Notes from General Assembly 2017 (Part 2)

UUA GA 2017 - NOLA

The Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly for 2017 was held in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 21-25

Tom Andrew, new president of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), said the difference with UUSC is that they ask communities what is needed rather than just give aid. He stressed that many of the things “we care about are deeply endangered”. Later at the UUSC Gala, the UUSC’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Leadership Award was awarded to Linda Sarsour. She is a Palestinian-Muslim-American born in Brooklyn, NY and one of the four national co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington. As an award winning racial and civil rights activist, she has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

The Sunday Morning Worship sermon and program was about “The Shared World” which incorporated music, readings and videos that focused on connecting with one another in and through differences. The Rev. Mara Dowall, of the Burlington, VT congregation, gave a powerful sermon. The GA’s service project, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) collected $105,000.

The General Assembly passed three responsive resolutions:
The first was “Combating Escalating Inequality”, related to the Statement of Conscience (SOC) which was also passed by this GA. The resolution calls on the board and UUA staff “to help coordinate, strategize and advise congregations on how to address effectively these deep-seated cultural issues.

The second resolution was “Making the ‘Standing on the Side of Love’ Campaign More Inclusive” which calls upon the leaders of the UUA’s “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign to create a vision that better includes and reflects the needs and contributions of disabled people.

The remaining resolution was the “Appointment of a Study Commission to Consider Adding an 8th Principle to Article ii, Principles and Purposes, Section C-2.1”. The new principal might read as: We the member congregations of the UUA covenant to affirm and promote ‘Journeying toward spiritual wholeness’ by building a diverse, multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

The memorial service for Jim Key, our former UUA moderator and Chief Governance officer since 2013, was well done and attended by over 300 people.

I attended the third annual conference of the Coalition of UU State Action Networks. This conference represents 23 states, at this time. In Virginia the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Virginia (UULM-VA) is working to bring the 26 Virginia UU congregations together to deal with the state General Assembly on issues of interest to UU’s.

The seven workshops that I attended were of varied topics and most interesting. “UU Prison Ministry and Justice Beginning Today” was presented by the Church of the Larger Fellowship. The UU Humanist Association presented “Humanist Worship Service: Resist and Renew”. I also attended the UU Humanist Association's annual meeting and heard one of the best presentations by the Religious Humanist of the Year, Dr. Anthony Pinn, on the intersections of African –American religion, constructive theology and humanist thought. My third workshop was “Living Downstream: The Mississippi River and New Orleans”. This was presented by the UU Church of Baton Rouge and featured several professors. On Friday, I attended “Sing a New Song: How Do We Celebrate?” with famed UU musician Jim Scott. I bought two of his CDs. Then I attended “Resist in Solidarity Against Our Top-Heavy Economic System”, and bought Chuck Collins' book “Born on Third Base”. On Saturday my sixth workshop was “Taking Action to Make Democracy Work” by the Commission on Social Witness. My last workshop was “Lessons of Culture, Power, and Trauma Response”. This featured remarks from families after homicide as well as representatives from the UU Trauma Response Ministry.

Future GA’s are scheduled for:
June 20-24, 2018 in Kansas City, MO;
June 19-23, 2019 in Spokane, WA; and
June 24-28, 2020 in Providence, RI

This was a very busy GA which set the stage for Unitarian Universalism’s future. The atmosphere was intensely focused and the music was wonderful. We will be doing a presentation about this GA on October 1, 2017 at the UUFP Sunday Morning Forum.

--Sandra Engelhardt

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