8th Principle Announcement

On behalf of the CUUC Board of Trustees, I am writing to announce a “milestone” congregational initiative. At the request of the Board, the Racial Social Justice/In The Spirit of Truth team will lead CUUC in its journey toward a congregational vote on the adoption of the 8th Principle in spring 2021:

“We, the members of the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, covenant to affirm and promote journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other forms of oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

Twenty-four UU congregations have already voted to adopt the 8th Principle. The UUA is currently assessing the existing 7 principles and the addition of the 8th Principle at the national level with a report out scheduled for January, 2022.  However, we believe recent current events call us to consider acting immediately and not wait for 2022.

Why should we adopt this principle? What does it offer that the other principles don’t? And why now?

  • History of evolving principles  Our 7 principles have always been evolutionary, not set in stone like the Ten Commandments. As new truths emerged, those learnings and experiences have been reflected in our adaptive principles. Our 7 denominational principles were revised in 1984, 1985 and most recently amended in 1995. UUA bylaws require periodic reassessment - we’re in the midst of one right now. 
  • Commitment  The existing 7 principles “don’t go far enough” in expressing our commitment to a multicultural, anti-racist anti-oppression vision for our congregation. “The other seven principles do not explicitly express the ethical and spiritual thread that we need to live into a multicultural anti-racist anti-oppression vision for our religious communities and our world. Otherwise, we would already have made a lot more progress.” ~ Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees, First UU Church of Berks Co., PA (Jan 2020).
  • Accountability  The 8th Principle is a mechanism that will help hold ourselves, each other and our congregation accountable. The phrase, “...accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions…” is unmistakably clear. The Board believes it is no longer enough to “do no harm” when it comes to racism and other oppressions, or “treating everyone the same” in how we live into the 1st Principle. The 8th Principle empowers us to dismantle such behaviors in ourselves and our institutions; our congregation is capable of much more.

The tri-state community came together to confront the threat of a systemic disease, Covid-19, to our physical health and safety. We climbed up and over the mountain together.  It will be long-remembered as a powerful example of what can be accomplished when individuals come together and do the messy, uncomfortable work of making a community safe. Now the recent tragedies in Georgia, Minnesota, and other states sadly reconfirm a systemic threat to our spiritual and moral health. It’s our time to come together, in spiritual wholeness, to build a diverse, safe and loving (Beloved) community inspired by the 8th Principle.  What a terrific opportunity for CUUC to live into being “who we say we are” and make a congregational vow to embrace the 8th Principle and the moral power it unleashes.

The 8th Principle Team at CUUC will develop and deliver a series of events and activities to support the congregation in its exploration of the 8th Principle. We look forward to sharing these opportunities to gain greater knowledge, enter into conversations, and hear each other as we build our Beloved Community together.

At the end of the congregational engagement phase, the 8th Principle team will make its final recommendations to the Board.  If adoption of the 8th Principle is recommended, and the BOT concurs, a Congregational Meeting will be scheduled. To approve the adoption of the 8th Principle, not less than an 80% voting majority is required. We have tentatively identified March 2021 for this “stand alone” Congregational Meeting, with the option of deferring to the Annual Meeting in June if necessary.

The 8th Principle Team is led by Jeff Tomlinson, chair of the RSJ/ITSOT Team, and consists of Jeff, Tara James and Bice Wilson. We are just getting underway, and the team may evolve as the work unfolds. I expect to be significantly involved in “ex officio” capacity.  

Thank you for your ongoing support of our congregation. Your CUUC leadership, both professional and lay, is ready to listen to your thoughts about this initiative - making this journey as inclusive as possible. We intend that our collective decision will ultimately account for everyone's engaged and sustained reflection.

Joe Majsak, Chair, CUUC Board of Trustees

July 16, 2020

Reference on the history of the 8th Principle:  “The 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism