Summary: Taking Action as a Congregation
Clearly, asking the congregation to take a stand on an issue is a process that usually involves long-term organizing and lots of listening. If not done from a faith-based perspective the attempt can be divisive. However, there are some issues that may be central to the congregation’s identity and can be acted on quickly and unanimously. If a resolution is needed immediately it is either best to do so through the social justice committee or to make the resolution very short and very broad. For the resolution to be meaningful beyond the congregation, it needs to be developed with community partners and in coalitions and have the input of affected communities. For the resolution to be effective it needs to be shared with the media and be part of an action plan.
- Passing a resolution is a form of public witness.
- It can rally the congregation, mobilize action and participation in the social justice committee or a particular issue task force.
- It can create awareness about the congregation and Unitarian Universalism in the community.
- It promotes solidarity with partner organizations working on the same issue as well as with other congregations that have also taken a stand.
- It promotes dialogue/debate in the congregation and deepens faith.
- It can create conditions to help people have the courage to speak out and act.
- Energy spent on creating a statement can divert attention from action.
- If the process becomes too time-consuming there may be little concrete results.
- Passing a resolution can be divisive, especially if done poorly.
- Those in the minority may feel marginalized.
- If not done by secret ballot, may not be accurate representation of where the congregation.
- There may be better ways to organize for an issue
- Those wanting to take action may feel limited unless or until there is a vote.
As with all issues, there is no “one way” for congregations to act. Remember that whether an issue is one that involves fairly easy consensus or one that involves a lot of education and discussion the end result needs to lead to action for justice and a strengthening of congregational identity and community.