More Fully Ourselves

More Fully Ourselves

On Wednesday morning, the United Methodist Church voted 692-51 at the denomination’s General Conference to overturn their 40-year ban on ordaining gay clergy.  

Also this week, delegates to General Conference will vote to revise the United Methodist Social Principles to define marriage with non-gendered language.  

These monumental changes come after decades of debate, schism, and harm within the denomination and individual United Methodist congregations. In more recent years, over a quarter of congregations left the denomination in anticipation of yesterday’s decision—they would rather abandon their denomination than ordain LGBTQ clergy.  

 After news broke of the vote, I raided my husband’s t-shirt drawer for the one that declares in bold rainbow letters, “resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” These are words of the United Methodist baptismal vows that he took as a child. These words have been a rallying cry for gay United Methodist clergy—closeted and out—and their allies for years. Until yesterday morning, the policies of the United Methodist Church did not do what they ask their congregants to do.  

Some might see this change as a seismic shift in the church landscape. But with this vote, the United Methodist Church only became more of who it was meant to be. More of who it is—a group of people who vowed at their baptisms to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves 

This is often what transformation looks like, as Paige preached a few weeks ago: bringing your actions into alignment with your values, deepening your own commitments, shaking off those relationships that would hold you back, becoming more fully who you already are.  

In the past several weeks (months and years, actually), we as a congregation have been thinking intentionally about the proposed draft of Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association bylaws. This section of the bylaws include language about who the Unitarian Universalist Association is meant to be and what it asks of its member congregations.  

The revisions to Article II are significant. The existing Article II includes a set of principles that have been used and misused in our practice of Unitarian Universalism, a series of statements that one UUCC congregant described as “stuff we can agree on.” The Article II draft reframes our faith entirely: no longer is Unitarian Universalism to be experienced as “stuff we can agree on,” but rather it is to be practiced through our declaration of and commitment to values that drive our actions. Values that we hold deeply and that compel us to act boldly.  

Some have said that this change is too drastic, that the proposed draft goes too far. I’ve heard others respond to those protests with, “Nah, it’s not that different. Look, the words of the principles are still there.”  

I say, the change is as significant and as necessary as United Methodists voting to ordain gay clergy. 

Because the proposed change is Unitarian Universalism becoming more fully itself. 

The proposed Article II revision calls us to be a people so committed to our shared values that we act boldly to honor every person’s inherent worthiness and dignity, to restore justice, equity, and compassion in our relationships, to struggle together and encourage each other on our spiritual journeys, to freely and responsibly search for truth and meaning, to champion democracy, to build community, and to repair the interdependent web that weaves our lives together.  

“Isn’t this who we already are?” you might wonder. Yes. And that’s the transformation at the heart of this Article II revision.  

It’s not remaking Unitarian Universalism into something else. It is clarifying, aligning. It is helping us more deeply and more fully engage with the Unitarian Universalism we currently are, as we strive to become the Unitarian Universalism yet to be.  

We are becoming more fully ourselves.  

3 Comments

  1. Kathy Parker

    Well said, Valerie. I support the Article II revision for the reasons you outline. Yes, it more fully recognizes who we are — and who we have been — and it encourages action toward living out our commitments.

    • Kevin Mercer

      I loved the start of your In Between Sundays reflection. The visual of you rooting around for a meaningful piece of clothing was visceral. I think we’ve all had this experience.
      That said, I am not a fan of the UUA Article II revision. It takes a set of principles that help define who we are as UUs (and let’s be honest- UUism need a bit of defining) and replaces it with a gif (or a picture and individual words). These could be interpreted as anything. Yes, I know there are definitions if you dig into the Article II, but you have to ‘dig’ to find them.
      I do like the graphic and its symbolism. I just don’t believe it adequately replaces our Principles.

  2. Kevin Mercer

    I loved the start of your In Between Sundays reflection. The visual of you rooting around for a meaningful piece of clothing was visceral. I think we’ve all had this experience.
    That said, I am not a fan of the UUA Article II revision. It takes a set of principles that help define who we are as UUs (and let’s be honest- UUism need a bit of defining) and replaces it with a gif (or a picture and individual words). These could be interpreted as anything. Yes, I know there are definitions if you dig into the Article II, but you have to ‘dig’ to find them.
    I do like the graphic and its symbolism. I just don’t believe it adequately replaces our Principles.

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