GA affirms democracy as vital but corrupted ideal

GA affirms democracy as vital but corrupted ideal

At annual business meeting, Unitarian Universalists also celebrate completion of fundraising for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism.

Delegates vote at GA 2019

Delegates vote at GA 2019 (© 2019 Nancy Pierce/UUA).

© 2019 Nancy Pierce


At its 2019 General Assembly, the Unitarian Universalist Association adopted a Statement of Conscience, “Our Democracy Uncorrupted,” which affirms the importance of democracy as an ideal and identifies historic and current dynamics that restrict its practitioners and beneficiaries. Democracy, the UUA officially declares, is “an end in itself, an ethical ideal, a moral and spiritual way of relating to one another. Sadly, many of our democratic institutions have been corrupted into being merely a means for giving powerful interests the appearance of legitimacy.”

The Statement of Conscience, which grew out of the Congregational Study/Action Issue delegates selected in 2016, discusses the importance of democracy at the congregational, denominational, and civic level. It calls for continued expansion of voting rights and participation in democratic processes at all levels of political life, but also calls UUs to attend to democratic practices in congregational and denominational life because “realizing true democracy requires expanding to include more diverse voices.”

In three Actions of Immediate Witness, delegates at the 2019 GA, in Spokane, Washington, June 19–23, endorsed the Green New Deal, expressed support for the right to boycott in support of Palestinian rights, and condemned U.S. treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers. The Statement of Conscience and the AIWs are online at

Delegates also approved a variety of relatively minor changes to the UUA’s bylaws, including granting the Ministerial Fellowship Committee’s request to rename “final fellowship” “full fellowship.”

Delegates changed the UUA’s elections processes, too, limiting the use of ranked-choice voting to the election of UUA president and moderator, doubling the number of congregations needed to nominate a candidate for president or moderator by petition, and authorizing the Board of Trustees to overrule decisions of the UUA Secretary (the member of the board who oversees the elections process) by a two-thirds vote.

In Spokane, the UUA announced the completion of its fundraising campaign to meet the $5.3 million commitment it made in 2016 to Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. In a memo to the board in June, Treasurer Tim Brennan said that the UUA had raised $4.6 million for BLUU and is transferring the rest from the UUA’s unrestricted endowment.