General Assembly Highlights
General Assembly (GA) 2017 took place in New Orleans last week. At this annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), 4,000+ UUs gathered for important business, inspiring workshops, amazing lectures, wonderful worship, beautiful music, and to be in loving community. Through the miracle of live-streaming, it was a joy to know members of First Parish were worshiping together on Sunday morning across time and space.
Each year, rites of passage for ministers are celebrated at the Service of the Living Tradition. This year, Beth Walsh’s father, Rev. Robbie Walsh, was honored as one of the ministers who died this past year. This beautiful and poignant service can be viewed at http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2017/worship/slt
First Parish members, Beth Walsh, Deb Weiner, Ben Soule, and Marianne DiBlasi attended GA as delegates and Elisabeth Jas was an on-line delegate. As a delegate, we voted on business issues and for the next UUA President. It was a momentous moment in our history when delegates elected our first women president – Susan Frederick-Gray – into office. Visit, http://www.uuworld.org/articles/susan-frederick-gray-elected-president
In addition to electing the UUA President, a lot of other things happened at GA. The following is a summary of some key moments and discussions with links to learn more.
Considering the state of the nation and the world and recent hiring controversy turmoil within the denomination, the overarching conversation was about justice, spiritual growth and the evolution of governance and how all three are intertwined. The overall experience was thoughtful, caring, and soulful as we were invited to look more deeply at our UU culture and systems of oppression. An article in UU World reports on a message delivered by the three interim co-presidents that provides background, learnings, and actions taken during their 11-week interim presidency. Visit, http://www.uuworld.org/articles/co-presidents-report-2017-ga
One key action taken during the interim period is, the UUA Board of Trustees appointed six people to work for two years on a Commission on Institutional Change to analyze structural racism and a culture of white supremacy within the UUA. Visit, http://www.uuworld.org/articles/commission-institutional-change
Although it may seem that systems of racial oppression have just come to light recently, a pivotal moment in our UU history is the Black Empowerment Controversy in 1969 when 1500 black members of our UU denomination walked out of General Assembly and left Unitarian Universalism. Systemic racial oppression has continued and has brought us to this moment – a moment of opportunity to do the transformative work of shifting our UU culture to Beloved Community for all. At General Session III, Dr. Sanyika talked about what happened in the late 1960s. http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga2017-303-dr-sanyika-presentation. FYI: “BLUU” refers to Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective.
A significant part of GA is engaging in our democratic process of proposing, discussing, amending, and voting on UUA business. Visit http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2017/business/alerts
- Combating Escalating Inequality
- Making the “Standing on the Side of Love” Campaign more inclusive
- Appointment of Study Commission to consider adding an 8th Principle to UU Principles and Purposes.
Finally, if you want to see what else happened at GA, here are two more resources:
- UU World’s coverage of GA, https://www.uuworld.org/ga
- GA 2017 Online: On-Demand Video, Transcripts, and Workshop Materials, http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2017