Director of Public Relations and Outreach
For Immediate Release
June 29, 2020
Unitarian Universalist Association Calls for Supporting Indigenous Communities and Reckoning with 400 Years of Colonialism
Boston, MA— During the first all-virtual General Assembly annual gathering, delegates of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) voted for its member congregations to actively name and repair the harm caused by 400 years of colonization in the United States. The vote passed with 94% voting yes.
Unitarians have religious ancestry connected to New England Pilgrims. This General Assembly vote calls Unitarian Universalists to be honest about this heritage and work to repair relationships with Indigenous peoples.
“As a religious tradition, we cannot decide who we will be without reckoning with the truth of who some of our ancestors were,” said the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA president. “Building a future right relationship with each other and the earth requires centering the autonomy of Indigenous people and working to actively divest from our legacies of colonialism. On this 400th anniversary of Pilgrims coming to the United States, those of us with colonialist ancestry have work to do.”
Centering Indigenous leaders within and outside of Unitarian Universalism was a key focus at General Assembly, which had the theme, “Rooted, Inspired, & Ready!”
The vote passed as an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW), which allows Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to social issues deemed urgent and empowers the UUA’s organizing team to take action related to the AIW.
“Unitarian Universalists are looking deep, examining how the structures and assumptions of white supremacy have shaped us,” said Unitarian Universalist minister, Rev. Dr. Clyde Grubbs. “The Action of Immediate Witness calls us to acknowledge our Unitarian and Universalist origins in the settler colonial conquest of North America and provides several programmatic steps by which we can begin to restore right relations with the original people of this land.”
Read the Action of Immediate Witness to support Indigenous peoples and repair the harms of colonization, “400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism.”
The AIW reflects an ongoing commitment by the UUA to support and partner with Indigenous people. Earlier this year, the UUA published a statement in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe after the federal government issued an order to disestablish the tribe’s reservation status.
The UUA centers its climate justice work in Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. Through its Create Climate Justice initiative, the UUA works to mobilize Unitarian Universalists in solidarity with Indigenous activists. The UUA’s justice priorities include climate justice, with a specific focus on environmental racism, recognizing that climate change disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous communities.
General Assembly delegates also voted to actively work within Unitarian Universalism to support efforts to defund the police. Read the Action of Immediate Witness to defund the police, “Amen to Uprising: A Commitment and Call to Action.”
With more than 4,900 virtual attendees, the 2020 General Assembly had the third highest attendance in UUA history since GA began in 1962.
General Assembly is the annual meeting of the UUA. A complete list of General Assembly events and presentations can be found in the online program.
The UUA is a religious association of congregations established in 1961 via the consolidation of the Universalist Church of America (organized in 1793) and the American Unitarian Association (organized in 1825). Unitarian Universalist rituals and worship consist of many source traditions and reflect a joint commitment to building Beloved Community in the world.
Unitarian Universalism is a “living tradition,”meaning Unitarian Universalists believe there is new wisdom to learn beyond any text already written. Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles, which they hold as strong values and moral guides.