What is the 8th Principle that is under consideration for adoption by UUFP?
We covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
What is meant by Beloved Community?
The UUA provides this definition: “Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and the in the broader world.”
How did the 8th Principle come to be?
Bruce Pollack-Johnson, congregant of UU Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia, started to develop the 8th Principle in 2013. He was joined by Paula Cole Jones, member of All Souls UU in Washington, DC. Together they crafted the wording as noted above. It has been endorsed by BLUU (Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism) and DRUMM (Diverse Revolutionary UU Ministries). It has been adopted by 125 congregations and UU groups to date. For further background, click here https://www.8thprincipleuu.org/background-nav.
You can hear about the experiences of other congregations that have adopted the 8th Principle here (https://www.uua.org/leadership/library/ministry-8th-principle), (https://www.uua.org/leadership/library/youth-8th-principle).
What is the process for adopting the 8th Principle at UUFP?
Following dissemination of written material, such as this FAQ sheet and a September eFlame article on the subject, and following talk and discussion in Sunday Forum and further discussion at two town halls and cottage meetings, as well as an opportunity to talk with each other on our UUFP Facebook Community Page, adoption of the 8th Principle will be put to a vote at a special congregational meeting called no later than June 2022. By passing it now, we become a part of a larger team of UU churches encouraging the whole Association to put racial justice at the center of our commitments.
What is the process for adoption of the 8th Principle by the Unitarian Universalist Association?
The Article II Study Commission (A2SC) has been established to review all of our principles and purposes including the proposed 8th Principle. Paula Cole Jones, co-author of the 8th Principle, is a member of the commission. At General Session V of General Assembly 2021, 91% of the delegates voted in favor of asking the A2SC and the Board of Trustees “to ensure proposed changes to Article II include in the Principles a clear and direct statement that accountable systemic anti-racist and anti-oppressive actions to build Beloved Community are part of what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.” In consultation with the General Assembly 2021, the Board of Trustees has charged the A2SC to include the essence of the 8th Principle in its recommendations. The Study Commission will present its recommendations to the UUA Board of Trustees in January 2023 for inclusion in the business of the 2023 General Assembly. If passed by the General Assembly in 2023, the Article II Study Commission (A2SC) recommendations will be voted on again in the 2024 General Assembly as required in the UUA Bylaws.
Why are the principles under review and why the 8th Principle?
Unitarian Universalism is a living faith. The first version of the Principles was adopted in 1960 and their current form was adopted in 1984 (including the 7th Principle) and reflected greater gender inclusivity. Periodic review of principle, sources and purpose are carried out to reflect current priorities and concerns. Many UUs contend that absence of any mention of racism and other oppressions is a glaring omission. The 8th Principle Task Force at UUFP is proposing that our congregation adopt the 8th Principle as a means to live out part of the UUFP’s mission—that is, to “Connect in Love” and “Inspire Generosity”.
What might change as a result of adoption of the 8th Principle?
Part of the journey will be figuring out what those changes might be. A continuous process of learning and listening to people who have been marginalized will be integral to all we do. We will work together to uncover and change barriers to inclusion. We are guided by the UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change’s 2020 Report: Widening the Circle of Concern.
We have already been making changes in the direction of becoming a more inclusive community with greater diversity in our Sunday Services (with respect to music and musicians, readings and sermon topics) and RE offerings as well as the ongoing work of the Social and Environmental Justice Committee.
In addition, the Racial Justice Team has been formed to help us carry out the top four priorities that we identified in our Widening the Circle of Concern Study/Action Workshop held from January to May 2021.
Further, last year’s Policy Board charged the Anti-Racism Task Force with examining our church’s bylaws, policies, procedures and programs for whether they uphold or dismantle systemic racism. This year’s Policy Board is making examining the recommendations of the Anti-Racism Task Force’s Final Report part of its agenda each month.
Adopting the 8th Principle will be a reminder to us that our anti-racism, anti-oppression work is not one and done but rather an ongoing and central part of our church culture.
8th Principle FAQ sheet for UU Congregation of Fairfax