The UUA Bylaws: A Study in Ambivalence

Our basic description of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) organization is the bylaws. They reflect the ambivalence that we have toward establishing a central organization with any power. Or, you may say, they reflect the balance we have achieved between congregational autonomy and cohesive action.

  1. ". . . An authentic covenant is rooted in love, not law. Rules and regulations are secondary to the originating motive of the covenant. The sources section of the UUA Principles statement fulfills this motivating function. . . ."
  2. "Notably, individualism is here [in Section C-2.4 of the UUA Bylaws] enshrined in the idea of 'individual freedom of belief'; a wag might say that this is the one dogma of our non- dogmatic faith."
  3. ". . . The UUA Bylaws are predominantly a legal document, delimiting the authority of the central body and setting only minimal standards for participation. What seems missing is a positive vision of the congregation and [its] web of interrelationships. . . ."


  • If a church required affirmation of the Principles in the bylaws as a requirement to join the congregation, would that violate the prohibition (also in the bylaws) against establishing a creedal test?
  • What "positive vision" can you suggest for the relationships among our congregations?