On Sunday Dec. 4, 2016 after the service, the congregation will vote on a resolution to support the current movements for Black lives. This update includes:

  • A final version of the resolution, modified in response to feedback from the congregation
  • Voting rules and instructions for absentee voting
  • A summary of feedback that the Board has received with responses and explanations

Please do not share this statement outside of WUUC. This resolution speaks on behalf of the entire congregation, and it must not be shared before the congregation votes. If the congregation approves the resolution, then the Board will send guidance on how to share and publicize it.

Though the text of the resolution has been finalized, the Board and Rev. Lois still welcome your comments and questions. Send feedback to board@wuuc.org, or reach out to individual board members or Rev. Lois by email or in person.

 

Final Resolution
The Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Congregation commits to supporting the current movements for Black lives. We will do so with our resources, time, energy, and physical presence.

Our white members commit to doing the internal work of addressing our systemic privilege and racism so that we may better act to build beloved community.

Our congregation will work to create and maintain covenantal relationships with the Black community in the Seattle Area and Seattle’s East Side. We will risk being vulnerable and courageous in the building of these relationships, acknowledging that we need to step up and step in behind Black leadership. We will let those relationships inform and guide our actions in support of Black lives. We will be responsive, responsible, and firm in our commitment to the movements for Black lives.

We will act to dismantle structural racism against Black communities in education, employment, housing, voting rights, and access to health care. We will act to reverse the disproportionate effects of environmental degradation on the Black community. We will work for equitable and ethical treatment in the administration of criminal justice in the Black community.

We will engage in faithful discernment that we may know when to speak and when to listen, when to lead by following, when to be a presence, and when to witness.

The Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church is committed to the transformation of our own and others’ lives. As such we claim the commitment to the current movements for Black lives as a religious and spiritual mandate.

(For comparison, the original draft statement can be found here. Changes are explained in the summary of feedback below.)

Voting Rules

The vote will take place at a congregational meeting after the service on Sunday, December 4th. The meeting will consist only of an up-or-down vote, with no discussion and no possibility of altering the resolution.

Only members may vote, and each member may vote exactly once, either in person at the meeting or by absentee ballot.

As with all congregational votes, we will require a 20% quorum, and we will allow absentee ballots and proxy votes for those who can’t be there in person. We are voting on whether the entire congregation will take a stand, so we will require a 75% supermajority in order to pass this resolution. We want everyone to vote honestly, so we will use a written ballot.

The meeting is expected to be brief, and child care will be provided.

To vote by email, send email to dawnblomberg@wuuc.org (Board secretary). Only the Board secretary will see your vote.

  • Use the subject line “Absentee Ballot: Black lives
  • State clearly in the body whether you are voting to adopt the resolution or reject the resolution.
  • Email votes must be received by December 3rd.

To vote by mail, print this absentee ballot and follow the instructions. Mailed ballots must be received by December 1st.

Feedback and Responses

The following is a summary of feedback received by the Board and Rev. Lois, along with our responses.

Feedback: Exactly which organizations are we supporting, and how will we decide?

Note that we’ve changed the wording from “movement for Black lives” to “current movements for Black lives” (plural) in order to clarify that this resolution, on it’s own, does not commit us supporting any specific organization. The resolution commits us to affirming the value of Black lives and being anti-racist in a general sense. Though it sounds similar, the term “movements for Black lives” does not refer specifically to the policy platform at https://policy.m4bl.org/ or the coalition of organizations that created it.

If this resolution is approved, the Board, the minister, and other staff and volunteers will determine the organizations we partner with and the nature of our relationships with them. The exact details of what we do, and how we do it, are yet to be determined. Your endorsement of this resolution is a statement of confidence in the Board, Rev. Lois, and other leaders of our congregation to guide us forward in keeping with our mission and our principles.

Feedback: The statement mentions Black lives and does not mention other persons of color or oppressed minorities. Should it be expanded?

Our principles affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We stand against the oppression of anyone, in any form. The present resolution is more than a declaration of beliefs: it is a commitment to act. Action must be focused in order to be effective, and we cannot act as a congregation on every possible cause. As a congregation, we are choosing to act in support of Black lives. As individuals, we may act on other causes as well.

Feedback: Will this work increase our risk of facing violence? What are our policies and procedures in this area?

Our mission calls us to heal and transform the world, and that sometimes involves risk. We’ve already contacted the police about our Black Lives Matter sign being stolen and they have increased their patrols of our area. The Board has created a task force to review all of our policies to identify areas in need of updates, and we are looking specifically at new policies in this area. Our current emergency procedures are here.

Feedback: Should the statement say that we support only non-violent actions?

The nature of our organization and our principles make it clear that we are not violent, and that we do not endorse violence under any circumstances. A call for nonviolence in this statement would be redundant at best.

At worst, a call for nonviolence could be interpreted as a racist critique of the very people we are trying to support. Our society’s stereotypes associate Blacks with violence, and protests involving Blacks are often intentionally mischaracterized as “riots”. We must not say anything that even appears to support this kind of defamation.

Feedback: Why does the resolution single out whites and call for them to address their privilege and racism? Shouldn’t we all be doing this?

All else being equal, people identified as “white” get better treatment in our society than those who are not. Non-whites have no choice but to deal with this every day. White people get to decide whether they want to work for justice or just go about their business. That is what we mean by white privilege, and this usage is common in literature about race and racism.

The resolution states:

Our white members commit to doing the internal work of addressing our systemic privilege and racism so that we may better act to build beloved community.

This does not mean that only white people are biased or prejudiced. We all have work to do. However, in a white person, bias and prejudice are joined with power, and this is the definition of racism. We’ve added the word “systemic” to emphasize that the problem is widespread and reinforced by our institutions and our culture.

There are other kinds of privilege that come with being male, heterosexual, etc., and we believe in addressing those as well. This resolution doesn’t mention those because it is focused on Black lives, and addressing white privilege is critical in affirming the value of Black lives.