General Assembly: GA Presentations: Presenter views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UUA.

A Process for Revisiting Our Principles

General Assembly 2006 Event 4061

A Hearing by the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Appraisal

Members of the Commission on Appraisal began by describing the COA and its functions. The Commission on Appraisal, a unique institution with its roots in the time of America's Great Depression, is charged with independently reviewing aspects of the Association's life and functioning. Members are elected by General Assembly delegates, and any proposals made by the Commission have to be passed by the General Assembly.

The bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) mandate a periodic review of Article II which contains, among a few other items, the seven UU Principles and the (now) six Sources. Section 15 of the UUA bylaws provide that any changes be voted on by two successive General Assemblies. The mandated review is now more than six years late, and the COA has accepted the request of the Board of Trustees to undertake the review.

The COA is currently working on a process for this review. They stated that they'd like to have an inclusive process that will listen to a diversity of voices, and also solicit comments from both critics and proponents who have written about the UU Principles.

The COA members asked those present to do some "brain-stretching" using a version of the Appreciative Inquiry process. In pairs, those at the hearing were asked to interview their partner and write answers to four questions—the written answers were collected for the COA to read. The four questions were:

  • Tell of a time when one or more of the UU Principles influenced your actions, or when you realized that something you had done exhibited one or more of the Principles in action
  • What do you value about the UU Principles?
  • If the UU Principles disappeared tomorrow, what difference would it make in your life?
  • Make three wishes regarding the UU Principles.

After the interviews had been completed, participants were asked to share their answers to the question "How was this process for you?" Several spoke at the microphone, and then the COA members asked, "What needs to be part of the process for the work of the Commission to be done well?" Many present spoke, with comments both on hopes for the process and hopes for the outcome of the process. Finally, the COA members asked for comments on other issues relating to the "vibrancy of our faith," and there were several comments from the participants, including a few more on the issue of the Principles review.

Reported by Jone Johnson Lewis; edited by Margy Levine Young.