice is important to that process. Share your ideas by going to the Vision for Social Witness forum.
Congregational Study/Action Issues; Statements of Conscience
Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) are issues selected by Unitarian Universalist member congregations for four years of study, reflection and action. In the third year of this process, delegates at GA can vote to approve a Statement of Conscience (SOC) resulting from three years of congregational feedback on the CSAI. A fourth year is devoted to implementation.
CSAI to SOC Process Charts
This chart demonstrates the new CSAI to SOC process (PDF), from initial CSAI proposals to adoption of a UUA Statement of Conscience. For those more visually inclined, this is a graphical version (PDF).
Part 1 of the Proposer's Guide provides information on the Congregational Study/Action Issue process.
Actions of Immediate Witness
Normally, delegates at each annual General Assembly have the opportunity to take positions on issues that require immediate witness through the Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) process. An AIW expresses the conscience and carries the authority of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. AIWs are initiated by individual delegates and move through their entire creation and adoption process during a single GA. However, in 2016, the delegates voted that there shall be no Actions of Immediate Witness in 2017.
Part 2 of the Proposer's Guide provides information on the AIW process.