General Assembly 2008 Event 1030 (Plenary)
“I now call to order the Forty-Seventh General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association!” Gini Courter, Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) thus began the first plenary session of General Assembly (GA) 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
The only business item for this first and very short plenary was the adoption of the Rules of Procedure for GA 2008. Courter told the gathered delegates that the rules are largely the same as in previous years, and brought to their attention a few rules of particular importance to the actions of the delegates. “Rule 5 provides that no amendments to a business resolution, bylaw change or rule change will be in order unless submitted for consideration at the mini-assembly for that item.” She reminded delegates that the rules specified that votes generally will be taken by an “uncounted show of voting cards,” and explained the few circumstances under which a vote would be counted.
Courter also pointed to the locations of the “pro,” “con,” “amendment,” and “procedural” microphones which will be used during debate, called for by Rule 7, and reminded those present that only delegates may speak from the microphones except by express permission of the Moderator. “I think it's happened once in five years.” Courter's wry remark got an equally wry laugh from the audience. She was quite serious, however, as she reviewed Rules 6, 7, and 13 which specify the time limits for debate.
Courter introduced Ned Leibensperger, the legal counsel who has served us for more than 15 years. Then she asked us to say hello to retired Massachusetts District Court Judge, Gordon Martin, who has served as our Parliamentarian since the 1969 General Assembly. Both men got appreciative rounds of applause.
The Moderator then called upon the Chair of the General Assembly Planning Committee to move the adoption of the Rules of Procedure, a motion that was overwhelmingly carried by the delegate body.
Courter introduced the conveners of the Youth Caucus, Jen Lotze and Amelia Harati, who invited people of all ages to attend youth caucus programming, and got cheers from the youth seated in the area reserved for them when Lotze and Harati pointed out where the youth caucus could be found during plenary sessions. The two wished everyone a “great GA” at the close of their remarks.
The conveners of the Young Adult Caucus, Danny Maitland and Andrew Tripp, were then introduced. They invited the young adults present to “check out your program book for all the opportunities to get involved with other young adults at GA,” and to come to the next day's caucus session for more information.
The Moderator then introduced B. Scott McNeil, convener of the Right Relationship Team for this General Assembly. The heart of McNeil's comments described the mission and purpose of the Team. “We are here to promote right relations between people in relation to oppression. If something happens here at General Assembly that involves racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism—those are things that you should talk to us about so we can be there with you. If it's a problem that needs to be addressed, we can work with you, with chaplains, with others. If it's a story that needs to be lifted up, something positive that you experienced, please let us know so we can share it with the whole community.” McNeil introduced the rest of the team and brought the assembly's attention to their bright lime green T-shirts, encouraging people to stop and speak with any of them about any concerns.
The last item on the agenda of the first plenary was the greeting of the six new congregations admitted to the UUA during the last year. Courter introduced the First Vice Moderator of the UUA Board of Trustees, Jackie Shanti, who then introduced the presidents of the four districts in which the new congregations are located. These people in turn introduced leaders from each of the new congregations, which include:
From the Central Midwest District, the Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Grayslake, Illinois.
From the Thomas Jefferson District, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
From the MidSouth District, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo, Mississippi.
And three new congregations from the Joseph Priestly District, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Chesapeake, in California, Maryland, the Washington Ethical Society in Washington, DC, and the WellSprings Congregation in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Courter returned to the podium long enough to say, “There being no further business to come before us this evening, and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this plenary session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, 2008!”
Reported by Pat Emery; edited by Jone Johnson Lewis.