Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

Plenary IV

General Assembly 2002 Event 4005

Sunday Plenary Features Presentation of Distinguished Service Award, Voting on Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness

(June 23, 2002—Québec City, QUE) Moderator Diane Olson called the fourth plenary of the 41st Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly (GA) to order and immediately called for the presentation of Actions of Immediate Witness which have qualified for the final agenda. Eleven proposed actions were submitted; 1 was withdrawn; 1 was eliminated due to inadequate petition signatures; of the remaining nine these six qualified.

Presentation of Qualified Actions of Immediate Witness

Toward Peace and Justice in the Middle East

A speaker presenting this action said, "Whereas much has changed since the attacks on New York and Washington, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its destabilizing effects on the middle east have not," and urged a vote in support of this action, which was admitted to the final agenda.

Support the International Criminal Court

Elaine Harvey, a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, spoke to this issue, saying, "This is a critical period for action…let us confront the powers and structures of evil by promoting the justice that is possible through the international criminal court so that we may be judged by the same standard that we judge others."

Québec's Union Civile Law Passes Giving Same-Sex Couples Full Legal Equality

Ray Drennan, minister of the Montreal Unitarian Church, spoke to this issue, saying, "In 1860 a radical francophone institution existed called the Institute Canadienne. They promoted freedom of thought and expression. In the 1860s, Unitarians were social conservatives. We refused to join with these people… Our history in Québec would have been different if we had joined. Things have changed…but we as Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are almost unknown in francophone Québec. This new law, as of tomorrow, gives gay and lesbian couples equal rights. On this historic occasions as Canadians and Americans together, let's commend the government of Québec for knowing that there is strength in diversity…let's not miss another opportunity."

Palestine-Israel Conflict and the United States "War on Terrorism"

Paul Sawyer, minister of Throop Memorial Church, CA, presented his position on this issue. He said, "In this year of world crisis that hit the U.S. in the face, we see a culmination of enormous military power that leaves almost 80% of the people of the world impoverished. This resolution was passed by the UU Ministers of the Pacific SouthWest District by a vote of 25 to 4 with 4 abstentions. The use of international law, world courts, and the UN peacekeeping force and the redirecting of the obscene amounts of money falling into militarism… We UU leaders and other world religious leaders ask for your support of these principles."

Legislation to Create a Department of Peace

Dave Dunn of Concord, MA, spoke to this issue, saying, "There is legislation in place which could support a Department of Peace in the U.S. This bill was filed by Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and we need to raise voices in support of this bill, especially from UUs. This bill would appropriate one percent of the Department of Defense budget for this purpose. HR2459 should be supported—through phone calls, editorials in our local papers, youth groups lobbying for its support…while many of you may believe this will never happen, I can assure you that if we do not take action, it will not. I urge you to take this action in support of this motion and develop power for peace."

Dave's Remarks

The legislation is in place to create a cabinet level Department of Peace.

A department whose mission is to hold peace as an organizing principle, to strengthen non-military means of peace making and to develop new structures and technology for non-violent dispute resolution.

The anniversary of the first filing of this bill, by Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, is July 11, 2002 and we need to raise awareness and let our voices be heard. Especially Unitarian Universalists.

We need to develop Power for Peace!

We need to change our focus to bring more attention to nonviolent on conflict resolution. This Bill begins to do that by appropriating 1% of the Department of Defense Budget to fund this new department.

What can we do?

  • Ask the groups in your church to call their congressmen and urge support of the Bill H.R. 2459.
  • Involve your youth groups in education around this bill.
  • Write an editorial for your local paper expressing the need for this Bill.

What an amazing thing it would be to have the United States lead the world in the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution!

While many of you may believe this will never happen. 
I can assure you that if we take no action, it will not.

Therefore I ask you to vote for this Action of Immediate Witness and to begin the development of Power for Peace.

Endorse the Earth Charter

Gary Kowalski, minister of First Unitarian Church in Burlington, VT, spoke to the proposed issue. He said, "Earth is dying…A poll of professional biologists shows that 80% think we are in the middle of a sixth great extinction, and that half of the species on earth will be gone within our childrens' lifetimes unless we take drastic action. The Earth Charter reflects the work of many nations and faiths, recognizing that the only sustainable future rests on justice and peace for all the world's peoples. The effort will culminate this summer when this document is presented to the sustainable environment summit in South Africa, this summer. I ask you to join in supporting this effort by endorsing the Earth Charter so that our community can be saved and so that we can hold our place in the wider community of nature."

Beacon Press Discussion

Following the presentations, Moderator Olson called for a continuation of the Friday Plenary discussion on the future and financial condition of Beacon Press. Rev. Ned Wight, moderator for this segment, discussed items reported out of a workshop session where various suggestions for Beacon were made, including ideas about promotion, business operation, financial oversight, etc. Wight said, "What have we learned? Many UUs love their Press passionately and want Beacon to continue to publish. People have ideas about how to help Beacon survive and thrive. We want to help foster conversations not just here but in our congregations as well. We have two other reports coming out of our workshop as well."

Wight then introduced delegate Carol Gray of the Springfield MA of the newly formed Beacon Press Preservation Committee, which was founded after the workshop on Saturday. Gray said, "There is a petition circulating in support of Beacon Press. We formed this out of concern that Beacon should be perceived as an organization worthy of UUA resources. If the Press is part of our ministry, it is worth funding like other parts of our ministry.

"Allocating $2-300,000 per year to Beacon Press is a good investment. Beacon Press was 93% self-sustaining. The press should not be penalized by the fact that some years, we have received the benefits of the press for free, nor should it be pitted against other worthy UUA causes. The voice of Beacon has been a powerful one historically. During the McCarthy era, it was the only Press that would publish books against McCarthy for a decade. It has likewise been a beacon in other areas, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. the Board of Education.

"It concerns me that this year's [UUA] Annual Report stated that over the course of a three year period the UUA will have to discern whether we have a future in book publishing. Let us answer a resounding 'yes!' Beacon Press is our heritage—it is a proud one, let us preserve it."

Rev. Burton Carley, member of the UUA Board of Trustees and a parish minister, said, "I wish to address briefly what we have done today and yesterday. I have answers, the first one theological. The first quality for a steward or trustee is humility. God always finds ways to make me humble. It is good to know that sometimes we need assistance from others. Beacon is such a complicated situation that the Board wanted people to begin reflecting on that situation. The second issue is the cost of the program. The reserve fund for Beacon is going, going, gone. Small publishing houses are closing their doors or merging. This situation will probably continue without relief. The Association's primary mission is to provide services to our congregations. We wish to keep or nurture our Press. I wanted us to test, or tap, your care for Beacon Press without diminishing our services to congregations. This discussion has begun…we have done this so that you might go home and start conversations in your congregations, intelligent conversations with informed passion. This is a time for thoughtfulness and discernment, and I am so pleased that we are doing this together, for this, for you, for the precious life of our congregations, I give my thanks."

Gini Courter, Trustee from the Heartland District and Chair of the UUA Finance Committee, said, "In the past fourty-six  hours, many things have happened. Beacon Press may have set a single day GA sales record yesterday. Yesterday's sales were over 11,000. One longtime UU told me they thought Beacon Press just had a catchy name and published good books—they didn't know we owned it. More UUs are committing to start Beacon book clubs, or making inquiries to endow the Press, something we do with many of our programs. I have never believed that the pie was of a set size, but I am clear that it is a pie the size of which we determine together. And we know as a board that congregations value Beacon Press. What we don't know is how congregations value Beacon Press in relation to the other programs and services of the Association, and we can not discern this information in a single weekend or a single General Assembly. These programs deserve more than a simplistic response.

"This will continue to be a hard conversation, because it is about what we value. I hope we talk about Beacon Press in Minister's groups, Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) chapters, in every nook and corner where committed UUs gather. Hard? Of course it's hard. That's what makes it great. If it were easy we would never have asked you to help us do it."

Bylaw Changes Regarding Relationship with the Canadian Unitarian Council

Olson then called for action on changes in the Bylaws that will reflect changes in the relationship of the UUA to the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC). These actions cover Bylaw sections 6.3, 6.6, and 9.5, found on p. 20 of the final UUA agenda. Gini Courter gave position of the Board saying, "Canadians wanted more services designed by and focused toward Canada, and the Canadians' wish for this and the UUA's response, changed the nature of the accord. Five bylaw amendments require the support of the UUA. The vote on these items on the board was in favor 23:1:0."

Kim Turner from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a former member of the CUC board, rose to speak in favor of the motion, saying, "I was trying to think about how to tell you how important this is to Canadian congregations. When this idea first came up, I was opposed to it… We then started to consult with Canadian congregations, about what was wrong about not having Canadian content in our Religious Education (RE) or growth work, or Canadian identity in the religion that we want to thrive and grow. And becoming embroiled in those complicated discussions, I realized that what we had was not working, and hasn't worked for some time. Canadian congregations have told us that what we have [with this new agreement] is something that will help Canadian congregations to thrive in Canada."

Michael Scott of Rochester, NY, spoke against the motion. He said, "My children have lived in Rochester for years, and we have learned that what you can do is go to church in Canada as well as the U.S. I feel the need to express my sorrow at what I perceive as a failure in previous administrations to find a way to be together, as opposed to separate. I will mourn the loss of the bi-nationality of the St. Lawrence District, and I think it should have been possible to be together, and I regret that the GA never has a chance to really address this issue."

Supporting the motion, Rev. Brian Kiely of Edmonton, AB, said, "I have been continuously involved in the question of CUC relations for four and a half years. Our task has been to research desires of Canadians Unitarians vis a vis the UUA."

Mark Hamilton, of Vancouver, B.C., spoke against the motion, saying, "I grew up as part of the cross-border Pacific Northwest District. Imagine going from the judgmental high school experience to the inclusive UU experience. The reason that I choose to do the work I do in my congregation and on behalf of my Association, is because of my connection to UUism. The decision at the CUC meeting has been made. But I want to get up and express myself. I think we are throwing out the baby with the bath water, and I am one of the babies being thrown out. My heart is broken, and I do not know if it will ever mend."

Susan Shakotsy of Beaconsfield, Québec, said, " I am an American by birth and have lived in Canada since 1971, and I think that this should be a day of celebration, that we have the growth of an organization that wants to branch out, become vibrant with its energies and declared enthusiasms. And there are reasons why a Canadian system of values goes in different ways… It speaks with a different voice, but it is a voice of the larger UU mission. We should be pleased that this voice will take on its own tones, expressions, and become part of a worldwide movement, and the two organizations should retain the utmost collaboration cooperation and strength, remaining independent and yet linked by a border that they can cross as often as possible."

Olson called for the vote on the motions, which passed by overwhelming majority.

Statement from the Canadian Unitarian Council on Ratification of the Separation of the UUA and the CUC

North American Unitarian Universalists took a significant step towards forming a new cross-border partnership today in Québec City. Delegates from congregations across the continent voted on by-law amendments that will enable Canadian Unitarians and Universalists to become responsible for their own movement in Canada.

The decision was made at the Unitarian Universalist Association annual General Assembly, a convention of some 4,000 lay and ministerial delegates from more than 1,100 congregations across the continent.

Under the ratified agreement, Canadian and American UUs will become separate national denominations, while preserving the bonds of faith and friendship which have existed for 170 years.

"The agreement marks a coming of age for the Canadian Unitarian Council," said the Rev Charles Eddis, first president of the CUC and now Minister Emeritus at the Unitarian Church of Montreal.

"This transition recognizes that Unitarians and Universalists in Canada have both the means and the desire to sustain their own movement and to deliver services and programs suited for their congregations. But the agreement will also allow us to form new partnerships across the border even as we strengthen some existing ties."

The historic agreement between the CUC and the UUA was reached after a year of friendly negotiations. The Rev. William Sinkford, president of the UUA, said, "Unitarian Universalists in Canada and the United States will always be united by our commitment to the faith we share. But in our faith community, when the congregations speak, the Association must listen. I congratulate the Canadian congregations on the new autonomy of the Canadian Unitarian Council, and I support their commitment to live out Unitarian Univeralism in a Canadian context."

The Universalist and Unitarian churches were founded in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the United States and Canada. Some Canadian congregations were founded with joint British and American assistance; some others were American missionary efforts. In 1961 the Unitarian and Universalist denominations consolidated. Also in 1961, the tiny, fledgling Canadian Unitarian Council was formed.

While the CUC has grown in staff and resources over the past four decades, Canadians have recently represented only 3 percent of UUA membership. In recent years, leaders on both sides of the border recognized the need for a new kind of relationship. The goal was to honour long-standing relationships while responding to a perceived need for Canadian autonomy.

"This is a win-win situation," said Rev. Brian Kiely, minister at the Edmonton Unitarian Church, "Canadian Unitarians and Universalists get to chart their own course while American UUs get to focus their resources and efforts on strengthening their congregations."

Communiqué de presse

Les Unitariens Universalistes d'Amérique du Nord ont franchi un pas important vers un partenariat trans-frontalier à Québec aujourd'hui. Les délégués de nos congrégations (paroisses) de tout le continent ont adopté des amendements accordant l'autonomie du mouvement Unitarien et Universaliste du Canada.

La décision a été prise dans le cadre de l'assemblée générale annuelle de l'Association Unitarienne Universaliste (AUU), congrès réunissant quelque 4000 délégués laïcs et pasteurs, provenant de 1100 congrégations (paroisses) du continent.

Par les amendements ratifiés, les Unitariens Universalistes du Canada et des États-Unis deviennent des entités nationales distinctes, tout en maintenant leurs liens de foi et d'amitié qui les unissent depuis 170 ans.

"Cette démarche dénote la maturité du Conseil Unitarien du Canada (CUC)", a révélé le pasteur Charles Eddis, premier président du CUC et pasteur émérite de l'Église Unitarienne de Montréal.

"Cette transition démontre que les Unitariens et Universalistes du Canada ont tous deux la volonté et les capacités de soutenir leur organisation, d'offrir les services et les programmes adaptés aux besoins de leurs congrégations (paroisses). De plus, cette nouvelle façon de faire permettra d'établir de nouvelles collaborations outre-frontières tout en renforçant des liens déjà bien en place".

L'entente historique entre le CUC et l'AUU a été conclue à la suite d'une année complète de négociations amicales. Le pasteur William Sinkford, président de l'AUU, a déclaré: "les Unitariens Universalistes du Canada et des États-Unis seront toujours unis par l'attachement aux croyances partagées. Et dans notre foi commune, lorsqu'une congrégation (paroisse) parle, l'Association écoute attentivement. Je félicite les congrégations (paroisses) canadiennes pour l'autonomie octroyée au Conseil Unitarien du Canada et j'appuie sans réserve leur détermination à vivre leur foi Unitarienne Universaliste selon le mode de vie canadien".

Les églises Unitariennes et Universalistes ont été fondées à la fin du dix-huitième et au début du dix-neuvième siècles tant aux États-Unis qu'au Canada. Certaines congrégations (paroisses) canadiennes furent fondées avec la collaboration des britanniques et des américains; d'autres sont nées du mouvement missionnaire américain. Les mouvements Unitariens et Universalistes fusionnèrent en 1961. C'est aussi en 1961 que l'embryon du Conseil unitarien du Canada a vu le jour.

Bien que le CUC a grandi en personnel et autres ressources au cours des quatre dernières décennies, le Canada ne représentait que trois pourcent des effectifs de l'AUU. Au cours des dernières années, les dirigeants de chaque côté de la frontière ont dénoté la nécessité de redéfinir le type de lien à maintenir. Le but était de reconnaître à la fois les liens entretenus depuis longtemps et le besoin exprimé d'une autonomie canadienne.

"C'est un accord gagnant-gagnant" a déclaré le Rev. Bryan Kiely, pasteur de la Edmonton Unitarian Church, " alors que les Unitariens et les Universalistes canadiens déterminent eux-mêmes leur pratique et que les UU américains concentreront leurs ressources et leur action sur le développement de leurs propres congrégations (paroisses)."

The Canadian Unitarian Council/Conseil Unitarien du Canada (CUC), est une association regroupant quarante-quatre congrégations (paroisses) à travers le Canada, comptant 5200 membres individuels. Issu de l'action de réformateurs et de dissidents activistes chrétiens il y a cinq siècles, le mouvement Unitarien s'épanouit aujourd'hui en un large courant religieux/spirituel renforci par la participation avant-gardiste universaliste, humaniste et payenne.

Contact: Rev. Brian Kiely, membre du conseil d'administration du CUC, ministre du Unitarian Church of Edmonton, à Edmonton (780) 454-8073; Rev. Ray Drennan, pasteur à l'église Unitarienne de Montréal, membre du mouvement universaliste au Québec (418) 694-1173; Mary Bennett, directeur exécutif, cell: (604) 617-0142.

Executive Vice President's Report

Olson then introduced UUA Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery, who talked about the year of change that has occurred with increased media coverage, changes in the structure of the UUA Executive staff with a new focus on improved service delivery. She said, "Here's the deal about the new staff structure: our work for justice will be found in four areas; our ministry efforts will now deal with all professionals (ministers, religious educators, church musicians, and administrators) over time, religious education will occur in three areas, there will be accountability for our anti-racism work throughout the staff." Montgomery introduced the new members of the UUA's leadership council: Meg Riley (Advocacy and Witness), Helene Atwan (Beacon Press), Tom Stites (Communication), Tracey Robinson-Harris (Congregational Services), Peter Morales (District Services), Bob Snow (Financial Development), Taquiena Boston (Identity-Based Ministry), Jim Austin (Information Technology Services), Jerry Gabert (Treasurer and head of Internal Services), Judith Frediani (Lifespan Faith Development), David Hubner (Ministry and Professional Leadership). This restructuring, she explained, has been done to provide better services to congregations.

Montgomery reviewed other work of the Association, and highlighted the upcoming "Mind the Gap" Sunday. She said, "Our Association has an absence of people between the ages of 14 and 35. There are now seventy active campus groups, but still too many Young Adults leave home and find no services for themselves. It is hard to get good statistics about how many stay, and how many leave." She talked about how, as a youth in the Detroit, she "rode the bus up Livernois and invented my own religion that turned out to be identical to UUism." She said that not knowing about UUism then had made life harder; that where there had not long ago been eighty people in Youth Caucus at GA, this year there were four hundred. "We have come a long way," she said, "but we still have farther to go." Montgomery also talked of how the Association has worked to nurture and grow young adult connections; while the number of UU campus ministry groups has grown dramatically over the last ten years, she said, "We've come a long way, but we have much further to go."

Montgomery talked about her work with Alison Miller, a young adult seminary student, during the past year. She called Miller to the microphone to share her experiences. Miller said, "I am one of the lucky 10% of our youth to remain in our faith as an adult, one of even fewer who never took a hiatus from this faith. My friends sometimes wondered why on earth I spent weekends at age fifteen organizing youth events—why was someone relatively normal choosing to spend the weekend with 125 youth, sleep on the floor, worship on Saturday night, and being awakened at night; who said 'yes' to the chance to create more of the communities that were pivotal to her own development and youth." In those groups, she said, "I could speak the truth, be myself, and have fun with friends like and not like me. We dealt with moral dilemmas, and it was also the place where people could act on their principles during times of struggle." Miller told of how, at the age of sixteen, she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer with little chance of survival—yet her youth group met at the hospital rather than at church; several gave blood to help save her life, and helped her find answers to questions of life and death. Miller talked about the value of the campus ministry group at her undergraduate school, Bryn Mawr—how it inspired her to become a youth advisor, and ultimately, enter divinity school.

Miller said, "Young adult programs work, and provide sustenance to motivate young adults to stay in our churches"; she then encouraged participation in Youth/Young Adult Ministry Sunday this fall. She said, "We are making great strides, and growing in numbers, yet we still need support."

Montgomery, joining Miller at the podium said, "This is as close as I ever come to begging: please do mind the gap, we need the money." Montgomery added one more thing: "Alison has been in remission for ten years—just two weeks ago, her doctor told her that she can now begin to use the "c" word—for 'cured.'"

Finally, Montgomery recognized the work of Rev. Mel Hoover, who has been on the UUA staff since 1987. Hoover will become a consultant with the staff, working half-time with a focus on interfaith relations and environmental justice from his new home in West Virginia, where he will work as a co-minister with his wife, the Rev. Rose Edington. Montgomery talked, at the same time, about how difficult the work of social and organizational change is, and recognized the difficult and important work that Hoover has performed in trying to transform the UUA into a more inclusive multi-racial, multi-ethnic organization.

Hoover, she said, "kept his eyes on the prize of racial healing… [he has been] wily, maneuvering; I have sometimes wanted to strangle him and have sometimes realized he's one of our saints; starting us on a path that has been incredibly rich and satisfying—called and compelled by whom we claim to be to heal what is broken in us, and to bind up our wounds; that's what Mel has led us toward in the last fifteen years. Thank you, Moses." Her remarks were greeted with warm applause.

Montgomery concluded her remarks by recognizing the change in our congregations, as two who have put their faith and justice commitment into action, with the South Valley UU Society in Salt Lake City, who has called Rev. Sean Parker Dennison to be its senior minister, the first out transgender minister to be so called; and Rev. Laurie J. Auffant called as Minister of Religious Education at Follen Community Church in Lexington, MA, a Puerto Rican transgender minister, the first to be so called.

She also noted that Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and a candidate for governor of Massachusetts, has just come out in support of gay/lesbian marriage, making him, as she said, "one of us, at least on this issue." She lifted up the case brought by seven gay and lesbian couples bringing suit against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the right to marry.

She recognized the UUA staff—"people dear to my heart"—saying, "the staff humbles me by their company; they are hardworking, smart, feisty; committed to providing us the best possible support, to telling the truth in kindness, laugh a lot, inspire her and keep her honest, some retiring; provided incredible worship on September 11; thank you for all that you do, for dreaming, and for pushing us toward those dreams."

Financial Advisor's Report

Olson called on Financial Advisor Larry Ladd to give his report. (See Financial Advisor's Report (PDF, 32 pages) and Section of the UUA Annual Report (PDF, 13 pages)). Ladd reviewed the role of the financial advisor, reminding delegates that the advisor provides the president, Board, and General Assembly with independent financial advice and feedback; that another part of the role is to give the best assurance that the Association is being responsible, from independent and unbiased person.

Ladd reviewed a set of standards, of principles and values, for a strong and vital religious organization: that it have a clear religious message; offer a continental program worthy of support; engage in strategic planning; work toward expanding resources; have strong endowment performance; demonstrate a creative use of assets, have explicit policies consistently applied, show risk avoidance, and so on. Ladd emphasized that materials on this point and the rest of his report are available on the UUA website and will provide much greater detail.

Ladd stated that growth is the most important measure of the financial health of the organization—and the good news, he said, is that the number of UUs continues to increase, growing to 218,404 in 2001—0.7% higher than the year before; the number of adult members increased to .9% this year. The 'not so good news,' Ladd said, was that Religious Education enrollments declined for first time in many years, to 61,436.

Ladd reviewed the Association's market share of membership over the past twenty years, and reviewed the earnings and losses in the Association's investments. There is, Ladd said, "some good news embedded in all of this: APF income exceeded goal by $150,000—and this is the most important measure of the health of our denominations—how much congregations have and are willing to give to our movement. He also observed that the Association's capital campaign was doing well; that the Association had sold property and the revenue from the sale had provided debt reduction money; and that we remain a generous movement. The Association's ongoing work, he said, is to attend to Beacon Press—and to buy Beacon books.

Ladd concluded his remarks making his "annual plea for growth," stating that "we should not be satisfied with the current rate of growth. Large congregations make up 4% of our congregations, but 21% of our members. Therefore, the Association's goal of beginning 10 multi-staff new congregations per year for each of next five years—with 50 congregations each, to grow to at least 1500-3000 adults within five years—is an important one. The nature of our congregational life does not have to be the way we've always imagined it," he said. He reminded delegates that they can contact him for a full copy of his report, which is also available on UUA.org.

Action in Response to Reports of Officers

Olson called for action in response to reports of officers. Denny Davidoff, former moderator and a delegate from the Unitarian Church of Westport, CT, rose to state that "mindful of the connection between Beacon Press book sales and deficits, and heeding the admonition of the UUA finance committee and our President, that the publication of unsold books is neither useful to our missions nor to our finances, therefore, we the representatives of the congregations should

  1. Seek ways to vigorously promote Beacon Press in our congregations and communities;
  2. Urge brother and sister UUs to each buy two books during 2002-02, and continue that spiritual practice thereafter
  3. Pay attention to Beacon Press publications and promotions; and
  4. Employ all means possible to take responsibility for the health and future of the Beacon Press.

Davidoff continued, by doing these things "we will have gone on record as asking the Board and administration to hold us accountable just as we hold them accountable for their actions, and we will give them permission to kick butt. And," Davidoff concluded, speaking to Diane Olson, "May I say what a pleasure it is for me to call you Madam Moderator." The remarks were greeted with rousing applause.

Barbara Michael of Marquette, MI, stated that she was appalled at the idea of billboards being used for marketing, as President Sinkford had suggested in his report. "I want them removed from the environment—and I want us to be part of ecological integrity."

Rev. Liz McMaster, interim minister in Los Alamos, NM, asked if she might respond to the Beacon press report. She suggested ideas for the support of Beacon Press including a Beacon Press Sunday in the next year or two or an endowment for Beacon Press.

Amendment to Sect. 6.3 of Unitarian Universalist Association Bylaws

Several other comments were made on reports, and then Olson introduced an amendment to Sect. 6.3 of the bylaws, which calls for a shared trustee for Florida and Mid-South Districts, to give each district their own trustee. Paul Rickter, Trustee from the Mass Bay District, gave the opinion of the board which voted 17:7 in favor. Rickter noted, however, that there was a strong feeling on the board that the overall composition of the board should be reviewed—so while most endorse this amendment for the sake of fairness, some opposed it on the basis that we have studied, and will need to continue to study, whether all districts need to have a seat on the board.

Dick Creswell, President, Mid-South District, spoke in favor of the motion: "It is now clear to our districts, to the districts ministers association, the district presidents association, and the majority of the board itself, that our districts should be accorded equal status with the rest of the districts. Our covenant to promote the democratic process means that we should maintain an equitable arrangement for all districts," he said. Beth McGregor, UUA Board member from the Ballou Channing district, spoke against the motion, saying "study of board structure revealed three problems: inequity of representation and numeric size which tilted toward the east coast; too few at-large seats; large and expensive size of the board. This proposal gives another of the smaller districts another seat, and I happen to feel making more people invested in the status makes it harder to change. I feel we are being reactive rather than proactive and planful."

There being no further debate, Olson called for the vote, and the motion carried.

Celebrating Ratification of Change in Unitarian Universalist Association and Canadian Unitarian Council Relationship

Celebrating the agreement ratified earlier concerning the CUC/UUA agreement, Olson called the Rev. Olivia Holmes, director of International Relations, to the podium. Holmes reviewed the path that had progressed toward the vote to amicably separate most services of the CUC and the UUA, concluding, "on May 18, 2002, the Canadian implementation task force presented a plan at Kelowna (British Columbia, site of the CUC Annual Meeting). Those present first presented an exciting and courageous plan and budget, 'Of Regions and Rings', and then a resolution."

Holmes stated that Rev. Charles Eddis, first president of the CUC, moved that the body accept the plan. The motion stated, "whereas the CUC and the UUA have entered into an agreement to create an historic new relationship as of July 1, 2002, therefore be it resolved that the delegates to the 2002 CUC annual general meeting accept the plan of regions and rings" The motion carried unanimously.

Olson and Homes honored the people who had worked on behalf of the CUC to advance this work. They included, for the CUC, Mary Bennett, Executive Director; Ellen Campbell, former Executive Director, Rev. Brian Kiely, Board member; Rev. Katie Stein Sather, UUA Trustee-at-Large from Canada; John Slattery, former board member; Kim Turner, former President; and Elizabeth Bowen, current vice president. They noted that the following individuals representing the CUC were not present: Herman Boerma; Lee Dickey; John Hopewell and CUC president Mark Morrison-Reed. Representing the UUA in the negotiations were: Gini Courter, UUA Trustee from the Heartland District and Finance Chair; Denny Davidoff, former UUA Moderator; Olivia Holmes; Larry Ladd, Financial Advisor; Judy McGavin, Trustee from the Pacific Northwest District; Kathryn McIntyre, Trustee from the St. Lawrence District; Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, Acting Director of Congregational, District, and Extension Services; Rev. Bill Sinkford, President; as well as Jean Kapuscik, former trustee from the Central Midwest District, and Ken Carpenter, former trustee from the Southwest District.

Both President Sinkford and CUC Vice President Elizabeth Bowen shared their reflections (PDF), and those who had worked on the negotiations received a gift of a book of meditations, "One and Universal," by Unitarians and Universalists from around the world.

Sinkford said, "We need to acknowledge how difficult this process is for many, on both sides of the border; the emotions encountered in dealing with issues of identity run deep." He expressed the hope that the changes in relationship "will not distance us, and the prayer that what we celebrate today moves us not out of relationship, but into right relationship. The stream of history in which we stand demands that what unites us is far more important than that that divides us…"

Elizabeth Bowen said, "Many Canadians slowly but definitely developed a common dream of a stronger CUC that would deliver services appropriate to Canadian societies and be responsible for our faith in Canada. At meetings in 2001 and 2002, delegates approved plans that made that dream a reality; a second dream - what it would feel like if delegates to this assembly gave us your support and approved these bylaw proposals [passed today] feels so good." Bowen continued, "I want to thank the UUA administration for all the tremendous support always given to the CUC—thank all of you for your votes this afternoon. Today we are celebrating the beginning of a new relationship between our two organizations, and the birth of a new dream."

Diane Olson closed this section with a reading—by Canadian Unitarian minister V. Emil Gudmunson called "Fields of Promise," published in "One and Universal."

Presentation of 2002 Distinguished Service to Unitarian Universalism Award

Sinkford's Full Remarks (PDF)

Olson called on Larry Ladd to join her on the stage for the presentation of this year's Distinguished Service to Unitarian Universalism award. Ladd came to the stage, and was joined by the other members of this year's committee, President Bill Sinkford and Norma Poinsett. Ladd reminded delegates of some of the past awardees, including Sophia Lyon Fahs, Dana McLean Greeley, Clinton Lee Scott, James Luther Adams, O. Eugene Pickett, William Jones. To join these past awardees, he named this year's recipient: Natalie Gulbrandsen.

The citation, which Ladd read, recognized Gulbrandsen's devoted service as a champion of women's rights; lay leader in her congregation, the UU Society of Wellesley Hills, MA; mother; member of Council on Church Staff Finances, the Selma Memorial Committee, the board of the Church of the Larger Fellowship; as both Treasurer and President of the UU Women's Federation; and as UUA Moderator from 1985 to 1993.

In response, Gulbrandsen said, "Thank you very much—I was speechless when I was called about this award and couldn't even answer—it was a complete surprise. I never even thought about getting this award. Service always been a part of my life… I like to tell people to read their way into UUism," she said. "I visited every church, and some of them twice." She noted that she and her late husband, Mel, began attending church immediately when they moved to Wellesley, and that when the minister came calling after their first visit, "that was it, we were hooked."

Gulbrandsen said that she had always tried to expose her children to diversity, that could be carried through in friendship—and that this had made her life richer in every way. All her work on diversity had culminated in the presidency of the International Association for Religious Freedom, she said, and with her embrace of diversity religion, language, culture, dress, etc., she had gained friends in many places.

She said, "My years with the UUA have been fabulous—and it couldn't happen without the volunteers who give up time willingly; value those connections. I loved being moderator and the partnership with Bill Schulz and there was never a dull moment. Kay Montgomery holds everything together for everyone, she is the most organized and gracious person I know. The staff are a group of most exceptional people, and a pleasure to work with." She concluded her remarks, saying, "I have a vivid memory of my first GA as moderator. I was petrified looking at all the faces, and thought, 'I can't do this.' And then I looked at microphone 1, and saw Gene and Helen Pickett smiling expectantly, and I brought down the gavel… I have never wavered from the UU faith—it is the bulwark of strength in my life. And my hope for each of you is that Unitarian Universalism can be the mainstay of your life, as it has been in mine. And thank you for your faith in me."

Process Observations and General Assembly Attendance Figures

Diane Olson called on Rev. Robert Senghas, Trustee from the New Hampshire/Vermont District, to make process observations; Secretary Wayne Arnason made announcements and stated that the GA attendance showed 4077 registered as of today, with 2253 delegates from 624 congregations. He reminded delegates that they can save $50 on next year's registration before November 15. He also noted that thus far, $9912 had been given to the social justice project, and that the Planning Committee would like to double that amount by the close of GA.

The plenary recessed at 4:23 p.m. until Monday, June 24.

Reported by Deborah Weiner; edited by Jone Johnson Lewis.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation

 

Multimedia

Part I

Part II

More Multimedia

Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation