Charge to the Article II Study Commission

Charge to the Article II Study Commission Banner

The Article II Study Commission is hereby charged to review Article II of the UUA Bylaws, and propose any revisions that will enable our UUA, our member congregations, and our covenanted communities to be a relevant and powerful force for spiritual and moral growth, healing, and justice. Proposed changes should articulate core UU theological values. The Board believes that one core theological value, shared widely among UUs, is love. The Commission on Appraisal, in its report, Engaging Our Theological Diversity, cites Robert Miller's study of Unitarian Universalism, stating "UUs ranked loving as an instrumental value and mature love as a terminal value more highly than did respondents from other groups, religious and nonreligious." Dr. Cornel West says that “justice is what love looks like in public.” Our commitment to personal, institutional and cultural change rooted in anti-oppression, anti-racism, and multiculturalism values and practices is love in action, and should be centered in any revision of Article II.

The new Principles and Purposes should guide us in the transformation of ourselves, our communities and our faith into active networks of collective care, restoration, and justice. The Principles and Purposes you will prepare should be a living document that challenges Unitarian Universalists to place the liberation, in all its dimensions, of all, at the center of our lives. They should be honest about our past, name what we are facing and our aspirations and where we hope to be not for just today but looking out at the horizons. They should ask us to choose Love in Action as the path forward. Our commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism is love in action, and should be centered in any revision of Article II. Finally, the Principles and Purposes should lead us into the second quarter of the 21st Century, while honoring the historic roots of our liberal, progressive faith.

We therefore charge this commission to root its work in Love as a principal guide in its work; attending particularly to the ways that we (and our root traditions) have understood and articulated Love, and how we have acted out of Love.

As it conducts its work, the Commission shall seek to engage the active participation of UUs across all demographics, identities, and theological/philosophical beliefs. The Commission shall be open and transparent in its work, communicating progress frequently with UUs through as many channels and communication media as possible. Further, the Commission shall de-center habitual practices that reinforce white supremacy culture.

The Commission is instructed to include in its considerations and deliberations the clear call at GA 2017 for the inclusion of another principle, explicitly calling us to be committed to active anti-racism (see attachments about the 8th Principle Project). We also note that there is a growing urging (heard even before the last review of the Principles, at Minneapolis Salt Lake City, in 2010 2009**) for us to better articulate our recognition of rights of being for all beings. The Commission should consider how this might be included. We specifically direct their attentions to the 2010 2009 proposals, recognizing how very close those came to passing; there is good work there that should be salvaged for our time.

The Commission is charged with reviewing all sections of Article II, and is free to revise, replace, or restructure them as needed to meet the objectives stated above. There is nothing sacred about the number of principles or sources, nor their specific wordings, nor in the way that Article II is laid out. We encourage creativity. The Board would like to see an Article II that is inspirational, memorable and poetic. The language should be inclusive and welcoming, and explicitly anti-racist. Article II, it must be remembered, are broad statements of Principle and Purpose, not detailed programmatic or implementation plans.

The Commission is urged to carefully consider the existing language for its implications, and for the errors or inadequacies of those implications. We recognize that one steady criticism over decades has been that the language of the principles is not poetic. We encourage the Commission to consider framings of our principles that allows them to be brief and poetic (perhaps by transferring explanatory clauses and expansions to a subsidiary document that expounds on what the Commission sees as included and intended in that shorter form).

We particularly urge the Commission to review the Sources; the revised listing from the 2010 2009** proposal and its explicit inclusion of Unitarianism and Universalism as our Sources seems timely to us. And there are other recommended Sources in that proposal. In addition, there have been energetic discussions about how other faith traditions such as Buddhism and Islam (among others) might be included or put on footings more equal to those of Christianity and Judaism.

Proposed changes must be submitted to the UUA Board of Trustees in January 2022 2023*, so that they may be considered by the Board, and then be placed on the 2022 2023* General Assembly Business Agenda for the first vote. (See Bylaws, Article XV Amendment).

The Commission is further charged with submitting regular reports to the Board of Trustees on its plans and progress to meeting its goals and deadlines. (See Board and Commission Responsibilities, p. z).

The Board of Trustees is grateful for the work of this Commission. Please call on us if we can support you in any way.

Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams, Co-Moderators

* The initial charge provided the Article II Study Commission with less than the bylaw allotted time of two years to conduct its study. With the advice of counsel, the Article II Study Commission, having been fully seated and convened in the Fall of 2020, will conduct it's study through the Fall of 2022 and present it's recommendations to the Board of Trustees no later than January 2023, and then be placed on the 2023 General Assembly Business Agenda for the first vote.

** The initial charge provided to the Article II Study Commission included inaccurate dates for the Commission on Appraisal study of Article II. The archived materials from the 2009 General Assembly in Salt Lake City, includes a summary of discussion points, extended debate, a counted vote indicating the failure of the proposal and a statement that the proposed change will not be on the GA agenda for a final vote in 2010.


In conducting its work, the Commission should actively reach out to these groups of stakeholders (and any others the Commission deems relevant):

  • Congregational leaders, lay* and professional*
  • Professional Associations*
  • Identity Groups* (e.g., DRUUMM, BLUU, TRUUsT, EqUUal Access, etc.)
  • Philosophical and Theological Groups* (e.g., UU Humanists, UU Christians, etc.)
  • 8th Principle and 1st Principle advocates*
  • Past GA attendees* (these people are the ones most likely to be voting on the proposed Principles)
  • Commission on Institutional Change*
  • Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee*
  • Former UUs who have left the faith* (i.e., those who left because they were harmed)
  • Unchurched UUs who still identify as UUs, but don’t belong to UU congregations* (i.e., those who just don’t feel compelled to be members of a UU congregation)
  • Members of 2009 Commission on Appraisal
  • UUA staff
  • UU seminaries
  • UUSC
  • UU Issues groups (e.g., UU Earth Justice Ministry, UUs for Justice in the Middle East, etc.)

*Denotes critical stakeholders.