A Group Guide on Discussing Mission and Values

Rev. Cheryl Walker smiles during conversation with two others.

The following questions were discussed in break out groups at General Assembly 2018. The information gathered from participants aid the Board of Trustees and the Commission on Institutional Change and those who will be working on the Bylaws Commission which includes Article II: Principles and Purposes. To start off this conversation, open with a reading and light a small chalice to set the intention for the discussion. The following covenant may prove useful in facilitating the conversation and can be added to by those who are participating.

  • Bring your best self to the conversation. Have good intentions, and trust the intentions of others.
  • Be aware of the language that you use. Check for ableism, racism, ageism, and other –isms that might be hurtful.
  • Everyone should have a chance to contribute, as they are willing and able…one at a time, allowing everyone to speak at least once if they choose to
  • Discern with your faith at the center…we are not making decisions or advocating for a “side”; rather, we are sharing our thoughts and hopes for Unitarian Universalism
  • Listen carefully, and when necessary, reply/ask questions in ways that deepen understanding. There are no right or wrong responses.

Having set the group intention and covenant for the discussion, introduce the four questions to the room. You will then want to break out into groups of no more than six, with a timekeeper and note-taker. There is no right amount of time to set for this discussion, so divide the time you have to allow for sharing back with the whole group.

The Questions
  1. What is essential to you about being a Unitarian Universalist?
  2. What do our purposes and principles capture well that is essential to who we are and what we must do as Unitarian Universalists? What do they leave out?
  3. How could our mission, purposes, principles, and bylaws more accurately convey our vision of a future for our faith that compels us to act on our deep commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression?
  4. In what specific ways are we asked to transform lives, communities, and the world in these times? How do our shared life in our congregations and covenanted communities prepare us to do this?

Once everyone has had a chance to share and reflect, close out with another reading, and encourage folks to continue the conversation with others within your community.

About the Author

Commission On Institutional Change

The members and staff of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change were Chair Rev. Leslie Takahashi, Mary Byron, Cir L’Bert Jr., Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore, Dr. Elías Ortega, Caitlin Breedlove, DeReau K. Farrar, and Project Manager Rev. Marcus Fogliano.

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