by Sara Lewis
Two weeks ago we had a worship service that reflected on the 7 Principles of UUism (The Seven Principles | UUA.org). Where did these Principles come from? They originate in the 1960 consolidation of the Unitarians and the Universalists. In that process, both denominations felt the need to come to agreement about what they commonly stood for. After much debate, they arrived at 6 Principles, and they were included in the bylaws of the newly formed Unitarian Universalist Association. In 1987, riding a wave of grassroots activism from women seeking more gender parity and earth-based spirituality, the 7th Principle was added.
Now there is a proposed 8th principle (The 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism (8thprincipleuu.org)) generating similar grassroots support. It was largely the work of Paula Cole Jones, as she explains in this video: Conversations with Satya Mamdani: The Eighth Principle Project | Article II Study Commission | UUA.org The 8th Principle was proposed to the General Assembly of the UUA in 2017, and has also been adopted locally by over 30 congregations.
Nationally, the UUA Board of Trustees has appointed a study commission to look at the entirety of Article 2 of the UUA bylaws, which contains the 7 Principles and the 6 Sources. The charge to the commission is to consider all proposed changes to the principles and sources, which includes the 8th Principle as well as proposed changes to the 1st principle to reflect respect for all living beings. The Article II Commission will deliver their final recommendations in January of 2022, so this should all come to a vote at General Assembly in June 2022.
In the meantime, congregations can still adopt the 8th principle on their own, and this grassroots support can only help the momentum of change. Personally, I’m excited by all this activism around our commonly held aspirations and beliefs. It is an example of what we mean when we say this is a living tradition!