The Commission on Institutional Change
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Commission on Institutional Change is charged with the long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism. Appointed by the UUA Board of Trustees in 2017 for a period of two years with an extension granted in 2018, the Commission will analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA through General Assembly 2020.
Purpose and Goals
The Commission on Institutional Change held its first in-person meeting on August 21 and 22, 2017. After two days of deliberation and consideration of the charge presented it by the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Commission completed a statement of its work, its guiding principles and its approach to its work. Over the three years, the Commission will report back to the Board and General Assembly its learnings, recommendations, and guidance for ongoing work. The Commission will:
- Ground its work in theological reflection and seek the articulation of a liberating Unitarian Universalism which is anti-oppressive, multicultural and accountable to the richness of our diverse heritage.
- Oversee an audit of racism within the Unitarian Universalist Association practices and policies to set priorities and make recommendations for anti-oppressive strategies (including hiring and personnel practices and governance structures) and that will advance our progress towards building the Beloved Community and hold the Association accountable.
- Collect stories of those who have been the target of harm or aggression because of racism within existing UUA culture and to identify the aspects of that culture which must be dismantled to transform us into a faith for our times.
- Examine and document critical events and practices at all levels of the Association, congregations and related ministries which spotlight areas for redress and restorative justice and illuminate the expectations placed on religious professionals of color in the transformation of our faith.
- Identify promising practices for recruitment, retention, and formation of religious leadership which spans the spectrum of race, class, and age and which reflects an ecclesiology of an inclusive faith.
Principles to Guide Our Work
We also spent time discerning guiding principles with which to address our work to end systemic racial oppression in our Association, informed by the experience we bring to our work as Commissioners. These will be evolving, however, we begin with these premises:
- Unitarian Universalists and the practice of Unitarian Universalism need to call us to live into the fullness of the theology we inherit and proclaim.
- Transformation is needed at all levels of our Association of Congregations to abandon dysfunctional cultural expressions of our theology and polity.
- The covenants which bind us together both within our own faith and to our partners in the world are frayed and broken by the domination of white supremacy culture among us.
- To keep Unitarian Universalism alive, we must privilege the voices which have been silenced or drowned out and dismantle elitist and exclusionary white privilege which inhibits connection and creativity.
- In this effort, we should be guided by the bright spots of creativity and learning where multicultural and multigenerational new expressions of our faith are found.
Visit the about page here to learn more about the Commission, including the full charge and member bios. To contact the Commission's Project Manager, email changemanager [at] uua [dot] org
Engage with the Commission
Keep up-to-date on the Commission's activity and engage in spiritual deepening with The Institutional Change Blog.
The Commission calls on congregations, fellowships, covenant circles, and other forms of community to engage in the work of institutional change, by utilizing these resources provided.
The Commission on Institutional Change requests personal accounts and stories about how racism has affected individuals and groups within Unitarian Universalism at the personal, institutional, or systemic levels. It is seeking to document incidents that occurred between individual Unitarian Universalists, within a congregational or Associational setting, or as a result of white-centeredness embedded within the greater Unitarian Universalist culture. (Read the full call and submit your story.)
The Commission on Institutional Change also seeking stories and examples of best practices in the service of anti-racism in UU congregations and communities. If you have been doing something in the field of anti-racism that you think is going well, we’d like to hear about it. (Read the full call and submit your story.)
Southern Regional Lead Report
These are the findings of the Commission on Institutional Change related to its study of the Southern Regional Lead hiring process which took place in the Spring of 2017. This study was completed as charged to the Commission by the UUA Board of Trustees. From September 2017 through March 2018, the Commission conducted interviews, collected data, and deliberated on what it learned as the investigation was conducted. The report found here provides the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Institutional Change at the conclusion of its investigation into the 2017 Southern Regional Lead hiring process. Read the full report (PDF)*.