Statement of Conscience debate: Theological ‘principles’?

As debate got underway Friday morning on the proposed Statement of Conscience on “Creating Peace,” six delegates spoke for or against the draft text presented by the Commission on Social Witness before taking up amendments.

On the main motion, Teresa Wilmot, a delegate from the UU Church of Rockford, Ill., spoke against the 130-line proposed Statement. She said that her 365-member congregation had been asked to vote on the proposed statement. “Eight voted ‘yes,’ three voted ‘no opinion.’ The percentage that bothered to read and think about the issue was 1.3 percent.” She said that shorter statements would be much more effective.

Sarah Surface, a delegate from First Unitarian Church of Richmond, Va., spoke on behalf of the Youth Caucus, which had agreed to endorse the proposed the Statement. “We youth didn’t find it hard to read and understand the entire document,” she said.

One amendment generated extended conversation about the second section in the proposed Statement, which was entitled “Theological Principles.” Tim Atkins, a delegate from the UU Congregation of Atlanta, moved that the word “principles” be changed to “grounding.” He argued that “calling these UU theological statements ‘principles’ has the potential to be a creed-like statement.”

Opponents of the amendment argued that Unitarian Universalists hold theological principles and values that are broader than the Seven Principles. Mac Goekler, a delegate from the UU Church of Kent, Ohio, said, “Let’s not confuse our theological principles with our UUA Principles; just calling them ‘values’ devalues them.”

The initial vote on the amendment was too close to call, so Moderator Gini Courter called for a counted vote. We’ll resume our report when the vote on the amendment is announced.

  • Nathan DeMay

    I laugh every time someone tries to make a statement non-creedal; any explination of ideas pertaining to religion is creedal-the difference is that U*U's don't force anyone to swear allegiance to any such list of ideas in order for an individual to join a congregation. I recommend listening to Krista Tippet's interview of Jaroslav Pelikan on “Speaking of Faith.” He makes some excellent points on this topic.

  • kinsi

    Quick comment – it's the UU Congregation of Atlanta, not Church.

  • Chris Walton

    Thanks for the correction. We've corrected the post.

  • kinsi

    No prob. Thanks for everything UU World is doing!


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