My 2020 Virtual General Assembly Experience

The event that was most meaningful to me at this 2020 UUA Virtual General Assembly (GA) was the remarks by the outgoing moderators, Elandria Williams and Rev. Barb Greve, in the last business session. I have known Elandria for over 20 years and enjoyed her active participation.

In District meetings, they shared some of the most touching and significant remarks of the twenty-some GA's that I have attended. Here are a few:

  • We must recommit ourselves to youth and young adult work for us to have a future.
  • In this time of COVID, for the first time, people had to truly think about how we are with each other.
  • We have to find ways to reach people who live in isolated areas, including people who are young, queer, transgender, people of color, people with disabilities and those who don't speak English.
  • Some feel that they are losing their UU because of cultural shifts.
  • Church is not a building. Church is the faith we have in each other.

These comments are just the tip of the iceberg. They made me feel proud. They made me feel hopeful for our future and very aware of the possibilities of what we as a faith can do if we work together.

There were several events at this GA that inspired me.

  • The remarks by Rev. Dr. Qiyamah Rahman on the history of black UU women ministers. I was proud to know her at Leadership School and as our District Executive. Black UU women ministers have had a very difficult path and she shared it with great compassion.
  • The "1620: Beyond the Mayflower, A Path to Atonement" lecture by several members of the Cambridge church was inspiring to me as they shared the unique history of their congregation and how they have dealt with their problems.
  • The posters were inspiring as they offered so many ways that we as UUs can become involved with the world through UU organizations. Some issues highlighted include: food deserts/forests, guns in churches, memorials, climate change, reparations and mental health.
  • The discussion between the two UU seminary presidents, Rev. Rosemary Bratt McNutt of Star King and Dr. Elias Ortega of Meadville was enlightening to me as they shared their vision for the future of Unitarian Universalism.

I was comforted by a few events at this GA.

  • The music at this GA was fantastic. It comforted me when they had familiar tunes, but I also found pleasure with and enjoyed very much the music that I had not heard previously.
  • I was comforted by the responsive resolution that put reporting guidelines on our Commission on Institutional Change (COIC), which was presented at the UUFP's service on August 30. This means to me that we, as a faith, are very serious about making good on our promises and ensuring all know about our progress on this path.
  • The briefings on #UUTheVote were especially comforting to me as they were able to clearly define the importance of this election in terms of values and what is important to us.

Some events surprised me.

  • I was surprised by the the workshop on children's literature. As a school librarian, I liked "Brother Eagle, Sister Sky" and the award winning "Arrow to the Sun." At the Fahs lecture, "Reflecting on Teachings about Indigenous Peoples," we heard about the way these stories impact our beliefs about Indigenous peoples. These stories got some of the facts wrong and have conveyed a different message than the truth. I won't look at these books the same way ever again.
  • The workshop on "Reproductive Justice: Rising to the Challenges" was full of surprises on the current changes and pending legislation regarding women's rights and reproductive justice. I came away with a much greater appreciation of those who are fighting the battles to support women.

In closing, this virtual GA was well done, and I would not object to some future General Assemblies being virtual.


Sandra Engelhardt presented this report as a part of the online service at the UUFP on August 30, 2020.
For more reflections, join Sandra and others at Sunday Morning Forum, 9:30 a.m., September 27, 2020.

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