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Re-Entry: Taking General Assembly Home

General Assembly 2009 Event 4058

Sponsored by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees and led by Jackie Shanti, Anna Olsen, Justine Urbikas, and Nick Allen.

What are effective ways to communicate the excitement and insights of General Assembly (GA) with the folks back home? Members of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association who chaired this session turned the tables on the audience by breaking them up into small groups, asking former GA attendees to come up with lists of what has worked for them in the past, and asking everyone for ideas of what might work for them after this GA.

The list generated by the small group discussion was long indeed; Jackie Shanti chided: “See, you know how to do this!”

Everyone agreed that posting information on their congregation’s website and publishing reports in the newsletter are good ideas. Sharing photos, video clips of events, and DVDs from the conference helps greatly in building enthusiasm. Materials should be presented to board members right away if their energy is needed to help accomplish a goal.

Many attendees mentioned various ways to communicate information from GA in a Sunday service—asking the minister to integrate it into the sermon; having attendees act out skits on individual topics, or the entire experience from banner parade to plenary to Sunday service; or having an announcement at services about happenings at GA, such as the vote-down of the revised Purposes and Principles.

Others felt it would work better in their church to give presentations in an evening or weekend gathering, and if a session being shared included any exercises, to do those exercises with those gathered.

Several felt their congregation should be reminded as often as practical that they are part of a larger denomination. This reminding can even be done in religious education classes. Another way to start building denominational awareness is to get people to attend a district conference, which may be more accessible than GA.

In larger churches, getting information from GA heard and paid attention to often requires going directly to the committees affected and presenting the ideas. Larger churches with numerous GA attendees should also plan ahead for coverage and hold a debriefing when they get home to plan their strategy.

One church had success in the past by setting up tables—one for each UU University track—during coffee hour and asking congregants to visit a table before they got their coffee.

Attendees also suggested looking out for any possible opportunity to get a speaker or artist from GA to come in person to a home church, especially presenters who live near the congregation and may be willing to come.

A common problem is that GA attendees let their excitement dissipate over the summer and don’t act on good ideas. The presenters asked participants to make a promise to themselves about what they’d like to make happen and write it on a card, complete with a time frame in which they plan to do this. They then suggested that pairs of people exchange cards and email addresses and hold each other accountable for following up on their goal.

Advice was given to be patient: it takes time to implement many changes.

Reported by Dee Ray; edited by Dana Dwinell-Yardley.

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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.

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