Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History

Handout 3: Social Witness and the UUA

Currently the UUA has two main ways to address issues of social witness:

  • Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAI)
  • Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW)

These are presented each year at General Assembly and are voted up or down by the delegates present at the convention.

Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI)

An invitation for congregations and districts to take a topic of concern and confront it, reflect on it, learn about it, respond to it, comment on it, take action—each in their own way. A CSAI is NOT a statement—it is a question. The text is intended to frame the issue. If the General Assembly passes a CSAI, a statement is developed over several years: After three years of study and action, the General Assembly delegates may adopt a Statement of Conscience (SOC) on the subject... Adopted Statements of Conscience serve to focus the efforts of congregations and other UU groups on the topic, shape the meaning of contemporary Unitarian Universalism, and inform the priorities and projects of the Multicultural Growth and Witness Staff Group.

Statements of Conscience passed by the General Assembly from 1999-2007

  • Moral Values for a Pluralistic Society (2007)
  • Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change (2006)
  • Criminal Justice and Prison Reform (2005)
  • Civil Liberties (2004)
  • Economic Globalization (2003)
  • Alternatives to the "War on Drugs" (2002)
  • Responsible Consumption Is Our Moral Imperative (2001)
  • Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racism: We Can Make a Difference! (2000)
  • Beyond Religious Tolerance: The Challenges of Interfaith Cooperation Begin with Us (1999)

Actions of Immediate Witness

People come with a wide range of issues, engage one another in conversation, sign petitions, debate the issues, vote, and bring to life the Principles of Unitarian Universalism, all within the span of one General Assembly (GA). Unlike a Statement of Conscience, an AIW does not carry the full authority of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA); rather, it expresses the conscience of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed... The AIW process allows Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to social issues deemed urgent. AIWs adopted by a GA are used by congregations in local efforts and empower the Washington Office for Advocacy to take action and recommend action through other departments of the UUA and other UU groups.