Bylaws revision: can't we do this in fewer words?

The drafted successor to the Unitarian Universalist Association “Principles and Purposes” is a rambling document discussed here and at other blogs.

I can’t shake the feeling that, in drafting a document far longer than the last version, there’s more opportunity for exclusion, division, misunderstanding and mis-proclamation. Long passages suggest we don’t know ourselves — or perhaps trust ourselves — well enough to speak plainly and briefly.

I went back and looked to the Object of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (UK). They come from a different historical place than we do and the document has an inelegant legal tone, so I don’t expect us to emulate them, except to the degree that it doesn’t say more than it needs to.

Eliza, scolding Freddy, was right.

Principles and Purposes revision — get the PDF

I got this a few minutes ago. Because I was asked to spread the word, I’ve attached the cover emails and PDF without alteration (except for formatting).

Feel free to comment here about it. — Scott

Dear Unitarian Universalists:

On behalf of the UUA Commission on Appraisal, I am sending this letter and the enclosed draft to notify you that the Commission is going to recommend changes in Article II, usually referred to as “the Principles and Purposes” in the Association’s By-Laws. We invite you to review the draft and comment on the changes we are thinking of proposing. Article II of the By-Laws includes other important sections on the Sources of Unitarian Universalism, Non-discrimination, and Freedom of Belief. A little background as to how the Commission has come to recommend these changes and planned timetable for the future of this review process might also be helpful.

October 16, 2008 Deadline for congregational and other responses

  • reached out to every UU congregation, held a number of regional hearings and one at each of the General Assemblies in 2007 and 2008, interviewed staff of the UUA, read sermons by UU ministers, consulted with many UU “identity groups,” interviewed many leading UU scholars, and received dozens of unsolicited, but very welcome, e-mails, letters and telephone calls;
  • devoted time between and during quarterly meetings reviewing, compiling, organizing and reflecting on the mass of data we received; and
  • developed the enclosed draft.

Now, it’s your turn. Once again we are asking for your assistance in engaging more voices in this process. As a leader in your UU organization, please make every effort to circulate this as widely as possible. We hope to hear from as many UUs as possible by October 16, 2008. You may send your response by letter addressed to the Commission at 25 Beacon Street Boston MA 02108, by e-mail to, or, preferably, by responding to the survey found on the first page of the Commission’s web page at

The time line for the rest of this process is:

  • October 16, 2008 Deadline for congregational and other responses
  • October 23-26, 2008 COA meets to consider responses
  • December 15, 2008 Final draft of our proposal sent to UUA Board
  • June 24-28, 2009 General Assembly. At GA the CoA will hold a hearing, provide a written and verbal report, and host a Mini-assembly. Delegates will vote on preliminary approval (simple majority required).
  • June 23-27, 2010 General Assembly. 2/3 majority vote required for adoption.

Please accept our deepest gratitude for the responses you have already given regarding the Article II review and for all you do working to create the Beloved Community.


Orlanda Brugnola, Chair

For the Commission on Appraisal

That came within an email:

I am writing you in your role as contact person for a listserv posted on the UUA website. The below letter announces the Commission on Appraisal has drafted a revison to Article II, known as the Principle and Purposes, describes some of the work undertaken so far and asks for additional comments. The deadline for comments is October 16 so we need your help getting word to those on the list(s) you administer to reach as many people as possible.

Thank you for your help,

Jacqui C. Williams

Member, UUA Commission on Appraisal

Again, the PDF.