Article II Page Contents

Article II Forum and Charter

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Mark Tuller (chair)
Angie Knappenberger
Andi MacLeod
Julia Darling
Chris Byrnes
Rich Macdonald
Rev. Ellie Kilpatrick


The most important UU theological debate in four decades is happening this year. The Seven Principles and Six Sources of UUism, which have centered us as UUs since 1985, are up for major revision. The UUA General Assembly voted last June to propose a complete change to Article II of the UUA bylaws, where the Principles and Sources are written, leading to a final General Assembly vote in June 2024. The new proposal squarely raises the question “What Does It Mean to be a UU?”

Our Board has established the Article II Task Force to organize our discussion about the revision. The goal is to engage the entire congregation over the coming months in reflection, discernment, and ultimately decision, about the revised Article II, with opportunities for discussion and debate, learning and reading, and proposals.

About Article II


A Congregation-Wide Study and Discussion of the Revised Article II

The revised Article II drops the concepts of “Principles” and “Sources” and introduces the concept of “values.”  The six proposed UU values are “Interdependence,” “Equity,” “Transformation,” “Generosity,” “Pluralism” and “Justice,” and all the values are based on “Love.” This is graphically represented by the floret design above with Love in the center. The current Seven Principles and Six Sources are eliminated as separate ideas. Much of the wording of the Principles (including the 8th principle adopted by UUFSD and other congregations) is retained in paragraphs that explain the graphic. The wording of the Six Sources is mostly removed entirely.

We at UUFSD, like all UU congregations, will send delegates to the June 2024 GA to vote on finally adopting or rejecting the proposal. We have been asked to use this time to study and discuss the proposal, and decide how our delegates should vote.

Are these the right values? Is there room for the current principles and sources? Is there poetry? Why now? What do we want out of the revision? Does it matter or is it just words? What reasons have been offered pro and con? Are there supplemental or different values, sources, or principles that our Fellowship wants to adopt? In other words. . .

What Does It Mean to Be a UU?

This chart lists some of the major changes, but it is only a starting point because it is necessarily incomplete.


Article II Handout for UUFSD which contains both the New and Old Article II

Why are UUs re-examining Article II? UUA Executive Vice President Carey McDonald answers questions about proposed changes to the Principles, Purposes, and Sources.

Article II Study Commission A resource with dates, slides, and more information.

Article II Study Report 2021-2023

Slides from the UUFSD First Article II Forum and Youtube video on October 1, 2023.

Final Article II with line numbers

PRO argument:
Why Change Article II” by Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum
CON argument:
Bartik’s pro and con reflections

A Case for Retaining the Current UU Principles and Sources by Kenneth Ing

Discussion Forum

Join our discussion group on Discord by emailing for instructions.

Article II FAQ

  • Why is Article II being revised?

    The UUA bylaws mandate a regular revision process of Article II every fifteen years. Article II has the language that is at the heart of our faith for many of us as UUs. It has the Principles and the Sources, and our purpose as an organization. The language in Article II lives in the UUA bylaws and has been revised a number of times over the course of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s history. We are a living tradition, which means regularly reviewing and asking ourselves: Does the Article II core language reflect who we are now and who we want to be?

    Quote from About Article II: The Principles and Purposes of the UUA:

    “We are now well into the first quarter of the 21st Century. Our Association has grown in its understanding of systemic oppressions, such as racism, ableism, and heteronormative beliefs. However, many people feel the language of Article II does not reflect these learnings. The Board believes we need an Article II which leads us into the future.”

  • What is the Article II Study Commission

    The UUA is required to create an Article II Study Commission when any changes to Article II are considered (unless there is overwhelming support for the specific change). There were a number of changes proposed over the years, and there was a large grassroots movement towards including the Eighth Principle. Instead of considering such changes one-by-one, the UUA Board created the Article II Study Commission in 2020.


  • Why make the change from Principles to Values?

    Quote from UUA Executive Vice President Carey McDonald:

    “My view of the proposal from the Article II Study Commission is that it’s a deepening and expanding of the language of the Seven Principles to include commitments and actions. It’s being clear about the values that are at our foundation and what they call us to do as people of faith. I think it does a very good job of articulating what it means to be a UU today.

    Regardless of the outcome of the vote, individual congregations and UU communities can hold and value the Seven Principles as a meaningful part of our religious tradition, just as some have adopted the Eighth Principle on their own.”

    Quote from the Article II Study Commission:

    “The Commission spent a long time studying and analyzing the current version of Article II. What became clear was that we don’t explicitly name the values that we share, and that our covenant does not have enough verbs.

    Shared values are what hold any organization together, and we often speak of our shared values without naming them. We asked Unitarian Universalists what were the values we shared. We took the many answers we received and synthesized them into the values in our draft. After our first draft was released we changed one of the named values from Evolution to Transformation.

    We created a covenant related to each of our named values, as well as a very brief description of the values. The covenant has many verbs and is stated in broad enough language so as to allow congregations to find their way to live into our shared values.”

  • What is the purpose of the Covenant to each Value?

    A covenant is not a promise, but is a “bond” or an “agreement” between two or more parties.  The individual congregations are the parties to the covenants in the UUA bylaws; these covenants are described as “congregation to congregation” in the Values and Covenants preamble.  Covenants within a particular congregation and amongst individual members are also allowed, within limits, as explained in the section on Freedom of Belief.

    Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal religion, meaning that covenants take the place of dogma or creed. Our UU covenants place a high value on relationships, shared values, and community commitments. The covenantal approach encourages us to explore our beliefs while fostering a sense of belonging and shared responsibility within our community.  The covenants do not specify when and how we exercise any particular action; such action is a function of our individual conscience.

    Quote from the Article II Study Commission:

    ”Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal, not a creedal, Faith. There is no belief requirement, or creed, that you have to say to join us in community, even though there are beliefs that we would consider to be outside the boundaries of our faith. Our covenants amongst congregations and within congregations, are the way in which we practice our religion together, and they are aspirational descriptions of how we want to be in the world.”

  • Why is Love at the center?

    Quote from the Article II Study Commission:

    “We mean the type of love known as Agape. It is the selfless love of the neighbor, the friend and even the enemy. It asks for nothing in return. More than a noun, love is a verb. It is creating justice. It is transforming our world. It is being generous of our spirit and resources. It is knowing we are all interdependent. It is upholding everyone’s dignity and worthiness. It is celebrating our many differences. It is deeds not creeds.”

    As described above, Love works well with ALL the other values. Or said a different way, all the other values require Love to operate.

    And remember the first line of our Covenant said at every service, “May love be the spirit of this congregation”. and the emblem on our T-shirts, which is “Siding With Love”.

  • Why are the Sources being changed?

    The Article II Study Commission members felt that the current list of sources is a list which is always incomplete. The members want to describe how and why something is a source of inspiration, rather than just enumerating them.  People have different opinions about that, knowing that some people want to have their identity or beliefs explicitly reflected.

  • Are the Values a "litmus test" for someone to become a UU member?

    Everyone is welcome at a UU church.  There is no litmus test to become affiliated with one of our congregations.  However, as with any relationship, our experience has been that the more your values align with ours, the better the fit between you and UUism.  If you have a strong opposition to one of our values, you may begin to feel it is a burden over time.

    Quote from the Article II Study Commission:

    “Article II is the purpose of the Association and commitments of its member congregations to each other. It should inform our congregational and associational life, but is not written to be a personal code or set of commitments.

    The Freedom of Belief clause expressly prohibits any creedal test of membership in our congregations. While these are our shared values, no one must swear or attest to them to become a member.”

  • What will happen to the Eighth Principle? 

    Quote from UUA EVP Carey McDonald:

    “The UUA is very committed, as a whole, to what’s in the Eighth Principle—understanding our commitment to dismantling oppression and white supremacy—as part of what it means to live out our faith. That’s not optional or secondary but is actually central to our understanding of how to honor every person’s worth, our interconnection, and our pursuit of justice in our world and in our faith communities. That is a core part of what makes us UU.

    Because the proposal really zooms out and rethinks the entire structure of Article II, it doesn’t add the Eighth Principle as it’s been drafted, but I see it woven into all the elements of the proposal.”