Plenary V, General Assembly 2011
Reports from UU World
- Morales: Our Most Important Product Must Be ‘Acts of Love’
- Assembly Reduces Length of Nominating Committee Terms
- Phoenix GA: ‘Awaken the Moral Conscience of Our Country’
- Delegates Reduce Size of UUA Board
- UU-UNO Will Join the UUA
- A ‘Rainbow Board’ (Video)
Call to Order
GINI COURTER: I now call to order the Fifth Plenary Session of the 50th General Assembly [GA]of the Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA]. I'm sorry, did they feed you turkey for lunch? I now call to order the Fifth Plenary Session of the 50th General Assembly of the Unitary Universalist Association. Excellent.
Chalice Lighting and Recognition of Departed Donors
GINI COURTER: Please welcome the director of the annual program fund in the office of stewardship and development, Laurel Amabile.
LAUREL AMABILE: What great energy. Good afternoon. It's my pleasure to introduce the Reverend Kate Walker, minister at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
REVEREND KATE WALKER: In 2009, a 21-year-old Unitarian Universalist named Katie Tyson was killed in a car accident on her way home from General Assembly. She grew up in my church, the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. At last year's General Assembly, I invited you to be generous in supporting the Katie Tyson fund for youth and young adult ministries. You were very generous. $26,256 was raised at last year's general assembly. By the end of the year, this fund became endowed with the Unitarian Universalist Association to support youth and young adults well into the future.
This past spring we had 14 applications, were received from youth and young adults requesting financial support for wonderful projects and trainings. We were able to give five grants to seven youth and young adults. One young adult is here at general assembly and I understand is in a packed hotel room with young adults who were indirectly helped. Six others are being helped with leadership trainings and conferences including one who's being trained in interfaith leadership in their home community. We were able to redirect all other applicants to other funds within the Unitarian Universalist Association. The fund has now grown to over $80,000, but it needs more, it needs a lot more. So I invite you to please consider taking a collection at your home church every year to support this fund, to support our youth and young adults. Thank you.
LAUREL AMABILE: Let us join now as one Unitarian Universalist community in a moment of gratitude and appreciation. May we appreciate all our congregations' gifts, those given and those received, that have sustained our liberating faith for over five decades as our covenantal partners in this association. May we feel deep gratitude for the commitment and generosity of so many individual Unitarian Universalists who have died in this, our 50th anniversary year. Their gifts have enriched our lives and helped to transform our congregations.
In the sharing of the names and the images here in this community we affirm the ennobling and meaningful legacies these devoted Unitarian Universalists have left behind. As I light our chalice in honor of these generous souls and this community, I'm inspired by the words of Reverend Peter Raible. We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. We profit from persons we did not know. We are ever bound in community.
Report of the Committee on Socially Responsible Investing
GINI COURTER: Each year I am struck by the beauty of our people. I call on the committee on socially responsible investing to give their report to the delegates. Your chair is Glenn Farley and—they're co-chaired actually—Glenn Farley and Vanessa Lowe will be coming up to see you. Not everybody gets entrance music. This is cool.
GLENN FARLEY: Good afternoon, General Assembly. This evening you will hear Karen Armstrong deliver the Ware lecture. 45 years ago this General Assembly heard their Ware lecture delivered by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his writings he defined power. Power is the ability to achieve purpose. I say this, though it's redundant, as I know each and every one of you is comfortable with power.
A business resolution passed by this General Assembly 30 years ago concluded that we live in a world wherein, quote, large corporations have substantial economic power and with it, the potential for good or ill. Given that reality we, this committee, deal with power and influence. The power to influence and be influenced. Our mission is to bend the arc of time once again towards justice. To do our part in the great turning toward sustainability. We use the power of the purse in close collaboration with the investment committee. We direct investments to corporations and communities that further our goal.
Currently over half of the common endowment fund, or nearly half of the common endowment fund, has some type of minimal screen, which we are committed to increasing over time. This past year for example, we increased our allocation to socially screened emerging markets. We also use our financial power to influence. We consistently encourage our consultant, New England Pension Consultants, to seek out managers that take environmental, social and governance factors into account when making investment decisions. This has a indirect impact on other pension funds. Power is the ability to achieve purpose. Our purpose is a planet transformed by our care.
SIMON BILLENNESS: The Shareholder Advocacy Subcommittee has been working in partnership with a broad coalition of religious investors, public pension funds, social investment firms and trade union pension funds to further our mission of corporate accountability. This past year our shareholder advocacy furthered the UUA's mission and UU values on issues of LGBTQ equality, climate change, excessive executive pay, and most recently, the rights of immigrants. we. Would like to thank the UU leaders and their congregations who stood up at annual shareholder meetings all across the country and moved resolutions that furthered UU values.
VANESSA LOWE: I'm Vanessa Lowe and I chair the working group on community investments. Shared Interest is one of our investments and it's a loan guarantee fund that supports black empowerment in South Africa. I was privileged to join the investors delegation that went to South Africa for 10 days in October. That gave me a firsthand look at how our $50,000 investment in Shared Interest directly supports our religious principles.
During that visit we visited three entities that had received bank loans because of shared interest guarantee. I'll tell you about Kuyasa, housing loan fund, that's one visit I have time to tell you about It's in Cape Town, which I think of as a city with two faces. One face includes the beautiful Cape Town airport, with it's unending reminders of the World Cup and our waterfront hotel right across from restaurants and theaters and a high end mall.
The other face of Cape Town is quite different however. These are the townships on the edge of the city that are still densely populated. There are tin shanties with port-a-johns for bathrooms and buildings that were constructed under the Apartheid system to house black laborers and to segregate the races. Each apartment in this building had a kitchenette, one bathroom, surrounded by six bedrooms. Each bedroom housed three families.
Then we saw Kuyasa homes. Loans from Kuyasa supplement the government grant provided to the very poor to build a simple, tiny home. The pride was so evident as two women welcomed us into their homes and showed us the new bedrooms and kitchens that they were able to add as a result of the Kuyasa loans. The day was inspiring and humbling. As a result of that visit, I can assure you that our investment supports South Africa's continuing journey toward our UU principle of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: What a wonderful, wonderful day to be a Unitarian Universalist.
Report from the Church of the Larger Fellowship
Somebody I love to introduce, senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Reverend Meg Riley.
I think Meg's got something to say today.
[MEG RILEY:] How about New York? [APPLAUSE] How about it? How about it? Unitarians and Universalists always had post office missions to reach out to far flung religious liberals. In the 1940s, both the Unitarians and the universalists started a Church of the Larger Fellowship. In 1970 the CLF became legally incorporated as a religious society in its own right through the Unitarian Universalist Association. Today CLF has a membership of over 3,500 people, people in prison, in the military, young adults, religious professionals, active or retired, small groups who want to use our materials, and over 1,000 folks who are also members of bricks and mortar congregations but still want more. We reach out to all of them with the best technology we can.
We live in a time when communication is shifting dramatically. Recent studies by the Pew Research Center and others show that religious affiliation in the U.S. is increasingly diverse and fluid. Pew says that large numbers of Americans are involved with multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. And increasing numbers of young people are unaffiliated religiously, but have progressive values. We believe that Unitarian Universalism is uniquely positioned to appeal to who they are if we are active and strategic. Using today's technologies, CLF is able to reach out to find people in ways we couldn't have even imagined five years ago.
In October we'll launch a new seeker centered website called Quest for Meaning. We will create weekly live worship, experimenting to find times and formats that are compelling and interesting on the Internet. A number of ministers and musicians have already volunteered to contribute to this endeavor. More will do so as we continue, we hope. We're in particular partnering now with ministers in the mid-Atlantic region, using cable TV replays to focus interest on both the Quest for Meaning online sanctuary and on the related bricks and mortar congregations, seeing how we can be value added to one another.
Quest for Meaning will also provide short reflections in word and video from a variety of regular columnists, in addition to our own staff. There will be extensive pastoral care materials for people who are struggling with particular life circumstances. We'll have prayers and rituals, theological analysis—we won't call it that—and words of reassurance for people in a variety of situations. We've tried to make the website as simple as possible but still able to meet very particular user needs. But a website is only a tool, just like a church building. It only serves people if people are there.
With over 500 million users, Facebook is now the third largest country in the world. One in 13 people on Earth use Facebook. Half log in on any given day. Almost half of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up. About 28% check Facebook on their smartphones before getting out of bed. Smartphones are the most rapidly growing way that many young people and others stay in touch with the world. As technology evolves, so will we. We've just launched a mobile app, available for the first time this week. We're committed to moving forward through constant trial and error, partnering with all who want to collaborate, to make sure that Unitarian Universalism is introduced to as many people as possible all over the world. Please come to our booth and learn more about this in the display area. Thanks so much. Stay in touch.
Breakthrough Congregation: Unitarian Universalist Church of Peoria, IL
GINI COURTER: Please welcome our second breakthrough congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Peoria, Illi—third, third—the Unitarian Universalist Church of Peoria, Illinois. Oh, I love this. Breakthrough minister, the shirt says.
MICHAEL BROWN: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Michael Brown. It's my pleasure to serve as the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria. I'm joined on the stage this afternoon with some wonderful colleagues and members. Amy Popp, our director of religious education, Nancy Rakoff, our membership coordinator, Kathy Carter, our church historian and other just wonderful members of this great congregation. We are delighted that we're going to be able to share our story with you today. Let the show begin.
In 2003, our congregation faced a difficult decision. Should we stay in our beautiful old building that limited growth and consumed resources? Or sell the property to a hospital that needed the land for expansion? After months of discussion and reflection, we chose to give up a home we dearly loved in order to build a new, larger home as our gift to the future. We didn't just build with steel and bricks and mortar. For the last 20 years, we've been building our membership by building ourselves into a welcoming, active, dynamic congregation. We've been building with the intent to grow.
Our church had been steadily growing for over a decade before we built our new building. Our new home definitely accelerated our growth, but there were many other factors as well. We started a small group ministry program, we hired key staff members, we changed our governance, we opened ourselves to community events, and we actively worked on covenant, mission, vision and goals. It was really by putting all these pieces together successfully that we broke through into being a fully engaged program church. Today we want to focus on three areas that we think played a key role in our growth. Our process for welcoming newcomers, OUR programs for children and adults, and the quality of our spiritual life together. We hope that by sharing our experience, we can help your church grow too.
We have just had a phenomenal time, especially since we moved to our new building in August of 2005. We've had more than 100 people join our church. So we are so glad that people are finding a home. That they feel welcome, that they feel comfortable in socially, and that they have a lot of new friends and a chance for spiritual and personal growth. One of the great things that we do here is to have a dynamic group of welcoming volunteers that take turns each Sunday morning out in the foyer as they welcome visitors who come to us. One of the things that I can do as membership coordinator is to be the continuity person, and I can recognize who's been here before and who might be new, and who we might need to ask to sign the guest registry.
One of the innovations we've made in the last two years is to have an informational session once a month on Sunday morning, right after church. And we publicize this in order of service, in our newsletter, and I send emails to all the visitors, and say, you might find this interesting, but there's no obligation if you do attend. And we provide child care, and we provide a light lunch. We have found that a lot more people have a chance to ask questions, they don't get lost as a visitor, and then, I think that more people sign the membership book because of those meetings.
We actually start every year, every church year, with a fruit and chocolate communion that the children share and contribute, one fruit from each classroom, and then that's all blended together with chocolate, which is the love of our community. I think that our children's religious programming has been a key part of our recent growth because we teach our children that they are part of a church, of the open mind, the loving heart and the helping hands. It's really how we teach them those pieces that has really impacted our growth. As part of our helping hands piece, we've developed a program called Walking Our Talk. In this program, the children in each classroom own a project that is an outreach project with a local organization in our community. Our preschoolers make cards for Meals On Wheels.
So what are you kids doing?
Making cards for who?
For people. That's beautiful.
Our kindergartners and first graders make homemade crafts and toys to contribute to a local women and children's shelter. Our second and third graders make blankets for Linus Project chapter. Our fourth and fifth graders cook for the homeless once a month. And our junior and senior high groups also are very involved, but they choose their own project. Our summer camp, which is a week long summer camp, focuses on our seventh principle every year in a really innovative way, where we have workshop classes in arts and music and science and nature, and that's open and free to the entire community. And the kids love it. It's one of the most wonderful things we do.
It's not just the newcomers and the kids who are welcomed here. We're intentional about helping all of our members and friends become truly engaged in our programs.
One of the things we've done is we've invited people to come here and bring their energy into this community. And we've tried to say yes to people when they wanted to do things. We've tried to welcome people's passion and encourage people when they had a creative idea.
The result is a broad spectrum of opportunities for creativity and connection. A pagan group, a poetry book, a playground designed by the kids, woodland and prairie restoration. All these and more have sprung up because we said yes to an idea. We offer adult religious education classes on a wide range of topics, including single session classes to accommodate busy schedules. We also open our doors to outside groups that need a place to meet. This raises awareness of our congregation and has been a source of new members.
Special events are another creative outlet. We like to have fun together, to share our talents, to laugh and be silly. At the same time, we structure our programming to offer not just variety, but depth. We honor people's spiritual journeys and create programs that respond to their deepest needs. Our covenant circles help members form connections, explore life's ultimate questions and be of service to the community. The UU Church of Peoria is truly a place where everyone can find a home and express what's in their heart.
We want to know who you are. We want to know where you come from. And I think that's the big key for us, being a welcoming congregation and with the intent of welcoming new people and ideas.
As we look to the future, we're envisioning ways to more fully live out the mission statement that we adopted in 2010, embracing freedom, loving inclusively, growing spiritually, healing our world. As long as people continue to be inspired by that mission, we'll keep building with the intent to grow.
We are Unitarian Universalists. This is the church of the open mind. This is the church of the loving heart. This is the church of the helping hands. This is our church.
UUA President’s Report
GINI COURTER: Ahhh. What might be next? It is my pleasure to introduce for your edification and sheer joy, UUA President, Peter Morales, for his annual report. Give it up for the UUA President.
Story: Getting Arrested July 29
PETER MORALES: Anybody see the front page of the Charlotte Observer today? [APPLAUSE] It's great. Committee news. I love it. I love it. Before I became your president, I was a law abiding citizen. I had never been arrested. But last year, about a month after GA, on July 29, I, along with Susan Frederick-Gray a number of fellow ministers, a whole bunch of lay people down in Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested in an act of civil disobedience of resistance to egregious acts violating basic human rights.
So I became a guest of Joe Arpaio in the Maricopa County jail. And it was, though, only a brief, happily, stay in jail. A real education for me and I think for those of us who were there and spent some time. Because I witnessed not only the dehumanizing effects of that kind of reign of terror that exists there on Latino people, but I saw the dehumanizing effects it has on those who are enforcing that misguided law and those practices of that Sheriff's department. While in the jail, it was amazing to see the dehumanizing effects, the hardening of the people who are asked to be the jailers, to be the police, to shepherd us around.
Now when I was arrested, as part of our resistance, I carried no identification. So I'd given up my wallet. I didn't have my cellphone. And so when I was arrested it didn't take them very long to figure out who I was in and call me up on the computer. But I didn't have any of these things with me.
Now one of the things they do to disorient you in jail is they move you every hour or two from one place to another after waiting forever to be processed. But there are no time pieces, there are no windows. You have no idea what time it is, and time goes on. I got to meet some very interesting people because I was arrested, not only with fellow protesters, but was in there with people who violated parole or were in for drug charges or other things.
I learned such things as how to play tic-tac-toe on the concrete floor with a little piece of soap, or Hangman, the interesting game of Hangman. No, and then the word I almost didn't get, luckily it hit me what it was, it was Jesus. Because, I mean, it's hard, when you're guessing letters, and the other prisoners were trying to stump me and almost pulled it off.
And then finally, sometime after midnight, I and some others were taken to a hearing, given a very brief introduction to an attorney, and then went before the court to determine whether or not I would be released on my own recognizance. And after that decision was made and after they, again, let you wait for an hour or two—it's hard to tell—I was about to be released.
So it was going to be something like 3:00 in the morning, I'm not sure of the exact time. And I realized because, not only did we have no idea what was going on, I mean, among the things we didn't know was if anyone on the outside had any idea of what was happening. Any idea at all. And my assumption was that my friends and colleagues had figured well, they've gone to bed for the night and tomorrow everyone will be processed and probably released the next day. So I was entertaining myself before they released us immediately, trying to concoct my most persuasive story to this fictitious cab driver I was hoping to meet at 3:00 in the morning on the streets in Phoenix, to explain how this guy in the yellow T-shirt with no identification and no money and no phone, why he should give me a ride to a hotel that was some distance away.
And then the door opened and there were scores of my fellow Unitarian Universalists—I mean, look at this photograph—waiting for us.
[APPLAUSE] And you know what? You were there. You and generations of UUs were there. Because it was our association and our great tradition of standing with the disempowered and with the marginalized that made that witness possible. So don't doubt for a minute that you weren't in Phoenix. But you get a chance to go back for real in a year.
[APPLAUSE] And if they thought we were a presence the last couple of times, wait until they see the sea of yellow shirts in Phoenix a year from now.
And to that end, we are forming a ministry for the coming year. We'll be talking more about this in detail, but a ministry to prepare us, to prepare, working with partners not only there in Phoenix, but getting the message out all over this country to educate us and get us ready to be a real force for good and for change in Arizona and across this land. And to that end, I have asked and maybe begged and cajoled a little bit, but I have asked Susan Frederick-Gray of the UU congregation of Phoenix, who was arrested on that day when I was, to lead that ministry. And she has agreed and I am so grateful. Susan.
As I said, I realized in Phoenix, and realize today, that all of this is possible because I stand and we stand in a great, great tradition. And one of the gifts of this 50th anniversary has been the opportunity to look at the last 50 years. And to take stock of where we've been successful, where we've not been successful, and really see ourselves in that wonderful perspective of time. This has been an important opportunity. What I want to do now in the time I have left is take a look and highlight some of the things that are going on right now. And then I want to move to looking to the future. And not looking programmatically into the future, but I want to talk a little bit about where I think we need to go culturally and spiritually if we are going to thrive for the next decade and the next generation and beyond.
Where We Are Today: Challenging Times, Changing Times, Times Rich with Opportunity
We are living in a new America. An America that is changing in an amazingly rapid rate. Something like 3/4 of Americans who are 70 years old or older are of European descent. But of Americans who are 10 and younger, a minority are of European descent. And so without one more immigrant crossing any of our borders, we're going to become a majority minority country in a generation.
We also live in a time of rapid secularization in much of the world. One only has to look at Europe, and Europe is a cautionary tale, where religious institutions have fallen largely into disuse. And so there's some real challenges there before us and some amazing opportunities, amazing opportunities because we live at a time—and Meg's slides are showing this—where the disaffiliated are growing like crazy. And they are people who are hungry for religious community, hungry for spirituality, hungry to join hands with others to make a real difference in the world. And they want a spiritual community and a faith community that is free from dogma. We are their community. We can be that organization that feeds the spiritually hungry.
In the last couple of years since I became president, there were a lot of comparisons. It was kind of funny, when I ran, people compared me to Obama. And I also joked, yeah a little pudgier, shorter and grayer Obama. But as kind of an underdog. And I said, there's another important distinction is that, I faced a financial crisis like Obama did, but I didn't get to borrow a trillion dollars from the Chinese. It has been a very challenging time for the UUA staff. And yet, during this period we've made a tremendous transition. There's programmatic innovation, new energy. You've been hearing about some of the terrific things that are going on. I'm going to highlight a few.
But I want to take this moment to let us all thank our UUA staff who's done an amazing job. And the staff who are here, if you will rise as you are able to be recognized, please. This is your staff.
And they are dedicated and passionate Unitarian Universalists who care deeply.
When I came into the presidency—you know, I grew up in a very trinitarian, conservative tradition and while the content of that is gone, some of the patterns remain. So three's keep coming up for me. I talked about three things that I really wanted to emphasize at the beginning of my presidency. One was creating a new ministry for this new age. Another one was around membership and preparing us to serve these people who are hungry for spiritual community. The kind of ways and these—aren't these breakthrough congregations inspiring stories to watch? And I wanted to build upon the terrific work of my predecessors in raising the public profile of Unitarian Universalism.
So let me hit a few high points. I could spend an hour, hour and a half up here talking about some really nifty things that your staff has done. But one of them is in the area of ministry. We convened a study group that did a research. We call it sort of a strategic review of professional ministry. And in that, we involved a number of people and went through this process over a year of looking at previous studies that have been done, because a lot of them had been. And looking where there was broad agreement. And inviting comment from the Minister's Association, from our religious educators, from musicians, from our seminaries. Put that together in a draft report and then sent that draft report out openly and got more feedback from those groups and from individuals. And then finally put together a final report. And I recommend that report to you. It highlighted a number of recommendations. And let me just lift up a couple.
One is around the need for continuing education for our professional ministers. And this past year, in partnership with the Minister's Association, with the UUMA, there was an excellence for ministry institute of several days in California that simply blew me away. I was part of it, I was there. And actually I got a little kind of miffed that I was helping teach one of the workshops, because all the other workshops were fabulous and I wanted to attend them. But this has set a level of cooperation and partnership with the Minister's Association that we really need to build on in the future. And we're working hard on that.
A second one is, my dream is, that everyone who enters into our ministry attains a multi-cultural competence. and part of that is to have at least a brief experience of another culture.
We've already begun that partnership with the Service Committee. As an initial pilot, we've sent seminarians and ministers to Uganda and then this group to Haiti. It has been absolutely a fabulous experience. And we're going to build on that. The slide you see here is a tent city in Haiti after their devastating earthquake. And we have another slide here that shows our UUs, members from the UUSC and seminarians at an eco-village. A terrific project that Service Committee has, actually moving some rocks. I had to miss going on that. I was scheduled to go on it and, unfortunately, got quite ill and wasn't able to go. Nothing serious, but I wasn't able to make the trip. So this is another one.
Another important area that we're going to need to look into, and this involves everybody in this room and beyond, is that we need to recruit the kind of passionate, entrepreneurial, idealistic leaders that are going to be our professional leaders in the coming generation. And not just rely on divine intervention. You know, for a group of people who is kind of skeptical by nature, most of us don't believe in miracles. That shouldn't be what we rely on to get ministers into our movement and religious educators. I actually once saw a sign like that in, sadly, a computer repair shop I was doing business with. It said, we don't believe in miracles, we rely on them. I don't want that to be our approach. We need to find those leaders in our movement.
In the area of growth, you've seen these wonderful breakthrough congregations. I want to talk a little bit about a leap of faith program that we've initiated, which is based on the conviction—and this conviction is based on a lot of experience that I and other's have had—is that within our association we have amazing congregations. We have the knowledge, the enthusiasm, the creativity to grow our movement and we have dozens and dozens and dozens of thriving congregations. We've never done a very good job of building on that. And so what this program does, and we're in a pilot phase of this and expanding it, is take a handful of our leading congregations—and by the way, this was designed by them and by some of the ministers of our fastest growing congregations—and making them mentor congregations, partnering with congregations that are hungry to expand and grow. And cross-fertilizing, having trips, having learning plans. And the initial results of that are just terrific. We really need to build on that. I wanted to lift that up.
In the area of public witness and social action. Wow. One of the things that we have done—this is last year, we don't have one from yesterday—how many of you were out there yesterday? All right. Wasn't that something? On the way back I commented that when I grew up in south Texas, an illegal alien was known as a mojado, which meant someone who's wet, or a wetback. So, although legally I'm not a mojado, I was a mojado yesterday, along with many of you.
I have to tell this quick story about being in Phoenix. And my assistant, Dea Braden, was there and helping and it was during this day of noncompliance and there was a ton of media there. And interviewing people and she was helping, along with others, trying to get exposure to the media. And she said that she'd tried with a couple of media outlets, major ones, to say, would you like to speak with the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association? But it's such a busy, crazy time. Before you got all of Universalists out, they were looking around at something else. And then, it's one of these little flashes came, she went to CNN right before the top of the hour. And they were hunting for something to lead into the top of the hour, and says—I love this—do you want to talk to the head of the yellow shirts? [LAUGHTER] Of all the things I've been called in my life I think I may be proudest of that. Of being head of the yellow shirts.
Let me lift up some of the things that we're doing on that. In that whole area of immigration we've worked with—and there you see, at the jail, and Susan Frederick-Gray, and there I am with my hat standing quietly behind her before the arrest. But we've gone down, with the board of trustees also, to try to educate ourselves, work with No More Deaths, which is a group out of our Tucson congregation. And gone down across the border to Nogales. One of the things about immigration is it's so easy for this issue to seem impersonal and abstract and a public policy kind of thing.
Here you see the picture of Flor and her younger brother. Flor is about 12 years old and they're in the detention center, had just gotten out on the side of Nogales. Now she came to the United States when she was of a very small girl. Her brother was born in the United States. And they were with their mother. They'd been caught. They'd gone down to Mexico—this is very important in Mexicano families and others as well, but particularly important in this tradition. Their grandfather was dying and so they made a trip into Mexico to see him before he died.
But of course, that meant that they had to try to get back by crossing illegally and crossing the Sonoran desert. They'd been captured. By policy, immigration service had taken the father of the family to a different city. They didn't know where. This is not an accident. This is this is our government acting on our behalf and does it as a matter of policy. So they're sitting there, she has no idea where her father is. She's the only one in her family who can speak English decently. And so this poor little girl is having to try to navigate this complex legal system.
Another slide that comes up. We took another trip out into the desert to see where these people actually came from. And as we drove out and kind of walked along a path that's known to be used, we see this kind of blanket jacket left there. And I had to ask myself, what happened to the owner? In the wintertime in the desert it gets very cold because there's no humidity. This is not adequate protection. But this person may have died. Maybe they dropped it and ran or they saw law enforcement. But there are thousands of people dying out there. That's what we're going there to witness against. And they're dying as a matter of policy because we've decided as a nation to force people to cross the most difficult areas if they're going to try to cross, knowing that hundreds and hundreds die every year just in this part of the Sonoran desert.
I want to talk a little bit about other public witness. Very briefly, environmental justice issues. Here are people around the 350, the carbon content in a couple of our different congregations, one in Vermont and one in Sacramento. It's a nationwide thing. And other one you know is our work all over the country is part of the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign for LGBT rights. And we have a slide here of our folks in Minnesota.
But as this goes state by state by state—and we've had some setbacks and yesterday a great victory—we're going to prevail in this. And we're going to prevail, in part, because Unitarian Universalists are working at the grass roots level, talking to their legislators. This is what we're finding works. And our emphasis at the national office has shifted largely to supporting and training people at the grassroots level. And do not doubt, we are making a huge, huge difference in this.
Let me shift now to some international work we've done. Before I was president, and when I first attended General Assembly, I'd see these foreign guests coming. I thought, well, wasn't that nice. We had a few people from here and there. The true meaning of it never struck me. I see it very differently now in the last few years. One is that as we try to build a multi-cultural faith and as we try to learn to do interfaith cooperation, our international partners are absolutely essential to this. These are laboratories of Unitary Universalism around the world. We have so much to learn from people in the Khasi Hills in the Philippines. And these relationships that we've built over the years are just precious.
I want to talk about, you know, Japan had that horrible earthquake with the tsunami afterwards. And if we could see the slide of that, here is Reverend Mitsu Miyake up in the north of Japan with the devastation that is there. Look at that. It's a boat way off the thing. We responded, you responded. And the last count I have is, actually, we've raised $450,000, almost half a million dollars, that we're sending as a relief effort. But what a wonderful act of partnership with our longtime partners in Japan.
Last summer after getting out of jail my wife, Phyllis, and I went to the Philippines also. It was the first UUA president to actually go out into the villages and some of these congregations. What an amazing story this is. But they are living proof that Unitarian Universalism is not a faith of the urban and highly educated. These are villagers, these are farmers. But liberal religion appeals to them. They are passionate Unitarian Universalists. I mean, look at the children. They do wonderful work with them and with young women, educating these kids. It made me very proud.
You saw a bit of the honoring of Kathy Sreedhar. One of the jewels that we have had over time is the holding program in India, where we have now affected hundreds of thousands of lives through our programming there. In my trip there I visited a couple of places that will be seared in my memory forever. One of them—if we could see the slide—is of people who live out here. This is as far as the eye can see, and after driving for about half an hour to get out there, that is a dry lake bed. Where it's, underneath, over time, the salt deposits have come. So they pump water out and actually mine salt.
They live in a tent. And this is a couple families living out there. There are, I think, 70,000 people out there on this enormous area. And we are helping them get organized and demand some basic services from their government. Another piece of their story that is just heartbreaking is that they love it out here. These are dalits and untouchables and here they're free. In their home village they're marginalized. And they spend about half a year where not a blade of grass grows and love it because they're free.
Another one that we saw was the garbage pickers. And we could see the slide of the people. This is where they live. It is a garbage dump and they make a living—and we're helping to organize them—they make a living essentially looking for valuable things or things that can be recycled in the garbage. There are 300,000 people picking garbage in Delhi. 300,000 people. And you, through our holding program, are helping to change their lives.
I also want to highlight the partnership with UUSC in Guatemala, where we're affecting there the lives of survivors of Mayan children. There is so much that we are doing internationally and that you should take pride in.
What We Must Do—Spiritual and Organizational Challenges
I want to shift our focus now, if I may. After taking a look at some of these things I just wanted lift up to you about where I think we need to go. And once more, there are three things. And this is going to be a theme that you're going to be hearing from me and from us for some time. And while some of this is going to be programmatic, most of it has to do with our culture and this is ultimately spiritual work that I want to challenge us to do.
I believe there are three things that we are going to need to do to thrive in the next generation. One, we've got to get religion. And I'll talk to you about that. We need to get religion, we need to grow leaders and we need to cross borders. Perhaps I should explain a little bit. What I mean about getting religion is that we have to—and it's happening, it's already happening—we have to unleash the passion of our people. We have to learn that religion is more about what we love and what we hold sacred than it is about what we think. And we need—[APPLAUSE]
And that religion, quite literally from the Greek, is about what binds us together. And what binds us together is what we love. And religion is not something that is done individually. I would even suggest to you that individualism is the spiritual disease of our time.
[APPLAUSE] And our getting religion is about taking ourselves seriously, being passionate and working together, within our congregations and across our congregations. The Gathered Here program that you heard, I really encourage you to participate in that. It can make a tremendous difference in helping us to weave that powerful fabric of a religious movement.
Two, grow leaders. Now we come from an anti-authoritarian tradition. And we are nothing if not skeptical about authority and power. And Michael Schuler, you heard, in a brilliant and eloquent sermon at the service of the living tradition, talk about this. But this is not ultimately organizational. Ultimately it is spiritual. My friends, we need to learn how to trust one another. We need to learn how to trust one another.
How to identify potential leaders, train them, mentor them, nurture them, empower them. Yes, hold them accountable, but let our leaders lead. Otherwise—[APPLAUSE] Otherwise we become paralyzed and our most important product becomes process. Our most important product has to be acts of love.
And finally, we need to cross borders. And these are the borders of class and the borders of culture.
[APPLAUSE] And again, there's an organizational part to this, but ultimately this is about spiritually being open and taking some risks, about encountering people who are a little different from us and building those relationships. This is how we will thrive in the future.
I ran for president because I had a religious experience, lots of them really. Because I saw in the congregation I served and in scores more congregations what we can become. I got a glimpse of the beloved community we all have. But this isn't some abstract dream. This is something I have seen with my own eyes and lived and felt. I have seen us make a difference, we all have. I have seen lives transformed.
I said, when I was running for president, that we can be the religion for our time. That was not a slogan. That is a core conviction. We can be the religion for our time. Let's get religion. Let's grow leaders. Let's cross borders. And together, we can create a Unitarian Universalism that would make our founders proud. Let's get busy. Let's get busy. Thank you so much.
[APPLAUSE] Thank you. What a blessing and privilege it is to serve as your president. And now, Gini, I think we have—
Presentation of the President’s Award for Volunteer Service
GINI COURTER: We have something to do here.
PETER MORALES: —we have something to do here. If I can find my script, We'll do it.
GINI COURTER: I brought mine.
PETER MORALES: OK. We're going to give an award. Now, when the recipient of the next aware heard that he'd won it, he was swift to decline it. Is this is a pattern?
GINI COURTER: Yeah, well somewhat. It kind of depends.
PETER MORALES: Thinking it was only for volunteer service. But you pay me, he said. I'm not a volunteer. Well, technically it's true. He has been paid, a pittance, for faithful service of an above and beyond quality. So in recognition of this fact, we changed the name of the prize. Because we deeply believe that he deserves it. The President's Annual Award for Service goes to Gordon. A. Martin, who has served as our parliamentarian for 41 years.
GINI COURTER: Now I'm sure many of you are wondering, because you're here for the first time, what does a parliamentarian do? Well the General Assembly Parliamentarian advises the moderator on the proper use of the rules of procedure. The parliamentarian must attend all plenaries. I mean, a good idea for anybody, but he has to. And closely follow the course of action. Much of the work, however, is spent outside of plenaries, preparing for different procedural outcomes and advising the moderator on strategy. Because of the parliamentarian's work, plenaries run smoothly. Gordon has also seen teaching as an important part of his role as parliamentarian. he. Has dedicated much time over the years to teaching delegates how to get motions passed. Because of his accessibility and his willingness to advise delegates, Gordon has enabled generations of Unitarian Universalists to participate in the business of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
PETER MORALES: The UUA's been fortunate to have such a venerable parliamentarian.
GINI COURTER: Venerable.
PETER MORALES: It says right here, venerable. Yes. He has a long and distinguished legal career—many of you don't know this—serving as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court for 20 years. And he headed the Roxbury District Court in Boston in the early '90s and served as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Special Assistant to Senator Edward M. Kennedy—[APPLAUSE] --and First Assistant US Attorney for Massachusetts and a trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. I wish he were still there.
He has a longstanding commitment to civil rights, which he documented in a book published last year called Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote. The book describes a case filed in 1961 by the US Department of Justice against a voting registrar in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who refused to register black voters. Gordon was one of the trial attorneys. Decades later he wrote about this event, returning to Mississippi to interview the still living witnesses and their families.
GINI COURTER: Gordon, who is Roman Catholic, is a person of great faith with a strong commitment to justice. We are indeed grateful for the extraordinary service he has given to this denomination. In his honor, we told him the UUA will donate $1,000 to the charity of his choice. He has chosen the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee as the recipient.
PETER MORALES: So it gives me great pleasure to give the President's Annual Award for Service to Judge Gordon Martin. Gordan, congratulations and thank you.
JUDGE GORDON MARTIN: Well thank you, Peter, and thank you, Ginny, and thank all of you. Friday night, Denny Davidoff spoke of that 1968 Cleveland GA, the first GA that she and Jerry had attended. And that was when the question of black reparations, which was affecting all of our religions, first came before the UUA. Now, what this denomination's response would be was still an issue a year later. And two weeks before the 1969 Boston GA was to be held, there was a problem. There was no parliamentarian. Days before, there was still no parliamentarian. What to do? And it was the Associate General Counsel, Bill Duffy, who called me and said, Gordon, will you come and have dinner with Joe Fisher, our Moderator And I did. And Joe and I got along. And it was the start of a relationship that has endured right up until this golden anniversary of the UUA. Joe hadn't told me everything.
PETER MORALES: We never do.
JUDGE GORDON MARTIN: He didn't tell me about all of you who carried your own copies of Robert's Rules up to the microphone. And he hadn't told me that there might be a schism in this new association. And there almost was. But not quite. Now, the parliamentarian works for the moderator. Working for the moderator means that the parliamentarian works for all of you. And that's what I've tried do over these years. How do you work for you? By contributing to the fairness of this assembly, by making real the perception of fairness that makes any deliberative body trustworthy and successful, as this general assembly is.
Now you all know the talented woman who is, today, our moderator. And you've heard—yes.
[APPLAUSE] And you have heard from one of her great predecessors, Denny Davidoff, whom I've mentioned, who continues to be a moving force in this denomination. And who started the annual visits that she and I made each year that she was moderator to the youth caucus. And that Tom Bean has already been continuing as our counsel this afternoon.
But there are other moderators no longer with us. And I'd like to go back briefly to our first moderator, Joe Fisher. He went from heading the DC Transit Authority and being your moderator to the Congress of the United States, defeating one of the major right wing figures of his day, Joel Broyhill, a really nasty Congressman from Fairfax County, Virginia. Following Joe was an able lawyer, originally from Texas, who was also a strong candidate for the presidency of this association. Sandy Caron died far too young and I still miss her. It was Sandy who said, Gordon, you go out there and help them. And I've always tried to.
Now, after Sandy I worked with Natalie Gulbranson. And probably more of you remember Natalie, whose love for this denomination, for the IARF and for the state of Maine is unparalleled. And finally there was Gini's immediate predecessor, Diane Olson, another hard worker for this denomination. I wanted all of you new delegates in particular to know of those who have served you in the past. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a one week a year UU over these decades. I shall miss you all. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: You still have to do plenary today and tomorrow, Gordon.
JUDGE GORDON MARTIN: Oh, I know that.
GINI COURTER: OK. Let's welcome Kellie again.
Song: “Now Let Us Sing”
KELLIE WALKER: And I have my friend and colleague, Amber Fetner, helping me today. She's the—[APPLAUSE] She's the GA choir director. You will see her more tomorrow.
AMBER FETNER: "Now Let Us Sing" is adapted from the original words, sing till the power of the Lord comes down. Please decide if you would like to sing with the lower voices which start the song with Kelly, or the higher ones with me, and don't worry, it's not too high. Please rise, embody your spirit, and feel free to move around.
KELLIE WALKER: And I'll give you a hint, at the end there's a little rest we always miss, right before faith within. Mmm, faith within. So you'll get it by the third or fourth verse, I'm sure.
All right. If you like singing as much as I do, come to the hymn sing tonight. It's at 7:00. I've heard there's some discrepancy in some of the programs, 7 o'clock, before the Ware lecture in here.
Update on General Assembly 2012 in Arizona and Special Collection to Support our Immigration Ministry
GINI COURTER: Cool. Thank you. Please welcome the Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Phoenix and starting July 1, the leader of your Arizona Immigration Ministry.
SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: How's everyone doing? Imagine with me taking an uncertain call. Imagine saying yes to a call which can help create a powerful voice to turn our world away from fear and towards love. Dr. Martin Luther King said, sometimes we are called to take our first steps in faith, even when we cannot see the whole staircase before us. When the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Phoenix invited me to be their minister I had a list of reasons not to go to Arizona. Environmental issues about sustainable living in the desert, human rights abuses happening in that state, and cultural complexities that I did not know enough about to rightly enter into.
But my heart said yes. The call was clear and I felt bound to the people of that congregation. And I said yes. Last year when Sal Reza and I asked Unitarian Universalists to come help in Phoenix, you said yes to that call and you came. Together we stopped raids on neighborhoods. Together we prevented families from being split up. We protected children. And those of us who went to jail gave reports to the Department of Justice about the civil and human rights abuses that were happening in that jail.
[APPLAUSE] We made a difference.
And now Puente and NDLON have invited the Unitarian Universalist Association, all of us, to come to Phoenix for our General Assembly in 2012 to make an even bigger difference.
[APPLAUSE] However, Justice GA is not the goal but a means to build greater capacity needed for the long road ahead and turning the tide against fear and standing up for human rights and human dignity for all people. Justice GA must have a greater positive impact for human rights in Arizona and in this national struggle than our withdrawal of boycott would have had. We must make a bigger difference. We have a vital role to play and now is the time to bring our religious voice to awaken the moral conscience of our country.
The Arizona Immigration Ministry will do three things. It will be the container where we create the service and witness projects, the themes of Justice GA. Number two, it will nurture the partnerships with NDLON and Puente and the other groups that we're working on so that the way we come into the community in Phoenix is the way we have been invited. That our work will be an accountable relationship to our partners. And number three, it will be working to build capacity across the state of Arizona and across our country to help UUs and these partnerships broaden their capacity to make the change in this country.
We do not need to imagine that we are being called in an uncertain task. But we are being called to take a step in faith, even when we can't see the whole road ahead, even when we know we will make mistakes along the way. We are being called into relationship, not just in Arizona, but across the country. Relationships that will change us, teach us and strengthen us. We are being called to live more profoundly the truth at the core of our faith. The truth of equal human dignity and universal love. Called to join a larger movement to turn our world around and to walk this path of love and justice. Let us walk it together.
SPEAKER 1: Your UUA Board of Trustees is charged with deciding where to hold General Assembly. Now, we have locations already selected through 2014. But when the surprise of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 rose, your UUA Board of Trustees had only a couple of days to decide how to respond before the agenda for GA had to be sent out. We were called to join a boycott. We proposed a boycott to maximize our effort, our effect on Arizona. And we called for UUs to come to Arizona, led not by our head, not by our heart, but led by our faith. We were called to join the movement against SB1070 that was gathering. It is my pleasure to welcome El Senor Salvador Reza. Senor. Of the Puente movement that is leading and has been leading the movement. Senor, Gracias.
SALVADOR REZA: Thank you very much. Last year I came, and on behalf of Tonatierra, on behalf of the Puente movement, on behalf of the families of Phoenix, we asked you to join us. In April we also, before I even came here, we had a big march with over 100,000 people attending. And the UUs came in mass. They had over 500 people came down. And they marched with us. It was six miles march and it was pretty hot. People remember it, but they also remember the energy that was there. At that time people said the people were afraid to march because of all the laws that were there in Arizona. But they were surprised when over 100,000 people came out. So that showed that people are not really afraid to stand up for love, to stand up for rights, to stand up for their families.
After the General Assembly, unexpected to us, there was going to be a big raid announced by Joe Arpaio the day of July 29, the same day that SB1070 was going to be implemented. 29 of the UUs came and got arrested with us. But there was hundreds of UUs that came. So again, I come again to you and said, in 2012, please come to Arizona. Don't come to help change immigration. Come because you want to transform hate into love. Come because you want to come to Arizona to create a movement of love throughout the United States. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: And so we were here just like this a year ago hearing Sal Reza and Susan Frederick-Gray and we deliberated, we debated, we listened, we prayed and we voted. And for those of you who weren't here, this is what delegates Regina Largent and Jeff Clark and their minister, Reverend Jeanne Pupke, reported when they went back to First UU Church in Richmond, Virginia.
REGINA LARGENT: The Phoenix resolution was controversial. Some UUs of color had already found Arizona to be unfriendly and were not looking forward to GA in a hostile place. Some Arizona UUs wanted GA to be held in their state so that the delegations could help them to welcome and witness to a welcoming inclusive democracy. Another group was adamant about the boycott. They wanted to be able to publicly announce a loss of millions of dollars to the Arizona economy before SB1070 went into effect on July 29. The question went to a mini-assembly. Two amendments were suggested and passed. One to boycott and one not to. And people began to look for common ground. Although the first mini-assembly ended with no solution, the meetings continued through the night and into the next day.
REVEREND JEANNE PUPKE: Delegates agreed about the injustice of any law that broke up families, Of any law that denied children their home or their education, of any law that tried to suggest that the blame for a weak economy was on the backs of those laboring hard to earn a better life. We agreed about those ends, but we struggled with the means. Arizonans would be worried that we might abandon them in their hour of need. Others feared we would betray Hispanic leaders calling for a boycott.
JEFF CLARK: I was in the hall when the discussion and vote concerning the 2012 Arizona General Assembly was presented. And I was more than a little anxious. I've been following the discussion of this issue on one of the UUA list serves. So I knew passionate promoters of both sides of this issue. I'd also seen several really negative, hurtful comments made about people on both sides of this issue. I was told that a compromise had been worked out, but I was not sure how many people agreed to the compromise and whether or not all of the organizations were represented in these discussions.
REVEREND JEANNE PUPKE: After all, our GA history is not a perfect one. In 1968 and 1969 there was a significant controversy on how to fund efforts in black communities, how to share power and leadership, how to assure representation in our community. The last time we were here in Charlotte organizers proposed a costume ball to celebrate the life of Thomas Jefferson. One UU of color asked, should I come in chains? In Fort Worth in 2005, youth of color were harassed by local police while white youth were not approached or questioned.
JEFF CLARK: As I said, I was more than a little anxious. After a number of speakers and several prayers, the discussions began on the compromise motion. The motion to go to Arizona in 2012, but to have a different kind of General Assembly, a Justice GA. As the motion said, this GA would be for the purposes of witnessing on immigration, racial and economic justice, in which business is limited to the minimum required by our bylaws. Delegates asked questions at the procedural microphone, trying to clarify exactly what the motion meant and to understand how it would be implemented.
Finally, the time came for the delegates to vote. I literally held my breath. When Gini asked the delegates to raise their yellow voting cards if they approved of having a Justice GA in Arizona a forest of yellow cards sprouted instantly. I was awestruck. I realized that maybe 2,000 people, 2,000 Unitarian Universalists agreed to stand on the side of love in Arizona in 2012. In that moment I felt immense pride in being a Unitarian Universalist. These feelings of awe and pride have stayed with me for a long time. As another member of my church noted, GA was truly a spiritually moving experience. We urged one another into a collective moment of courage.
MELISSA CARVILL-ZIEMER: My name is Melissa Carvill-Ziemer and I serve as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, in Kent, Ohio. And I am also the president-elect of Unitarian Universalist Allies for Racial Equity. Along with many other conversation partners, we participated in the discernment, the collective discernment that led to that stunning vote last year. But we didn't have to wait a whole year to go to Phoenix. I, along with nearly 200 others of you, responded to the call to participate in the National Day of Noncompliance. If you were one of them, will you raise your hand or stand if you're able, so people can see you? Thank you for your witness.
We participated in order to stand in solidarity with our partners for human rights and human dignity. The trainers from the Catalyst Project and the Ruckus Society prepared us to make our witness disciplined and effective. The spirit of love and the passion for justice we held in our hearts prepared us to make our witness religious. Nearly 100 people were arrested for acts of civil disobedience that day, including 29 Unitarian Universalists. If you were among those arrested, would you please raise your hands or stand so we can thank you for your witness? [APPLAUSE]
We willingly surrendered our freedom in order to help call attention to the injustice and immorality of the systemic and institutionalized racism SB1070 represents. The group that I was a part of spent 26 hours in the Fourth Avenue jail in downtown Phoenix. We witnessed degradations to the body and spirit. We witnessed abuses of power while we were in jail, but we also had the opportunity to hear stories. We heard stories from Latinas who were arrested for minor infractions, mostly minor traffic violations, failing to signal before switching lanes of traffic, driving with a broken tail light. They were arrested, detained, questioned about their citizenship status. Most of the people that we spoke to who told us those stories had jobs that they needed to be at the next day, had family members at home who need them, but it didn't matter.
It didn't matter because of the color of their skin, and because of the accents on their tongues. I can call that nothing other than racism and it must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.
It must not be allowed to stand unchallenged in Arizona, in Alabama, in Georgia or wherever it is we live. This is an issue that affects all of us. We may have differences of opinion about immigration policy, but our faith calls us to affirm the human rights and dignity of all people, irrespective of their immigration status.
How shall we treat our neighbors? Unitarian Universalists have something to say about that that this world needs to hear.
PETER MORALES: [SPEAKING SPANISH]. We're all Arizona. The contagion of fear spreads, deportation programs have been accelerated under ICE, and copycat laws are spreading throughout the country. What was an Arizona problem last spring is this summer's national tragedy, this season's national shame. Our Unitarian Universalist congregations are joining with others to stem this tide of greed and fear, to stand on the side of love because we must. Because [SPEAKING SPANISH].
SUSAN LESLIE: Hi, I'm Susan Leslie, Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director, and I'm here to tell you that hundreds of UU congregations are stepping forward. We have over 140 congregations that have built strong relationships with immigrant churches through their interfaith community organizations. We know of another 250 or more that are actively engaged, learning about immigration, welcoming immigrants in our congregations and partnering with immigrant groups in our communities. You've seen this on the Standing on the Side of Love blog, the photos, the faces, the testimony, the actions. Here's what we've learned. It's what we knew already. We know the best way to get prepared for Phoenix is to act for justice in the community in which you live. Here are some shining examples.
GUEST SPEAKER: In Atlanta, we led the effort to get all Georgia clergy to sign the letter against Arizona copycat legislation. A letter published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and multiple other news outlets.
The copycat legislation was passed and now, in continued partnership with concerned Georgia Unitarian Universalists, we are coordinating with immigrant rights groups and others, a human rights summer in our state.
In Walnut Creek, California, our immigration task force inspires and educates the congregation through classes, through worship and through witness. Last fall one of our potential partners in the community asked us to accompany them to a key Representative's office to call for the passage of the Dream Act. And while the act stalled, our dream to become a more able participant in this very critical debate has continued and will continue as we host a district wide immigration conference for Unitarian Universalists this fall.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts [SPEAKING SPANISH] [APPLAUSE]
In Cambridge, Massachusetts we partnered with Centro de Presente and other immigrant groups to persuade our governor not to join Secure Communities, the mis-named federal program that supposedly targets violent criminals, but mostly deport immigrants with no criminal record. The only secure community is the beloved community.
In Illinois, the first Unitarian Society of Chicago has had a number of worship services and educational presentations about the struggles of immigrants facing injustice in worker rights exploitation, families splitting up, and in many other ways. Some have participated in local new sanctuary coalition activities. Activist members have showed up as a multi-racial witness in rallies for immigrant justice, have vigiled at jails, protested against deportations, witnessed as court watchers and responded to email alerts. Most recently, to support the Illinois Dream Act which passed.
In Columbia, South Carolina, we had a worship service in which we invited several Hispanic immigrants to share with us personally how our states proposed Arizona style anti-immigration law would directly affect them. It was both touching and infuriating.
In Staten Island, New York, we are building bridges with our partner's empowerment projects, El Centro del Inmigrante. And in metro New York district, we are participating in the new sanctuary coalition's Jericho Walk, marching seven times on seven different Fridays around Manhattan's Federal Plaza in an interfaith prayer for immigration reform and for immigrants' right to remain.
In New York, along with many other Unitarian Universalist congregations, and along with the new sanctuary movement, and with the support of our state network, the Interfaith Impact, and along with many, many, many other partners, we were successful in getting our Governor Cuomo to withdraw from the Safe Communities program. And the struggle continues.
In Alabama, all of our UU clergy signed on a letter to Governor Bentley urging him to veto HP56, which he did not do. But the clergy, not just UUs, but in all of our clergy in the state, Catholics, Jews, Methodists, are planning vigils—one today is expected to have over 1,000 people out at it—vigils in their communities and inviting all of us to stand on the side of love.
In Arlington, Virginia, we are leaders in a vibrant multi-faith, multi-ethnic, broad based community organizing power group called Voice. And we have been forming relationships and organizing immigrants in our many congregations and in the neighborhoods. Organizing them to learn how to build their skills and to build power to achieve rights and human services.
And we've also partnered with local organizations that are also working on immigrant advocacy, such as the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, which held a press conference at our congregation on immigrant advocacy, where we prominently displayed our Standing on the Side of Love banner.
At First Unitarian in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we've launched a year long project of learning in action on immigration with the goal of turning out at GA 2012 in droves. We had 140 UUs at our kickoff event, including the president, Peter Morales. And now we're working with our allies to tackle immigration from three angles, legislative advocacy, hands on work with our neighbors in crisis, and by educating others.
At Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Durham, North Carolina, we have been studying immigration issues and using UUA resources and Beacon Press books. We have reached out into the community to connect with potential partners, the North Carolina Latino Coalition, the North Carolina Council of Churches, our local office of the National Farm Worker Ministry, and other peace and justice groups including our local community organizing group. We are in the process of creating a six week curriculum for children, kindergarten through grade 12. It will be on our website and it will be a resource to us all. And we will continue to work with our partners in the community to make sure that North Carolina is a place where all people are safe and free and welcome.
In Clearwater, Florida, as part of our Standing on the Side of Love campaign we partnered with the Florida Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry and the Florida Immigration Coalition, FLIC, to draft an interfaith statement of conscience opposing the draconian Arizona style immigration legislation, SB2040. The statement was signed by over 30 Unitarian Universalists, Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Catholic, Episcopalian, Unity, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religious leaders.
The Florida Immigration Coalition hand delivered the petitions to every state legislator and the governor's office in Tallahassee. SB2040 failed to pass on the Senate floor.
As part of our continuing efforts to promote humane immigration reform, we are partnering with the White House Administration, the ACLU and the National Farm Worker Ministry to organize and panel on immigration reform this next Thursday, June 30, hoping that this will continue the conversation into the public. As Unitarian Universalists, as justice seeking people, we work for justice from love.
KEN BROWN: Good afternoon, General Assembly. I'm Ken Brown, the District Executive of the Pacific Southwest District and we in the Pacific Southwest District, in Arizona and in Phoenix, are looking forward to your joining us at Justice General Assembly 2012. We are expecting that our religious presence will have a greater impact than any financial impact we might have had. And that impact is needed now and continues to be needed.
One example is that as we gathered here for General Assembly, the Maricopa County Community College District Board voted to increase the fees for undocumented students by 300%. This resolution that implements SB2008 also forces staff to report known undocumented students to the authorities. The hate continues. We need your support as we express our Unitarian Universalist faith. The resolution passed at last year's General Assembly called for the creation of the Arizona Immigration Ministry. We recognize that our work is not just about Arizona. It is about reclaiming our nation. About turning around the hate that continues to rise across the continent. To stand on the side of love.
We need to build the capacity to bring the moral imperative of human rights for all to the forefront. Working with folks like Puente and Somos America, Mi Familia Vota and No More Deaths, we want to be able to work with you to build the capacity to do this work now, next year in Phoenix, and into the future. We want to share our stories and express our faith in solidarity with those most impacted by the hate filled legislation and laws.
When I saw these baskets out there that are about ready to be passed among you, I was reminded of a story, it seems to me it was about loaves and fishes. Some of you might have read it. As I recall, those loaves and fishes grew to feed the multitude. I want to suggest to you what you are about to do will feed our souls. It will feed our vision of a better world of peace and justice. It will enable us to begin now on the road to Phoenix and beyond.
You called for the creation of the Arizona Immigration Ministry. Now we are asking you to step up to enable this work to happen. So pull out those 20s, those 50s, those 100s, those checks, those credit cards. You were handed this envelope, says you came in. There's plenty of room to fill out your information on the back and put that in the basket. And if you're watching us at home on the live stream you too can go online to the UUA.org and contribute that way. We can make history next year. History in a way that no other religious organization has. Please enable us to do so by being generous with your gifts.
GINI COURTER: Much work has already been done to build the infrastructure to support this Justice General Assembly. Establishing an Arizona Immigration Ministry to link us to the organizations and partners. An accountability group to ensure that the special mission of this General Assembly and the concerns of those most vulnerable at all General Assemblies are addressed. Careful consideration has already begun about how to ensure meaningful activities for people of all ages. And increased opportunities for multi-generational learning and experiences. Careful attention is being paid to how to increase the safety of those who might be most affected by the spiritual and practical risks posed by this General Assembly. And those working hard on this General Assembly are aware of the climate in Arizona and they're taking those nice hot, dry, warm days into consideration in the planning. After all, we've been there before and recently.
And so, at the core of this very special General Assembly will be acts of witness and service, education about the constellation of human and civil rights issues that are represented by the laws that exist in Arizona, and now 29 other states. Witness does not mean civil disobedience, that may or may not be part of this General Assembly, depending on the needs of our local Arizona partners at the time. Participation in any activity will be voluntary, as all acts at General Assembly are. We come at the request of partners, community organizations with deep roots, deep connections in the people, in the families most affected by the unjust laws and attitudes of some in Arizona and across this country. Please listen again to our partner, Puente. Please, Salvador Reza.
SALVADOR REZA: As I sat here, I was watching this flame here. And in our traditions the fire is very sacred because every thought, everything that you put in that fire, it will go up there with the smoke, never to be able to be brought back again. When you go to Arizona we're asking you, from the beginning, to start consulting with the communities, affected communities. We're asking you to work with us. We'll take care of you at the same time that you transform not only hate to love, but also you transform the entire country, the United States. We're asking you to go and become not only witnesses, but actually active participants in change. We're asking you, if you have skills, whether you're an attorney, whether you're a physician, whatever skills you might have, bring them to Arizona. And then take them back to wherever you're at, just like the previous ministers explained how they're doing in the different areas.
Right now we have 20 vital defense committees in Arizona with around 40 to 100 families per committee, and work throughout the valley, and want to grow even more. And we want Arizona to be a participatory type of assembly where the community themselves can come into the convention center while you guys go into the communities, planning it together. Again, I ask you from the bottom of our heart, that when you go to Arizona you also take into consideration, from the beginning, the indigenous communities. There's 22 indigenous nations in Arizona. And without their permission, we do not go into any other territory. That's our way. And so we are asking you to be there with us as partners that are struggling together to shine light just the same way this flame shines light on us. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: And from Tucson based Tierra Y Libertad Organization, Cesar Lopez.
CESAR LOPEZ: Wow. It's wonderful to be here. Again, I'm Cesar. Thank you, Gini. Thank you to all of you for being here. And to speak a little bit about GA Justice 2012. I'm a community organizer in Tucson. I work with many groups, but I've been working with a all volunteer group named Tierra Y Libertad Organization, building sustainable communities through green sustainability, through finance, through economic sustainability. And also, standing up and standing with all of our people and fighting for migrant rights as well. And when we look at our base, then that's something that we have to do.
We're partnered, of course, with Puenta, we're partnered with UU, we're partnered with Turning the Tide Campaign that we should learn about. And I'm excited about seeing everyone at Justice GA 2012 and I know that your excitement is building as it goes. And I was thinking yesterday about the excitement and I put out a chant. So I'm going to tell you this chant and we'll finish with it. All you have to say is love back, OK? Got it? Got it?
When our people's rights are under attack, what do we do?
AUDIENCE: Love back.
CESAR LOPEZ: We want to invite you, as everyone is inviting you, and we want you to start inviting others, too, in your congregations. And we want to invite you to before for and beyond Justice 2012. We want to do the work where congregations can partner and start to learn and grow and partner with immigrant communities within your own locales. And bring that work to Arizona so we can spread all of that. We want to start capacitating leaders within UU, capacitating leaders within all communities where UUs are based. And start to build the capacity of those organizers to lead, like Mr. Peter Morales had said, right? To lead for the future.
By before I mean, we should prep ourselves. We should start learning about the constellation that Gini was talking about where all these things meet and learning about migrant rights and how we're going to build and transform the community and future we want to see. We also want to go beyond because if we build for Justice 2012, and solely build for that, it would be a mistake. We should build for UU and we should build for the social justice movement that we're all a part of, right? And we should build our capacity for that.
We did an awesome job of talking with a good group of people about how to get involved with [SPANISH PHRASE], migrant rights protection networks. A tool kit's coming soon and we want to see if UU will partner with us and put it up on the website for download and for video showing and all of that. And there's so much other work with the immigrant rights curriculum that are being built and are being developed and adapted. We want folks to come into the fold and come in as a whole, holistically, start to learn and build ourselves so we're prepped and ready for Justice 2012.
When the communities that are marginalized in any part of the world, in any era, like the era that we're seeing now, where migrants are the scapegoats and their communities are attacked. They're being attacked so their social fabric will not stay intact. And if their social fabric doesn't stay intact, then those communities can get paid whatever people want to pay them. They can grab folks and put them in prisons, right? But what we've got to know is that when the social fabric of one community is attacked, that we are not separate, we are all one. And if that social fabric is attacked then it also affects the social fabric that our kids, our grandkids, other people's kids, and our great-grandkids will grow up with. So we'll keep—[APPLAUSE] So Central UU, North UU, West UU, South UU, West Coast UU—what's up? All sides, we're talking about sides all the time. And it's wonderful that UU comes together and celebrates in this way together every year. But all those sides, all sides on one side everyone, right?
So let's weave that social fabric together. Let's not wait for Phoenix 2012. I'm actually a little bit south of Phoenix, I'm in Tucson. We want to invite you for visits down there throughout the year, before then, we want you to see the border, to see the community organizing and the [SPANISH PHRASE] committees in Tucson, Arizona and all around Arizona. We want you to learn and get prepped for that. And we want to start weaving that social fabric, not in June, 2012 GA, but before then. So we start to meet there and have already built relationships that are strong, that will not allow for our social fabric to get broken by any ugly laws. Thank you. Thank you very much. And when our people's rights are under attack, what do we do?
AUDIENCE: Love back.
CESAR LOPEZ: Love back everybody. What do we do?
AUDIENCE: Love back.
CESAR LOPEZ: We'll see you at Justice GA 2012 Arizona.
KELLIE WALKER: I owe a debt to people I do not know. To my great-great-grandmother, who birthed 10 children and then died in her '40s. To the people whose children breathe pesticides to pick the food that ends up on my table. To the birth mother in China, whose decision led me to my daughter. To the anonymous people in South Africa, who wrote a song giving them courage to fight Apartheid. Powerful songs like "Siyahamba" sometimes take on a life of their own. The original struggles of the people who created them inspire others to take up struggles in their own backyards, on their own border lands, whether natural ones or unnatural ones. Each generation, each location presents its own cause to fight injustice wherever we find it. These songs connect us wherever we fight oppression, across time and across place.
Jason Shelton's "Standing on the Side of Love" is a powerful song inspired by the words of Reverend Bill Sinkford. Now the name of our campaign, Standing on the Side of Love. This wonderfully multi-faceted song though, gave rise to a new song. One that we could sing spontaneously on the street corners, at the jails and in rallies. People began to sing the phrase, we are standing on the side of love, to the tune Siyahamba. It was powerful. It could be easily remembered. It was even caught up by people sitting in cars at the light next to where I was singing with a group of people after an interfaith service last September 11 at a mosque in Tempe, Arizona. In this song standing becomes a strong verb. It is the call to love and the call to justice. It is our call. I invite you to sing with me this new song, "Standing on the Side of Love" to a tune brought to us by people in South Africa. A Capella because that's how we do it on the street.
PETER MORALES: I invite you, if you will, to remain standing and to take the hand of your neighbor. And as you take the hand of your neighbor feel the power of love that we share here and that we share far beyond this gathering with our brothers and sisters everywhere. And as we go, let us feel that that love has a power to it. And that love takes a stand. That love is not afraid. Love reaches out. Love will prevail and love will guide us. Thank you so much. Go in peace.
GINI COURTER: Find your voting cards, your final agendas, your neighbors, thank you for finding your sense of rhythm, your commitment. This is kind of the weird thing about moderating plenary is we do one thing and then we do something else that's so totally weird and different.
[LAUGHTER] I had another thought in mind, but while I'm at it I'll recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you for that lovely introduction.
GINI COURTER: It wasn't the wind.
Debate and Vote on Proposed Amendments to Bylaws Related to Restructuring the UUA Board of Trustees
AUDIENCE: I am Susan Ritchie. I'm from the Ohio-Meadville District and I am part of the multitude that you know as the UUA Board of Trustees. For years our congregations have been telling us that our governance is too complex and not representative enough. And so your Board of Trustees is here to recommend a more efficient board and a more intentionally democratic board. We are recommending, specifically, 14 trustees to be elected at large by General Assembly. These names would be put forward either by the nominating committee or through a petition process.
We are also recommending that the term for board members be reduced from up to two four-year terms to up to two three-year terms. Our current process of election does not give us diversity in terms of either personal identities or of skills. We demand a board that can represent us for numerical, spiritual and moral growth. The recommendations that we are making would give us a diverse board. Diverse in terms of geography, personal identities, historically marginalized communities, clergy and laity, size of congregation, age, including youth and young adult, as well as skills.
Our board wants you to know that we make this recommendation unanimously. We also want you to know that we appreciate your trust in us and out of that spirit of trust we say to you, we know that you can and should do better than us. Please vote yes on this motion. Please help us transform governance. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, my name is Denise Davidoff. I am a delegate from the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut and a former presider of this great assembly. And I rise to protest a pro statement from the procedural microphone. Really out of order.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Madam Moderator. We got one step out of procedure however, Denny, we always take the statements from the board from the procedural microphone. You did when you stood here, I remember speaking there as a trustee. So that was the board's statement. This could be fun, friends. Did it look this—go ahead.
DENISE DAVIDOFF: Sweetheart, if I did that, I was as wrong as you are.
GINI COURTER: And so then, you see how this happens. Should we follow the rules or follow tradition. I'll be talking to you about this tomorrow in my moderator's report. So noted. We will now have the board speak from whichever microphone makes sense, based on their position. But Denny, I thought you were going to point out that we hadn't even made the motion yet. Could I have the First Vice-Moderator please make this motion.
JACKIE SHANTI: Moved that the proposed amendments to Bylaws sections 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.8, 8.3, 8.7, 9.1, 9.3, 9.4, 9.6, 9.11, 9.12, 9.13 and Rule G-9.12.2, found at pages 22 through 28 of the final agenda, be adopted by this assembly.
GINI COURTER: Well done. It's all good. Now, having already had, effectively, a pro-statement from the procedural microphone, I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Dick Burkhart, Church of the Larger Fellowship, Board Secretary of UUs for Just Economic Community. We at UUJEC strongly support the reduction of board size, but we are opposed to the method of election. We want more delegate choice, not the selection by nominating committee. Remember that this morning we elected new UUA committee members without a single competitive race. We can do better than an in-bred power structure.
For example, if four at-large trustees were up for election at the same time, delegates could rank our top four choices out of eight diverse candidates. These rankings would then be used to determine the top four candidates to be elected. Note that it's much easier to get good candidates to run as part of a group then against one person for one position. In addition, if we want minority candidates, whether by geography, race, age, ethnicity, passion for justice, or anything else, what we can do is use a method of proportional representation, as they do in Scotland.
As an expert on voting, I know many other methods that should be studied as well. Therefore, we ask the board to go back and do it right. Don't be too hasty on this. Get broad public input from all of us, study many choices until they find a choice with broad public support. Let's vote against this restructuring and for more democratic trustee elections in the future. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hello, I'm Nate Walker at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and I support the proposed amendment to replace a mono-cultural board with a rainbow board. This proposal preserves regional diversity, preserves representation of genders and ordained and lay leadership, as well as increases representation of historically marginalized voices, such as young adults, youth, people of color. And it does not assume that wealth is a prerequisite for service.
I support this proposal to create an efficient and a nimble board that will provide timely and sound decisions in response to urgent matters. I trust. I trust that this will result in an effective governing team with the right balance of geography, church size, skills, identities and experience. By governing intentionally the board will be more accountable to historically marginalized voices, expand access to leadership opportunities and increase connections to the growing edges of our living tradition. By balancing geographical identities along with other kinds of diversity, the board will be better able to represent the association's interests as a whole. Let's increase diversity and increase efficiency in our governance. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Kurt DeWeese from Springfield, Illinois with the Abraham Lincoln Congregation. It is my sense that the deck has been stacked in favor of this bylaw change. But I believe that it is fundamentally misguided. First, as the youth board member reported, no board member, no district board member, comes to the meeting representing solely their district interest. So the issue of any provincialism is irrelevant.
Second, we have heard in recent plenary sessions nothing but praise for our district administrators, district board members, and the board overall. So it's not clear at all if the case has been made to effect wholesale change.
Third, I have seen firsthand the result of the error of such ways, when it comes to downsizing existing government authorities. The size of the Illinois House of Representatives reduced by one third on the false assumptions about increasing efficiency and cost savings when just the opposite occurred. Systems of at-large, geographically based local elections were held in Springfield, Illinois and were replaced by sub-district systems to ensure true democratic representation, including providing assurance of representation by marginalized communities. Fears of provincialism have not been experienced as individual members quickly realized that it takes a working majority to get things done. In each instance, at-large systems were found wanting because certain areas or groups had become disproportionately represented.
The proposal before you provides no clear assurance of proportional representation by different areas or groups. And given the wide diversity of the UU congregation members, it would be clearly impossible for the proposed systems to be inclusive. It is inevitable that there will be claims in the future that the board will leave out some significant group or geographic area or skill set. I truly believe that the system is not broken nor inefficient. There's been little or no evidence about its dysfunction. And there have been no polling of congregations about their feelings on this matter. We have heard about the good work of the UUA and its board, and we need only to consider or give guidance to the several districts—[BELL RINGING]
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name's Laurie Moore. I'm from the First United—I new this was going to trip me up—Universalist Society of San Francisco. This is the hardest part. OK. My hero, Thurgood Marshall, when he was about to be resigned from the court and they were going to appoint someone said, it doesn't matter. His daddy told him that if something bit you, it didn't matter whether it was a black snake or a white snake. What he meant by that, what the commonality was, the pejorative snake.
I think what we need to do is look at our people as chameleons and not as snakes. When we have 11 people, those 11 people can represent a lot of different constituencies. And they'll either do a good job or they'll do a bad job. And if they do a bad job, we'll vote them out. And if we don't like having—I'm sorry, 14 people—then we'll come back here again and change it. Democracy is very messy. It's very hard to do. But I think we can do a good job and if we don't like it, we can change it. The board's telling us it's unwieldy to do a good job with this many people. They've done it. I think we should trust them to be chameleons and not snakes.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. I'm Lizzie Sullivan-Hasson from the First Congregational Parish in Kingston, Massachusetts. Before we start, we would like it noted that we are not representing the entirety of the youth caucus. This is an individual group of youth, because the youth caucus has not reached a consensus. Although we support change within the board. We have a few concerns with the proposal at hand. One of our primary concerns is that the balance between the diversity, skill sets and qualifications of the board members must be met. Also, we feel that the time slot given to the consideration and alteration of the standard proposal is inadequate. We feel that more time should be given for further exploration of other opinions and options for the board restructuring. This is why, at this point in time, we are not in support of this proposal. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, my name is Jim Krawarik-Graham of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I rise today in support of this amendment to our bylaws, reducing the size of our governing board from its unwieldy and cumbersome size of 26 persons to a more reasonable size of 14 members. Unitarian Universalism is a faith with the opportunity to change the world. But we cannot change the world if we're not willing to look within our own structures and institutions, examine them in the cool light of reason and change what is not working.
A board of the current size results in a logjam as 26 voices make the valiant attempt to move beyond the constraints of their number and work on the noble business of our denominations. As we move forward and attempt to grow our faith beyond the constraints that brick and mortar buildings force upon us, we will continue to see a further movement toward nontraditional congregational models, such as the Church of the Larger Fellowship and the Church of the Younger Fellowship. With an election model tied to specific locations, how do we best represent congregations using this model? In what district is the Church of the Larger Fellowship located?
Further, although the intent of the structure of our board is that all board members represent all UUs, it is inevitable that board members elected through a regional model will hold a special relationship with the regions that elect them. Additionally, in a faith that celebrates diversity, we have done and continue to do a poor job in reflecting that diversity in our governance. Moving to an at-large board structure furthers the goal of increasing our diversity, the goal of better representation of the broad tapestry of Unitarian Universalism and allows our board to be more nimble in the execution of the goals of our association.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: I am Teresa Wilmot, Chair of the Denominational Affairs Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, Illinois. I am concerned about the lack of congregational representation on the board in this amendment. But I was convinced in the mini-assembly that this will result in more diversity. If I were to have a concern to bring to the board, I would have to send an email to 11 people. Each would assume that someone else is addressing my problem. I want to address my concern to one trustee. Justine Urbikas, our trustee from the Central Midwest District, has been very helpful to me in the past. I want a relationship with one person who will treat me as a trusted ally.
In addition, this trustee assigned to the Central Midwest District would be able to communicate closely with staff from our district to keep our congregations in the loop on board actions. Each trustee may have more than one district to work with, but each district would have one contact person, even if that person doesn't live in the assigned district. Since each trustee would be identified with a number, that assignment would be attached to the number and not changed every year, assuring a three year relationship. If this procedure were adopted by the board, I would feel my congregation has a connection with the UUA.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I want to recognize the offline delegate in the pro queue.
AUDIENCE: Hello. I am the Reverend Randolph Becker, minister to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Key West and the Conch Republic. We now live in a world in which traditional boundaries no longer make the sense they once did. And our connections are rarely just local or even national, but more universal. We are called to look beyond personality, locality, and parochialism to the invitation of more inclusive principals. to a vision which leads us from a particularity of past issues into the future of possibility. After consolidation, various and often paralleled structures of governance, services, resources, alliances and allegiances were the norm for the new Unitarian Universalist Association. Many of those structures were more for protection than vision, to maintain and protect special interests of geography, geology, custom, power and control.
But that was then and this is now. New times call for new responses. The congregation I serve is physically closer to our sisters and brothers in the Unitarian Universalist groups in Cuba. And institutionally closer to the smaller emergent congregations anywhere, than we are to the more established and large congregations in our district. But what we all have in common is Unitarian Universalism. Moving our governing structures from a location based identity toward a value based identity is one of the important steps in the maturation of our consolidation.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
[APPLAUSE] I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Pete Leary, I'm chair of the Denominational Affairs Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, North Carolina. I'm speaking for myself. I want to commend the board for attempting to lessen the size. It is unwieldy as it is, I agree. However, to change from 19 individually elected by district trustees to 11 at-large selected by a committee is an awful large change in democracy. If it had come back to be regional, five regions, each district in that region selected a regional trustee, that would be five. The committee could then come up with another six to balance any diversity inefficiencies. And that would give us a balance of a representative that you could speak to and know and select, versus all in a big group that you really will not have a relationship with. So I would urge that this be defeated and come back with a more fair and more democratic plan. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Tim Atkins. I'm from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. I rise to speak in favor of this proposal to restructure the board. I've seen a lot of conversation about how this is some undemocratic change, moving from district trustees to at-large positions, nominated by a nominating committee. But how often are district trustee elections truly democratic? How often is there just one person running, nominated by a district nominating committee who got the nomination to be trustee because they were the only one who could get talked into it?
I rise in favor of moving past geographic representation. In this day and age, it's just as easy for me to contact my district trustee as any other trustee through the miracle of email. I rise in favor of moving towards a true representation of our faith. When each district is selecting who is the most capable, the individually choosed folks who tend to be older, whiter retirees. You know, a question I personally struggle with, is our leadership indicative of our membership, or is our membership indicative of our leadership?
I also rise in favor of trust. I certainly can't say what it's like to be a UUA trustee. I figure they've got a better idea than I do about what needs to be done to make the board run better. And I happen to trust them. And so, when they say they firmly believe, unanimously, this is how to fix the board, I'm inclined to defer. Since they know the true situation better, and since I, for one, have the utmost trust in my district trustee, Nancy, I encourage you to vote in favor of this proposal.
After all, to those who worry if we change the board we won't have a truly democratic board, this current board was elected how you say you want a board to be elected, but you're choosing to discount their recommendations anyway.
[APPLAUSE] Something doesn't make sense to me there. From where I stand, I see a multitude of groups all saying there needs to be change but just not yet. There will always be another study to wait for, another group to have their say. Change is impossible without taking some leap of faith. It's time to take a little leap. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize a delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: I'm Carol Orts of the First UU Church of Berks County, Pennsylvania. I am against the amendment because it drops all geographic representation in the process. An at-large board nominated by a committee, no matter how well intentioned, is not a board that represents the geographic sections of the country. While the talented pool of ministers across the nation may easily come to the attention of a nominating committee, I do not think the same is true for lay persons. I served on the UUA board of trustees in the 1990s, representing the Ohio-Meadville district. As a member of a congregation of only 50 people, I was one example of other board members who, through the years, came from less visible places of the country. These capable, enthusiastic people would never be seen by a national nominating committee. This nominating at-large election process appears to me too much like the way corporate board of directors work.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegation at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hello, my name is Joseph Gayeski. I'm from the Unitarian Society of New Haven. I do not speak on behalf of the youth caucus, but myself and these other youth would like to offer another perspective on the youth trustee issue of this proposition. As a former youth observer, I am both excited but also deeply nervous and anxious about this change. Youth trustee was a valued and even revered position. But to be frank with you, the lack of accountability has become so null, that this position has become close to tokenized. And that's unacceptable.
This is an opportunity that we are looking at for youth to serve on the board as at-large trustees, possibly more than one at a time. More than one youth vote on the board.
[APPLAUSE] But in order for that to happen, we have to call for a higher commitment, competence and faith in youth empowerment. A vote yes for this proposition is not only saying yes, fewer trustees would be more efficient, yes this is a better way to do governance. In voting yes for this proposition is saying I have faith in youth empowerment. And I'm willing to put that faith into action. And I'm asking you, will you commit? If you vote this is up, will you commit to that faith? I know I will. I know my fellow youth will. And I'm asking you to. Because we need you to. Vote yes for this. And commit to empowering our youth into leadership. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hello there. I'm Susan Suchocki Brown from Leominster, Massachusetts. I have a question, Madam Moderator. This motion, all of the pages were put forward as a motion, are we dealing with this all of one piece, are we dealing with them individually?
GINI COURTER: It was moved from starting on page 22—
AUDIENCE: To 28 eight or something, right?
GINI COURTER: To 28.
AUDIENCE: OK. And I noticed there we're just talking about the board of trustees and not talking about the other pieces of it. How are we going to begin to address all the other pieces. The moderator, president, nominating committee?
GINI COURTER: There actually is a separate group of amendments proposed for nominating committee, starting on page 29. They would come up after this.
AUDIENCE: But on page 23, it talks about the president with the terms of office and—
GINI COURTER: Those were actually voted last year. They're not changes.
AUDIENCE: See, I'm totally confused, aren't I?
GINI COURTER: I've missed you. Yes, so last year there were changes to the terms of moderator and president. And nomination process and a search process for moderator and president. Those were voted last year.
AUDIENCE: And then about the nominating committee, at what point are we going to talk about that?
GINI COURTER: As soon as we're done with this.
AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thanks for asking.
AUDIENCE: You're welcome.
GINI COURTER: OK. I'm going to recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Yes, hello. My name is Rich Richins. I'm the president of the Unitarian Universalist Society in Las Cruces, in New Mexico. I want to say that we live in a nation and we belong to a religious community that is concentrated on the two coasts. And as a result of that, I would expect that any decision to go to strictly an at-large basis for the selection of delegates is going to represent the centers of population, that being at two coasts.
Therefore, those of us who live in the Mountain Desert District, for example, in the Heartland of America, in the mountainous regions, and more sparsely populated regions of the United States are very likely to be very, very much underrepresented. Our forefathers recognized this when they created the House and Senate systems. That a section of the United States that simply had a much, much higher population density needed to be balanced.
And that's why we have the House, which is based solely on population. And a Senate system which is more based on geographic representation. There's no provision for this sort of balance and geographic and diversity representation in the current provision. And I would ask that, while a restructuring of the board is probably a very good idea, this particular method of doing it is not. In my opinion, the optimal way to do it is not this proposal. Not this proposal. I ask that you vote no.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Dan Brody, UUA financial adviser. I have a question. Under this proposed motion, is it possible for people to run by petition to be elected to the board?
GINI COURTER: Absolutely. You'll find that information on page 25, nomination by petition. So yes. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Betty Ann Trought. I'm from Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Plymouth, New Hampshire. I attended the mini-assembly on this particular topic. I entered the mini-assembly being on the con side. For those of you who have not attended mini-assembly, I have not heard one new idea here on the cons. We discussed all of these things in detail. The people before me were so articulate. It is very hard for me to come up with the words to say to you. My experience—and I do have a lot of gray hair as a board member in a variety of organizations—says that you do need to be leaner to be more agile.
And so, I'm very much in that favor. The call concept of trust I think is very important. And I was particularly entertained by the youth. They are our future. This is our way to get more involvement from them. We have to have that. And lastly, that thing of trust comes to our nominating committee. Questions about how the nominating process will work go with this and it will be addressed during the next set of bylaws changes. But we were assured by many members of the nominating committee that they felt that they could follow the directions of this and give us what we needed. And finally, as the woman ahead of me said, if this doesn't work, we can change it. So I would urge you to vote yes.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: I'm Ann Woll, delegate for the Church of the Larger Fellowship, and a person with a disability. I agree in general with this proposal, particularly to reduce the size of the board. I am concerned about the issue of diversity. First of all, I am assuming by the definition at top of the page that, among other things, would include people with disabilities. I want my sisters and brothers with disabilities to have a place at the table and a voice at the table, to be able to speak, not be spoken for. I would like us be better represented at this proposal. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Bruce Wiggins, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. I've heard some people justifying this because it will cut the board and therefore, cut the finances. Save money in other words. I haven't heard any people talk about it that way, so my question is, is there a plan to either perhaps pay these 11 people more to come? Or what might be the financial implications of these? Has there been some thought and study about these?
GINI COURTER: So, thank you for your question because this is a helpful thing. Your board of trustees are all volunteers. They're not paid to come now and we won't be paying them then, unless you choose to do something different. As a matter of fact, I'm not paid to be here either. How many of you are mostly paid? See it all works that way. So we're going to pay them the same then as we do now.
AUDIENCE: Give them 100% raise.
GINI COURTER: Or we could choose to double their salary while we're here.
[LAUGHTER] So some of the questions though are about, for example, we might save some on travel. But, it might also be true that—what we know is true is it that the cost of a Boston based board that met only—prior to last year, the board of trustees had met outside of Boston twice in the first 48 years of our existence. Going to meet in other places—and we're really good at holding affordable meetings there. But to be out with you, it costs more. So there isn't a strict relationship there, that we're going to save x amount. But I assure you that the salaries will remain fundamentally unchanged. That portion we're good at. So let me recognize the delegate at pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Madam Moderator, I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham, from Valley Unitarian Universalists Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. And we are out of time. But I just wanted to say that there's nothing I can add to the fine, fine people who came before me.
[BELL RINGING] So please support this amendment.
GINI COURTER: Thanks, that was great.
[APPLAUSE] Are you ready to vote? All those in favor of the set of proposed amendments—
AUDIENCE: Excuse me.
GINI COURTER: —please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This clearly carries. Thank you.
[APPLAUSE] I want to note that I had one delegate, a con delegate in the queue and had we gone five more minutes, they would have come up. And I just want them to know because they waited patiently. But I ordered them in the same order they would have been had they physically stepped to a microphone here.
OK. So now we have another set of exciting things to discuss about bylaws and that is the debate and vote on the proposed amendments to Bylaw 5.2, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.16 to change the term of service for members of the nominating committee. So we're going to try to do this one just as if we knew exactly what we were doing. And I'm going to start with the motion from the first—don't you love your First Vice-Moderator, Jackie Shanti?
JACKIE SHANTI: Moved that the proposed amendments to Bylaw sections 5.2, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.16, found at pages 29 and 30 of the final agenda be adopted by this assembly.
GINI COURTER: So thanks to some excellent research on the rules we passed the other night, we now actually know that the board's statement comes, always now, shall in the future, even if Denny comes to say you should do something different again, from the amendment microphone, which will be great. It's all wonderful. Procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Lizzy Gruner and I'm from the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. And I just wanted to express, first of all—I realize this is a bit mea culpa—but my discontent with rule 6C, during the last—for those of you who can't find that, that's on page seven of your booklet—during the last set of things that we worked on, we had almost 40 people come up here trying to call to question. And we were all turned away. And I understand that it's in the rules but I'd like us to think about that as we all go to the pro and con microphones in the future. Thanks.
GINI COURTER: OK. I want to recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone to give the position of the board of trustees.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendments to Change the Term for Persons Serving on the Nominating Committee
AUDIENCE: Thank you, I'm Susan Richie from the Ohio-Meadville District, your trustee. And I'm delighted to say that since the board restructuring passed, I'm going to recommend on behalf of board that the nominating committee terms be reduced from one six-year term to two three-year terms. Our thinking here is that we want to respect the already great and now increased responsibility held by the nominating committee. We want to be sure to be able to balance and re-balance the nominating committee in terms of the diversities required of it. And of course, this becomes all the more important now that the nominating committee is the prime keeper of this charge that we have given them to make all of our at-large elections as diverse as possible. Your board urges you to vote yes for this particular motion.
GINI COURTER: I need just a moment. OK. I'm good. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: [UNINTELLIGIBLE PHRASE], Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, suburban Washington. The question I have for you, Madam Moderator, is what happens under this proposal, if adopted, to the nominating committee members who are less than three years into their six year terms and to those who are more than three years into their current terms?
GINI COURTER: So you're asking about the transition?
GINI COURTER: There is a transition provision and we'll have information on that in a minute. In the meantime, I will go to the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Larry Ladd, I'm a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Falmouth, Massachusetts and the Chair-elect of the UUA nominating committee. We have polled the members of the nominating committee and they go from indifference, because this motion won't make any significant difference in the work of the nominating committee, to concern about its effect in a negative way on the work of the nominating committee. Most of us think it won't make a big difference. It's a little bit like the board doing what the IRS does and come to help you do your work. The effect of this will be minimal because most members of our committee are not fully functioning until their second year. Because our governance process is still extraordinarily complex, it takes two years for members to really grasp it and be effective. Before that time comes up, under this proposed bylaw—I am to face the camera—
GINI COURTER: Or me.
AUDIENCE: Or me, that's a better choice.
GINI COURTER: Thanks.
AUDIENCE: We must make a decision about whether to renominate a nominating committee member before the start of their second year. We do not have enough information to make an effective evaluation of that nominating committee member. So what is the likely outcome is we will simply be re-nominating all members of the nominating committee whose first term ends. So it's a meaningless gesture in the view of most of the nominating committee members. If it passes, that will be fine. But it doesn't need to pass.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation and I get to talk now. I just have one comment. There were a lot of concerns as were just raised from the con microphone. But one thing that we've noticed, particularly in the last few years, is that the world moves at a faster and a faster pace. And six years turns out to be what used to be 20 years in the past. I think as nominating committee members have more to do and more responsibility heaped upon them, I think a six year term would be exhausting. I think many of them find a six year term exhausting already. So I would really, really ask the delegates here to support this change to our bylaws.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Betty Ann Trought, from Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Plymouth, New Hampshire. I have a question for the chair of the nominating committee. And that is, it's the gray hairs again. If somebody would ask me to take on a responsibility for three years, at my age, I would now consider it. And I have lots of responsibility. But the six year looks overwhelming. And my sense would be that you will lose people in the track if you're trying to balance in things like age and experience if you don't have the shorter term.
GINI COURTER: I call on the chair-elect of the nominating committee.
AUDIENCE: Larry Ladd, from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Falmouth, Massachusetts. The nominating committee has over 40 years of experience trying to recruit good Unitarian Universalists to serve in the various offices for which we have responsibility for nominating. The length of term has never been an issue, at least as far as we know. Other issues do come up, like whether the committee is safe and anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Many other systemic issues, but not the length of the term.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at that procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hello, Madam Moderator, my name is Abbey Tennis, I'm a delegate from the Portland, Oregon congregation—First Unitarian, Portland, Oregon. I just want to confirm that this is a gray area. There's a sentence on line 798 of section 5.2. Members of the nominating committee shall serve no more than two terms of three years. I'm wondering if that's a lifetime provision. As a young person who served in leadership before the age of 20, I wondered if can also serve on that committee again when I'm 60. And I'm not sure you guys have ever thought about that, so I'm asking. And if not, I would encourage you to think about that for next year.
GINI COURTER: I think it's likely that the intent and the actuality are different. The language would indeed say that if you've served once for two three-year terms, that you would need to move on to other riveting and exciting leadership roles in your congregation, or in the service committee. But yes, we'll put this on the list. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm Mitra Rahnema, Interim Minister, Grosse Pointe, Michigan. I'm unclear of the C Bylaw and if this is a one year vote or a two year vote for the delegation.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Give me a moment. Section 15.1. Let me go have a little conference. I know you want me to get this right. No it is not. Not a C Bylaw. One single year vote. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Jim Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Just a point of information. I wanted to note that in section 5.6, lines 815 through 817, there is a provision for after a three year interim period that one could be elected to the nominating committee again.
GINI COURTER: Yes, but earlier the language seems to prohibit it. So that should be examined. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I'm Pat Emery from the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. We are in a wave of change here at this GA. I very much was in favor of the previous motion, partly because the board of trustees itself recommended it unanimously. That's not the case with this one. Just because we are in wave of change doesn't mean we have to approve of everything at this general assembly. Having been a member of a nominating committee, for my church, not for the UUA, I understand that it takes awhile to get into the mode of actually functioning effectively.
I have spoken with several of the members of the nominating committee and they are very concerned that this will actually hurt their work rather than help it. And so, I would urge that we vote this down and perhaps take a look at it. Also, this one plus the previous vote are going to come up to complications if and when we ever go to a biennial GA for elections every year. And I'm just concerned that we don't need to rush into this right now. I just am not convinced that this one will be as helpful as the last one was. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I also want to say I have an uneasy feeling about part of what you said. Which is, I felt that the chair-elect to the nominating committee tried to represent that there was a breadth of difference of opinion on the committee. Which I think is different than someone coming saying, I spoke to some people who aren't here choosing to speak for themselves. I think it gets us into some trouble with triangulation when we're trying to speak for other folks. Thank you very much. I still have time. I recognize the delegate at the pro—Do I have an amendment mic? No. Pro microphone? what have I got going on? I have an amendment. OK. I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.
AUDIENCE: Jasmine Walston, First Unitarian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. And I have an amendment for section 5.2, election and terms of office. Beginning at line 85, and I apologize, I don't have the last line. But it's the paragraph that covers all the committees. And all the amendment does is reorder the sentences because they're a bear to read. And it separates out the committees.
So you would have paragraph a, the General Assembly Planning Committee, all of the sentences about that. Paragraph b, Commission on Social Witness, all of the sentences about the Commission on Social Witness. Paragraph c, Commission on Appraisal, all of the sentences about the Commission on Appraisal. Paragraph d, Nominating Committee, paragraph e, Presidential Search Committee. Doesn't change any of the provisions. All it does is separate them out so that it's easier to read, easier to find when you're looking at that big, long paragraph full of stuff.
GINI COURTER: All right. Thank you. I want to thank the delegate because this was actually incorporated in the consolidation session last night to rearrange this for ease of use. And so we didn't show that to you previously. So we should make sure that you like it, so we'll treat it as an amendment. Does that makes sense? But it was the feeling of the mini-assembly and of the consolidation session that this was a far better treatment than having things mixed up together. So does anyone prefer the chaos we had over this nice reorganization? [LAUGHTER] I'm looking for someone who wants to speak. You could just speak generally for chaos, but you don't have to do it on this. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Yes, Madam Moderator. I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, again. I believe that there was more than one incorporated amendment, including that one, at the mini-assembly and I'm a little bit concerned that we're not showing them. And quite a few of us worked very, very hard about that.
GINI COURTER: I am too.
AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: On this particular set of proposed bylaw amendments, this was the only item that was incorporated at the mini-assembly. And the others are in the ones that will follow and we'll make sure we get those on the screen. We won't do this again. OK? So let me be clear. Let's have it back up on the screen again. High tech deck, could we get that set of amendments back again?
SPEAKER 2: Working on it.
GINI COURTER: It's OK. It's all right. So this is a rearrangement and there was no content change, just a rearrangement. But it was wrong for you not to see this when we began. So just do a slight scroll if you would. We chose for today's session that because the only incorporated item wasn't a change in content that we would not kill any trees to show you this. This turns out not to have been the best idea, maybe, we're not sure. All right? And I'd actually like to vote this because you didn't see this until just now. So can we do that organizational piece at least? OK. All right. OK. So all those in favor of just reorganizing these so each of the committees' items are grouped together? It's nothing else. Thank you. All those opposed? Thank you. All right. I'll return to the pro microphone. Recognize the delegate there.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Rachel Johnson from the UU Church of Bloomington in Bloomington, Indiana. And I support this because I would like to point out that, as somebody who's been involved in youth and young adult ministry for over a decade, often I'm asked, how can we get more youth and young adult involvement? And my answer is often shorter term commitments. And this could be a great opportunity for more young adults to be involved if we shortened the commitment. And also to address the concern of the three year term as being inadequate, I'd like to point out that, just because the term requirement would be shortened to three years does not mean that that person would automatically leave and never come back after the three year period. And they could instead come back again and continue to search. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Do I have a procedural question? No? I have no one at the con microphone. You're now ready to vote. OK. All right. So what we're voting on is amendment to Bylaw section 5.2, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.16 found on pages 29 and 30 with the reorganization that you already approved by amendment. Make sense? All those in favor these bylaw amendments, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. That clearly carries. Thank you. All right. So we have another piece business to do today. This is the debate and vote on proposed amendments to Bylaw sections C-3.1, C-3.3 and C-3.6. But it is 6:05. And I'm wondering, I don't actually need an amendment to slide this into the next day's business. How would you feel about us doing this tomorrow?
Movement and Drumming
GINI COURTER: However, we do still have to sing. So can we sing before we leave? Let's sing. Please welcome back Kellie Walker and Matt Meyers. And please do not take this opportunity to walk out of the hall. Let's just sing first.
KELLIE WALKER: We're actually not going to sing. I've invited Matt Meyers to lead us in some movement and drumming.
GINI COURTER: Oh, they're going to move out.
KELLIE WALKER: You can move out to it. This is Matt Meyers from Boston, my good friend and colleague.
MATT MEYERS: Hello. I'm going to need your help with making some rhythm together. Sometimes in Unitarian Universalists, we can be proud that we don't have to leave our brains or our reason at the door when we enter our congregation. And when I visit congregations I like to remind us that we don't have to leave our hearts, our emotions or our bodies at the door either. So I'm going to make some rhythm. And we're going to have two halves. One half on this side and one half on this side. And you can clap with me. On this side, here we go. One—[DRUMMING] That sounds pretty good. Feel free to move if you're so moved. Feel free to make a joyful noise if you're so moved. Here we go. Sounds good.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Matt. That there be no further business to come before us, and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your final agenda, I declare that this plenary session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until Sunday at 10:45 a.m. But before that, be here for worship. It will be fabulous. See you tomorrow.
Plenary V is General Assembly 2011 event number 4020.
For more information contact email@example.com.