Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Principles and Purposes redux.
Late last week, a somewhat surprising and very interesting announcement was made by the UUA Board of Trustees and the independent Commission on Appraisal:
Article XV of the Bylaws of the UUA mandates a periodic review of Article II, the Principles and Purposes. This obligatory review is now overdue, and, at the request of the UUA's Board of Trustees, the UUA's Commission on Appraisal has decided to undertake the review. It must be stressed that the Commission on Appraisal is independent of both the UUA's Board of Trustees and Administration. The role of the Commission is described in section 5.8 of the UUA bylaws. In short, the Commission on Appraisal shall "review any function or activity of the Association which in its judgment will benefit from an independent review and report its conclusions to a regular General Assembly."
The Commission has been doing serious thinking about the Principles and their place in the life of our Association for several years and has discussed their relationship to the theological diversity of our movement in its last report, Engaging Our Theological Diversity [pdf]. The members of the Commission are excited about undertaking the important work of this review.
The early stages of the Commission's work will be focused on establishing a process that will maximize the input of Unitarian Universalists from across the continent. The Commission is profoundly sensitive to the implications of this review for Unitarian Universalists and is committed to carrying out this review in a way that will allow the members of our congregations to feel confident that their opinions are heard. While the timetable is not yet determined, recommendations resulting from the Commission on Appraisal review will be brought forward for consideration at a future General Assembly.
The Commission's first review hearing will be held at the Ohio-Meadville District meeting in Columbus, OH, on April 22nd. The Commission's workshop at the General Assembly in St. Louis will also be devoted to this issue. In addition to these in-person events, the Commission will be developing mechanisms by which all Unitarian Universalists can provide input to the Commission during the course of its work. Information on how to provide input will be distributed by the various electronic and print resources of the UUA, including the Commission on Appraisal's website at www.uua.org/coa/.
This is turning out to be quite the interesting General Assembly. I was aware that the Board had been discussing the Bylaws requirement that the Association review its governing document every 15 years — a process that has never been acted on before, since it was only introduced to the Bylaws in 1985 [see correction below]; there's no exact precedent for what the Commission is setting out to do. Very interesting indeed!
For some back story on the Principles, here's Warren Ross's 15-year retrospective for UU World. See also the letters from Shirley Ann Ranck and Lucile Schuck Longview challenging his depiction of the role of the Women and Religion Resolution in generating the revision process that eventually yielded the 1985 Principles, Sources, and Purposes ("Feminist Genesis," Letters, halfway down).
Correction: I misremembered the year the current Principles and Purposes were adopted, and originally said "1986" in this post. They were in fact adopted in 1985. I have not yet learned when the Article XV requirement that Article II be reviewed every 15 years really was added to the Bylaws; my hunch is that this requirement was added fairly recently. (4.26.06)
Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 18 April 2006 at 7:39 AM