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Sunday, June 22, General Assembly 1997
The fifty-second annual Service of the Living Tradition was held in the convention center's Symphony Hall. This service recognizes those ministers who have been granted preliminary fellowship, achieved final fellowship, or completed full-time service, and commemorates those ministers who have died during the past year.
Because of the large number of attendees this year, the service was conducted twice, once at 9:00 a.m. and again at 11:00 a.m. One of the advantages of having two services was that Rev. Bill Schulz, immediate past President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) (1985-1993) and now Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, gave a different sermon at each of the two services: Sermon 1 (PDF), Sermon 2 (PDF).
General Assembly (GA) attendees gathered in the afternoon at the Civic Plaza to protest Arizona's laws against sodomy. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists (UUs) from all over North America protested Arizona laws criminalizing consenting sexual contact between gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people.
The protest featured speeches by Arizona state representative Ken Cheuvront; Jeff Ofstehdahl, editor of the Echo, a Phoenix-based journal focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered concerns; and Mary Berkheiser, Arizona State University professor and Human Rights Fund lobbyist. The common theme of their addresses was "Educate for Action." The Rev. Keith Kron, Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered Concerns, moderated the event.
The UUA has a long history of affirming the human rights and inherent dignity of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered people. By resolution of the UUA, whenever a General Assembly is held in a state with anti-sodomy laws on the books, a visible protest is sponsored during the GA.
General Assembly offers an opportunity for each member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association to cast its vote in UUA policy-making and institutional processes. This year delegates will focus on resolutions regarding environmental concerns, toxic threats to children, and national economic justice.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal, creedless religion with Judeo-Christian roots. The UUA, headquartered in Boston, MA, was formed in 1961 through the merger of the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association.