Delegates work to fine-tune peacemaking statement

With only one day left before it goes for a final vote, GA delegates and other peace activists met with the Commission on Social Witness Thursday morning to discuss and suggest amendments to a proposed Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking. The Statement calls UUs “to the work of peacebuilding, peacemaking, and peacekeeping,” and to “advocate a culture of peace through a transformation of public policies, religious consciousness, and individual lifestyles.”

Peacemaking mini-assembly

Delegates will debate and vote on the Statement during Friday morning’s plenary session. The Statement must be approved by a two-thirds majority of delegates to pass.

During Thursday’s three-hour miniassembly, the Commission heard questions and concerns and broke the room into sub-groups that focused on the three main sections of the Statement: Where We Stand, Historical and Theological Context, and Calls To Action. The first group was the largest, with about 45 participants; the second group had about 20, and the third about 32. The groups carried on lively discussions, debating language, philosophy, and goals, and proposing various amendments. At the conclusion, the commissioners reported back to the room at large with a summary of the work of the smaller groups

Before breaking into the smaller groups, David May, chair of the Commission on Social Witness, reminded the crowd that they were welcome to amend the document, but asked that they consider whether the changes would increase or decrease the likelihood of it getting a two-thirds majority vote. “If you want it to pass, balance your personal interest versus what we think the majority sense of Unitarian Universalists is as represented by the delegates,” he said.

The Commission on Social Witness will review all of the proposed changes this afternoon and an updated draft of the Statement showing any incorporated amendments will appear on tomorrow morning’s printed CSW Alert. Also on the Alert will be a list of any amendments the Commission chose not to incorporate, along with an explanation of why they were not incorporated. If anyone wants to argue for the inclusion of one of these amendments they will have an opportunity to do so during the plenary session.

An earlier draft of the Creating Peace Statement, presented for a vote at the 2009 General Assembly, was referred back to the Commission for further study. A statement can only be referred back to the Commission once.

“What we do tomorrow is adopt it by a two-thirds vote or it dies,” May said, explaining that if the Statement dies the topic of peace can’t be considered again until it is proposed as a Congregational Study/Action Issue. The next opportunity to propose a peace topic as a CSAI would be in 2012, and the draft statement would not be voted on until the 2015 GA.

Read the full Draft Statement of Conscience on Creating Peace on page 10 of the GA agenda book or online here.

For coverage of the 2009 GA’s decision to send the draft Statement back to the Commission, see our news summary.

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