Commission on Social Witness

About

The Commission’s charge is to oversee the collective social witness process among Unitarian Universalist Association (Association) member congregations and groups. Social witness is the act of courageously affirming what is just and good through speech and action that demonstrates solidarity with those who are marginalized; collective social witness collaboratively imagines and embodies social witness for collective liberation.

Vision

We envision a faith engaging in multigenerational, multicultural, accessible, social witness that is in relationship with what is emerging in social justice movements within and beyond Unitarian Universalism, enabling us to live into discomfort and to adapt into a healing, transformative reality.

Mission

To amplify emerging social action, promote connections, and nurture accountable social witness across the Association.

Approach

We pursue our vision and mission in accountable relationships that seek equitable empowerment with people and groups most impacted by oppression, hate, and violence. Together, we celebrate how seeking justice in news ways of relating brings joy to the process of collective social witness.

History

The 1984 General Assembly in Columbus, OH, established the Commission on General Resolutions. The 1996 General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN, changed the name to the Commission on Social Witness and approved other terminology and process.

Members

The Commission on Social Witness (CSW) is made up of five members, three elected by the General Assembly and two appointed by the Board of Trustees, for a term of four years. The current commissioners are:

  • Ms. Jyaphia Christos-Rodgers, term expires 2023
  • Rev. Dr. Meredith Garmon, term expires 2021
  • Ms. Alison Aguilar Lopez Gutierrez McLeod, Co-chair, term expires 2022
  • Rev. Jessica Star Rockers, term expires 2023
  • Rev. Dr. Pippin Whitaker, Co-chair, term expires 2023
  • Susan Leslie, CSW Staff Liaison, UUA Organizing Strategy Team Coalitions & Partnerships Organizer

Covenant

This covenant for the CSW was affirmed Aug. 7, 2018:

As we endeavor to do the best possible work on behalf of Unitarian Universalist congregations and the UUA principles they have affirmed, we covenant to be in right relationship with one another by:

  • finding the holy within each of us;
  • listening to understand; acknowledging and articulating discomfort when it arises;
  • being honest and open about our personal biases;
  • respecting the contributions and circumstances of one another;
  • trusting one another’s good intentions and commitment to our work;
  • affirming different learning and working styles; and
  • grounding our relationships and work in the practices of anti-racism and anti- oppression.

We covenant to hold ourselves and one another accountable by referring to these commitments during process observations at the end of each convening.

Current Focus Priorities/Actions of the Commission

Are you wondering what priorities and actions the commission is currently working on? A major focus of this year is relational work to help transform the way we operate in order to embody our highest UU ideals for the times we live in. This year, we are engaged in relationship-building and listening to varied voices, as well as a few experiments to explore new ways of functioning. The highlights below provide some context on our current work. Please feel free to reach out to us at socialwitness@uua.org any time to get engaged.

  • Listening to UU groups and individuals who are actively engaged in social witness and action, along with other stakeholders, in order to discover ways we as a commission can better facilitate the process of collective social witness for the association.
  • More communication around Actions of Immediate Witness (before, during, after), which are passed at GA: please submit your AIW ideas early so we can help connect you to others as you develop your idea/proposal. New AIW ideas are posted here, and AIW criteria are here.
  • Showing up as we are able and aware in order to celebrate and amplify your acts of social witness. If you or your congregation/group are involved in social witness action and would appreciate our presence, we would love to connect with you (please email socialwitness@uua.org).
  • Organizing a late-winter/early spring convening on implementation of the most recent AIWs, most recent SOC, and current draft SOC. Stay tuned for details as we pin down a date (to stay in the loop, sign up for our list server today.
    • You can watch a recording of this event (YouTube) which took place on March 24, 2021. Description of event: While many of us celebrate the promise of a new administration in the White House, things we care about—advocating for racial justice, countering white supremacy, protecting our democratic freedoms — are still at risk. By the thousands, Unitarian Universalists made their voices heard through the UU the Vote campaign. UU the Vote showed us all how vital and powerful we are acting together. Inspired to grow more connections for collective social witness action for a wide range of values at risk, the Commission on Social Witness invites all UUs to Witness, Connect, Act! A social witness convening to share and connect UUs for inspiration and ideas. The spring Convening will take place Wednesday, March 24, 7-9 pm ET/4-6 pm PT to bring together leaders from around the country to share updates on actions, including leaders of both Actions of Immediate Witness (below), UU the Vote, and more. All will have the opportunity to connect and share ideas and inspiration related to recent action statements. Commissioners will also review how to make new statements at GA 2021, and provide an opportunity to connect in advance of GA.
  • Building relationships across the association, including under-nourished relationships with BIPOC and historically marginalized groups, to further empower our process of collective social witness.
  • Planning and eagerly looking forward to General Assembly 2021 when we will share all that we are learning and how we may envision our future. Not attending GA 2021? No problem, we will report out after GA as well via the website and listserve.

Bylaws & Minutes

Unitarian Universalist Association Bylaws under which the Commission on Social Witness operates:

  • Section 5.10 Commission on Social Witness
  • Section 4.11. Tentative Agenda for Regular General Assemblies
  • Section 4.12. UUA Statements of Conscience
  • Section 4.13. Revision of UUA Statements of Conscience Process Schedule
  • Section 4.14. Final Agenda for Regular General Assemblies
  • Section 4.15. Agenda for Special General Assemblies
  • Section 4.16. Additions to the Agenda of Regular General Assemblies
  • RULE IV—General Assembly

Available minutes from prior meetings.