Article II Discussion Opportunity

Several members of the Fifth Principle Project attended a discussion group sponsored by the Article II Study Commission on September 26. The UUA Board gave the Commission a charge in August 2020 to “revise, replace, or restructure” all sections of Article II. Article II in the Association’s bylaws contains the purpose of the Association and Inclusion and Freedom of Belief statements as well as our Seven Principles and Six Sources.

The Article II Study Commission has three remaining Zoom discussion group sessions. See below.

Recommend Members Attend

All members of the Fifth Principe Project are highly encouraged to register and attend one of the remaining sessions.

After some preliminary overview information in each session, participants are randomly selected to join a breakout room where attendees have an opportunity to interact with one another.

The September 26 session focused on the chart below and the three associated questions. It quickly became apparent that there were more high level concerns and questions not covered by the discussion question. Recurring questions/observations were, Why are we changing our Seven Principles? What are we trying to fix? I like our existing Principles.

Article II Bubble Chart
Article II Bubble Chart of Values

Shared Comments

Once the discussion group returned from the breakout rooms, a scribe read out comments from each of the discussion groups. Some comments included

  • I like love in the center.
  • We should listen and communicate more.
  • No one in our discussion group could agree what the words in the bubble meant.
  • Hard to identify actions when we don’t fully understand the bubble chart values.
  • Did not understand the difference between Values and Principles.
  • Values missing from the Bubble Chart:
    • Tolerance
    • Freedom of belief
    • Compassion
    • Spirituality
    • Sustainability
    • Reason
    • Environmentalism
    • Responsible search
    • Human rights
    • Democracy

One discussion group offered that the bubble chart was “cartoonish” or something one would see at a corporate retreat.

There was also a discussion on exactly with whom are we covenanting? Is the covenanting at the member congregation level (institutional) or at the individual level? If at the individual level, with whom was an individual establishing an agreement (covenant)? Was the covenant with our fellow congregation members, their congregation or the UUA? A discussion leader was asked to obtain clarification from the Article II Study Commission.

Despite the short notice, we hope you will find time to attend one of these sessions. We ask that you share your experience in the comments section below.

Two Important Things

Join the Fifth Principle Project. It’s free. The Fifth Principle Project is an organic grassroots initiative to gather into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governing of our denomination.

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Janet
Janet
1 month ago

Thanks so much for this summary! I have signed up for tomorrow evening’s session.

I am curious. What responses were given to the “recurring questions … Why are we changing our Seven Principles? What are we trying to fix?”

Also, who was facilitating the sessions? Were these actually the people from the Article II Study Commission itself, or some intermediaries? (I am guessing the latter).

Sally G.
Sally G.
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet

We are required by our by-laws to review Article II every 15 years; the last review was in 2009, when language to change the principles was proposed and rejected (so we are a few years early, but not much; given all that has been happening, including an 8th-principle push, it makes sense to me that we should do this now): http://live.uuworld.org/news/articles/145506.shtml from which Delegates resisted some of the changes that did come up for a vote this year, however. The Com­mission on Appraisal’s proposal to revise Article II of the UUA Bylaws (the “Principles and Purposes”) failed by only thirteen… Read more »

Sally G.
Sally G.
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet

Susan Goekler was one of the facilitiators for the session I attended on Saturday; she was chairperson of the Commission on Social Witness for many years. I am not sure how involved she is in the Article II Study Commission.

Janet
Janet
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally G.

Thanks!

Sally G.
Sally G.
1 month ago

I found Saturday’s session (the first that I had attended) quite good—we had a breakout group of about 8 people; the facilitators were careful to ensure that all had opportunities to participate. I thought I had saved the chat, but no such luck. There were a number of people wanting simpler language* (direct opposite of the 2009 vote, though that was very narrow); folks mentioned that these words would make an elevator speech easy, and that they were positive and could contain other words that we might mention within them (compassion inside love, democracy within inclusion, etc.) We had time… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally G.

I think I got some chat from that session saved as a quick copy and paste. You can find me on FB if you’d like me to send you what I captured.

John B
John B
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally G.

The discussion in my group was similar in terms of the reasons why the values were a good replacement for the Seven Principles.

There was a lot of pushback in our session. At least half the people did not agree that the values were anywhere near rich enough. Among the values missing in addition to those listed above: Honesty, Integrity.

To me, the values cloud felt like UU Lite.

Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
1 month ago

I received the link to this discussion as I was signing off from the Values feedback session. No members of the Article 2 Study Commission attended. My session was led by Kirk Witzberger, from Iowa City, and Linda Lemon. They are simply managing the tech and presenting the material and questions. The breakout discussions are good. Your attendance will make it better. After the session they provide a link for you to comment. The main discussion is recorded, but the breakout rooms are not. I attended a session on September 18 that discussed Purposes. It was supposed to also discuss… Read more »

Janet
Janet
1 month ago

Did anyone in the breakout groups note that one of the effects of reducing the 7 principles to words is to essentially write out the individual, to entirely replace individual values with communal values? Our current first principle is “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” On the other hand, “diversity/inclusion” is typically read as affirming the rights of (certain) groups of people, not even necessarily individual people within these select groups. Also, it is hard to think of a way of writing the importance of the individual person back in. It’s not like you can offer: “person,” or… Read more »

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

I attended the session yesterday. The plan was that in order to proceed to the “feedback link” it was necessary for participants to go through the discussion process before they could access the link. The facilitator had obviously been given direction to proceed in this manner but, due to an objection, he did agree to post the link at the beginning.  It seems group process is to be emphasized over individual critical analysis. And this, I suppose, comes from the “trinity of errors” that are to be corrected in order to save UUism from the facts of a shrinking membership… Read more »

Janet
Janet
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

I did read the charge and I was just as dismayed as you, Jim, at the overt attempt at ideological capture. How can they pretend that the Article II study commission is some kind of independent body when it is very clear that the board told them precisely what to do: radically transform UUA into an organ of Anti-Racism (capital A and capital R of course)? I know exactly what you mean about this being Kabuki theater. They can heavily manage and control the feedback, then turn around and insist on just how open and how democratic they are, etc.… Read more »

Janet
Janet
1 month ago

I attended this evening’s session. I found the overall structure frustrating, but the discussion in my breakout group interesting. Quite a few people both in my group and others saw the following values as missing from their bubble diagram: “truth,””democracy,” “spirituality,” “nature,” “freedom,” “transparency,” “environmentalism” and more. There was also concerns that the values were way too vague and that the relationship between the values and the to-be-revised principles was not clear. We did not discuss the “Purpose” section or the “Freedom of Belief” section at all. Here is the comment I included in my individual feedback form: “I am… Read more »

Susan
Susan
1 month ago

I tried to join Thursday’s meeting in progress but didn’t have the meeting code. I’m disappointed.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

There will be more sessions in October, I understand. You needed to register to get the code, but I also ran into glitches a couple times. Twice, the code did not work for me but I looked in the email and used the phone number and was able to get into the meeting on my phone so I could at least get audio. It’s not the ideal way to participate but better than missing out. It is interesting to share views with UUs from around the country. A few people have also requested more widespread invitations/advance notice to the congregations,… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago

In my 37 year career in industry, I have attended many seminars run by management consultants. From what I see in the comments in this thread, the Article II ZOOM sessions fit a typical management consultant model perfectly. That is really no surprise given that the Article II Study commission has a savvy management consultant as one of its members. The bubble chart they presented is typical output from management consultant driven group processes. It serves to highlight salient items that the group discussed but provides little on which overall organizational change can be based and why any change is… Read more »

Tim Bartik
1 month ago

My observation from my session is that UUs have very diverse beliefs about the current direction of the UUA, so it is will challenging to achieve consensus. The only way to do it is to focus on what are the key things that different groups want to see in a rewrite of Article II, and try to express those key principles/values in a way that many groups can enthusiastically embrace a rewrite. I made the following comment on the proposed values in the Feedback form:  “First, I don’t think “evolution/growth” or “generosity” are really values — they are means to… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Thanks for this post, Tim. I agree with much of it (and also made a similar point in my feedback session to yours, “individual freedom of belief and expression [or what I also called “truth-seeking” or “doubt” or “complexity”] is more than a limiting principle — it is a fundamental value.” I think what is missing from here (besides maybe more explicit recognition of injustices) is the key point to the crucial dilemma that is fueling the current conflicts, but I’m not sure how you work that in. Maybe by recognizing that there are other congregational spaces besides the “making… Read more »