I am working my way through some UU blogs from various perspectives. I was just reading this post and was struck by it's connections with the UUA Polity book I'm reading right now.
In discussing theological perspective in the first chapters, the authors agree with Wells in the sense that they say that "ours is not a single, centralized church, but an association of churches..."
Wells says that "The Unitarian Universalist Association is essentially a service and coordinating body, not an ecclesiastical organization. Consider this: if the UUA Board of Trustees — even the General Assembly itself — adopted a resolution which defined what a Unitarian Universalist is, how would we collectively act?"
But I agree with the Commission of Appraisal, which (even when this book was written 10 years ago) points out that we are already defined - whether as Christian or not, by the fact that "total [congregational] independence is impossible insofar as the principle of congregational polity must itself be agreed on by a collectivity of congregations." They go on to say that we do indeed need a "new or renewed doctrine of the church - a conception of religious community that is integral, not incidental, to our total theological understanding" (9).
This is true today and still something that has not been achieved. Unitarian...unity...is it not possible to define, respect and address the needs of the various faiths that come under our one roof?
Even my 12 year old struggles with this. How can she define Unitarian Universalism and defend her "faith" or belief in the purpose of our church when it is so unclearly defined. It frustrates me when UUs get so caught up in the academic or the intellectual discussions of autonomy - we lose sight of the power of unity, whatever that means for each individual within the church. Is it not possible to have a wider covenant that ties together congregations more strongly without taking away autonomy or purpose?
These ideas and suggestions about congregational polity are coming to fruition now - this is an exciting, and difficult time for our religion, for how we continue to define ourselves. We are not a new tradition - and I think it is disturbing that Christian UUs feel disenfranchised. Even the commission admits this lack of connection with our Christian roots, and says that "we should affirm as much community with other religious bodies as we can" (12). And I would add that we need to affirm that community within our own tradition as well - we need to start at home.
Rambling thoughts I guess...but it's something I am anxious to explore and think more about, and to read others' ideas and dissensions.