February 6, 2022 @ 10:30 am – 11:45 am
Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
4340 Lincoln Ave
St Joseph, MI 49085
Rev. Jim McConnell

The month of February is dedicated to understanding our proposed 8th UU Principle: The 8th Principle affirms and promotes 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.  The focus for this Sunday is Ethical Living. Beth La Fleur, in addition to having some great music, will introduce us to the 8th principle and, because it is an intergenerational Sunday, the young ones of the church will help us struggle with some ethical issues. It is a hybrid service so you can come in person or join on Zoom.

Perspective #1: PRO by QUUF member, Cecilia Flickinger

As a person of color and a member of QUUF’s 8th Principle Task Force, I am excited about the possibility of adding the 8th Principle. Why? Because it is an invitation to elevate our consciousness about racism in ourselves and our denomination.

Although our Constitution asserts the ideal that all people are created equal, we have fallen woefully short of matching that ideal. We created an economy based on slavery. We legalized segregation with Jim Crow laws. Hate crimes have always been a part of our legacy – even now. There are still systems that bar people of color from having equitable access to healthcare, education, voting, housing, finance and justice.

Our current UU principles, like our constitution, state our ideals.  And while our 1st Principle affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person, sometimes we fall short. What I like about the 8th Principle is that it specifically names not just our ideals but also our actions and the need for accountability. This will help our denomination grow and guide us in evolving consciousness around race.

Becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is a spiritual journey. Some of us are already ready to help dismantle racism at the systemic level. Others are willing to help other travelers to our destination. Others still are stuck. Wherever we are in our journey; we’re each valued and welcome. That is the spirit of Beloved Community.

Beloved Community is described by politician John Lewis “as a nation and world society at peace with itself.” Beloved community, described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a community NOT continually living with bitterness and friction. Beloved community is the fulfillment of our country’s promise of life, liberty, justice and equal protection under the law.

Perspective #2: CON by QUUF member, Rod Mitchell

I am concerned with the movement to adopt the eighth principle and have two reasons for my concern.

First, it is not a principle and is already covered by our present seven very well expressed principles. The proposed eighth is redundant and structurally more like a mission. Its action certainly deserves attention and action on the part of our community, but it is not a principle.

Secondly, if it were raised to the level of a principle it would be discriminatory. Our seven principles challenge us individually and as a community to address the injustices and threats embedded in our society and worldwide.

Certainly racial inequality is high on my list, but so are the rights of LBGTQ+ and women, substance abuse, homelessness, and global warming. I am sure we all have our lists. We need soldiers, processes, and passion in all these areas; and to elevate one mission above the others is to create an imbalance that does not give equal power to all of our concerns in our attempt to fulfill the moral charges of our current seven principles. The eighth principle is the wrong solution for a real problem.