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Plenary V

General Assembly 2001 Event 5049

Call to Order

Whitney Young Fund (Rev. Nannene Gowdy)

UU-United Nations Office (Rev. Ben Bortin)

I want to begin with a thank you, to all of you who supported the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office effort to "adopt a minefield," that is, remove deadly landmines from a section of Kabul City, Afghanistan.

Landmines, pellets which contain the fires of hell, continue to take someone's life every twenty two minutes. Your actions, and all others who have been involved in adopt a minefield campaigns offer the world a candle of hope, and literally save lives.

One of the Untied Nations' under-sung achievements is to lead the world in landmine clearance efforts.

Last year in Nashville, at the UU General Assembly, I announced that the UU UN Office was launching an adopt a minefield campaign—without any concerted letter writing or phone calling, within fewer than six months, Unitarian Universalists opened their purses and we were over-subscribed. Last December, a
check of $18,900 was handed over to the UN Association USA for minefield clearance. ..and 4 to 5 thousand more dollars is about to be donated for the same purpose.

We have also this past year been involved with the issue of children at risk, the subject of a UN conference later this year, and the subject of a UN Office workshop at this General Assembly.

In that regard, I want to tell you about Laura Hannant. Laura is a 15 year old Canadian, who spoke at the Annual UU UN Office Spring Seminar this past April in New York.

Among the children Laura befriended during the past five years was a little boy from Pakistan, named Iqbal Masih. At the age of four, Iqbal became a "debt slave," and was literally tied to his carpet loom all day, for six years. At the age of ten, he was finally released, and he began to tell his story. His story caught Laura Hannant's attention. Even though Iqbal was killed two years after his liberation from the carpet loom, probably by a hired killer, Laura last year announced in Sweden the posthumous recipient of the World Children's prize, Iqbal Masih.

We know how youth have enriched and blessed this General Assembly. Laura Hannant is another, who will not be stopped in her pursuit of the human rights of children of this world, and neither will we.

In the spirit of Jim Forbes' words' last evening—above all, to love our children, we have decided a UN Office priority is not to abide the enslavement of any child, the economic impoverishing of any child, or the abuse of any child in the human family.

We also have been involved with the combating the insidious reality of racism, and religious and ethinic intolerance, as we prepare a statement affirming racial equality to the NGO Forum at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, taking place in Durban, South Africa the first week of September.

Vital as these concerns are, they are not our only ones... we are four-square united behind the imperatives of world peace and nuclear disarmament.

I'm happy to announce the inaugural year of the Dana McLean Greeley Annual Address, on the theme of developing a peaceful and just world, with submissions from ministers or laypersons welcome by January 3rd of 2002, and a $300 award to the winning address or sermon to be presented next year at Quebec City.

We continue to be blessed with the unstinting involvement of UU UNO Vice President Elaine Harvey in deliberations to form an International Criminal Court, to try grand scale human rights abusers, and her official representation of the denomination at the United Nations.

Rev. Fran Mercer is our Executive Administrator, and Fran has, among her many accomplishments, enabled a dozen young people over the past year to experience internships, and offer their great talents and abilities to our Office.

I urge you to attend our Spring Seminar at the beginning of next April, probably on themes related to globalization and global inequity.

And I urge you to join this Office, one more way to emerge from the cocoon in which too often we find ourselves, one more way to care, and to heed, and to act. Whether it be doing what we can to spare this generation and succeeding ones the scourge of war, or providing emergency relief to refugees, or furnishing economic wherewithal and food to those who are malnourished, or safeguarding the human rights of all human beings, or protecting this beautiful earth andwe try in Dag Hammarksjold's words, to bring the chalice of our beings to the problems that are all of ours.

Living our values should not stop at our nations' borders. We are part of a family, the human family.

I want to close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s remarks, on receiving the Nobel Prize for peace in 1964...words that can be found in the UN Sunday Classics at our office...

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have food, clothing, medicine, and shelter for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity for their spirits."

Actions of Immediate Witness

On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and in accordance with resolutions by its Assembly, The Washington Office for Faith in Action authored and/or signed on to the following letters to public officials and endorsed statements in coalition with religious and secular groups in 2000-2001.

  • June 2000:
    • Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins President: Requests the discontinuation of the name "Redskins" for the Washington, DC, football team
  • July 2000:
    • Senator John McCain: Asks for further amendments to the federal pipeline safety law
    • Co-sponsorship of World Population Awareness Week: Acknowledges importance of reproductive freedom of choice
    • Endorse, 20/20 Vision and the Interfaith Committee on Nuclear Disarmament: Opposes the proposed system of national missile defense
    • Congress and President Clinton: Urges opposition to any effort to repeal the estate tax
    • Congress: Requests instituting more common sense gun safety laws
    • Congress: Seeks full funding for the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act
  • August 2000:
    • Presidential Candidates: Requests personal views on nuclear disarmament issues
    • Chairman Vasconcellos and Members of the Senate Public Safety Committee: Opposes SB 66, a racial profiling bill that does not include data collection or any other form of meaningful police accountability
    • Gov. Gray Davis, CA: Supports a strong Traffic Stops Study bill that includes data collection.
    • Endorsement of  "An Appeal by Religious Leaders": Returns 1,000 Oregon Steel Workers to their jobs after a legal strike
    • World March of Women: Supports women's rights and stands with activists to call for an end to poverty and violence against women
    • Endorsement of No on Vouchers 2000 Campaign: Opposes school vouchers
  • September 2000:
    • President Clinton: Encourages Israeli-Arab Peacekeeping
    • Statement of opposition to the Student Safety and Family School Choice section of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2000: Opposes diversion of public funds to private and religious schools through vouchers
    • Jim Lehrer, PBS: Requests questions on the risk of nuclear war when talking to VP Gore and Governor Bush during debates
    • Endorsement of an omnibus drug bill: Emphasizes public health approaches to drug control
    • Congress: Supports the Younger Americans Act
    • Congress: Supports Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act
    • Endorsement of Campaign for Access and Reproductive Equity: Supports reproductive rights
  • October 2000:
    • Endorsing First Monday 2000: Unite to End Gun Violence: Promotes education and action to reduce gun violence
    • Congress and President Clinton: Encourages Minimum Wage increase
    • Co-sponsorship for United Nations Global Community Day: Urges government to pay UN debt
    • President Clinton: Requests clemency to low-level, nonviolent Federal drug offenders
    • Endorsement of the Campaign to Close America's Economic Divide: Reduces wage and income inequality, wealth inequality
  • November 2000:
    • Statement in opposition of the World Trade Organization: Urges reform within the WTO
    • Co-sponsorship of the Public Forum on Nonviolence and Social Justice: Promotes nonviolent speakers
    • Kevin Gover, Bureau of Indian Affairs: Thanks Gover for his apology for the historical atrocities committed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs
    • Endorsement of the Coalition of Environment, Labor, Social Justice, and Human Rights Organizations: Advocates holding US corporations accountable by endorsing International Right to Know Campaign
    • Presidential Candidates: Calls on Gov. Bush and VP Gore to support a just and fair resolution to the controversy surrounding the outcome of presidential election
    • President Clinton: Supports The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court
  • December 2000:
    • Congress: Urges rectification of injustices in our immigration system by supporting LIFA
    • Endorsement of NCCJ's Faith Leaders Initiative Press Conference: Urges examining racism and discrimination in congregations and efforts to remedy any biases
    • The Honorable Frank Keating: Opposes the execution of Wanda Jean Allen
    • Statement in Opposition of the Justice for American Victims of Terrorism Act of 2000: Calls for the Justice Department to set up a special office exclusively targeting Palestinians
  • January 2001:
    • President George W. Bush: Appeals to de-alert nuclear weapons
    • Endorsement of C.A.R.E.: Supports reproductive rights
    • President George W. Bush: Allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
    • Various Religious Leaders: Calls for unity, justice, and healing in congregations after presidential decision/inauguration
    • President George W. Bush: Urges the restoration of Medicaid, SCHIP, and Food Stamps benefits for legal immigrants in budget
    • Mitch Daniels, Director of Office of Management and Budget: Calls for an increase investment in community-based juvenile crime prevention efforts
  • February 2001:
    • Senate: Opposes IRA withdrawals for K-12 expenses, including those incurred at private and religious schools
    • Endorsement of the modified "Global Democracy Promotion Act": Overturns the global "gag" rule restrictions
    • Congress and President Bush: Encourages reform on National Missile Defense
    • President George W. Bush: Reforms U.S. aid for Colombia/Andean Drug War
    • Senator Mike Miller: Endorses the passage of The Anti-Discrimination Act of 2000
    • Endorsement of "Fair Taxes for All": Opposes Bush tax cut
  • March 2001:
    • Congress: Urges co-sponsorship of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2001
    • President George W. Bush: Urges reformation of IMF and World Bank policies
    • Senate: Expresses concerns over efforts to expand the concept of "charitable choice" to education
    • House: Urges support for HR.1038, the National Death Penalty Moratorium Act
    • Senate: Opposes any amendment in the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act that seeks to divert public funds to private schools
    • Endorsement of the "Equal Protections of Voting Rights Act": Encourages reform in election policy
    • Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate: Urges upholding the will of the people on clean elections
    • Senate: Opposes an expansion on education savings accounts
    • President Bush and Congress: Decries provisions known as "Charitable Choice" in the Administration's Faith Based Initiatives
  • April 2001:
    • Senate: Urges support of an amendment to the Budget Resolution that would allow states to provide health insurance coverage to parents of children eligible for Medicaid and CHIP
    • Senate Finance and Indian Affairs Committee: Supports equal access to foster care and adoption assistance for American Indian and Alaska Native children
    • Endorsement National Religious Leadership Roundtable Statement: Opposes faith based funding
    • Senate: Opposes school vouchers and other similar funding mechanisms
    • House: Opposes the "Charitable Choice" Provisions in the Watts-Hall Bill, H.R. 7
    • House: Urges support for a motion to strike provisions in H.R.1, the Leave No Child Behind Act, that divert public money to private and religious schools
  • May 2001:
    • Congress: Supports retaining the anti-bias and hate crimes prevention programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
    • Elaine Chao and the Department of Labor: Urges proper scrutiny, enforcement, and compliance regarding the poultry industry labor and laws governing the industry
    • President George W. Bush: Urges declaration of an executive moratorium on federal executions and to grant clemency to Juan Raul Garza
  • June 2001:
    • Congressional Co-sponsors: Endorses the "Family Care Act of 2001," extends health coverage to parents of children in CHIP or Medicaid
    • Co-sponsorship of the June 20 reception honoring Senator Lugar: Regards his ongoing opposition of National Missile Defense
    • President George W. Bush: Urges continuing funds to fight the AIDS/HIV epidemic
    • Congress: Endorses a letter of thanks for defeating the Gregg Voucher Amendment, dealing with school vouchers
    • The Honorable Eugene N. Hamilton: Expresses concern about YSA's desire to convert the Oak Hill youth facility into a 100 bed institution and requests closure of Oak Hill
    • Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Chairman: Urges increased funding for the WIC program
    • President George W. Bush: Calls for the U.S. to uphold the rights of African nations to acquire affordable healthcare
    • President George W. Bush: Advocates stronger U.S. leadership in fighting the AIDS pandemic in Africa
    • Congress: Increases funding for endangered species' protection
    • Senator Landrieu: Opposes the McCain-Lieberman Gun Show Bill


Our Common Call

Response to Reports of Officers

Invitation from St. Lawrence District to 2002 GA (Ted Lightfoot)

Acknowledgment of Planning Committee, Staff and Volunteers

Process Observation (Board of Trustees)

Final Announcements (Rev. Wayne Arnason)

Adjourn Sine Die

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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