UUA General Assembly Congregational Study: Commission on Social Witness

The mission of the Commission on Social Witness is to “discern and craft a vision for the Association on pressing social issues” that reflect “the values of our faith and the voices from our congregations.” This unfolding vision is embodied in a social witness process that engages congregations in proposing study/action issues (CSAI) for consideration at General Assembly. Every two years, the Commission on Social Witness presents issues congregations have proposed, and the assembled congregational Delegates vote to adopt one study/action issue (CSAI) which, if chosen, becomes the subject of three years of study and may eventually result in a Statement of Conscience (SOC) if it receives a 2/3 majority vote at General Assembly.

A CSAI is NOT a statement—it is a question. The Congregational Study/Action Issue is an invitation for congregations and districts to take a topic of concern and engage it, reflect on it, learn about it, respond to it, comment on it, take action—each in their own way.

Each SOC is drafted through an intense, thoughtful, collaborative process of revision. The current Statement of Conscience being voted on at General Assembly 2015 is Reproductive Justice: Expanding Our Social Justice Calling. This SOC was chosen in 2012 as a Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI) has been in the process of study since then. See the current draft here: Proposed_SOC_GA2015_Reproductive_Rights.

If adopted, congregations and UUA staff will implement the SOC in congregations and report their results at next year’s General Assembly 2016. Adopted Statements of Conscience serve to focus the efforts of congregations and other UU groups on the topic of the SOC, shape the meaning of contemporary Unitarian Universalism, and empower the Office of Advocacy and Witness to lobby our positions in pending legislation.

As we complete the process of this SOC on Reproductive Rights, the next CSAI is already in process. Delegates at the 2014 GA selected Escalating Inequality to be the 2014-2018 study-/action issue. Delegates will be able to attend workshops on this topic at General Assembly 2015, bring the issue back to study and action in their congregations, and participate in the process of determining the content of the Statement of Conscience that will be considered at the 2017 General Assembly.

For more information about the social witness process at GA, please refer to the Commission on Social Witness or reference UUA Bylaws Section 4.12. UUA Statements of Conscience. For other SOC adopted by the UUA, see www.uua.org/statements/current.