What is the proposed 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism?

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:

… [the 7 Principles]…

8. Journeying toward spiritual wholeness

by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community

by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.

That sounds complicated! How can I “accountably dismantle racism” and all the rest?

A great starting point is to participate in a Living the Pledge to End Racism (LTP) training. There will be two trainings this year, on a variety of days and times. The fall session will be a two-day intensive from 9am-5pm on Saturday, November 4 and 12:30-8:30pm on Sunday, November 5. Registration link to come!

If you’d like to get a taste of what the longer Living the Pledge training will be like, we will have some shorter trainings, predominantly focused on the 8th Principle, in October and November (dates TBD).

Why do we need an 8th Principle?

Racism is a key justice concern both in our broader society and within UUism and has had a persistent presence. This means we need to commit to a persistent response to it.

Aren’t the ideas behind the proposed 8th Principle already implied by the 7?

The ideas may be implied, but they have not been applied by our congregation or by the Unitarian Universalist movement as a whole. As a religious community, we really struggle with applying our first seven principles in the area of race, as evidenced by several significant historical events, including the Empowerment Controversy of the 60s and 70s, which resulted in many leaving Unitarian Universalism. The current 7 Principles also emphasize values of individuals. The 8th emphasizes values of a “diverse multicultural Beloved Community,” which require us to “dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

Are we suggesting adopting the proposed 8th Principle to try to increase racial diversity at First UU?

While we may see an increase in racial diversity at First UU if we adopt and live into the 8th Principle, that is not our goal. Our goal is to become an anti-racist, anti-oppressive community, as part of our work of spiritual growth together. This is vital for the well-being of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and people with other oppressed identities who are already a part of our First UU community. It is also beneficial for the wellbeing of white people in our congregation, who are also impacted by white supremacy and other oppressions, albeit differently. And, as we grow to become more multiculturally affirming as a community, the impact will also extend into other parts of our members’ lives, especially in our circles of extended family, neighbors, friends, work colleagues, etc.

Why single out racism among other oppressions?

Racism intersects with other oppressions, especially poverty and related issues of health care, education, housing, and LGBTQ rights. In fighting racism, we will be improving conditions in these areas. We prioritize racism because our country was built on slavery and Jim Crow, therefore institutionalizing social and economic systems that perpetuate racism. UU congregations all developed in this institutional milieu of racist systems and socialization that blinds us to the nuances of racism. Living the 8th Principle will help us learn to heal our own bias, to work for change in our own settings, and in wider social and economic systems.

How will the First UU process with the 8th Principle interact with the wider UUA Article II Process?

Adopting the 8th Principle sets us on a path of intentional openness and accountability to being anti-racist as a congregation. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)’s potential adoption of Article II is a parallel process that applies at the level of the association.

What if we don’t like the wording of the proposed 8th Principle?

  • The current draft of the 8th Principle is supported by Black Lives of UU, Allies for Racial Equity, and hundreds of UU congregations.
  • The importance and urgency of the 8th Principle’s message is greater than that of the precise wording

There are already anti-racist initiatives happening in the UU universe; why do we need to add an 8th Principle?

Since our founding and history is as a denominationally white congregation, we are constantly being pulled to the comfort of the status quo. We need the intentionality and accountability of the 8th Principle.

Will adopting the proposed 8th Principle require that we all become activists?

The 8th Principle does not require each of us to become an activist by engaging in public protest or joining one of the First UU social justice groups. Just like the other 7 Principles, we each contemplate these and integrate them into our lives individually. Some from our congregation may form partnerships in the larger community, while others may focus on looking within First UU to examine how we truly create a more beloved community for all. And some may provide support from their armchair by gaining deeper understanding and showing solidarity.

We might consider how each of us interprets and lives out the other 7 Principles individually as we think about adopting another principle. At times, First UU groups or the congregation make decisions, prioritize resources, or develop relationships based on one of the 7 Principles. This will also occur if the 8th Principle is adopted. We may establish goals or priorities based upon any one of the Principles, including ways to confront racism within and beyond our First UU community. (adapted from FAQs of University Unitarian Church (UUC) in Seattle, WA)

When were the 7 Principles adopted?

Adopted in 1984 in Columbus, Ohio.

When was an 8th Principle suggested, and by whom?

The 8th Principle was written by Bruce Pollack-Johnson and Paula Cole Jones. Their bios are below:
Bruce Pollack-Johnson is a longtime member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia, PA and Allies for Racial Equality (ARE.) Pollack — Johnson is also a longtime member and leader in Racial & Social Justice.

Paula Cole Jones is a senior management consultant and former Racial & Social Justice Director for the Joseph Priestley District (now Central East Region.) She is the founder of ADORE (A Dialogue on Race & Ethnicity) and a former president of DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries.) Jones is the author of “Encounters: Poems About Race, Ethnicity and Identity,” published by Skinner House Books.

Will the UUA adopt the proposed 8th Principle?

The Article II Study Commission that reviewed the principles and purposes included Paula Cole Jones, co-author of the 8th Principle. The proposed changes to Article II would shift our UUA Bylaws from having 7 Principles to having 6 Values with Love at the center. So, the UUA will not likely be adding the 8th Principle, but if the proposed revisions are accepted, one of the values includes very similar language to the 8th Principle. The Article II revisions won a majority of votes at the 2023 General Assembly, so the next step is to go before the 2024 General Assembly for a final vote, which will require 2/3 majority for adoption.

What is the First UU process for adopting the proposed 8th Principle?

During Fall 2023, First UU staff and the Anti Racist Allies will provide opportunities for First UU members and friends to learn about the 8th Principle. These opportunities will include sharing about the 8th principle in Sunday Services, meeting with groups and committees to present the text of the 8th Principle and answer questions, and holding cottage meetings to go into more depth. At the 2024 Mid-Year Meeting or 2024 Annual Meeting, we hope that we will be ready to hold a vote on whether First UU will adopt the 8th Principle.

Which Ohio (local) congregations have adopted the proposed 8th Principle?

  • Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland, Kent (Cleveland and Kent adopted it on May 22, 2022)
  • SouthWest UUs in N. Royalton adopted on June 12, 2022
  • West Shore UU Church in Rocky River, OH (6-19-22)
  • Maumee Valley UU Cong., Bowling Green, OH (fall 2021)

Where can I find more information on the 8th Principle?

Go to https://www.8thprincipleuu.org for more information. The private Facebook group 8th Principle UU Learning Community has up-to-date information on happenings with the 8th Principle. To request to join the group and be approved to be able to view the content in the private Facebook group, click here: facebook.com/groups/8thprinciplelearningcommunity/about

How many congregations have adopted the 8th Principle?

As of June 16, 2022, according to the 8th Principle UU Learning Community private Facebook group, the 8th Principle has been adopted by 218 UU congregations or organizations. They are listed here:

1. Restoration. Phil, PA
2. Honolulu, HI
3. All Souls, DC
4. Annapolis, MD
5. Goodloe, MD
6. Richmond, VA
7. Rockville, MD
8. UU Washington Crossings, NJ
9. Frederick, MD
10. Cedarhurst, MD
11. Gettysburg, PA
12. UU Ministry for the Earth UUMFE
13. BLUU
14. ARE
15. Arlington, VA
16. Media, PA (UUCDC)
17. Germantown PA
18. Lubbock TX
19. 3rd Church of Chicago
20. Boise, ID
21. Lexington, KY
22. Berks Co, Reading, PA
23. Akron, OH
25. Columbia MD
26. Summit, NJ
27. Coastal Virginia Beach
28. Olean, NY
29. Cherry Hill, NJ
30. Baltimore, MD
31. Davies, Temple Hills, MD
32. Brookfield, WI
33. Princeton, NJ
34. First UUC Nashville, TN
35. Yarmouth, ME
36. White Plains, NY
37. Rockton, IL
38. Ginger Hill UUC, PA
39. Shreveport, LA
40. JUUstWA (WA State Action Network)
41. Fullerton, Ca.
42. Monmouth Co., NJ
43. MUUSJA (MN UU Social Justice Alliance
44. UU Congregation of South County, RI
45. UU Church of Savannah, GA
46. Bloomington, IN
47. Shelter Rock, NY
48. Monterey Peninsula, CA
49. Tucson, AZ
50. St. Cloud, MN
51. Lancaster, PA
52. Evanston, IL
53. Bloomington, MN
54. Salt Lake City, UT
55. Pocatello UU Fellowship
56. Sacramento, CA
57. FUS of Minn, MN
58. FUNJ, Fanwood, NJ
59. Foothills, CO
60. Long Beach, CA
61. Queens, NYC
62. UUC Midland, TX
63. Lakeland, FL
64. UU Massachusetts Action Network
65. Youngstown, OH
66. First Unit. Portland, OR
67. Central Delaware
68. FU Rochester, NY
69. NW UU, Southfield, MI
70. Accotink, VA
71. Danbury, CT
72. River Road, Bethesda, MD
73. Morristown, NJ
74. Fairfax, VA
75. North Shore, Deerfield, IL
76. Blacksburg, VA
77. Las Vegas, NV
78. Urbana Champaign, IL
79. South Fork, NY
80. Church of the Larger Fellowship
81. San Francisco, CA
82. Paint Branch, Adelphi, MD
83. Montclair, NJ
84. Lexington, MA (FPLex)
85. 4th Universalist Soc., NYC
86. Cambridge, MA
87. Huntington, NY
88. Amherst, MA
89. UUCC Glen Allen, VA
90. Summit UUF, Santee, CA
91. Cedar, Lane, Bethesda, MD
92. Eugene, OR
93. UUs for Justice in the Middle East
94. East Shore in Bellevue, WA
95. Phoenix, AZ
96. Poughkeepsie, NY
97. Silver Spring, MD
98. Ridgewood, NJ
99. Berkley, CA BFUU
100. Palomar in Vista, CA
101. Hudson Valley
102. Rockford, IL
104. Brewster, MA
105. Taunton, MA
106. Franklin, MA
107. Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, PA
108. FUU San Diego, CA
109. First Unit. Louisville, KY
110. New River UUF, WV
111. UUs for Social Justice (UUSJ)
112. San Dieguito, Solana Beach, CA
113. Long Beach, CA
114. Unitarian Church of Charleston, SC
115. Columbine UU Church of Littleton, CO
116. First Unitarian Society of Denver, CO
117. Olympia Brown, Racine, WI
118. St. Croix UU Fellowship, St. Croix Falls, WI
119. Westport, CT
120. UU Young Adult Revival Network
121. Tennessee Valley UU Knoxville, TN
122. UU Action Network New Hampshire
123. Neighbourhood UU Congregation in Toronto, Canada
124. First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, Canada
125. Waynesboro, VA
126. UU Church of Las Cruces, NM
127. Hamilton, Canada
128. Statesboro, GA
129. Unitarian Church of Montreal
130. First Unitarian Church of Toronto
131. Don Heights Unitarian Congregation (Toronto)
132. Canadian Unitarian Council
133. Peoples Church UU in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
134. UUs of Coastal Georgia (Brunswick)
135. UUCQC (Davenport, IA) (2021)
136. Oakland, CA
137. Wildflower Church in Austin, TX
138. Ames, IA
139. Plattsburgh, NY
140. Unit Society of New Haven
141. UUC of Utica New York
142. Pacific Southwest District (PSWD)
143. Medfield, MA
144. DRUUMM – one of the early endorsements
145. UUC of Tippecanoe County, IN
146. UU Peace Ministry Network (10-2021)
147. Inland Northwest UU Community, Spokane, WA (6-2021)
148. UU Class Conversations
149. Prairie UU Church, Parker, CO (1-23-22)
150. First Parish Cohasset, MA (12-2021)
151. Community Church of New York (1-30-22)
152. University Unitarian Church/Seattle (1-30-22)
153. UU Church in Idaho Falls (1-30-22)
154. UU Church of Montpelier, VT (2-13-22)
155. Unitarian Society in East Brunswick, NJ (2-13-22)
156. UU Area Church in Sherborn, MA (3-7-22)
157. UUC Swannanoa Valley in NC (4-3-22)
158. Clearwater, FL (4-10-22)
159. Northlake in Kirkland, WA (4-10-22)
160. Baton Rouge, LA (4-24-22)
161. Channing Memorial Church, Ellicott City, MD (4-2022)
162. River of Grass UU Congregation, Davie, FL (5-15-22)
163. Main Line Unitarian Church (5-15-22)
164. UU Church of Columbia, MO (5-15-22)
165. UU Meeting of South Berkshire (5-15-22)
166. First Parish in Needham, MA (5-15-22)
167. Winchester Unitarian Society, MA (5-15-22)
168. UU Church in Desert Rancho Mirage, CA (5-15-22)
169. UU Church of Fresno, CA (5-15-22)
170. UU Church of East Aurora, NY (5-15-22)
171. UU Fellowship of Athens, GA (5-15-22)
172. Texas UU Justice Ministry (5-14-22)
173. UU Church of Manchester, NH (5-22-22)
174. First Univ. Church of Southold, NY (5-22-22)
175. UU Church of Tallahassee, FL (5-22-22)
176. First Univ. in Denver, CO (5-22-22)
177. Tapestry UU Church of Houston, TX (5-22-22)
178. UU Church of Ellsworth, ME (5-22-22)
179. Edmonds UU Congregation, WA (5-22-22)
180. Neighborhood UU Church, Pasadena, CA (5-22-22)
181. UU Congregation of Cleveland, OH (5-22-22)
182. UU Church of Kent, OH (5-22-22)
183. Birmingham Unit. Church, Bloomfield Hills, MI (5-22-22)
184. Albany UU, NY (5-22-22)
185. First Unitarian Church of Austin, TX (5-22-22)
186. First Unitarian Society of Ithaca (5-25-22)
187. Follen Church in Lexington, MA (5-25-22)
188. UU Society of Coralville, IA (5-29-22)
189. First Parish of Watertown, MA (6-5-22)
190. UU Cong of Central Nassau, Garden City, NY (6-5-22)
191. First Parish in Concord, MA (6-5-22)
192. Second Unit. Church of Chicago (6-5-22)
193. UU Fellowship at Stony Brook, NY (6-5-22)
194. First Univ. Church of Minneapolis, MN (6-5-22)
195. First church in Jamaica Plain, Boston (6-5-22)
196. Westside UU Congregation, Seattle (6-5-22)
197. Mission Peak UU Congregation, CA (6-5-22)
198. UU Community Church of Southwest Michigan (6-5-22)
199. UU Society of Burlington, VA (6-6-22)
200. Unitarian Church of Staten Island, NY (6-5-22)
201. UU Congregation of Grand Traverse, MI
202. UU Fellowship of Topeka (12-2019)
203. The Unitarian Church of Hinsdale (6-12-22)
204. SouthWest UUs in N. Royalton, OH (6-12-22)
205. Abraham Lincoln UU Congregation (6-12-22)
206. UUs of Southern Delaware (Lewes DE) (6-12-22)
207. First UU Society in Newton, MA (6-12-22)
208. Towson UU Church in Lutherville, MD (6-12-22)
209. Chalice UU Congregation in Escondido, CA (6-12-22)
210. UU Church of Davis, CA (6-12-22)
211. UUs San Luis Obispo, CA (6-12-22)
212. Unitarian Church of Sharon, MA (6-10-22)
213. Oaklandon UU Church, IN
214. UU Church in Bowling Green, KY (May 2022)
215. West Shore UU Church in Rocky River, OH (6-19-22)
216. All Souls UU Church, Greefield, MA (6-19-22)
217. Maumee Valley UU Cong., Bowling Green, OH (fall 2021)
218. High Plains Church – Unitarian Universalist in Colorado Springs, CO (June 2022)
219. UU Church Canandaigua, NY (June 2022)
220. Stewardship for Us team of UU stewardship consultants
221. UU Church of Indianapolis (May 2021)
222. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Pensacola, FL (July 2023)