General Assembly Reflections: Michael Henry-Richardson

General Assembly 2020 was a most unusual experience, just as are many of our individual and joint experiences this year. It felt odd for the largest assembly of Unitarian Universalists this year not to be gathered in person. Although we knew everyone was participating from their individual homes, offices or sanctuaries, it was still odd. I chose to participate from an AirBnB, in Lynchburgh, to ensure my full participation. The opening service was what I would describe as an indigenous ritual that set the tone for the days ahead.

The workshop, “Gender, Why Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Matters To YOUR Congregation," was one of the most impactful sessions. The key takeaway was being able to articulate the difference between “All Are Welcome Here” and “This Was Created for You.” The best way I can describe this is to relate to a Young Adult Ministry that was part of River of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation. It was said that “All Are Welcome Here.” They went much further by having a Young Adult Ministry that was created for young adults, showing them they were in fact a valued part of the community. This example came to mind as one of my favorite sessions led by Rev. Schuyler Vogel. He was the religious professional who led that Young Adult Ministry.


Personal relationships are what make Unitarian Universalism important to me in my life in the past, as well as today, and will certainly be true in the future.

Having served previously as a delegate to General Assembly, I was impressed with the increased number of virtual options. Workshops being available with a focus on making them welcoming for virtual attendees was the biggest difference. This welcoming measure was an added asset over previous General Assemblies.

Jamie Dingus and the team at Sanctuary Boston provided the most enjoyable worship service from my perspective. The message of “Never Ready/Always Ready” really resonated. It seems that this type of thought process resonates with me in a time where we have such a strong “No/Yes” environment in our larger world. I encourage each of you to tune into a Sanctuary Boston worship service for a positively invigorating boost in the middle of your week.

One of my favorite parts of in-person General Assembly is browsing physical books and seeing a large variety of artwork by Unitarian Universalist artisans. I was surprised that the virtual assembly severely restricted the individual artists participation. The chalice necklace you may have seen me wear on a regular basis is from General Assembly 2008 which was held in Fort Lauderdale. This year, my keepsake is a Chalice bookmark from Bryan Watson of Watson Studios. Watson also has an interesting collection of finger labyrinths.

General Assembly 2020 has in part changed what I am reading. I went from reading The Guild Hunter Series, by Nalini Singh, which drew me in with its Archangel focus, to current readings addressing racial inequality. “White Fragility,” by Robin DiAngelo, describes why it is so hard for white people to talk about racism, and “Braving The Wilderness,” by Brené Brown (which I read in a few short days and plan to read again), describes the quest for belonging and the courage to stand alone.

My service as a UUFP Delegate for General Assembly concludes with today’s service. I appreciate having had this opportunity to grow in wonder, connect in love and engage in service.


UUFP Member Michael Henry-Robertson presented this reflection as part of the Fellowship's online service, Sunday, August 2, 2020. The floral industry is both Michael's profession and passion as he perseveres in service during the COVID pandemic!


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