Plenary III, General Assembly 2011
The General Assembly (GA) passed an amended Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating.
Reports from UU World
- GA Approves ‘Ethical Eating’ Statement of Conscience
- Kosho Niwano of Japan’s Rissho Kosei-kai Greets GA
- GA Draws More than 4,000; Offsite Delegates Cast Votes
- Text of Amended ‘Ethical Eating’ Draft Statement of Conscience
- 'Ethical Eating' Statement of Conscience Refined
Call to Order
GINI COURTER: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
GINI COURTER: I now call to order the third plenary session of the 50th General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA].
Chalice Lighting and Recognition of District Presidents
GINI COURTER: District President Gail Sphar will be lighting our chalice this morning.
GAIL SPHAR: Our many paths to this day have been lighted by the words and deeds of those who have gone before us. May this light remind us of their courage, their service, and their devotion to our faith. May it inspire us to follow their example and lead others to the light of truth and love. May it also give us hope for the future of our faith of all mankind.
GINI COURTER: I now call on John Sanders, President of the District Presidents Association. Also joining John are all the present and past district presidents who are attending this year's GA. For 50 years, dedicated volunteers have tended to the business of governing the districts that make up our Unitarian Universalist Association.
JOHN SANDERS: The District Presidents Association, or DPA, was formed to explore common issues and best practices across districts. Over the last several years, our DPA has evolved into an advisory group, using its unique perspective to offer insights and initiatives for improvement to our Board of Trustees and UUA administration. Literally hundreds of UUs have served their districts as president, and you can see their names projected on the screen.
Some of these names are well known to many of you. Many past presidents have gone on to play even more visible roles in Unitarian Universalism. Others have kept the faith by continuing to provide leadership and willing hands in their congregation and districts. All have served a vital function in the governance of our districts.
GINI COURTER: As district presidents working with their district executives, these people have been the voice of our member congregations to the UUA. They've been the managers of district resources. They've dealt with issues, large and small. And they've been actively involved in growing the faith in congregations across the country. These, my friends, are the people who were instrumental in building our association from the ground up.
JOHN SANDERS: Today's district presidents are partnering with our UUA staff and board as we all grapple with critical issues of growth and the organization of our denomination. District presidents are leading their boards through difficult discussions and even more difficult decisions, looking for better ways to support our congregations and our faith. Substantive changes of this magnitude will clearly take several more years before they settle into their new form. So our DPA will be spending the next few years shepherding these changes through until they are a comfortable fit for everyone. Your elected presidents and their boards are creating a new vision for how we govern, plan, fund, manage, and grow our districts. As we do this, we recognize and honor the work that our predecessors did in laying the groundwork for our efforts. And we thank them.
GINI COURTER: My friends, please rise, in body or spirit, and show your appreciation for our district presidents.
JOHN SANDERS: This was a great idea to do [INAUDIBLE].
GINI COURTER: Thank you, friends. Thank you all. We've still got names on the screen. The hits keep—if we missed you and you're a district president in the hall, it's not too late to get up here. We're only to the Mid-South District.
SPEAKER 1: Can I just leave?
GINI COURTER: Yeah, you could. Because it take you as long to leave.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Leon. So while we're seeing the last of the names, I want to call a couple of things to your attention. First, it's great to see you all this morning. And what a start. I mean, look how long it's taking to go through the list of folks who have served you as district presidents. This is just amazing to me. They started as soon as people started walking up and here we go—Pacific Central. We're getting there.
So there's a CSW [Commission on Social Witness] alert today. Every delegate should have one. If you don't have one, they were available when you came in the hall, maybe you missed it. There are three different colors of yellow. It's all the same thing. So if you think, I'd like that goldenrod one, it's the same. And I think this color's described as Lift-Off Lemon, as I recall, in the Hammermill paper book. And then there's just a plain yellow. And so you just need one, and they're all the same.
And on the very front page at the bottom, the CSAI [Congregational Study/Action Issue] Immigration as a Moral Issue Speaker, that event—with David Bacon, who's the author of Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants—is not in Hall B. It is in Ballroom B. Those of you who have meant to go to a hall and ended up in a ballroom here know it is not a rewarding experience. You will find people sometimes, but they're not who you were looking for.
I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
VALERIE WHITE: Valerie White, Unitarian Church of Sharon. Is there an English teacher in the house? The reason I ask is there is an egregious grammatical mistake in the first paragraph of the commission on social witness handout for the amendment. And I want to know how we go about fixing that without being amending.
GINI COURTER: When we get to that business item, come back and ask again.
VALERIE WHITE: OK, is there somebody I should ask, other than you?
GINI COURTER: You'll get the same opinion, but—
VALERIE WHITE: No, no, because I want to do it sub rosa.
GINI COURTER: I know, I'm busy. It's a little late for that. Why don't you slide over here and see our legal counsel.
VALERIE WHITE: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thanks, Val.
Preliminary Credentials Report
GINI COURTER: I call on the Secretary of the Association to give us a preliminary report of the Credentials Committee.
PAUL RICKTER: Thank you. Good morning. I was asked, since we are an association of congregations, to start with the number of congregations that we have represented here at this General Assembly. We have 585 congregations represented here.
PAUL RICKTER: We have an additional 40 who are joining us off site.
PAUL RICKTER: Of those 585, we have 49 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces plus the District of Columbia, Mexico, and Canada. My guess is we may have some more, and we'll get the final credentials report on Sunday. We have total members here of delegates—1,543, representing 361 ministers and 24 ministers emeritus/emerita. We have five DREs [Directors of Religious Education], who have delegate credentials through their ministerial status. We have two associate member delegates here. These include the UU-UNO [UU United Nations Office] office, UUSC [UU Service Committee], and UUWF [UU Womens Federation], and 24 members of the Board of Trustees. Total delegates, including 23 members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, 1,933. We have total registration through today of 4,028 persons. And that doesn't include the staff.
PAUL RICKTER: In addition to that, we have, as I mentioned, 44 members of congregations joining us off site, five ministers emerita/emeritus, for a total of 49 delegates who are joining us as off-site delegates. So that, Madame Moderator, is the preliminary credentials report.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Mister Secretary. On the basis of that preliminary report of the credentials committee, I declare that a quorum is, and has been, present since this meeting was called to order. I also want to say thanks to the quick response of the General Assembly Planning Committee, you'll be able to sit through all of the names of the district presidents tomorrow, before the second plenary. We'll run that slideshow again. OK? All right. Thank you.
Breakthrough Congregation: The Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation
GINI COURTER: And so we have this fabulous, fabulous, fabulous group of people with Harlan Limpert with them on the ramp. And that can only mean one thing—this must be the first of our breakthrough congregations. Is that right? Harlan, come tell folks about that, please.
HARLAN LIMPERT: Good morning, everyone.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
HARLAN LIMPERT: When President Peter Morales talks about the role that the UUA can play in the life of congregations, he often says he wishes the UUA had created the slogan that Home Depot made so popular in recent years. You know that slogan? You can do it, we can help. Say it with me.
AUDIENCE: You can do it, we can help.
HARLAN LIMPERT: This cute and catchy slogan conveys a belief that congregations already have the capacity to do all those things that enable it to live out its mission in the world. They sometimes just want help. And sometimes we can provide it. At other times, the role of UUA staff becomes that of lifting up the good work of congregations, and encouraging other congregations to learn directly from them. That is the idea behind the Breakthrough Congregation Initiative.
Created seven years ago, it was an effort to identify those congregations that had achieved significant and sustained numerical growth, and give them the opportunity to share at General Assembly what they've done and how they've done it. Why not look to the experts, those lay and professional leaders who have already cracked the nut around growth, and give them the opportunity at General Assembly to share their wisdom?
The four breakthrough congregations for 2011 include the UU Fellowship of beautiful Buford, South Carolina.
HARLAN LIMPERT: Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Seattle, Washington.
HARLAN LIMPERT: The Unitarian Universalist Church of Peoria, Illinois.
HARLAN LIMPERT: And the UU Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia.
HARLAN LIMPERT: And now it's my pleasure to introduce the first of our four breakthrough congregations, the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Seattle, Washington.
PEG BOYLE MORGAN: Good morning. I'm the Reverend Peg Boyle Morgan, Minister of Westside UU Congregation in Seattle, Washington. And with me are a few of our good people, including Kari Kopnick, who is our Director of Religious Exploration and Paula van Haagen, who has just finished two years as our President. We are very excited to share our story with you, so let the show begin.
NARRATOR: Ah, Seattle—the Emerald City, our home. There's a nasty rumor that it always rains here. It's simply not true. OK, it's almost true. But we're not sleepless. The fact is, those steady raindrops lull us to sleep every night.
Our congregation is located only ten minutes southwest from downtown, in the community of west Seattle, population 145,000.
The Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation, which consists of 173 adults and a 110 children, is a thriving, growing part of the community. And we now have our own building.
Little more than a year ago, this would have seemed a pipe dream. How did we achieve it? That's our story.
Here are the top 10 factors that made us break through.
Although we officially began in 1963, our breakthrough story begins in 2002. At that time, we were the West Seattle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, renting very limited space in a well-hidden, windowless Masonic Temple.
Our membership consisted of 76 adults and 18 children. We were stuck treading water, while yearning to move on. We brainstormed—a lot. And then we brainstormed some more. You know, the UU way. Finally, we decided to take the basket off our light.
Using a grant from the Pacific Northwest District Growth Fund, we launched a targeted marketing campaign. We bought print ads and did direct mail, we added a Facebook page, and we enhanced our website.
PEG BOYLE MORGAN: We had some good success with some of our efforts, particularly with the LGBT community. And in the end, we felt that our website was our strongest marketing tool.
NARRATOR: In 2005, we developed a multi-year strategic plan with two main goals—a home of our own and to become recognized as the church of choice for the religiously liberal in our community.
Our members have a passion for social justice, a passion for being loving and caring, a passion for right relations, a passion for being welcoming, a passion for continuous improvement, and a passion to be a beacon of light for religious liberals in our community. Did I mention that we're passionate?
What's in a name? A lot, as it turns out. In 2008, after a teensy little bit of discussion, we changed our name from West Seattle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
MARK NEWTON: Our new name reflected our membership, which was coming from many neighborhoods in Seattle, not just West Seattle. And the term congregation really reflected who we were, that we had outgrown our status as a fellowship and we're moving on up.
NARRATOR: Once largely humanist and primarily lay led, our Sunday services now lean toward the spiritual. As we've grown, we've had to intentionally decide which traditions and rituals to keep and which to respectfully retire. We now alternate between minister-led and other-led services. We now incorporate prayer into our service and use the G word—God, that is—in moderation and with qualifiers. You know, the UU way. Music is a direct channel to the heart. And making music together has become a cornerstone of our Sunday services, guided by our exceptional Music Director, Bert Gulhaugen.
All of us love and appreciate our children and youth, not just the parents or our RE staff.
KARI KOPNICK: As the number of children and youth doubled and tripled and the quadrupled, our congregation intentionally strove to make the program work for our families. We knew it was essential. The future's in the hands of our children and youth.
NARRATOR: Children and youth are a part of each Sunday service. Early in the service, we tell them and engaging story for all ages related to the sermon. Then we join hands to create an arch and sing our children out to their classes.
NARRATOR: Our treasured Minister, Reverend Peg Morgan, joined us in 2002 and gradually increased to full-time ministry. In 2005, Kari Kopnick began serving as our Director of Religious Exploration for children and youth. Mark Newton, our volunteer Chaplain, supports Reverend Peg in tending to the needs of the growing congregation. He and president Paula van Haagen are among many members who have provided the strong leadership skills needed during this time of change.
Welcome to our 13,000-square-foot home on West Seattle's Main Street. It was purchased in the spring of 2010, remodeled over the summer, and dedicated in October. We still pinch ourselves. It wouldn't have happened without the vision and perseverance of former president Jules Sugarman, or the immeasurable hours invested by current president Paula van Haagen, the head of our building committee Mark Newton, and many, many others. We raised close to $800,000 to purchase the $1 million church building.
PAULA VANHAAGEN: We're by no means a congregation with deep pockets, so it seemed entirely out of reach. In fact, one congregant offered to eat his shoe if we were successful. We're going to ask him if he'd rather have ketchup or mustard with that.
NARRATOR: With four consecutive months of sweat equity, we restored this neglected building into something beautiful, and saved about $250,000.
PEG BOYLE MORGAN: Passion and intention made the difference. Once this congregation had an opportunity to have our own home, our decades-long dream was able to be fulfilled. May when we enter, we be reminded of how to be our very best selves.
NARRATOR: They say fortune favors the well prepared. For us, fortune included the drop in property values and demographic changes that brought more young families. Ironically, the greater visibility of conservative churches made many seek out a spiritually liberal and inclusive religious community. We also have the right pool of talent at the right time. Finally, we gained many wonderful members of the nearby Rainier Valley Congregation when it closed.
Our congregation has created a warm, welcoming, and happy place. You can feel it when you walk in the door.
PEG BOYLE MORGAN: As we've grown, the DNA that we inherited from our founders has led us to protect the sense of intimacy within the congregation. And we've done this by developing many different kinds of small groups and ministries within the larger congregation.
NARRATOR: All these efforts, from the individual, to the smaller groups, to the larger congregation, tightly combine to form a powerful force for good. That's it. That's our breakthrough story. But our story's not over. There are many other destinations on this joyous journey. We're just getting started.
GINI COURTER: Yeah. Thank you, Harlan. Thank you. Thank you. Excellent. How are we feeling this morning?
Remarks: Rev. Kosho Niwano, President-Desinate, Rissho Kosi-kai
GINI COURTER: Thank you, folks. I call on UUA President Peter Morales to introduce a very important guest to our General Assembly. Peter? Good morning, Mister President.
PETER MORALES: Good morning. I'm delighted to welcome the Reverend Kosho Niwano, who is the President-designate of the Rissho Kosei-kai, a 6 million member lay Buddhist religious organization headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and one of the UUA's most historic and cherished interfaith partners. She is the granddaughter of founder Nikkyo Niwano, and the first daughter of President Nichiko Niwano.
After graduating from Gakushuin University in Tokyo, she studied at Rissho Kosei-kai's Gakurin Seminary. She's currently devoted to sharing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra with young adult leaders, both in Japan and overseas, as well as with members who come from all parts of Japan to visit the Great Sacred Hall for worship services and special events. Reverend Niwano is also actively promoting inter-religious cooperation, and in her capacity as President-designate of Rissho Kosei-kai, attends some interfaith congresses such as Religions for Peace World Assembly and the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace.
Her first book in Japanese is Kaiso-sama ni Naraite, or In the Footsteps of the Founder, which is being serialized in a multi-lingual newsletter, published and distributed by Rissho Kosei-kai International. She also has one son and three daughters. And I am delighted personally. I've gotten to meet and know her a little bit in the last couple of days. Please welcome the Reverend Niwano to our General Assembly.
KOSHO NIWANO: Dear distinguished President, executive leaders, old friends, and ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to have been given this opportunity to address the General Assembly this year as the Unitarian Universalist Association marks the milestone of its 50th anniversary. President Peter Morales and members of the UUA, thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I am deeply moved to be speaking to you today because for us to spend this time together in the same place, in the here and now, is entirely thanks to God and the Buddha. Indeed, it is nothing less than a miracle.
At the same time, my presence here today is proof of the solid friendship that the UUA has extended to Rissho Kosei-kai over the long years. First, to my grandfather, Nikkyo Niwano, the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, and then to my father Nichiko Niwano, the current president. Over the years, many productive exchanges and meaningful encounters between RKK members and the UUA congregation have build strong, lasting ties.
All of you are aware, of course, of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11. At that time, UUA members were quick to respond with an extremely generous donation of $120,000. Many of the RKK members affected by the disaster were deeply moved by this display of warm friendship coming from far-away America—friendship that transcends differences of country and faith. Your support has given them courage to start out on the long road of rebuilding their lives and communities. On behalf of Rissho Kosei-kai, and as one Japanese citizen, I do not have enough words to express my gratitude. Thank you very much, again.
One urgent request coming from the devastated area is the call for vehicles to deliver essentials and to move people. At RKK, we decided that one part of the general support we received from UUA members would take the form of providing several vehicles, which we are now under the final process. While I am taking this opportunity to tell you about the relief effort, I would also like to assure each and every one of you who opened your hearts and made a donation, that all of your contributions are being best used in disaster relief efforts.
The Buddha teaches us that all things are impermanent. In other words, all things in this world are constantly changing and do not stay the same for even a moment. I have always studied this teaching and try to lead my life according to it. However looking back from today's vantage point, I can see that prior to the earthquake, I was always thinking that when I wake up tomorrow, everything will continue just as it did the day before. On that day in Tohoku, a single moment became a great divide in which anything and everything changed. Familiar things that always had been in the same place suddenly vanished. Family members expected to be in the usual place at the usual time would never be seen again. I am sure that you have seen images of the destruction on television and via the internet.
I went to Tohoku to see the areas heavily damaged by the tsunami, where that destruction approached total annihilation level. It was so horrific that it still defies imagination. Over this landscape of terrible destruction rose a beautiful sky. And beyond it lay an expanse of clear blue ocean—calm, as if nothing had ever happened.
When I saw it, I was so moved to tears by how small and powerless we human beings are before the mighty forces of nature. None of us can go back to the day before. Several fishermen closed my line of vision as part of the effort to rebuild the destroyed fishing ports. They were clearing away debris and removing boats that landed on rooftops. They gave me a sense of the strength we human beings have in the face of despair, tragedy, and uncertainty, to help one another and to get back up on our feet.
Founder Niwano was always teaching us the importance of bodhisattva practice, which can be summed up as forgetting about oneself and giving benefits to others. Bodhisattva practice is alive in the hearts and minds of every member of RKK. It is the spiritual and moral compass at the center of all our activities, from the smallest action of our daily lives to our work for inter-religious cooperation and world peace.
In this recent tragedy, many people consumed by their own suffering have become despondent and were likely to lose the will to live. Rissho Kosei-kai members, although victims themselves, have been able to show kindness and consideration for others, and to dedicate themselves to helping those in need, thereby gaining the courage to move forward and begin rebuilding. By forgetting about themselves and focusing on bodhisattva practice for the sake of other people, they are actually uncovering the meaning of their own lives, and in turn helping themselves.
I would like to tell you about a friend of mine from Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, one of the cities heavily damaged by the tsunami. She is the leader of the women's division of her local RKK Dharma Center. Her house and her family were all safe because they live in a mountainous area. However many of her friends lost family members or had their homes washed out to sea.
She told me, tears streaming down her face, if my friend's house were like hell, then mind must be like heaven. I feel terribly sorry that my house was spared and theirs were not. Her minister asked her to let her do the cooking for the refugees at her Dharma Center, which is serving as a shelter. From then on, every day she volunteered to help the refugees. And together with her friends, prepared meals for them.
It was not easy for her, physically or spiritually, to plan menus for three meals a day, get the necessary ingredients, and do the cooking for such a large number of people one day after another. In addition, she had no idea how long her service would be required. She told me that before the earthquake, I don't think I could have done this volunteer work. Up until now, I would have found some excuse for being unable to help out. I would have thrown up my hands and said, let somebody else do it. In fact, even now, I sometimes struggle with myself. But now, I have been given the strength to overcome. For me, this is my life. And now I am truly alive. When I look up, blue sky is spreading out before my eyes. Something I always took for granted now strikes me as beautiful and gives me the strength to move forward.
There were tears in her eyes. And she said, had it not been the earthquake and tsunami, I might have never realized something so important as this. The last thing she said to me was that these are tears of joy and gratitude. Thanks to the support we are receiving from kind people around the world, we are making progress here one step at a time. Her story echoes the powerful message delivered by former UUA President William Sinkford at the ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the organization held at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in 2003. Take courage friends. The way is often hard, the path is never clear, and the stakes are very high. Take courage. For deep down, there is another truth—you are not alone.
All of you know, of course, that the strong spiritual ties between our two organizations began when the first UUA president, Dr. Dana Greeley, along with Dr. Homer Jack, first met founder Nikkyo Niwano, an encounter that Founder Niwano called decisive in determining the form of inter-religious cooperation hereafter. I believe that above all else, the friendship between Dr. Greeley and Founder Niwano, who called each other soulmates, is the unshakable bond that even now joins our two organizations as one.
Dr. Greeley and Founder Niwano first met on January 22, 1968, just three days after I was born. Two years later, after my second birthday, they were already convening the first world assembly of the World Confidence of Religions for Peace in Kyoto, Japan. Since my childhood, Founder Niwano would often talk to me, his eyes sparkling like a little boy's, about his dream of, and passion for, world peace, as well as the joy he found in pursuing the steep path toward it. Whenever he talked about world peace, he would mention that he and Dr. Greeley were walking that path together.
On the occasions that Dr. Greeley visited Japan, I saw him and his wife several times. And I remember thinking that they made such a nice couple. Frankly speaking, to me, Dr. Greeley was a very close friend of my grandfather's, a person very important to him because of the profound connection they shared. There are high hurdles to inter-religious cooperation, so when it does happen, it seems to be something exceptional.
Having been born at the time that these two great men first met, I was fortunate to have many opportunities to observe them, and to grow up seeing firsthand their friendship and their passion for peace. As a result I feel that today, for people of different faith to reach and respect each other and to gladly join hands to walk together for inter-religious cooperation is not unusual, but in fact something that happens naturally as a matter of course. Indeed, this legacy of mutual understanding is the greatest gift our two great predecessors made to our generation, which is following in their footsteps.
The foundation for cooperation debut they built is so strong that Rissho Kosei-kai has sent many of its graduate students to study at Meadville/Lombard Divinity School. This summer, thanks to the kindness and generosity of Dr. Lee Barker and Miss Martha Atherton, two of our female staff members who are playing a role in inter-religious cooperation will be sent to Meadville/Lombard to further their studies. At the Clearwater Church, the UUA and Reverend Abhi Janamanchi have graciously agreed to let Mr. Nick Ozuna study the theory and administration of dissemination. This support is yet another practical benefit of the legacy of Founder Niwano and Dr. Greeley's friendship. And I would again like to say thank you for this and the many other instances of the UUA's generosity and cooperation.
Finally, I would like to conclude by stating my firm belief that the strong bond between the UUA and myself will become a beacon of shining light on humans' great desire for the further development of inter-religious cooperation in international society, and peace in the world, and by once again expressing my gratitude for their honor of being given this opportunity to spend this time together with you, the miracle of today, these shared moments in our lives. Thank you very much.
“This is My Song”
KELLIE WALKER: The words for “This is My Song” were written as a prayer for peace by Lloyd Stone. The tune is from Sibelius's symphonic poem Finlandia, and became strongly associated with the patriotic movement to free Finland from Russia. Let's join together.
AUDIENCE: [THIS IS MY SONG]
KELLIE WALKER: Please be seated.
Reminder on Synergy Worship
GINI COURTER: Beautiful. Thank you. Thank you, Kellie. Thank you again, Reverend Niwano. So hm, it's a great day here at General Assembly, yes?
GINI COURTER: I'd like you to please welcome the incoming Youth Observer to the UUA Board of Trustees, Abhimanu Janamanchi.
ABHIMANU JANAMANCHI: Thank you, Madame Moderator. To Reverend Niwano and our Japanese guests, ohayo gozaimasu. And to my fellow delegates, good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
ABHIMANU JANAMANCHI: My name is Abhimanu Janamanchi from the Unitarian Universalist of Clearwater in Florida, and I am the Youth Caucus Senior Worship Coordinator. I'm here to invite everyone to this year's synergy worship following the new epiphany revival, tonight at 8:00 p.m. in Plenary Hall. This service is a way of honoring the contributions of youth and young adults over the past 50 years within the denomination. In addition, it will also include the bridging ceremony for our current youth as they enter a new stage in their lives as Unitarian Universalists within this larger community.
Speakers include the Reverend Dr. Lee Barker of Meadville/Lombard, former UUA President Reverend Bill Sinkford, and young adult Betty Jeanne Reuters-Ward. Synergy is not just for youth and young adults or bridging youth, and we hope that people of all ages will come to witness and bless our bridging youth, and honor the history of youth in our faith in tonight's service. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: So in addition to cheering, who's coming to Synergy Worship with me tonight?
GINI COURTER: Be there or be square.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Statement of Conscience: Ethical Eating
GINI COURTER: Now we will take up action on a UUA statement of conscience. The proposed statement of conscience is entitled Ethical Eating, and in the final agenda it was found on pages 10 through 12. A min-assembly on this statement of conscience was held yesterday. If you are a delegate, you would have been provided today with a yellow—remember, I said different colors of yellow—document that shows incorporated and unincorporated amendments. They appear in the order of priority determined by the Chair of the Commission on Social Witness in consultation with the Parliamentarian, our legal counsel, and me. I'm going to go to the procedural microphone. Before I do that, ask the question you asked me of Gordon. Hello delegate at the procedural microphone.
MAC GOEKLER: Hi Madame Moderator. I'm Mac Goekler from U Church of Kent in Kent, Ohio, and I have a point of information.
GINI COURTER: Yes sir.
MAC GOEKLER: On the CSW's alert, it lists an event, the Implementation of Creating Peace SOC. They forgot to put where.
GINI COURTER: Do you know where it is?
MAC GOEKLER: 217-A.
GINI COURTER: Say that again.
MAC GOEKLER: It's in convention center 217-A.
GINI COURTER: So it's right here. Right there, right? And you would know because you're one of the people presenting this.
MAC GOEKLER: Absolutely.
GINI COURTER: Excellent. Thank you, Mac.
MAC GOEKLER: You're welcome.
GINI COURTER: 217-A. Excellent. So the items on here appear in a priority that was determined by the Chair of the Commission on Social Witness in consultation with the Parliamentarian, and legal counsel. Also pursuant to rule 12 of the rules of procedure, the Commission on Social Witness could make a recommendation regarding the length of time to debate the main motion before taking up any amendments.
So I'm going to ask the Chair of the Commission on Social Witness, does the CSW have a recommendation regarding the time for debate without considering amendments?
RICHARD NUGENT: I do.
GINI COURTER: Would you then make the appropriate motion?
RICHARD NUGENT: Move that the time for the statement of conscience to be debated without consideration of amendments be 15 minutes, if there are both pro and con speakers to be heard.
GINI COURTER: So for folks who are new here, that's because you think that most of the attention time should be given to amendments. So you're giving it more time. That's the recommendation, is to move earlier, yes?
RICHARD NUGENT: That's the standard time that the Parliamentary and I—
GINI COURTER: OK, so the standard time. Good. So we're going to vote on that now. We could debate 15 minutes. Does anybody really want to do that?
GINI COURTER: We could spend a long time, like 15 minutes, debating. Let's not. OK, so find your voting cards. All those in favor of 15 minutes without consideration of amendments, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? The motion clearly carries. Will the Chair of the Commission on Social Witness please move the statement of conscience for adoption?
RICHARD NUGENT: Move to adopt the UUA statement of conscience entitled Ethical Eating in the manner and text set forth at pages 10 through 12 of the final agenda, or as set forth in the revised SOC document.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. So it's here, right?
RICHARD NUGENT: Yeah.
GINI COURTER: So this starts, then, in the revised SOC document on page two—you really do need one of these—through the top of page five, correct? OK, so at this point now, knowing that this was modified, you can put your final agenda away for a few minutes. Because we'll be working over here off of the yellow document in one of the three shades in which it comes. OK, so I will then go to the delegate at the pro microphone.
JOHN GIBB MILLSPAUGH: I'm Reverend John Gibb Millspaugh of Winchester Unitarian Society in Massachusetts, and Chair of the Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice core team. Madame Moderator and gathered delegates, we greet this historic morning more than three years in the making with celebrating hearts. This statement of conscience has been crafted through the love and labor of more than 400 participating congregations over the past three years. Collectively in that time, we have expanded our efforts to feed the hungry and malnourished, to support sustainable farming, to combat poverty, to improve school lunches, to stand on the side of love with migrant workers, plant community gardens, and most difficult of all, uproot our own assumptions. This process has been challenging and eye opening and joyful. It has revealed new ways that we can daily live our Unitarian and Universalist values, even amidst our varying life circumstances and perspectives.
Food justice is about the inherent dignity and worth of every person. It's about caring for the fragile, interdependent web. But more than that, it is about the right of conscience. We each have different opinions, and thank goodness, that is Unitarian Universalism. As Hungarian Unitarian Francis David said in the 16th century, "we need not think alike to love alike." Different actions will make sense for different people. This document was crafted by more than double the usual number of participating congregations, so there's something here for everyone.
National groups supporting the passage include the UU Ministry for Earth, UUs for a Just Economic Community, ARE [Allies for Racial Equity], UUAM [UU Animal Ministry], DRUUMM [Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries], and more, all of whom agree the time to pass it is now. Let us not delay, but let us bring to fruition our efforts of the past three years. Hallelujah and Amen.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
KARL PAANANEN: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Karl Paananen. I'm here today as one of the delegates from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Madame Moderator and fellow delegates, I live in the state of Michigan where I'm a proprietor of a small business. If you know about the recent economic issues that have been hitting our country, they've hit the state of Michigan pretty hard, they've hit small businessmen like me pretty hard.
Sometimes I wonder how many of you would have seen something like this—I brought to show all of you my food stamps card. This is how I eat. And this isn't enough. This, in addition to a little extra savings, is how I eat in the state of Michigan. I simply cannot afford food any other way. Looking at this proposed statement of conscience, and even looking at all of the proposed amendments, I don't really feel included in this statement of conscience. When I go to the store to buy food, I have to think about how can I get enough to keep myself going, keep myself alive, keep myself able to keep working, enough nutrition to keep working, while still affording it. I just simply cannot think about all of the other issues that you are discussing in your statement of conscience.
My mother wrote cookbooks. She wrote cookbooks about nutrition, she wrote cookbooks about vegetarianism. So I was raised knowing all of these ethical issues. But since I've been on food stamps, I just simply cannot think about these things, and I'm not the only American in this place. And I'm sure I'm not the only Unitarian Universalist in this position. I feel largely excluded by this statement of conscience, so I will not be able to vote in favor of it.
The simple fact is I know that these foods are unethical. I know I should not be eating cheap, over-processed fattening foods. I know I shouldn't be eating those, but when you do the math—and I've not ever met anybody in the UUA who's sat down and done the math. Who's said, OK, here is how much people get on food stamps. And here is how many calories a human being needs to survive each week. And here is how you can do this that you can live on this. People come to me and they say, oh, you can do this, you can do that. But they really haven't sat down and done the math. And also the additional problem—[BELL RINGS] Sorry, my time has been expired. And I will—thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, sir. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
MICHAEL SHULER: Madame Moderator, my name is Michael Shuler. And I service as the Parish Minister at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin. I would rise to speak in favor of this statement of conscience. I spent my early years on a small family farm in the Upper Midwest. And therefore I have some firsthand experience with agriculture as it was once widely practiced in this country. While it by no means represented the best strategy for growing crops and raising livestock, it was far more benign then the current prevailing approaches to raising food. As a seminarian in the early 1970s, I also worked with the Reverend Howard Matson, head of the Unitarian Universalist Farm Worker Ministry, helping Cesar Chavez organize seasonal farm workers in the Central Valley of California.
This lengthy resolution spells out in detail the myriad problems associated with the industrial production of our food. So I don't feel the need to reiterate what you can clearly read for yourself. This afternoon, I will be delivering a lecture that treats many of these issues, including the issue of people living in poverty and not being able to afford their food in 208-B. For purposes of the current discussion, let me just say that these are very serious problems, and they are likely to become far more daunting with each passing year. That is why the Church of England recently issued its own statement of conscience urging Christians everywhere to practice sustainable consumption and ethical eating.
I recognize the many personal sensitivities and cultural conventions that may clash with the terms of this resolution. And yet a clear, forceful statement that underscores the gravity of this issue is, I feel, of the utmost importance. Today, 95% of the typical American's calories come from food that is produced in an unsustainable, inequitable manner. The Worldwatch Institute recently observed that industrial agriculture is quote, a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future. And the cost to human communities, human health, and human livelihood, is just as high. I urge passage of this resolution.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
JASMINE WALSTON: Thank you, Madame Moderator. I'm Jasmine Walston, the delegate from First Unitarian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. I rise to express my concerns regarding lines 87 and 88—"Individual Actions. Recognizing that individual circumstances vary, we aspire—" My concern is that we are an association of congregations, not of individuals. This delegate body can charge congregations. It cannot charge individuals.
If the line were to read, we, as congregations, will encourage our individual members to do this, we, as congregations, will educate our individual members to do this, I would be in full support of the statement of conscience. Because we as a delegate body, if we vote for this, will be binding individuals, I have serious concerns about it. I feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. And it worries me.
So I do believe that moving from covenant to aspire improves it vastly, especially on the other section—116 and 117, Congregational Actions. It's not quite enough for me on the individual actions. It does worry me. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegation at the pro microphone.
KELLY CONNOR: Thank you, Madame Moderator. I'm Kelly Connor from Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas. The Youth Caucus has reached a consensus to promote and affirm this SOC of mindful ethical eating. Since we believe in living out our principles, we feel this SOC encourages the interdependent web of all existence with the fair treatment of both farm workers and animals. It also encourages the inherent worth and dignity of each living organism and every person.
Along with expressing our principles, this associate will help lead to economic justice with the support of fair-trade practices. We, as a youth caucus, realize and embrace the versatility of the many choices and lifestyles this SOC supports. These choices will be difficult for many of us. But we should not be a faith to take the path of least resistance. This SOC encourages strengthening our communities as well as empowering the individual. We, the youth caucus, fully support this SOC and will act upon it in our individual lives and congregations.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
BART CARPENTER: My name is Bart Carpenter. I'm with Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In general, I'm well in support of the statement of conscience. I'd like to observe that on line three, we have introduced a grammar error into the statement. It's especially prominent since it's the lead in. "Aware of our independence, eating—" Eating is the subject of the sentence, and eating is, in fact, not aware of our independence.
GINI COURTER: There is a perfecting process that happens after this so that grammatical errors are caught. So my question is do you really want to encourage folks to vote no on something that will be fixed grammatically?
BART CARPENTER: No, I am—
GINI COURTER: OK, then you're at the wrong microphone. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
JAKE MORRELL: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Jake Morrill. I'm the Minister of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I rise to ask the delegates to vote for the statement of conscience. A few years ago, I led worship service with a lay leader who I'll call Derek. Derek is a thoughtful, gentle soul who spends the year looking forward to hunting season, a tradition he has proudly passed on to his son. I know of times that Derek has shared deer meat from his freezer with people who need it. It is how he is a neighbor. As for me, I've been a vegetarian ever since an LRY Youth Con in Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 15. When I sit at the dinner table, my choices are also deeply informed by my faith. And this is what I am passing on to my son.
Our worship service co-led by a hunter and a vegetarian was not a matter of mere spectacle of the lion and the lamb sitting down together at last. Instead it said that beneath our separate choices there was holy ground on which we both stood. Within our different lessons to the sons we are raising, there is a reverent understanding that we are all part of something so much larger than ourselves, that we are held within a sacred ecosystem. The question of faith before the two of us is not who's in or who's out, but how on Earth will we live in a way that honors creation?
Every Thursday in Oak Ridge, people gather for potluck. And everyone's invited if you ever pass through. It's a kind of small miracle to watch as that long table fills up with good food from different households of different choices gathering together as one church. Eating together is not only social, it is religious. How we eat is a way to say who we are. It's a way to come home. In Oak Ridge, who we are is a potluck people, bringing out gifts to share. This statement is not perfect, but for our potluck people, it provides a good table. It is a table that invites and can hold what Derek and I bring to share. It is a reminder that at the potluck, we are fed not only by the people at church, but by those who worked hard to grow what we eat by the land that we love—[BELL RINGS] So vote yes.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
SARAH-WADE SMITH: Thank you. I am Sarah-Wade Smith from Allegheny UU in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I am rising in support of the gentleman from Michigan. I work in a supermarket. I deal every day with people who have to depend on food stamps for their eating. Now, we have been adding more and more organic and nutritious foods to our line up. But I notice that the people who buy these are the people with the good jobs. If you're on food stamps, if you work a low-wage job, you cannot afford this kind of food. You cannot afford to make these kinds of decisions, because your family will go hungry. You can't buy enough food that way. These people have to make decisions to go for the soda pop, for the cheap and easy stuff.
You're setting up an ethical decision for them that they can't make. They don't have the money. Now I'm not unaware that there are serious ethical issues with our industrial production food, not least the horrific conditions to which meat animals are subjected before their slaughter. But the first priority has got to be feeding the poor, providing nutritious healthful food for the poor. And this statement of conscience does not begin to do that.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone. And the amendment is going to tick down in the middle. We're going to pause right there for a moment. And I'm going to then have you continue. And I'm sorry to ask you do that. Just don't go away, OK? So go ahead.
DAVID BREEDEN: I am the Reverend David Breeden from Minnesota Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bloomington, Minnesota. My daughter, a Unitarian Universalist, lives and works with Franciscans who are committed to living and working among the poor. The nuns eat spam. My daughter is vegetarian. The nuns eat spam because they haven't thought about it. The poor eat spam because they haven't thought about it. They haven't studied it enough. They are victims of bad theology. They are perpetuating the poverty and the ill-health of the poor and the animals and the Earth. [BELL RINGS]
GINI COURTER: So just pause right there. Thank you. You might have noticed it's been a little busy up here. We didn't get the clock quite set right when we started. And I just want to make sure the total time for this was an hour. It was set for 30 minutes. So with Reverend Breeden's patience, we're going to now set the regular clock flat, but let you start speaking again. We're going to set the total time for 45 minutes, which should be an hour less 15 minutes. Make sense? If you didn't follow it, it's not important. But it is, if you want to speak to this more than 15 minutes from now. So we're just going to be patient for a second.
OK, so when we start again, we're going to start running the total. And after that, amendments would be in order. OK? So go ahead and finish, sir. And thank you so much for your patience.
DAVID BREEDEN: Many of our churches help out with food-stamp programs. I have two kids who live off food stamps themselves. It is time for us to educate ourselves about what our calories mean. It is time to know that, as the poet [? Hythat ?] said, "all our tambourines strike the same knee." That is good theology. The answer is there are no simple answers. But we must start somewhere. God prefers the poor, I believe. And also God prefers beans.
GINI COURTER: Pursuant to the decision that we made a few minutes ago about how much debate there would be without consideration of amendments, if there were speakers to be heard we said 15 minutes. So we are actually now ready to move to the amendment microphone.
PAT EMERY: Madam Moderator, my name is Pat Emery. I'm from the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. I move the incorporation of unincorporated amendment A, deleting that sentence "with these steps call for an evolution of our eating habits to include more locally-grown minimally-processed whole foods. We acknowledge that this evolution must respect diversity of cultures, nutritional requirements, and religious practices." The reason I do this is in combination with A and B—and I will be moving B too—that the entire document is very heavily plant based versus animal based.
And though I do agree that we all need to move in that direction, the concept that somehow as it states, "these steps pointing towards an eating pattern that emphasizes plant-based food over animal‚Äìbased food." And then the very next sentence saying that their healthier diets, I think is not true for everybody. Plant-based diets are good for a lot of people, but not everybody. And even the Dalai Lama eats meat. So I really believe that we need, also, to acknowledge more about the diversity in cultures, nutritional requirements, and religious practices, which is totally missing elsewhere in the document. So I move that we incorporate this amendment. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I'm looking for someone who would like to speak against the incorporation of this amendment. Do I have that speaker at the con microphone? OK? You see how fast this happens, don't you? If you want to speak, you want to be in the front of the hall it's a long way from the back. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
RON MASTERS: My name is Ron Masters. I'm President of the Board at the Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Bend County, Texas. I oppose this amendment specifically on the issue of honoring religious practices. If your religious practice is unethical, you must change it. If your religious practice damages human beings, damages animals, damages our planet, damages our chance for survival on Earth, you must change your religious practice.
GINI COURTER: Do I have a speaker in favor of this amendment? That means you're ready to vote. Find your voting cards. So what we're voting on, just to be clear, because this is the first one of these we've done. On page five, where it says unincorporated amendments at the bottom of the page, and it says A, line 34/35, we're going to delete the sentence that's underlined in the text back on page three, starting with "these steps" and substitute a new "these steps" that's listed on page five. Are we good what we're voting on? No.
I know this gets a little confusing, and we're going to get really good at this today. So take a breath. Pause the clock for me, if you would, so we're not taken away from delegate time. Denise, that was perfect. Thank you. All right, excellent. So here's the deal. If you look at page five, and this is what our delegate at the amendment microphone moved, it says at lines 34 and 35, there's a sentence. And that sentence actually currently, on page three, reads, "these steps point toward an eating pattern that emphasizes plant-based foods over animal-based foods." You can find that on page three?
The amendment is to delete that line, replace it with the language listed at the bottom of page five. "These steps call for an evolution of our eating habits." Make sense now? OK. If that's what you want to do, then you would vote in favor of this amendment. We good? All right, good. And for all those in favor of this amendment, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Clearly carries. That motion clearly carries. You've now added an amendment to this. All right, it's the first thing you've done today. Go ahead and cheer.
GINI COURTER: Let's start the clock. Back to the amendment microphone.
PAT EMERY: Madam Moderator, my name is Pat Emery from the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. I move unincorporated amendment B, to delete the first sentence on line 36—delete that first sentence and just that. I think that the rest of the paragraph is fine. My rationale is that I know of some people where plant-based diets are not healthier. They simply cannot get the energy. And it says in the rationale that the statement is correct. Well, I happen to disagree. I don't think it is correct. Plant-based diets are healthier for some, but not for everybody.
So I am all in favor of moving in the direction of lowering the food chain that we eat from. But to state that it unequivocally is a healthier diet is, I think, really going to upset some people that are—yes ma'am?
GINI COURTER: Good?
PAT EMERY: OK, thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I'm sorry, I didn't intend to cut. I was actually pointing elsewhere. I'm going to recognize the delegate at the con microphone speaking against this amendment.
TED FETTER: My name is Ted Fetter, delegate from the UU Congregation of Princeton, New Jersey. I believe this statement that minimally processed plant-based diets are healthier is, in fact, correct. The mover of the amendment is also right that some people still can't exist on a plant diet. My own grandson is allergic to enough foods that he needs meat. But that is an individual choice that he makes. Those who can eat plant-based foods will be healthier if they do so. I think it's too much of an action to change the language here in order to accommodate those people who must eat meat in order to remain healthy. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
SARAH BEREL-HARROP: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Sarah Berel-Harrop. I'm representing the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I thank the commission for their effort. I thank the offeror of this amendment. As has been accepted and said, some people must eat meat or they will get sick. It's our value as Unitarian Universalists to allow and to celebrate each person's whole self. And I believe that it's within our values not to state as a universal fact something that is not universally true. And so I would request that the delegates here consider removing this statement of fact that is not true for everyone here from this statement of conscience. Thank you for your consideration.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
CHRIS HOLBEIN: My name is Chris Holbein. I'm from the Unitarian Church of Norfolk. The American Dietetic Association did perhaps the largest research examination of all of the evidence on vegetarian diets. And they concluded definitively that a vegetarian and vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. These are the diseases that are plaguing America. They're plaguing America's poor.
I'm very skeptical of any person who says they need to eat meat. That's my personal opinion. But it's better for that the vast majority of Americans. And I think we should continue to endorse it, especially considering the benefits that a vegetarian and vegan diet has for animals, has for the world's poor, in terms of freeing up food sources so we can feed all the people in the world who can't afford to eat meat.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
CAROLINA KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I support this amendment for the same reason that the speaker before me did. This is a statement, basically, of scientific fact. We're a religious body. I think it is fairly clear throughout this entire statement of conscience that we are trying to move towards a plant-based diet. But to put a scientific fact that includes absolutely all people as being healthier if they eat a plant based diet I think is incorrect as a religious body. We're not a scientific institution. I wouldn't want it in my thing saying that this is absolutely true. You're saying that all, absolutely all, plant-based diets are better, and that is not so. So please support this.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
MICHELLE BERGANDI: Hi. I'm Michelle Bergandi with First Unitarian Church of Orlando. I just wanted to share my interpretation of a plant-based diet is a diet based in plants. It doesn't exclude animal. And—
MICHELLE BERGANDI: Thank you. And so I feel like the wording was probably chosen on purpose, not to say vegetarian or vegan but to say plant-based, which is healthier for everyone. If you eat animal, you still don't eat all animal, all day. You should be eating a base of plants and then some animal to supplement.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the—I want an "all animal, all day" T-shirt. I know I do.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro—and I don't even know if I'd wear it—at the pro microphone.
ERICA BARON: Madame Moderator, my name is Erica Baron. I'm here as a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rutland, Vermont. I am a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian since I was eight. I think it was an ethical choice for me. My partner Rachel was a vegetarian for very long time until she was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. And she has, like, a million food allergies as well. She simply cannot survive on a purely plant-based diet.
And I'm speaking mostly because I want to answer the person who says anyone who says that they can't do this—it isn't true. She had a real commitment to vegetarianism before that simply became physically impossible for her body. And so I just want to bring a personal, actual story of an actual person into this conversation to further the discussion about those of us we need to include. And just to raise up that this is actually a reality for some people among us. So thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
PHIL FRYBERGER: Good morning. Thank you. Phil Fryberger with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley. And I would just like to observe that I think that we are arguing more about words than about substance as far as the content of the sentence is concerned. In other words, I think it focuses on the issue of minimal processing, rather than on the content of the diet per se. So I am arguing against the adoption of this amendment. The sentence as it stands seems to be valuable in its actual literal content. That's my comment. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
DINO DRUDI: Yes, I'm Dino Drudi from Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in suburban Washington, DC. I call the question on the amendment.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. So if you believe that you have heard enough on this particular amendment to vote it and would like to move on to the next, you would vote in favor of calling the question. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. We will now immediately move to a vote on unincorporated amendment B to delete the first sentence. If you wish to delete the first sentence, raise your voting card. Thank you. If you are opposed to deleting it, raise your voting card. That clearly fails. Thank you. We will now return to the amendment microphone.
MARGOT DULEY: Madame moderator—
GINI COURTER: Wait, stop. I just heard a hum. Stop the clock for a second. We just didn't pass that, OK? All right. So we passed the first one, we didn't pass the second one. Now we move on. Are we all good?
GINI COURTER: OK, thank you. Amendment microphone.
MARGOT DULEY: Madame Moderator, I am Margot Duley from the UU Congregation of Ann Arbor. I'm also, for what it's worth, the author of a textbook on the cross-cultural status of women. I'm speaking to incorporate the unincorporated amendment C that the consequences of agricultural subsidies in monocropping include increased gender disparity, where women have been the traditional agricultural producers.
The stated rationale for rejecting this amendment, which was passed unanimously in the mini-assembly yesterday, is that it is not a public policy issue, a conclusion that most respectfully, I find astounding. The issue of the deteriorating status of women under the impact of agricultural modernization or agricultural industrialization has been a topic of heated debate and public policy discussion in the United Nations since 1975. It is the subject of granting by many foundations, including the Ford Foundation. It is a hotly debated topic in many countries in West Africa.
There are all sorts of public policy issues embedded in this, including land tenure under the impact of so-called agricultural modernization that has taken land ownership away from women. It includes technology transfers in the modern agricultural sector from female to male hands. It includes a lack of access to credit. It includes deteriorating traditional market structures and distribution structures because of large corporations coming in. It includes the reorientation of traditional agriculture into the global economy. I could go on and on. It is very much a public policy issue.
And it is somewhat ironic to be speaking to a UU assembly that has been so sensitive to the issue of gender to see women disappear once again. So I urge that this amendment be adopted.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: It seems that no one wants to speak against this, therefore we will move to a vote. All those in favor of incorporating amendment C, adding at line 73 the text on the top of page six, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. I think that that very, very clearly passed. Let's go back to the amendment microphone.
BETH JOHNSON: Madame Moderator, I'm Beth Johnson. I serve Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Vista, California. I'm the President of UU Animal Ministry. And I rise to propose to incorporate unincorporated amendment K, which reads "Unitarian Universalists aspire to radical hospitality and developing the beloved community. Therefore we affirm that the natural world exists not for the sole benefit of one nation, one race, one gender, one religion, or even one species, but for all. Working in defense of mutual interests, Unitarian Universalists acknowledge and accept the challenge of enlarging our circle of moral concern to include all living creatures."
The rationale for this not being included is that the concepts are addressed elsewhere. While some of the concepts may be scattered throughout the document, there are several that are not included in this draft, and that includes the theological and ethical concepts of radical hospitality and beloved community. Concepts that are embraced by our faith and that ground our work as spiritually based, transformative, justice love. Enlarging our circle of moral concern to include all living creatures is a prophetic call. Make no mistake about it. It asks us to lead and to live to the imperative of our interdependence. It urges us to be bold. It urges us to be brave. And I urge us to vote for the inclusion of this amendment.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I see no one at the con microphone. That means we're ready to vote. Now notice we're on K. You might have wondered what happened to D through J. We'll talk about that afterwards. All those in favor of inserting the language at K on page six, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. That clearly passes. So thank you. These are in order, so if people proposed D, E, F, G at mini-assembly and didn't bring them here, then they're skipped. OK? I return to the amendment microphone.
JOANNE TYRRELL: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Joanne Tyrrell. I'm the delicate from Bull Run Unitarian Universalist in Manassas, Virginia. I would like to speak to incorporating unincorporated amendment R. "We recognize replicating corporate agricultural models," it should read, "in our aid to developing countries is not in the best interest of humanity. We support the development of farming models that safeguard the environment, produce safe foods, provide economic benefits to all economic levels, and create environmentally and economically sustainable models."
And while it may be a broad statement, it does actually speak to policy. We here in the United States have developed a corporate farming model that we are suffering from. And it is unfair, unethical, to propose and to enforce those types of models on developing countries that we are aiding. And we need to start looking at biointensive farming and other models that are more sustainable and ethical in our aid to other countries. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. There is no one at the con microphone. Therefore we are ready to vote. This is R. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. No, I'm sorry. All those in favor raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This clearly carries. So now, let me say how we talk to each other in the hall. We do it from microphones. Unless somebody is on fire or we need medical attention, we don't yell from the seats. And when I go to the microphone, it will happen immediately after the pro speaker. Does that make sense? I've tried to telegraph several times that if you are in the back of the hall, it will be too late to come to a microphone. Are we good? OK, thank you very much. I return to the amendment microphone.
GERI KENNEDY: Good morning. I'm Geri Kennedy from the UU Fellowship of Redwood City in Redwood City, California. This is Cindy Williamson, also from our fellowship. And we would like to include the unincorporated Amendment X to delete the existing language and replaced with "provides farm workers with living wages and safe working environments." While purchasing fair trade is important, it is limited to trading from outside the US. It should remain a separate item. However there should be a provision for acknowledging that farm workers in our own country need fair wages and the right to safe working environments. They need protection from pesticides, heat, and too many other hazards of farm labor.
The reason for the CSW not incorporating it was because there was no actual action for us to take. But we feel that we UUs are a creative bunch. And by leaving the methods of implementation open, we are not limiting ourselves to just a few options that could be included in the statement of conscience. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. There is no one at the con microphone. You're ready to vote. All those in favor of incorporating this amendment, raise your voting cards. All those opposed, lower your voting cards. No, see wasn't that tricky? All those in favor, raise your voting cards. I want to make sure you're awake. Thank you. All those opposed, raise your voting cards. This again clearly carries.
I want to make a point of clarification. I just had a question at the procedural microphone that I took offline. And the question is now that we've done, like, K and R, what if the person who wanted to propose E, that we didn't cover—is it too late? And the answer would be no. They should go to the amendment microphone. Does that make sense? If I misled you in any way in that regard, I apologize. I return now to the amendment microphone.
GERI KENNEDY: Good morning. Geri Kennedy again. My understanding is that was incorporated?
GINI COURTER: Yes.
GERI KENNEDY: And because that was incorporated, I would like to now incorporate item AA to line 101 to add a new bullet point—"to encourage us to purchase fair trade certified products as available." This takes care of the piece that was dropped out from the prior amendment. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. There being no one to speak against this amendment, you're ready to vote. All those in favor of incorporating AA, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This clearly carries. Have you figured out already that we're running behind this morning?
GINI COURTER: OK, we are running behind to the tune of, at this point, almost a half an hour. OK? Thank you. I return to the amendment microphone.
KAREN PINKIE BERGMANN: My name is Karen Pinkie Bergmann. I represent the Fellowship of Athens, Georgia. And I would like to amend to incorporate unincorporated amendment AB, which is to delete lines 107 and 108, reading "telling food sellers that we will buy and pay more for food produced by treating animals humanely, treating workers fairly, and protecting the environment." To include the language "and pay more for" I feel is discriminatory against people who, like myself, are of limited economic means. And I don't think it's in keeping really with our Unitarian Universalist principles to legislate what an individual can or cannot do with their own economic circumstances. So I move that we do that.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. We have no one at the con microphone. Is this getting familiar? All those in favor, then, of this amendment, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This motion also clearly carries. Just a moment, please. I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.
ARNOLD FARLEY: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Arnold Farley, and I'm from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia. And I'm here to request the incorporation of the unincorporated AD, line 111, which currently reads "advocating for federal and state legislation that supports" and replacing it with "supporting legislation that requires the labeling of products there are irradiated or contain Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs."
The reason I'm here requesting this re-incorporation is the rationale that was given whereto it says too specific within the context of the bullet. However the CSW in its work has actually included the same language in the first bullet of that section of the call to action in lines 104 to 106. And second, it says that the subject addressed in the first bullet covers it, which, in fact, it does not. The subject matter in the first bullet speaks of consumer advocacy of asking sellers and producers to label, which they do not have the legal authority to do, since by law, no company has to indicate whether it is using genetically modified organisms. Therefore the need is for bullet four to include advocacy for legislation, which is a civil action as opposed to a consumer action.
Also I might add that in the body of the conscious statement, there are four specific references to choice. In line 38, knowledgeable choice of food. In line 44, supporting choices. Line 46 and 47, of our food choices. I would submit that this would be a very important part to re-incorporate. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Seeing no one at the con microphone, you are ready to vote. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This clearly carries. I'm going to take a moment here to try to reflect. Part of my job as moderator is to tell you what I think we're doing. How many of you were in the mini-assembly on this yesterday? OK. The rest of you were not. After the mini-assembly, there were a number of items incorporated, and a number of items that even those cards that went up did not agree on. They were on incorporated, then, and left out. And there is a list of them that is about 40 different things. And we are spending our time now on items that were 28th, 30th, down the list. Folks, does this make sense to you? The way we would test this is someone would come to the procedural microphone and call the question and see if you are ready to vote on this as it is. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
MICHAEL BURGAN: I'm Michael Burgan from Austin, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Texas. I call the question.
GINI COURTER: OK, this is not debatable. I'm trying to be real transparent about what I'm doing. If you think that what we have done is perfect enough and you don't want to hear more amendments further down the list, you would raise your voting card. All those in favor of calling the question. Thank you. All those opposed. We are now done debating this and amending it. Thank you. We well then be ready to vote on this statement of conscience as amended. All those in favor of the amended statement of conscience, Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: Yeah! So this motion clearly carries. Can we show what happened in the off-site vote, Mark Steinwinter?
MARK STEINWINTER: Yes.
GINI COURTER: It's coming in a second. We have off-site delegates. Let's say hi to the off-site delegates this morning.
GINI COURTER: It'll take a second. So they voted for it too. Make sense? It's all good. OK, yes. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
TAMMY MCKANAN: I'm Tammy McKanan from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford. This is my first GA and I was very impressed with the information I got to be prepared for this General Assembly and went to the mini-assembly with my amendments. And I was a little bit deflated to see that the rationales for some of the mini-assembly unincorporated amendments were not given to us in the mini-assembly. And some of them were very fixable. And as you see, I was the person just next for the amendment. I'm wondering how that can be fixed.
GINI COURTER: So what I'm going to suggest, before you go too far, is this is actually a conversation for the Commission on Social Witness. This is our process. The job of the commission yesterday is to find out what delegates want, to listen deeply. And then there was a consolidation session last night where you could have heard this. The job is not an iterative process of the commission, coaching folks to create better amendments. This is actually your process of bringing things, them listening, and try to arrange them. So I think you're asking for something a little different than what we do. But where's my Commission on Social Witness? Over here? Go talk with them right now. This is a great time to do it.
TAMMY MCKANAN: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: They will listen to you. OK, delegate at the procedural microphone.
DALE HILL: Yes, I'm Dale Hill for the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland.
GINI COURTER: Yes, ma'am.
DALE HILL: I just wanted to point out that if you just hear an amendment for the first time, you don't know what order the people are going to speak at the microphone. If you do want to make a con point, literally you have to jump up and run over here. So I suggest that next time we're voting on something, you warn people that if they have any idea that they're ever going to be against anything, they better line up.
GINI COURTER: To be fair, and I know you were sprinting—and we still have business to do. And the Imam is in the hall. So I want to model what we're trying to do here. I will tell you that we're going to do a ton of business today, and in the next two days. Here is my suggestion for you. You take a look at the list of amendments when you come in. You can come to the hall early and get this. The hall is open for worship, between worship, and the set-up time. You look, and you think, oh my gosh, I want to speak to number S. And then you know it won't come up before A, B, C, and D. But as we get close to S, if you're sitting in the back, find a good reason to being in the front. Does that make sense? OK, part of my concern that I was bringing to your attention was actually what this delegate was just reflecting. I think we were voting on things in a way that was fairly unexamined. And I question how much we want to do that in statements that speak for us for the next 50 years. All right. So at this point, I should have on the ramp, Right Relations Team? No. I should have on the ramp Standing on the Side of Love.
GINI COURTER: All right. Come on up. Thank you very much. Oh, now I know what's going on. Thank you. Dan Furmansky. We have important stuff going on today.
DAN FURMANSKY: Welcome to North Carolina.
SPEAKER 2: Friends, in our state, LGBT people and our families find ourselves under attack.
DAN FURMANSKY: In a story not unfamiliar to many of you in this room, our state legislature has shifted its composition. And now there is a very real threat that here in North Carolina, legislators will send a constitutional amendment that bans all same-sex gender unions to the voters in 2012.
SPEAKER 3: Boo. Yes, boo. Give me some booing.
DAN FURMANSKY: Boo.
SPEAKER 3: Thank you. This afternoon, we are going to hold our public witness. We are going to march over to nearby Marshall Park for a rally against homophobia and transphobia and to speak out against this anti-LGBT proposal. Will you join us?
DAN FURMANSKY: [APPLAUSE]
SPEAKER 3: That's good. I said, will you join us?
DAN FURMANSKY: Wonderful. Please make sure that you meet at the Martin Luther King entrance—it's where you picked up your registration packets—no later than 4:30. The march will start from there. And we'll go over to Marshal Park from the MLK entrance.
SPEAKER 4: It's about an 11 minute walk and it's smooth going for scooters and wheelchairs. However if you do have accessibility needs and require to take a cab, the UUA will reimburse your cab fare. Cabs will be available on College Ave., and we will have cabs come to the park for those who need them to get back. Please hold on to your receipts and turn them in at the Accessibilities Committee table after the rally or the next day. Thanks.
SPEAKER 2: And make sure you're wearing your Standing on the Side of Love T-shirt. Does everyone have a T-shirt? Who needs a shirt? Raise your hand.
SPEAKER 3: You can pick up T-shirts at the exhibition hall today. We'll see you at 4:30. Thank you.
DAN FURMANSKY: Thanks for standing on the side of love with us here in North Carolina.
SPEAKER 3: Thanks, y'all.
GINI COURTER: We're still doing OK, but it's going to be really close. And I want to remind you that when you leave the hall, you need to take items you brought in with you, including bussing your own trash, if you would, please. Pack it in, pack it out. Please welcome the Chair of your UUA Finance Committee for his last report as Finance Chair, Mr. Paul Richter.
2011-2012 Budget Report
PAUL RICHTER: I'm here to give you a report on the fiscal year 2012 budget of the UUA. This is a bylaw requirement. You can look it up. Its article 10.1 of the bylaws that I do this report. It is a collective eating of our vegetables, which is in spirit of the statement of conscious we just passed. However I want to note that eating our vegetables doesn't have to be boring.
PAUL RICHTER: OK. The lights make it impossible. Sorry. I want to start by thanking my fellow members of the UUA Finance Committee. And hoping their names will be here on the screen. They're John Blevins, David Friedman, Donna Harrison, Linda Laskowski, Jeanne Pupke, Will Saunders, Dan Brody, Tim Brennan, Gini Courter, and Peter Morales. In addition, we are joined by our staff liaison Kate Montgomery and Tim's assistant, Rachel Doherty. Thank you to all of you. It has been an honor to serve with this wonderful group over the past two years.
We'll start on the income side. As the slide shows, the total income for the upcoming fiscal year starting on July 1 is expected to be just under $23.7 million, with 14.9 million, or 63%, classified as general income, and about 8.8 million, or 37%, designated for specific purposes. The income for designated purposes comes from a variety of trusts, funds, and other sources, including our capital campaigns.
To give you a picture of how our income has changed, let's look at how the income numbers have changed over the past four years. Income for general support is up for the second year in a row and is now a bit higher than it was three years ago. So good. This is great. Meanwhile, the income for designated purposes is up and has almost reached the point it was at in fiscal year 2009, which was just before the recession started.
While income has risen, it has been rising at a modest pace. This is because we changed our investment income policy last year to one that reduces the amount of year-to-year volatility in investment income. Under this new policy, investment income will rise less in good years and similarly will decline less in off years. The good news is that after two off years, income has recovered and is now just a hair under where it was three years ago.
Now let's look at more detail on income for general support. The biggest item here is fundraising, which at 9.1 million, is about 615 of general income. The other items are administrative fees, endowment income, and other income. Because fundraising income represent such a big piece of our income, let's look at further detail on that. The biggest piece of fundraising is the Annual Program Fund, the fair-share support of our association's work by our member congregations. APF income is about $7 million, or about 77% of our fundraising income, and almost a third of the entire UUA budget.
We also expect to receive 1.1 million from Friends of the UUA, our program for individual support. How many of you out there are friends of the UUA? That's great. Thank you for helping us make real our mission in the world. The third piece of fundraising at about 1.1 million is unrestricted bequests. These are donations from individuals who have included the UUA in their wills and have not tied their donations to specific programs or projects.
As we look at how the fundraising numbers have changed over the past four years, we see some excellent news. After two years in which our congregations kept up their support for the UUA despite a tough economy, we are seeing increased support for the first time in four years. I want to thank you all for your continued support for our association through the annual program fund. Yeah. Unrestricted bequest income has varied considerably from year to year and has been higher in recent years. But we budget this amount based on knowledge of estates that are currently in process. Thank you to all of those who have made support of Unitarian Universalism part of their legacy by including the UUA, its congregations, and other UU institutions in their wills.
Let's review expenses now. The expenses in next year's budget will total just under $23.7 million. And if you were paying attention at the start, you'll notice that's the same number. So income has matched expenses, and thus we have a balanced budget. So that's something that's—applaud.
PAUL RICHTER: About 68% of the budget goes to programs, about 21% to infrastructure, and the remaining 11% goes to administration and board and committees. Because program is such a big piece of the budget, let's look at that in more detail. Total program expenses are just over $16 million, and the exploded pie chart shows the various program areas that receive funds. About 9% of the program budget goes to multi-cultural growth and witness. This includes identity-based ministries, the advocacy and public witness. About 10% goes to our international programs. About 23% goes to the Office of Congregational Life, which includes district services, congregational growth, and services to our large congregations. About 31% of the program budget goes to ministries and faith development, which includes ministry and professional leadership and lifespan faith development. About 8% of the program budget is the UU funding program, which is generously supported by the UU congregation at Shelter Rock. The UU funding program will be giving out $1.2 million in grants to congregations and UU institutions. The rest of the program budget includes 16% for communications and 3% for crisis relief and other programs.
I've saved the best graph for last. And it shows how expenses have changed over the past four years. Expenses next year will be up a little over $1 million from last year, and have recovered to the level they were at three years ago, before the recession hit. This has enabled us to continue existing programs, create some new ones, and provide a 3% cost-of-living increase in staff salaries. So this is another thing to celebrate.
PAUL RICHTER: As I close this report, if you have questions you want answered, or if you just want to delve more deeply into the budget, we will be holding a UUA budget hearing this afternoon at 2:45 PM in room 202-AB in the convention center. I look forward to seeing you there. Thus endeth the UUA budget report.
PAUL RICHTER: Joy!
Report from the Right Relationship Team
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Mr. Paul Richter. Excellent. OK, two more things. We're doing OK. It's a good time to have your stuff together and gathered. I need you to be present for the report of your Right Relationship Team. Garner Takahashi-Morris.
GARNER TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: Whew. That was harsh. Good morning. I'm Garner Takahashi-Morris. I am the Chair of the Right Relationship Team and here they are with me, sitting. And thank you for giving us a few minutes of your time this morning. And thank you also for all that you have shared with us in the past two days. We want to start by being a little bit more transparent about our purpose and our process. So everything that you all bring to us does go into our report to the GAPC. But the Right Relationship Team was not formed to respond publicly to every issue that's brought to our attention. We wouldn't, even if we could. We couldn't, even if we wanted to. So for the issues where public education is a useful tool, we're committed to holding ourselves and each other accountable, and checking with all of those involved before we make a statement. We really appreciate your patience on this issue.
But most importantly, our job is to support you in having your own conversations. We want to do whatever we can to make that happen. Because the more we learn to talk to each other in a real and personal way before we make broad-based public statements, as much as we love them, the more we can grow and create real relationships in a community that includes all of us. We have to be brave if we want to keep moving forward. We want to raise up accessibility this morning. Since I started doing this four years ago, some issues have stopped coming up so often. Thank you for not moving chairs in workshops and for being respectful of marked seating in Plenary Hall. We are learning.
But there are some issues that keep coming up again and again, despite being addressed by us, by members of the Accessibilities Team, and by members of this community. We really appreciate all the positive feedback that you have given us as a team. And we need to know that you are hearing what members of this family are saying through us. OK? Thank you.
It is unacceptable to question the legitimacy of people's reasons to use scooters or other assistive devices. We cannot know each other's stories, and we don't need to. Many differences in ability are not visible. And visibility of this community is an ongoing issue. In a major workshop yesterday, which beautifully lifted up many ongoing issues of oppression in our community, accessibilities wasn't mentioned. UUs have not done nearly as much public action or education on accessibilities as we have on many other issues. And it's time for us to make a conscious effort to increase our awareness of who we are.
I want to raise up the folks organizing this afternoon's public witness event and thank them for their willingness to respond to the concerns raised by participants of this GA. To add to what the Standing on the Side of Love folks said earlier, we will not be having two events this afternoon. One event. If you're with a group in a cab and money is an issue, please cover each other. We want to make sure that everybody in this community is able to be part of this fantastic thing that they've organized for us. Together we can do this. Let's have a powerful day.
GINI COURTER: Your Right Relations Team. I have two announcements for you. The first is all elevators will be running tonight and tomorrow night to be able to access the 7:00 programs here in this hall. We have a little glitch with it a couple nights ago. That's been taken care of. Thank you Right Relations, Accessibility, Planning Committee, for making all this happen. So the passage between the Exhibit Hall and Hall C will open from 6:30 to 7:00 when the Exhibit Hall closes. So you'll be able to get in here to access programs just the same way you get to the Exhibit Hall.
Here's the second thing. If you are a delegate, the Parliamentarian Legal Counsel and I were struggling with delegates sitting way out on the fringes when we were trying to count votes. And most of them weren't close. I need to ask you if you are a delegate in the future plenary sessions to sit between the two big posts. In other words, the far sections on either side are too difficult for us to see into. Does that make sense? So if you're delegate, move closer to the middle. All right thank you very much. That's very helpful.
There being no further business to come before us, and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this plenary session shall stand in recess until 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2011. See you tomorrow.
Plenary III is General Assembly 2011 event number 3003.
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Last updated on Monday, February 27, 2012.
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