Plenary VII, General Assembly 2011
General Assembly 2011 Event 5008
Reports from UU World
- Moderator’s Report: “All of Us Working Together…”
- Responsive Resolutions Approved at GA 2011
- Delegates Vote to Eliminate AIWs at 2012 Justice GA
- Final GA Report Shows 4,082 Attending
- Remote Voting Approved by GA
- Approved: Amendment to Update Ministerial Fellowship Committee Rules
Call to Order
GINI COURTER: I now call to order the final General Assembly [GA] session, plenary session, for this 50th General Assembly.
GINI COURTER: It is my pleasure to ask an old friend who has served as a teller, as a moderator at some of our mini-assemblies here. Sometimes Unitarian-Universalism is a story about how you meet a friend, and you realize that you knew them 20 years ago, and where have they been. So this is one of those kinds of stories. This is Nathan Hollister and his father, whose name I don't even know except for saying Nathan's dad—are here to light our chalice this afternoon.
NATHAN HOLLISTER: Good afternoon. About 50 years ago, after helping to found congregations in Texas, Georgia, and Maryland, my grandparents, Fran and Bill Hollister, moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There, in the '60s, my grandparents worked with others to create a liberal religious home for those committed to racial justice, a home that came to be known as Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
In 2006, my wife, Robin, and I moved to Chapel Hill to spend some time with Fran in her last few years. We began our tenure as youth group advisers on our second Sunday. And because of this, it wasn't until I found myself in a workshop on membership led by Reverend Morales that occurred to me that, although I've been around for about eight months, I hadn't yet signed the membership book. For whatever reason, I spoke up about this in the meeting. And to my great surprise, and greater embarrassment, my minister, Don Southworth, upon hearing this, jumped out of his chair and took off out of the room. Moments later, he returned with the membership book in tow and asked me in front of the other 30 or so participants in the workshops if I would join the fellowship.
So of course I said yes, and I was hauled up to the front of the room. So there I stood in front of my congregational leaders, future president Morales, future UUMA director Southworth, and amid much fanfare prepared to sign the book. It was at that moment that my grandmother called out, "Wait. That's my grandson." And everything in the room stopped.
My grandmother made her way slowly from the back of the room to stand next to me at the podium. She put her hand on my shoulder. She looked at me, and she said, "I want to be here for this." I signed the book, and I joined the fellowship that my grandparents helped to build for almost 50 years.
Today, as we open the last plenary session of our 50th anniversary, I'm carrying this story in my heart. And it's my wish that, 50 years from now, I can stand where my grandmother stood, while future grandchildren make commitments to a vibrant, powerful, and liberating faith. So in this spirit, I've asked my dad, Alan Hollister, who was raised Unitarian Universalist by Fran and Bill, and has finally, finally made it to his first general assembly ever—I'll ask him to light the chalice.
The warmth of our gathering here kindles a flame whose light can embrace the world. Its spark lives in all of us and in the loving work that we do here. This sacred fire ignites our passion for justice and warms our heart to compassion. It lights our way not clearly, not with a blinding and unyielding light, but with a flickering, dancing, and varied light. It's a light that warms us when we need it and one that burns us if that's what we need. May it serve to strengthen our enduring covenants, and if I may say so, may it also serves to set fire to oppression and injustice. Let us celebrate our past 50 years and the promise of the next 50.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Allan. Thank you, Nate-o.
Report of the Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee
GINI COURTER: Please welcome for their report your Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee.
MICHAEL SALWASSER: Greetings from your Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee. We are Jose Ballester, or Helen Boxwill, Connie Brown, Natalie Fenimore, or Jonipher Kwong, Scott McNeil, Arthur Tackman, Michael Salwasser, and Wendy von Zirpolo. We say your JTWTC because it is this body that birthed the committee.
WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: Yes, it began right here in Plenary Hall in Calgary in 1992, when the Racial and Cultural Diversity Resolution was adopted. The Committee itself would not form until 1997, following another General Assembly, where this body spoke their faith and passed a resolution called Toward an Anti-Racist Unitarian Universalist Association.
I wonder if some of the folks that helped make that happen are here in the hall today? Danny Davidoff? Mel Hoover? Leon Spencer? Susan's Suchocki-Brown? Nannene Gowdy? Might you give a shout out if you were there? Or how about if you were in Calgary in '92? Nobody? Come on. Or how about Phoenix in 1997? And voted to make this so. At this GA, we offer our gratitude to you, to the founding members Ruth Alatorre, Rachel Brown, Ivan Cottman, Robette Dias, Galen Guengerich, Mel Hoover, Jacqui James, Susan Suchocki, Leon Spencer, and to all those who have served since that time. And Anita Farber-Robertson.
MICHAEL SALWASSER: And we have been busy. Since that general assembly, your Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee has transformed itself from a guidance group to a body focused on assessing and monitoring our progress on the journey. In 2007, the Committee created a portrait of five UUA districts, their work on oppression, racism, multiculturalism, and accessibility.
In 2008, the Committee turned its focus on how we assess cultural competence in ministerial formation. The Committee also expanded to formally include in its charge that which was once held by the Accessibilities Committee. Most recently, the committee completed a two-year effort reporting on volunteer leadership development.
Each of these reports are worth your time and attention and truly done on your behalf. We encourage you to visit the JTWTC website on the on the UUA website.
WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: But there's more. During this General Assembly, your Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee decided that it was time to report directly back to you. Between now and General Assembly in 2013, we will be assessing where we are on the journey writ large. That may include board processes, the effectiveness of our past reports, and others like the mosaic report and the consultation on ministry to and with youth and others.
It will definitely include a look at accessibilities in our association, moving further than an assessment of how accessible we are in terms of actual participation and explore how we engage issues around access theologically and in terms of justice.
MICHAEL SALWASSER: But regardless of where we turn our attention, is that first resolution offered here, by this body, that anchors us always. And so, to you, the delegates of our congregations, we say the journey continues, and we welcome your involvement. We encourage you to check our website, read up on our progress in service to your charge, and consider some of our recommendations for implementation in your own congregations.
WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: And so thank you, and we'll see you on the journey.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendments Related to “Associate Ministerial Fellowship”
GINI COURTER: So let's do some business. We're going to pick up first, if we could my friends—how was lunch? Pretty good, pretty good. We're going to go back and pick up the last of the items that we omitted from yesterday morning. And that would be the debate and vote on proposed amendments related to associate ministerial fellowship, section 4.8 eight and section C-10.9
So you will note from your green sheet—it's towards the bottom of page one—no amendments. One would think that would mean that it wasn't controversial and that we wouldn't talk about it for a long time, but we proved that theory wrong just before lunch. But because we're Unitarian Universalists and we believe in the possibility of redemption—you'll remember this moment later when I remind you that governance is the ministry of the laity and shared ministry—can we have a motion from the First-Vice Moderator, please?
JACKIE SHANTI: Moved that bylaw sections 4.8 and C-10.9 be amended as found at pages 21 of the final agenda.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone to give the position of your Board of Trustees.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I'm Nancy Bartlett. I'm the UUA trustee from the Mid-South District, and I'm a member of the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Atlanta. The Board of Trustees has proposed these changes to bring our bylaws into alignment with Ministerial Fellowship Committee rule changes that took place two years ago. These rule changes eliminated the category of Associate Ministerial Fellowship and thus render obsolete the references in our bylaws to full or associate. We consider these bylaw changes to be housekeeping, and we asked the delegates to so adopt them.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Nobody at the con microphone. Nobody at the pro microphone. And more weirdly, nobody at the procedural microphone. You're ready to vote. All of those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Aren't you a fun bunch? Thank you. All those opposed. All those who were too slow to lower your cards. You only get to vote once. Thank you. That clearly passed. Excellent. Excellent, excellent.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendment to Enable Off-site Participation
GINI COURTER: So now we will move on to debate and vote—hey, offline. Look at this. I know you're going to keep fixing me. Isn't it fun? By the time you leave, you will know exactly what it's called. And that will be some of us. All right. Excellent. Virtual, we like virtual too, good.
All right, so now we're going to move on to the debate and vote on proposed amendment to bylaw law article four, General Assembly, section 4.5, place of meeting, to enable off-site participation. That's right. So we'll look for a motion from our First-Vice Moderator.
JACKIE SHANTI: Moved that amendment to bylaw article four, section 4.5 be amended is found at page 13 of the final agenda.
GINI COURTER: I'm going to recognize the delegate at the off-site procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Offsite, OK. Madam moderator—
GINI COURTER: Offsite procedural. Ready?
RANDY: on this for the past number of months. I just urge your vote in favor of this. I think this is an issue of justice. It's an inclusion issue. It's an issue of how we view ourselves and community, and therefore I believe that we should pass this. In the long run, it will mean more involvement in our association, not just in involvement. It'll take people who are now off-site and put them in the midst of everything and move out the separations from the haves and the have-nots into one community. Please, please vote yes on this.
GINI COURTER: Hi, Randy. This is the moderator. And I think you were queued up in the procedural queue, but you're intending to make a pro statement, correct?
AUDIENCE: That's right.
GINI COURTER: OK, thank you. And so tell people who you are again, please.
AUDIENCE: I am the Reverend Dr. Randy Becker from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Key West in the Conch Republic.
OK, because the first part was cut off. I'm going to just take that as a pro statement. It's kind of a flaw up here I think. And I know I haven't gotten to the board position yet, but I will. And I'm going to go now to the on-site procedural microphone and recognize the delegate there.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. I'm Martha House from the San Gabriel UU Fellowship in—I started to say Grand Junction, Colorado, but I don't live there anymore—Georgetown, Texas.
GINI COURTER: They're a ways apart.
AUDIENCE: Quite a ways. My question is: will the results from the voting that we do here in the plenary sessions throughout today be available for us to take back to our congregations if we missed certain votes? Will they be available on the GA website or somewhere?
GINI COURTER: So that's a great question. Thank you. So there's a set of minutes that are posted. This is a meeting. But additionally, you will have available to you, of course, all of the video. So you can actually go back in and show exactly what we did when you weren't here or watch what we did when you weren't here.
And there are DVDs available. Actually, I waned to say this earlier. Every workshop is available by MP3, right? But you can buy all of the workshops from this GA on a DVD—all the audio—for $20. I don't figure that out. It's on a yellow form you fill out. So there's amazing access to all of this both, the written, which is a very formulaic of the minutes, and I also want to say that The UU World is here reporting, right to your right. Why don't you wave and say hi so we can see who you are? Because here's your UU World Online, and they're reporting right now on all of these votes, right now, on uua.org. Yes? Exciting. It's all good.
OK, so now I need to go to the con microphone for fairness, so let's go there. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. My name is Robert Brownstone from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco. In my personal life, I'm a lawyer and a technologist, and I'm immersed in computer technology. Unfortunately, I learned quite a bit about what goes on with elections and even boards of elections all over the country that are very focused with 100% of their work days and hours on trying to get online voting going have a lot of problems with due to hacking and the like.
For example, the Board of Elections and Ethics in DC last October tried to do a pilot program for internet voting, and a group of students and a professor at the University of Michigan readily hacked in and were playing around in the system for two days voting for HAL, the computer from the 2001 movie and other kinds of folks. And they were in there for two days before the Board of Elections and Ethics even realized it.
Unfortunately, the state of the art, again, for folks that are focused with 100% of their working hours on election and online voting, it's just not there yet. With all due respect to our association, I don't think it's the right time or the right use of energy to try to create something that's going to be immune to hacks and other kinds of insecurity.
GINI COURTER: I want to recognize the delegate at the pro microphone giving the position of your Board of Trustees.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, my name is Linda Laskowski. I'm a member of the UU Church of Berkeley and also the trustee from the Pacific Central District. There was a single mother of an adolescent who just didn't have the money to attend General Assembly. The person who uses a power wheelchair and cannot travel far distances by car. And the brand new job that didn't allow any vacation time yet. The person who lost their job last September. The woman with the sick husband who was unwilling to leave him, not to mention the 84-year-old and the 87-year-old who love GA and just hate to miss it, but just can't travel anymore. And the person from a small fellowship that did not send anyone to General Assembly in eight or nine years because of the cost. Every one of these delegates and more is attending General Assembly this year as a virtual delegate. They can see us right now, and you have heard them speak, and you have watched them vote.
Your Board of Trustees realizes that nothing can match the experience of being in a room with thousands of other Unitarian Universalists singing "Blue Boat Home," and that will be especially true next year. And we are also mindful that, of the roughly 5,100 eligible delegates to attend the general assembly every year, in a typical year less than half actually attend and exercise their congregation's votes. We want to offer delegates anywhere in the world with a telephone and high speed internet connection the ability to participate in general assembly plenary sessions.
The delegates who are watching and hearing this through technology right now did not choose between coming to GA or staying home. They chose between being a virtual delegate or no delegate at all. And they chose to be a virtual delicate even though this year their votes will not count, nor will count in the future unless you say yes, and your Board of Trustees urges you to do so.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I have no one at the con microphone. I have four folks lined up off-site who want to speak. They have an opinion. Actually, we could go directly to amendments, but I want to take one off-site delegate. Is that OK? OK, I recognize the delegate at the off-site pro microphone, Beth Walden.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] from Cache Valley Unitarian Universalist in Logan, Utah. I know I'm a long ways away, but I'm with you in spirit and passion. Providing for off-site attendance supports our commitment accessibility and democracy. We off-site delegates are supported, like you, by a great tech team. We were trained, like you were by Jenny. We have side conversations just like you do. We are able to participate in a process that previously would have been denied to us. We can't come to GA for a variety of reasons: physical, financial, or timing.
I have been to two GAs and was a volunteer for the Commission on Social Witness in Salt Lake City. I plan to be in Phoenix. I use myself as an example that we are people committed to the cause of Unitarian-Universalism. When I can't be at GA physically, I will do my best to be there virtually. This is no easy job. Many of us are tired too. It requires attention and focus, just like it does you. But also like you, we are committed to fully participating in our great faith. I urge you to vote yes so that all passionate UUs have the opportunity to serve. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: In relation to the—oh, I'm Don Campbell with the Unitarian Universalist association of Arlington, Virginia. In relation to the person who spoke at the con microphone, can you give some information on what security procedures, encryption, and such are in place?
GINI COURTER: While I am an IT professional, that's not my specialty. But I'm going to ask our Director of Information Technology, Mark Steinwinter, to answer that question. Mark?
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. I'm Mark Steinwinter. I'm on the staff at the UUA. As to the question, the system is made secure through a series of user IDs and passwords which we're all pretty familiar with using online and off-site. The passwords were generated, not by the delegates themselves, but by a team that put the security procedures in place. They were distributed to the individual delegates and have been kept secure. The delegates cannot log in to vote without knowing a session ID, their user ID, and their individual password. And that login set cannot be used more than once simultaneously. So we know who is able to get into the system. The votes occur over a website that is secure with Secure Socket Layer login, so we know that's not being sniffed or hacked as well.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Thank you. OK, so I'm going to recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. My name's David Anderson, University Unitarian Church. I move on incorporated amendment A, which reads "delete the final subject to the procedures and guidelines adopted by the Board of Trustees" and adds "the Board of Trustees shall implement policies and procedures to implement following provisions concerning remote communication: delegates not physically present at General Assembly may be deemed present in person to participate in and vote at General Assembly by means of remote communication. In no event shall the number of delegates not physically present be more than 10% of the total number of delegates allowed under section 4.8 of these bylaws."
GINI COURTER: OK, and now your two minutes starts for a statement in favor of that amendment.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. General Assembly, as we all know, is a very special place, and I don't want to see it become a virtual place by accident. I want us be very purposeful in our proceedings. 10% of the delegate pool would be over 500 hundred off-site voters. I think this is a reasonable position. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Debating now the amendment, I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hello, madam moderator. Eric Burch, Rockville, Maryland. Section 4.8 of the bylaws provides for about—as said before—5,100 delegates to GA. There is only about 1,000 delegates here in Charlotte this week. A 10% limit would mean only about 500 off-site delegates. So if even we had a cap of 50% percent participation, not one delegate who would have wanted to come to Charlotte would have been prevented from coming here. I do acknowledge that the loss of physical community is a concern, but, the times are changing. But frankly, a 10% cap is not reasonable. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I'm going to ask, actually, for—we're going to get a credentials report later, but I'm going to ask for a delegate count in a second as of last we knew. In the meantime, is there anyone else? No, it's kind of cleared out. Secretary of the Association is going to provide us with the numbers of delegates present this year.
TOM LOUGHREY: This could save some time later on.
GINI COURTER: It could. Is this the final credentials report?
TOM LOUGHREY: It is the final credentials report.
GINI COURTER: It will save us time later on, then. OK. Go ahead.
Final Credentials Report
TOM LOUGHREY: We have 1,617 member delegates here, including 410 ministers, 5 DREs, 3 associate member organizations, and 24 members of the Board of Trustees, for a total of 2,059 delegates.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
TOM LOUGHREY: We have 596 congregations representing 49 nine U.S. states, 3 Canadian provinces plus Canada, a total of 167 youth with us as registered. Way to go. A total attendance at this General Assembly of 4,082.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendment to Enable Off-site Participation
AUDIENCE: Mark Emiston-Lange, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, Texas. I was very glad to hear about the assurances regarding the capacity of the system to not be hacked. I'm also amazingly aware of the fact that there are individuals who just love getting around those systems. What procedures are in place in case we get a hacked vote? How do we invalidate that? Or how do we even strike it? Once we have a vote here, we can see who's here and who's not here. We can count and all the rest of that stuff. But if you get a lot of hacked votes on a particular resolution, what do we do? How do we how do we discount those?
GINI COURTER: This is a good question, so let's—let's think about that. It feels like we—I mean, what we do here, Mark, is we pass, of course, as you know this. We pass bylaws here. We don't pass procedures. Does that make sense? So we pass a bylaw, and then there have to be procedures in place, some of which might come back to you in the form of rules for specific General Assembly, so we would not bring to you a bylaw that actually had that level of specificity in it about what we would do if there was serious doubt about a vote. We could have serious doubt about a real vote. We could be voting in an election here and have the power go out while it's being counted. How do we work with that? Or we discover a van full of ballots with chads driving around the convention center. And it just makes us think, how are we doing? But certainly, this would require some additional work on the part of board and staff to answer questions like that. I turn to the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Value Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I have kind of a little bit of a similar question, and that is would it not be possible to poll the online delegates in case a vote appeared to be grossly out of sync with the rest of the assembly?
GINI COURTER: And that's what I mean by these kinds of processes that you put in place.
AUDIENCE: Right, so I just wanted to establish that. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I have no one wants to speak in favor of this amendment, which was incorporating—unincorporated amendment A page two of three of the green guide. And seeing that I have no one else who wants to—do you have a question about the amendment?
GINI COURTER: OK. I have someone at the procedural microphone. You know, we have a procedure at the procedural microphone, which shouldn't surprise anyone. So our head teller talks to the person and finds out if this is something that has been answered, can be answered, or if the procedural question is valid as a procedural question. Hi. And he liked that, so it worked. And we want to just thank him for that work. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Laura Newman, Jefferson Unitarian Church. My question about this amendment is, if we put a cap on the number of people that could attend virtually, how do we decide which people that is? The points that were being made were, these are people who can't come because of age, because of disability, because of whatever. How do we decide who gets to come and who doesn't if we put a limit on it? I realize that's somewhat of a procedure question, but how would that be done?
GINI COURTER: My assumption would be, and following exactly the same logic as the last answer I gave, you would then be forcing your Board of Trustees to come up with some kind of a system. Many of the systems that we have, to be honest, are the same systems everyone else uses, which are whoever does something. First come, first served tend to be what works with caps. We'd need to work to come up with something, we would hope, that was more fair. But there is no answer embedded in this amendment to that question. Therefore, the Board would have to provide it or work with the staff to make that happen.
All right. You're ready to vote. Nobody at the pro microphone. Nobody pro microphone in the off-site queue for this amendment. All those in favor of this amendment, raise your voting cards, to provide a cap. Yeah, this is for the cap. Let's start again. Put your arms down. There's an amendment, unincorporated amendment A, that would cap not more than 10% of the total number of allowed delegates. OK? All those in favor of a cap, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. This amendment fails.
Is there anything more that we need to say about the main motion, then? Ready to vote? Alrighty. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Thank you. This clearly, clearly, clearly carries. The delegates in the hall are greatly amused by the voter of the delegates not in the hall. Should all laugh together, do a joy thing or something. That would be good. All right.
Next, what we have are two separate—I think we've—have we taken everything that we needed to do off the list? We're caught up again. Good. Do we have a song?
Song: "Where Do We Come From?"
KELLIE WALKER: Yeah, we do.
GINI COURTER: Let's sing. Singing is good. So we're going to have Kellie and Matt, and on the keyboards—
KELLIE WALKER: David Glasgow.
GINI COURTER: David—
KELLIE WALKER: Glasgow, yep. Matt Meyer from Boston is going to help with drums. We're going to do "Where Did we Come From" written by composer and UU musician Brian Tate from British Columbia. In singing the journey, it gives four parts, and at some point we'll later through all these parts, and you can choose and then follow what Matt says to do. But I like to start with the easiest one, which is just two notes. So I'm going to sing that, and then we'll get going.
[SINGING: "WHERE DO WE COME FROM"]
Debate/Vote on Proposed Bylaw and Rule Changes to Eliminate GA Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs)
GINI COURTER: Well, that was good. We like singing. We now arrive at that portion of our agenda that will be very confusing to many people here. Fortunately, I am not one of them. So gather around, my friends, while I tell you story. And if that's my dad, I'm not here. Good time to set your phone on worship mode, lest you serve as a warning to others.
So here's what happened. I want to tell a story that makes sense to you. So I'll tell you what actually happened, because it's the only way you can usually get sideways in yourself like we have here. Last year, oh, let's say last decade, we started having a conversation about actions of immediate witness. And as our understanding of how we do justice changed and the role of the individual in our culture changed, we started having different kinds of conversations. And last fall, I was meeting with one of your committees, your fine General Assembly Planning Committee, and we were noting that, in order to do something different in 2012 in Phoenix, we'd have to do something with some of the things that we do now, like actions of immediate witness. So that was the first thing.
And they were ready put a bylaw amendment on the agenda. And then, in a conversation it was decided, let's have the Commission on Social Witness study this, and they can tell us what they would think, as well. So the board asked the Commission on Social Witness to study the idea of how we handle actions of immediate witness. And I think it's fair to say we surprised each other in that process, because in January the commission came back and said, we're not proposing any substantive change. And we said, the board said, why not, in a way. Said, we need a substantive change for at least one year. So we were kind of stuck in this place where we had a couple committees, smart people you elect, who wanted to make sure we were doing sort of different things, the board wanting to do different things.
So the board at that meeting put on the agenda the item that we are going to discuss and vote on first, which is found on page—let me make I do this right—31, placed on there by your UUA Board of Trustees. And what we were saying is we were saying, let's take care of the immediate problem, no actions of immediate witness.
Following the January board meeting, your committees of very smart people who've thought about this—because there aren't committees who are any more engaged with this process than the Commission on Social Witness and the GA Planning Committee. They're right here. Where are they the hall? Make some noise, y'all. Right over there. You're good folks. Said, we're really worried that maybe the delegates won't want to eliminate actions of immediate witness. We want to give them a second choice. So that was placed on the tentative agenda as well. That's the text that begins on page 32.
How many of your congregations discussed items on the tentative agenda together? Your boards, your congregations? Some. The goal is for all of you to be doing this. How can you represent your congregation if you don't know what they would like you to be thinking about, right? OK. All right. So two things were on the tentative agenda, much to the surprise of, for example, me, and the Board of Trustees. That's OK, except for one small problem. Last year, this body made some changes to the bylaws that changed who could put items on the final agenda. Neither the Planning Committee nor the Commission on Social Witness could put things on the final agenda, but some of you were already talking about it because it was on the tentative agenda. And so the board is actually of one opinion about the very first amendment. However, the board is of an even larger opinion about what we should do with items that have already been discussed in our congregations. So they both appear here, not because the board thought originally you needed a couple of different ways to go that would be confusing, but because the board wants to be in keeping with what you have discussed, and these things were put on there by folks who until last year would have had the authority to put them on the final agenda. Make sense? OK, so it's confusing, but it's all good-hearted. All right? OK, good.
So having said that, now I need a motion, and I'm going to turn to the First-Vice Moderator to make a motion on the first piece of item we're going to talk about.
JACKIE SHANTI: Moved that bylaw and rule change to article four, section 4.16 be amended as found at pages 31 and 32 of the final agenda.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And now I'm going to turn to the pro microphone and recognize the small delegation to give the position of the board.
AUDIENCE: Nick Allen, youth trustee at large. Your board recommends the elimination of AIWs from our bylaws. We are convinced it will increase our capacity for justice making at GA. I want you to envision a GA without AIWs, one where we use our time for action rather than talking about action. Rather than considering what effect a three-word insertion will have against SB-1070, we can hold teach-ins for congregations in Ohio, and North Carolina resisting the same legislation Arizona has known for years. Rather than trying to accurately name all the cruelties Sheriff Joe inflicts on migrant communities every week, we could get outside and let him know how we feel. But as you've seen, that which could move our feet for justice instead moves our feet towards microphones. We call them actions, but that's an optimistic assessment.
While our statement of conscience process does the work of building congregational consensus and showing us ways to bring home our hunger, AIWs do not. Our Arizona partners have made clear that business as usual is unacceptable in GA 2012. I dare say we have confirmed that point of view this morning. If we agree that AIWs have no part in a justice GA, your board wonders about the purpose of AIWs at future GAs. In this coming year, consider what we might learn about deep, sustainable justice work. We are excited to have the imaginative space for new movement building, congregation activating responses to the great injustices of our time. So our question to you is the same question we've asked all along about GAs ahead: will you go there with us? Will you begin the work of deepening our commitments, furthering our love, and beginning this process anew? Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. My name is Rachel Johnson from the UU Church of Bloomington in Bloomington, Indiana. And I rise to ask for some clarification on what exactly would be all possible outcomes if the bylaw and rule change would be passed that eliminates actions of immediate witness from the general assembly agenda versus the change that would eliminate in 2012, then reconstitute them in 2013? I believe there's like four possible outcomes, and I just want to make sure we're all aware of that and on the same page.
GINI COURTER: I think the easiest way to think about this is we're voting these in a sequence for a reason. So if the bylaw and rule changes in front of you now pass, then what we're saying is that there will be no actions of immediate witness in 2012, and until we come back with a new process. Now, if it fails, then that's scenario two. So if it passes, that's true, and then it will stay passed until till we go into the next discussion. And at that point we can say, well, except we'd actually like this process back with half as many in 2013. Does that make sense? OK. If the resolution that we are debating right now fails and we pass the second resolution, then we'll have the same outcome as latter outcome. We won't have actions of immediate witness in 2012. We will have only three possible rather than six in 2013. If—third possibility—both the first amendment and rules set of rules that were talking about now fails and the second, which we will talk about next, fails, I would wonder where the people went who had the vision to say that we would go to Arizona.
AUDIENCE: OK, thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone. And it's my belief they're still in the hall, by the way, so I think that would just because we were confused. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I'm Ryan Conly from the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation Chandler, Arizona. I'm ecstatic that we voted recently to allow off-site delegates, and I am concerned that the process of AIWs will be absent to them. They won't be able to engage in the discussions with individuals.
GINI COURTER: It feels to me like you're not asking a question; you're making a position.
AUDIENCE: Well, I'm just curious if there is a plan in place to include them in some process if AIW action happens to be—
GINI COURTER: Good question. Let's find out. Do we have an answer at all about what's being discussed? Yes or no? I know there's been some conversation about how—it's a big conversation. We don't know. Here we go. I'm looking.
AUDIENCE: Linda Laskowski, UU Church of Berkeley and also Board of Trustees and part of the planning team with those wonderful people over there. One of the things we have discussed is the whole signature gathering process, and the bylaw that you just approved means that electronic signatures would also be valid as part of the process. Now, I understand there's a lot more to that, but we did it start that conversation, and if AIWs continue, we will attempt to find a way to incorporate more of it into the longer-term term process.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: And for the mini-assemblies? As well as the mini-assemblies?
GINI COURTER: They've already been involved the mini-assemblies this year. They could listen in on all of them, and it's—and the assumption would be that we're sort of testing that process here this year to be able to move these queues into the mini-assembly more robustly. OK. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone. Hi.
AUDIENCE: I'm Sara Gibb Millspaugh. I'm co-minister of Winchester Unitarian Society in Massachusetts, and I'm just curious. I am wondering what the impact of this will be on the UUA's justice and witness ministries if we take away AIWs. Will they have the authority to act, to do lobbying, to do organizing about current issues that are not statements of conscience? Will they be able to act if we haven't passed something?
GINI COURTER: It's a specific question to the administration, and I'm not sure who we would send up to answer that. Susan Leslie, let's get an answer. Let's give some gratitude. Hi, Susan, at the procedural microphone, if you don't mind.
AUDIENCE: That's a good question, Sarah, and it will have an effect on us. For example, now that there is an AIW this year on Citizens United case, we'll be able to sign on to campaigns that we haven't before.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. David Anderson, University Unitarian Church. Just a point of information. If we vote down AIWs, is there a way to charge the board to bring back some kind of procedure in front of us 2013?
GINI COURTER: The board considered the question that you're asking in this discussion. But bylaw language is not language that will—we thought about putting something in here that said—your board talked about this a lot—and said, and we'll bring something back in 2013. The board would actually use not just this time to study—and if anybody else from the board wants to come speak to this, feel free instead—not just the time, but the expectation is that we will learn so much from our actual engagement in the justice GA that we will have a better idea of how we might choose to speak for justice out of actions that have immediately been taken and witnessed. But to say, vote on this, and then we'll do something felt—they were very uncomfortable making that part of the package. They thought you should have a clean choice. There's been a long conversation about trying to do something to reform, but they didn't want to tie that to this. Does that make sense? Tom? All right, I recognize the delegate at the—I want to ask a question, a favor. If you need to ask a question about the content of this resolution, you have a process question.
AUDIENCE: OK, Eric Burch, Rockville, Maryland. You went over the scenarios of pass A, failed B, stuff like that. You went over three of them. You didn't talk about what happens if we pass this first bylaw change and do not pass the—
GINI COURTER: Yes actually, I did. it was the first.
AUDIENCE: Oh, it was? OK.
GINI COURTER: It was.
AUDIENCE: Sorry about that.
GINI COURTER: Yep.
AUDIENCE: Lew Phinney, All Souls UU Church in Colorado Springs. Once again, apparently we do not have a timer. I'm ready to take my smart phone, do one side, one kind of microphone if we can find someone who can go the other side as well.
GINI COURTER: I need another volunteer with a—OK, we have somebody at the con mike go pro. Thank you. Thank you. You're a hero. All right. I recognize the delegate—where did I go last, pro or con? I'm sorry. I rarely have to ask.
AUDIENCE: Go con. Go con.
GINI COURTER: Go con, they say. OK. And it's the pro mike people saying that. Aren't they helpful? OK, I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Dick Burkhart, Church of the Larger Fellowship and the Board of the UUJEC. We say please vote against the elimination of all justice resolutions at GA forever. Justice is a very multi-faceted process. It's not just actions in the streets. Debate on resolutions and other issues and making statements is very important to stimulate people to action and getting people in our congregation support and sanction for taking action.
In addition, I think we can do a much better resolutions process, not no resolutions process. For example, I think we need justice resolutions designed to provoke a constructive dialogue as well as creative actions over the following year and not just drop it. We need a commission of social witness that assists proposers of resolutions and stops acting as a gatekeeper. Let the delegates prioritize the resolutions by topic, by ranking them. Let mini-assemblies then work on the language and specifics. Resolution follow-up could include a networking website of the UUA, largely moderated and maintained by volunteers. So please consider the fact that we have many better options, and let's work towards those and not eliminate. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: I'm Dale Hill from the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. The question that was raised about the influence of reducing from six to three AIWs on the Committee on Justice—I may not have the right name—elicited a rather short reply, which gave me a lot of concern. So I wonder if we could have a longer reply on the role of that committee.
GINI COURTER: Is that when I had Susan Leslie come up? She was reporting for staff. OK, I'm going to seek a longer reply for you. And meantime I'm going to recognize the delegate—I'm going to actually ask the parliamentarian a question and then recognize this delegate.
So we have two, really possibly inter-tangled in our heads, resolutions, right? It would be helpful, I believe, to our conversation—I almost ruled the last speaker out of order because that's a pro position on the next one. Please, if you're the con mike, don't use two minutes to try to promote aspects of the second one, if you can. Does that make sense? Because we're going to turn around and do that piece, I think, half or less. OK, I'm going to recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Tim Atkins. I'm from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. The whole action of immediate witness process at General Assembly is so drawn out takes so much energy and time, and for what? They're kind of useless. That's right. I wanted to get our congregation to rally around protesting Georgia's evil immigration bill, and I thought about using an AIW from last year as the reason our congregation could act. Nope. An AIW is not enough basis for any congregation to take an official public stance.
I was shocked when I first read that, so I did some more research. And, well, sure enough, the AIWs are toothless, and they don't lead to anything actually getting done in our congregations. And come on, let's be a little realistic here. When's the last time an urgent global issue was solved by us passing a statement that can't be enforced?
The best argument I see for AIWs as opposed to CSAIs are the quickness of AIWs. As for this immediacy argument, allow me to introduce you to the internet. Maybe back in the '80s, AIWs were away for there to be more timely calls to action, but come on. I get about 10 calls to social justice daily through the Facebook, Twitter, or email on a daily basis. Since I've arrived for General Assembly, I've receive no less than 27 emails about social justice issues. And that doesn't include Twitter, Facebook, and everything else under the sun.
Let's be realistic. AIWs are not immediate. If we want immediate action, it's time for us to evolve into the late '90s and use the internet. It is time to evolve past this once a year, meaningless, toothless actions of immediate witness. Why do we keep insisting we stick to what we always do when what we've always done hasn't made a difference? I'm not asking you to evolve into 2011 and use Tumblr, just the late '90s, please. It's time to say a fond farewell to this outdated model. Thank you.
JACKIE SHANTI: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm Jan Carlsson-Bull. I'm the interim minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston, New York. I'm a former member of the Commission on Social Witness for eight years and a former chair of the Commission on Social Witness. I'm also a former member of the Social Witness Review Panel that convened about four or five years ago and provided recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
I speak out against these proposed bylaw and rule changes and for the retention of an action of immediate witness process, for a couple of reasons. Number one, an action of immediate witness process permits many delegates who have minimal understanding and experience in the social justice advocacy process to, within the time span of a singular GA, move through a process from proposal to advocacy to a certain form of community organizing to the parliamentary process that ends up in the adoption or otherwise of a particular action of immediate witness.
Number two, I'm so glad that the previous speaker at the pro mike raised at the so what question. For what purpose? They are actions, they are immediate, and they are witness. A couple of examples in recent years: a few years ago, there was an action of immediate witness adopted around reparations regarding the Tulsa race riots. That same year, the president of the UUA at that time, Bill Sinkford, was quoted on precisely that issue in national media. Number two, another example is a couple of years ago, we passed an action of immediate witness on repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That passed. Overwhelmingly, that passed. And one of the women who proposed that action of immediate witness was on national media all over the place on that very important issue.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Wendy DeGroat, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond. I just want to remind us that we are here to speak the truth and love to each other. So, regardless of which side of this issue that you are on, please don't boil down the other side, as we were reminded last night in the Ware Lecture, to a single dimension. So just let's take a deep breath, OK?
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Scott Roberts from Saint John's Unitarian Church in Cincinnati. I support this resolution for a couple reasons. I believe in the creative power of emptiness. There is no way this UU fellowship would go without some process to bring issues before us. I'm absolutely confident that if we create this hole, a new process will rise. I have hopes that that new process would be more creative and would serve us better, and I would like to see what that process would be. The current process, UUs are very emotional, very intense in the issues that they adopt and they believe. When somebody puts one of these up, it becomes part of their faith, or it can become part of their faith. It can be an entangled part of them. I don't like seeing a person's belief put up for debate in front of this assembly and subject to the finality of a rejection of this whole assembly.
GINI COURTER: I recognized the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: I'm still Rick Rhoads, chair of the Faith and Action Commission of Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica. I appreciate what the last speaker said, but we're big boys and girls, and we've been handling rejection all our life, so it really isn't that big a problem. I want to use a data point of the AIW on supporting the Southern California supermarket workers that you passed this morning. That was truly an immediate issue. We didn't even know it was going to be an issue three or four weeks ago. There was no other way we could have brought it to this assembly. If there were another procedure that was better, we'd be happy to adopt it, but none has been offered.
Now that we have passed it, we'll be on the phone to that union tomorrow morning when we're back in LA. There's a rally Tuesday at Vons' headquarters in Arcadia. We're going to ask to bring that action of immediate witness from this General Assembly of his denomination to that rally and speak at that rally, and we're going to be relevant to 62,000 workers as a result of that. So I think the idea that actions of immediate witness are all talk and no action is demonstrably incorrect. Although I do agree with the spirit that we need to go back to our congregations and act on these things when appropriate. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you madam moderator. My name is Abhimanyu Janamanchi from the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater. My question is can the UUA staff act without AIWs as grounding? And if so, how many times have they done that before, or can they?
GINI COURTER: I have actually asked for a whole—how are we doing over there, Kay? Are you ready? We're going to get an answer to this question. It feels like they're almost ready to give it. So there's another aspect about—I know one way in which they can, which that there are actually are other types of statements that, for example, the board can make to immediately respond to something, acting on behalf of congregations General Assemblies, but we'll get a better, more complete answer from staff. Are you ready, or do you want another couple minutes? Two more minutes. Thank you. We'll come back this. I'm going to recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Carol Agate, First Parish in Cambridge, Mass. In a mini-assemblies, the one good argument I heard for AIWs is that they inform the delegates. But in order to do this, we have to follow bylaws that require a rigid schedule. This takes up a lot of GA time, time that's often spent in parliamentary wrangling. What if instead the moderator had the discretion to use that time to allow delegates to directly inform us?
Take Tim DeChristopher, for example, the rejected AIW. Some people might not know about our fellow UU who faces prison for the way he protested the sale of federal land. What if those who proposed the AIW had made a request prior to GA for 10 minutes to make a presentation? the CSW could review those presentations ahead of time for accuracy and relevance. We could become informed without having to go through parliamentary machinations if only this bylaw provision didn't hamstring us.
Voting is unnecessary. How the vote goes depends largely on who gets to the mike first and makes the most convincing arguments. Since amendments can be offered after 10 minutes, there could be only five speakers. There are usually six AIWs, and all six mini-assemblies are at the same time. That means delegates can become more informed on only one of them. AIWs trivialize the work we do at GA. Let's eliminate them and leave the moderator free to make better use of our time.
GINI COURTER: OK, now we're ready to hear that series of answers to procedural questions from the staff. Are we good? Not yet. OK con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. Bob Bacon, First Church, San Francisco. To be true to our heritage, to be true to our place in the complex world, we need to be looking for more ways to do the work of justice, not looking for fewer. That's what motivates a justice GA in Phoenix in 2012, and that's what should motivate us to vote no on the present resolution.
Actions of immediate witnesses are not the whole process, and they shouldn't be. They're not a substitute for all the things we're going to be doing in Phoenix in 2012. The reverse isn't true either. They have an aspect of education, of ourselves, of the people we talk to about issues that we learned about through this process. They have a role in advocacy as well as a witness, as they are described in their title. I hear people saying that actions of immediate witness aren't the whole—aren't all that we should be doing for social justice, and that's absolutely true. They should not be held up to that standard and rejected simply because they aren't everything, because they aren't perfect.
During the time that I've been involved in this process, what used to be called general resolutions and have evolved into statements of conscience have expanded from a one-year process to a two-year process to a three-year process, to a four-year process. There's good and bad involved in that evolution, but my point here is that increasing time window for that process increases, not decreases, the need for a process that is immediate, as this one is. I urge a vote of no.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Ready? OK, good. Now, here we go. So we had several questions about, what does this mean, how do the actions of witness differ? Can the staff do things anyway? Susan Leslie is back again. Educate us.
AUDIENCE: OK. So here's the longer answer to my short answer. Anything that the UUA staff sign onto in the name of the UUA has to be grounded in something that comes from the General Assembly. So we only have two alternatives if there is not a resolution, a statement of conscience, or an action of immediate witness. We either do not make a public statement or sign on to a campaign, or we can go to the UUA president and ask for that person to sign on. But we don't make public statements. We don't issue anything to the media. We don't sign on so.
So a recent example I can give you is several years ago, before we had an AIW w on stem cell research, we had to take a pass on issuing a public statement about that. Does that do it?
GINI COURTER: OK, are we good? OK. Thank you. Yeah, thank you. This is a good way to thank. I'm going to recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Robin Ditzler. I'm a delegate from Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington. I support this change in our bylaws because we need to act in ways that better engage the best thinking and input of both our GA delegates and our member congregations. I recognize that democracy is by its nature often very messy, but we can and should do a better job of declaring our values and putting our faith into action with a process that better balances our sense of urgency with the need for more thorough and better organized research, discussion, and reflection, perhaps a bit in advance of GA.
And by the way, this is going to be even more important now that we're going to have online voting. I had also planned to add that while my passion and nerves may have resulted in some strong language earlier, and I do apologize for any offense given, I purposely brought this up earlier because I wanted to support those who ever have any reason to vote no on any AIW that they may like or even love in principle but cannot fully support or commit to it in detail. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Michelle Hunter, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, North Carolina. I'd like to call the question.
GINI COURTER: OK. That will mean that we would end debate. All those in favor of calling the question and moving to a vote at this point, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? That motion clearly carries, so we will now be moving to a vote.
There's that little hum in the room. All those in favor of the proposed bylaw and rule rule changes to eliminate actions of immediate witness from the General Assembly agenda, raise your voting cards. OK, let's do this again. Put them down. Let's start—we can't count cards that are moving across the room like this, amusing as they are. So stop where you are if you're delegate. And even if you're not, it would just be kind. Find your voting card. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Good? Gordon, you good? Thank you. Put them down.
All those opposed? We want to see this one more time. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed?
We're going to count this vote. You say yeah because you haven't been through it before. This is—I want to be clear. This is not an occasion to leave the room, OK? Stay where you are right now for just a second. Where are the tellers? OK, and ushers. And we need—do you have your things?
OK, so here's how this works. I'm going to ask for all of the affirmative votes first. You're going to raise and hold your voting cards, and then the usher in your section is going to actually go row by row and click every vote and count them. And they are really good at giving you this, I see you, right? Once they're done with you, especially—once they're done with you, if you're voting yes, if you need to—we're going to have a break, actually, in a half an hour that's not on the agenda—you can feel free to stand up, but don't get in the way. Because then I'm going to ask for the no votes, and they're going to have to tell me when all the yeses are counted. Are you ready? And then we're not going to know the results for a bit, because they have to go add up all the little clickers. All right. Procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Bruce Wiggins, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. I found some lack of clarity amongst us sitting on what an aye or nay vote means. Could you clarify that, please? Exactly what words on what page, and yes what does an aye and a nay vote mean?
GINI COURTER: This vote is on the proposed bylaw and rule changes that you see beginning on page 31 and ending on page 32, lines 840 through 894 in your final agenda. If you vote in favor of this, you then get another vote on the next item to decide—wait, wait wait, hey, hey, hey, I don't need the help. You'll get another vote to decide the next item, which is separate. So I want to be clear about that. We're voting only one thing here first. Does that make sense?
OK, so this vote says very clearly that we are removing actions of immediate witness from our process, period. Make sense? After that, we'll take up another motion. But this one is quite clear. There will be no actions of immediate witness. Pro speakers have said until there's a new process, yes, but that's not part of this, and I want to be clear, OK? All right. You're voting on some clarity. Ready to go?
OK, all those in favor, please hold up your voting cards. And tellers and ushers, please begin counting for us.
Are we ready to proceed to the negative vote? I need my tellers to let me know. Does anybody need me to wait? OK, thank you. All those opposed?
OK any tellers still—We need more time. We need more time. OK. We're not done. We need more time to count, right Roger? OK.
OK, well thanks. I bet you want to know what happened, don't you? See, that's the other thing. You always want to know. The motion fails. It achieved a majority but did not achieve 2/3. OK? Yes votes, 508, no, 406, but that doesn't matter. We're in that zone. We don't report the counts for other votes, but I just give them to you so you will know. So let's go on then. we have—and the vote off-site—but online was 11 in favor, 7 opposed. Very similar. OK? So we will now move on to the second resolution, which is the debate and vote on proposed bylaw and rule changes to article four, section 4.16 that you find beginning on page 32 of the final agenda, beginning on line 895 and continuing through line 960. And I asked the First-Vice Moderator of your board to make the appropriate resolution motion. Thank you.
Debate/Vote on Proposed Bylaw and Rule Changes to Eliminate GA AIWs in 2012 and Reinstate them in 2013
JACKIE SHANTI: Yes. Moved that bylaw and rule change to article four, section 4.16 be amended as found at pages 32 and 33 of the final agenda.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And I'm looking for the position of the Board of Trustees at the con microphone? Sure? Just a second.
AUDIENCE: Oh, excuse me—
GINI COURTER: That would have really surprised me. Now, my board's—they're you're board, and they've got this whole week that they're here watching me, and I don't know what happens after this. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, you work us too hard. I am the Reverend Jeanne Pupke, the senior minister the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia and trustee at large. I am here to speak to you about your board's position on this amendment. Your board did not bring forward this resolution, but your board feels that because we hear you, because you chose to vote as you did just a moment ago, we received these results, and we hope that you will vote up this recommendation. It will not eliminate much of the time that we're going to be required now to spend in Phoenix on these matters in the same way. It will pick them up in '13, and we will accept the wisdom of the delegates, but we encourage you to put limits upon the debate, the time spent in debate, and the purposes. We hope that you will vote for this amendment, which limits the number that will come forward for our consideration. Please vote yes.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize—do I have a procedural, or no? I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Betty Ann Trought, Starr King Universalist U—yeah right, I don't even know what I anymore. Subliminal.
GINI COURTER: Give it a shot. Where are you going to go to church next Sunday?
AUDIENCE: OK, and my minister's here. I'm going to get it. I have just a simple question. If we pass this new resolution that we're working on that says we're going to convert to no more than three, what happens to the bylaw that we just kept in place that says six? Would that conflict? Do we automatically go to the three?
GINI COURTER: So here's what we've had. We tried one way of changing this, and folks said no. It got a majority, but not the super-majority it needed. So now this is another way to think about changing this, OK? And so this amends the same language. In other words, we didn't keep anything last time. We just chose not to change it. Make sense? OK. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon. I'm Jim Armstrong from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond. Thank you for your patience.
GINI COURTER: Yours too.
AUDIENCE: I did have a question that arose in connection with the staff's response to concerning what we can do between GAs about taking positions. I got the impression, and others around me got the impression, that the board has really no role to play without actions of immediate witness from GAs between those times. And I wanted to make sure that the board did have the authority to take positions and discuss with the president steps that we can take between GAs to act on issues that arise. I think the board can verify this, that their lived experience is that, after you all left us last year, you left us with plenty to talk about how we were going to do justice without us looking at a single action of immediate witness. So yes, you can charge the board to work on your behalf. Is that in keeping with what the board thinks? Yeah, they're nodding their heads. It's hard to get them excited on Sunday afternoon, but give it a try. Yes, I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: My name is Teresa Wilmot. I'm the chair of the Denominational Affairs Committee of Rockford, Illinois. I had asked a question in the mini-assembly on this, and no one was available who could answer. It so I'm looking for someone who can look at line 919 on page 33 and define what they mean by summaries.
GINI COURTER: I'd like to ask the chair of the Commission on Social Witness, because that's who would be charged to do this, what their understanding of summaries are. OK? Mr. David May? Yeah, amendment microphone is fine. You're close there.
AUDIENCE: These would probably be something like a 100-word summary. Five years ago, four years ago, we used to ask the proposers routinely to prepare these, and then we would use them in a plenary. The CSW would stand on the platform and ask for straw polls. And we decided not to continue that the last few years, but we would probably again start to ask proponents to write a 100-word summary. What this would do, then, is one of the complaints about AIWs from the Planning Committee and others was that the delegates did not have an opportunity with six of them to be able to read them through and understand them in a calm manner, and also to choose among them in case there were some that were very controversial. We would then come to the plenary, and the delegates present them, no more than six 100-word summaries. The delegates would pick the three that they want the most to be debated and voted upon. And so the delegates would select the ones they want to debate out of six, at the most.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. Hearing the board's positional statement on this proposed amendment, I'm afraid I'm a little confused, and if it could be clarified, if we do pass this amendment, how much time will we be spending on actions of immediate witness in Phoenix in 2012? Zero?
GINI COURTER: None.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, thank you, thank you, madam moderator.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: I just want to clarify that.
GINI COURTER: OK. But then in 2013, we'll be doing something like this again. OK? Good. I recognize a delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. I'm Dale Hill from the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. It's possible that some of my concerns were addressed by the procedural microphone, but I don't think so. I am concerned that there is too much of a gap between a four-year process of a statement of conscience and only three possibilities for immediate action of witness. Now, I did hear—I'm concerned by Susan Leslie's statement that there were certain issues that they wanted to take a stand on and were not able to do so. Now, I then heard that the board could do certain things, but the fact is that a lot of issues bubble up from congregations. And I come from a very active church, where we have done several statements of immediate action that were very worthy. So I'm afraid—I wish I could offer an amendment, but I don't think I can in the time available. I'm just concerned this is too much of a gap. Do we study something for four years, or do we limit our very active congregations to three actions of immediate witness? Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, my name is Jim Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. And I rise in support of this resolution. In 2010, this body made a promise to our communities of color that we would keep business in 2012 to a minimum. As we've already seen today in this body, AIWs are rife with the potential to distract us from that business, and further, to distract us from the real and immediate actions of witness that we all pledged to enact on the ground in 2012. The elimination of AIWs in 2012 will allow the time at our GA for real and immediate actions of witness where, rather than talking about our values, instead we put them into real action and show that we keep our covenant with those we have historically marginalized within our own communities and with those groups in Phoenix who took a leap of faith and invited us to come and witness with them.
GINI COURTER: I apologize. We have a lot going on here. I want to recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. My name is Sandra Kroll, and my congregation is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach, California. I'm speaking out against the amendment to the bylaws not on the basis of polishing the procedure. I'm sure that there are many objections that I haven't felt that are perfectly valid, and I'm willing to entertain those. However, the part of this particular amendment that bothers me is that we are going to a justice GA next year, not an immigrant rights GA. And I think it's going to be a little hard to explain that to members of my congregation, inasmuch as it's hard to explain it to me, why are we not doing this form of justice at a justice GA? I want to say, too—thank you—I want to say too that there are a number of members of my congregation who, when they have an issue that they are passionate about, they will research the UUA site for past resolutions, statements of conscience, and actions of immediate witness that fit into their passion. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. I am Debra Gray Boyd from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio, and I am here also as the most recent board-appointed member to join on the Planning Committee this coming year as soon as this General Assembly and it for both the Phoenix, Arizona assembly as well as the Louisville assembly. It is imperative that we maintain our right relationship both within our community and with those that we are partnering with in Arizona. We made a joint commitment. We went through amazing work together to find this commonality, where ARE, and DRUUMM, and the ministers, and the laity could come together and choose to stand for justice and stand on the side of love. If we do not pass this amendment, we will be spending untold amounts of time in plenary hall instead of out in partnership with those who have invited us to come and stand with them. If you want a different process in 2012 or 2014 or 2015, fine. Come back in 2013. But in 2012, we must not do this amazing and time-consuming process of actions of immediate witness. We must go and partner with those who invited us there. I invite you to vote with me for this amendment.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Finley Campbell from the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. When I worked very hard to get the decision created by DRUUMM [Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries] and ARE [Allies for Racial Equity] that we should boycott Arizona, and we were finally able to break through that strategy, I did not I think I was giving up basic rights to show acts of solidarity. There are white brothers and sisters also in Arizona who have invited us to come. Justice struggles do not split up by states or particular years. The 2012 election will be one of the most racist in our history. Issues will emerge of war, social justice, cutbacks, rise of racism, et cetera. We can chew gum and walk at the same time. We can, for those of us who have the stamina, be out in that hot sun doing out justice work. I would say, why not invite our brothers and sisters in struggles into our AIW discussions? Bring them in so they can see how we, as a predominantly white congregational group, fight for their rights because it is our rights, that we demonstrate true compassion not only through action, but through words. Remember, it is the words and deeds of prophetic men and women that shape our history. Amen.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I am Reverend Barbara Child, and for the first time in many years, I'm not a delegate because I retired last June, so I need to ask your permission to speak as former chair of the Commission on Social Witness. Respectfully, you can come make the case to me separately, but not from a microphone. I recognize the delegate behind you, and Reverend Child, you can come consult with me. I've recognized one non-delegate in seven years in this position. The delegate at the pro microphone, who I recognize, go for it.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, my name is Susan Frederick-Gray. I'm the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix and the director of the Arizona Immigration Ministry. I would ask the delegates to vote for this amendment. I believe that the spirit and the meaning of what we passed last year as a General Assembly was to do as little business as possible so that we could be doing education, community building, and justice work both inside the convention and outside in Phoenix. I do believe we'll be in Plenary Hall, but I would rather we be doing it through training and education than discussing the actions of immediate witness. I would like to keep the spirit alive in keeping our business is minimal for one year in order to address this human rights crisis, in order to stand for justice, and honor the commitment we made to our partners when we said we would come in, as we have been invited in, in the situation where there is an active boycott. They have asked us to come in as they have invited us to come in, which is in the spirit of doing minimal business as possible.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegates at the con microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. My name is David Herndon. I serve as minister with the First Unitarian Church in Pittsburgh. I also served on the National Board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, a group that used to be an affiliate with the Unitarian Universalist Association. I want to speak in favor of more access rather than less access. As I understand our history, most of the social justice positions that we have now would have been anathema to our forebears 150 years ago, even 75 five years ago. This would include our positions on immigrant rights, gay rights, women's rights, civil rights, and so on. They have not always been unanimous positions within our community.
At the 2008 General Assembly, I went around and collected signatures for an action of immediate witness proposed that our group was bringing forward. It didn't make the final cut. In 2009, I spent many more hours looking for signatures for another AIW that we wanted to propose. It didn't make the final six. We finally got one on the floor in 2010, and it was voted down under what I would call on questionable circumstances. Most of the ideas that we adopt now started out small. They evolved. They needed some incubation time. They needed people to open up and listen to what started off as less popular positions and grew into majority positions, and I'd encourage us to find ways to bring things to our attention rather than to shut them out. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Yes, thank you very much, madam. Hi, I'm Richard Kopp from the Huntington Fellowship in New York. I apologize for being so slow to understand how this is organized, but I'm seeing now that I vote against this resolution because I do not want the new procedure for AIWs, I am voting also for having AIWs next year. There seems to be no way in this procedure that I can vote for having no AIWs considered in 2012 and maintaining the present system of AIWs with consideration of six.
GINI COURTER: Would you like me to explain why that's the case?
AUDIENCE: I guess so, please.
GINI COURTER: Let me tell you why. We're not allowed to suspend our bylaws for a year. I mean, that would be the easiest thing. Let's suspend the parts that are difficult. We're not allowed to do that in actuality or by subterfuge. Therefore, we can vote to change them. That is the resolution the board put in front of you. Or we can vote to amend the process. So the Commission on Social Witness actually went back to a proposal that they had written several years ago, which was to reduce the number. But to simply have the language that says just not next year is not allowable language legally bylaws. Does that make sense? It's not allowable in the grand scheme to say, suspend for a year, because then we'd suspend this part this year, this part another year. So that's why the choice of, why isn't there something like just suspend in front of us, is not in front of us. OK? And so we're stuck with the choices we have.
AUDIENCE: And there's no way to propose an amendment to these now?
GINI COURTER: If you had amended it to look like just going back to the process, it would not be in order, and there's no way to amend it now. That would have happened in the—
AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: Thank you very much. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, Rudy Sprinkle from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the church of the—calling the question. I realize there are people in line, but I would like to call the question.
GINI COURTER: OK. All right. Those of you who are ready to go immediately to a vote on this, go ahead and raise your voting cards now. Put them down. Thank you. All those opposed? You're ready to vote. Thank you. All those in favor, then, of the proposed bylaw and rule changes to eliminate the actions of immediate witness in 2012 and reconstitute them beginning with the 2013 General Assembly, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. That clearly, clearly, clearly carries. Every once in a while, we get to use the word overwhelming. And let the people say—
GINI COURTER: I recognize—hallelujah, that's right. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, I am Robin Tanner. I serve as the minister of the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church here in Charlotte. My question is with regard to asking staff about the potential implications of any motions we have on the floor. It would seem that asking staff puts them in a double bind, where we are akin to asking them how they would like to be employed. And I'm wondering if there's another procedure for getting clarification.
GINI COURTER: Actually, the procedure I used was not to ask the staff. It was to ask the administration.
AUDIENCE: It would seem, madam moderator, though, that the staff answered.
GINI COURTER: I asked the administration.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. Isn't it always interesting that you'll go home scratching your head about something?
Song: “For All That is Our Life”
GINI COURTER: This is one of my very favorite hymns, Kellie. Is it one of yours, too?
KELLIE WALKER: That's why I picked it.
GINI COURTER: Thanks.
KELLIE WALKER: "For All That is Our Life" was written by British Unitarian minister Bruce Findlow with words by California composer and pianist Patrick Rickey. Please in body or spirit as we sing in gratitude for the life that brought us here today.
[SINGING: "FOR ALL THAT IS OUR LIFE"]
KELLIE WALKER: Please be seated.
Moderator Recieves a Tiara
GINI COURTER: OK, so I have to the other story too. I'll start. We'll do these things early. Actually, let me go to the procedural microphone first, and then we'll do the banana story. Yes.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon, madam moderator. I ask to be recognized.
GINI COURTER: Yes.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon. I'm Suzi Spangenberg, a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. Madam moderator, given that we are a covenantal faith, and you serve as both our moderator and chief governance officer who is charged with not only upholding, but modeling accountable covenantal relations, I am here because, in the January Board of Trustees meeting in Arizona, after a very long day of work, you agreed to wear a tiara during plenary. You agreed to hear a tiara during plenary if I unpacked my gear and conducted one final interview of the night. Since I did the interview, I stand here to invite you into right relationship by fulfilling your commitments. Madam moderator, will you wear the tiara? And further, will you accept this scepter and use it as you see fit in your role as moderator? Thank you.
GINI COURTER: OK. All right. Are we good? I'll keep on at least while I tell the banana story. OK, a screen here that you can't see has been really interesting for me. Show them what you showed me about 30 seconds ago from the procedural microphone. Go ahead. Because this is what I actually looked down and see, and it's interesting. It says, "liberty and justice. Now we're talking." OK. Do you know how much I love you?
Many board meetings ago, I came in, and I went to do the gavel thing. I always say, don't make me use this. I went to do the gavel thing, and it was gone. So I picked up the closest thing, which was a banana. Now, a banana is only an effective gavel for the first few times. After that, it's a candidate for banana nut bread. I bet there's a metaphor there. I went and I went on break at the board meeting and came back, and the finance chair sitting next to me had picked up the banana and had written stuff on it. And I have one right here. On one side, can we—let me see. Where are we? Can we zoom in on this? On one side, this banana says "turn over" and on the other side it says "gavel". So there's one back again today. I will have to wear this later at our party, but this was—Whatever. OK. So
I have some things to talk to you about, and they're important things, or I wouldn't waste your time with them. I have a unique relationship to you and a unique relationship to the board that's kind of interesting. The board is used to 51 weeks of the year, when they act for you between General Assemblies. They have a board chair, and this week you have a moderator, and they don't have a board chair in the same way. It's interesting, because it gives us ways to think differently. But it's a very clear part of who we are in our bylaws, because we know that the vision for Unitarian-Universalism comes up and from the people.
So while the people are here, we the people of our faith, the board doesn't hold board meetings, and I don't chair the board. The board will meet again tomorrow morning. As a matter of fact, they'll meet this evening, but only after the people aren't here, because in our bylaws, the authority for Unitarian-Universalism comes from the people. I've spoken to you about this before, and I've talked about polity. You use the big governance words, and sometimes people sort of want to switch off, but stay with me, because this is so important.
There are three big types of ways religions are organized. In one way, called episcopalian polity, the only people who can make decisions, and all the authority, comes only through the clergy, and it's top-down, through popes and cardinals and bishops and local ministers, and all the authority is vested in the clergy. That is not our way. In the second type of polity, all of the authority is invested in the presbytery, in the clergy and laity who the clergy deem appropriate. They make all the decisions. And in both of those systems, an important decision your local congregation makes can be overturned by other folks higher up.
But in our polity, congregational polity, there is no higher up. There's deeper down. So if your congregation decides that it wants to build a bigger building, you don't have to get the bishop's approval to do it, and they don't have to ask the cardinal, do we need another church there? Do we need a bigger congregation? This precious, precious, weird thing we've been doing here, where we act democratically, is part of what sets us apart from most of the religious movements in the world.
And so when I hear people tell me that they're really interested in theology, but not so much in governance, I don't know how to separate them. Because for me, our belief in the power of the people, the authority of the people, the wisdom of the people is no different if you're talking about the best thing to do in governance or the best thing to do for justice. It is the same. The vision for our religion comes from the people. There is nothing more fundamental to our religious way of life than this understanding, right here. The understanding you've been living together in this hall.
Just as Michael Schuler said in the Service of the Living Tradition, the leader guides and then steps back after empowering the people so they can accomplish and say, look what we did. The purpose of elected leadership in our congregations, and similar to the purpose for which you elect the board and I and others: to facilitate your power. Our job is to be, as Mary Katherine Morn said in worship this morning, insistent creators of beauty and justice, insistent creators of beauty and justice. We must all work together, ministers and the laity, president of congregations, presidents of the UUA, moderators, board members, committee chairs, all of us, pulling and pushing and moving our hopes to build a new history for the next 50 years.
The purpose of the elected leadership, then, no matter where you elect them, is the same. It doesn't matter whether you elect them in the UUA, like you elected me, like you elected your board, or you elect leaders in your congregation or your district. The purpose is the same: to facilitate the ministry of the laity, to empower and quip lay folks like you, like me, to build marvelous new tomorrows, and to make real their aspirations. It is the voice of the laity, your voice, the voice in this hall that creates and directs Unitarian-Universalism, and it is the inspiration of our religious professionals to shape and to guide and encourage those visions and those aspirations, to ask us to reach deeper, to reach farther, to imagine more, and to make that all real.
Sometimes when I go into a congregation, I see a picture, a list of photos on the wall of all of the ministers who have ever served there, and I wonder where are the pictures of all the lay people. When we tell the story of a congregation by listing only the clergy who have served, we tell an important part of the story, but it's only part. And when we rightly and wisely list past presidents of the UUA and celebrate their contributions to our 50 years of history, when we capture their amazing work, we capture only a portion of the story, only a portion of what has made us fabulous.
And yes, yes, yes we need to remember that without Dana Greeley, we would have probably almost no international connection. We would not have the deep relationship with the Rissho Kosei-kai. We have to remember that without Bill Sinkford, there would be no "Standing on the Side of Love," and there wouldn't be words to a hymn called "Fire of Commitment." For each of our presidents, we need to remember and acknowledge their accomplishments, but we capture only, only, only a part of the story, because where is the work of the people in that story? Lay and clergy delegates to the past 50 general assemblies have made some amazing resolutions, and I'm going to ask the tech deck to roll those on the screen, because when I saw that we were going to hear about the history of the UUA and UU world, the most important things of the 50 years, I thought for sure I would see your work there as well.
And yet, and yet—and so we have made resolutions that have moved us forward in terms of diversity. GA resolutions, responsive resolutions regarding 2012 General Assembly. These are going to start to roll from the most recent and just keep them going. This is the work of the people, the other half of the story. Awesome, awesome things. Resolutions on inclusion, on who we are and we want to be. opposing gender-based violence here and in other countries, saving wildernesses, comprehensive nuclear tests. Every single one of these things happened in the same way you've done business for four days, so you know it was not easy. And each of these, and all that will continue, this is the work, your work, of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
And there's more. And there's more. I expected to be reminded that, following a horrific natural and human-made disaster in the Gulf, our congregations, we the people, raised $3 and 1/2 million to rebuild communities and congregations in the Gulf. Do you remember doing that? And right after that, a tsunami, and you raised money again. Again and again and again. And you raised money to stand on the side of love. And you take your neighbors casseroles when they're ill. And we have a huge movement in governance changing throughout the entire association, but led an anchor right here by the congregations in the Southeast.
I expected to see on that list of great accomplishments these things and more. I expected to see that we with one voice it talked ourselves into the notion that going out on the streets and partnering with organizations like [? Endelon ?] and Puente and Somos, for a different General Assembly next year, was something we could convince ourselves to say yes to, even though we knew it would be difficult. I expected to see all those things, the other half of the story.
All of us working together is what it will take to build this faith, not just clergy, not just laity, but all of us working together, just as we have always all been present—in Selma, UUA President Dana Greeley, Reverend James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, a lay woman from my state of Michigan, all of us working together, going down to Katrina, the trauma response minister showing up to help clergy there, rowing them to their second floor apartments so they could get their goods. How many of you went and worked in the Gulf or raised money for the Gulf? Lay people and clergy, all of us working together, have made a difference. All of us working together have rebuilt. All of us working together have decided that we would move forward. All of us working together to create the next 50 years Unitarian-Universalism.
In the opening celebration, we sang a song that was sung at the very first meeting of the Unitarians and Universalists at consolidation. It's a hymn that in the former hymnal was called "Our Kindred Fellowships" and now is called in the gray hymnal "Singing the Living Tradition as Tranquil Streams." But the version we sang was not the version that was sung 50 years ago. The version that was sung 50 years ago said, "as tranquil streams that meet and merge, our kindred fellowships unite, our congregations unite. Our Unitarian congregations, our Universalist congregations. Are congregations and the congregation down the street and the church across town, our kindred fellowships unite." And we changed those words in the most recent version of the hymnal to "our kindred hearts and minds unite." Interesting, but not what we sang to begin with.
To begin with, we send our intention to be together, congregation to congregation, to find a way to merge the Universalist way and the Unitarian way together so that, together, all of us could work, lay people and clergy, Universalist and Unitarian, to move together, to create the church that shall be free, that church that reveres the past but trusts the dawning future more, not individuals who trust, but congregations that trust, congregations that set a vision for our Unitarian Universalist Association, because the power of vision in our faith rests here, in the people.
Yes, what any of us have accomplished in the past is important. I taught people how to drywall New Orleans and how to pull toilets off the floor. It's an accomplishment. Some of us have taught youth how to build fires, or taught youth how to be in different kinds of relationships, or taught OWL, or taught religious education, or taught adults how to run meetings. Some of us have just decided we'd be best off doing one-on-ones an inter-faigh settings. What we've accomplished in the past 50, years all of that is important to remember, and yet this is our 50th anniversary. So we are a people who revere the past, but we must trust that dawning future more, congregation to congregation, and the way into the future is a vision cast by the folks in our congregations.
Now, I know this is a message you don't hear all that often, and I implore you to stay with me on this, because this is the heart of who we are. The way we often tell our stories, it's a story of individuals. We list the names and the dates. It's not a bad start. But it's not the whole story. We need to tell a history that is full and fair. We need to tell a history that is both wide and deep. We need to tell the history of the UUA that is the proud succession of individuals—presidents, moderates, whomever, who have always accomplished important things, but we must always remember that our richest history is a people's history.
I tell you these things because I'm concerned that we must remember who we are, because if you expect the vision of our faith to come from me or come from a president, then we won't have enough vision. I already know, and I will say this, that there will be some folks in this hall who will, ah, Gini wants to be president of the UUA. I promise you, I am not running in 2013, OK? You will hear that, because we imagine that the only reason folks would critique who we are now is because they want to personally implement the better way. I critique who we are now because I have faith in our bylaws, in our polity, and most importantly, in you.
We must learn to tell the whole history. The next 50 years, it is critical, then, that we learn to paint a vision that includes everyone, not simply includes everyone by who we talk about, but includes everyone by who we include in the vision. Our story is not a list of presidents. It's not a list of delegate resolutions. It's not a list of hand-on justice events. Our story takes all of us, all of us, all of us. We need the vision of all of us, the passion of all of us, the wisdom of all of us, and we need all of us to be represented when we tell our story.
Now, I want to take you back a year, and I want to tell you about something wonderful and scary that we did. A year ago, we had the opportunity to move our General Assembly from someplace other than Arizona, and we debated passionately in this hall, as many of you heard. How many of you were here? You know what I'm talking about, don't you? And we made an agreement that we would go to Phoenix in a particular way. That was part of the going, right? We agreed businesses as usual was not OK, right?
OK. And then we failed to tell other people in the hall with us here. You see what happens when we don't tell our whole history? And so they felt maybe we needed to have actions of immediate witness and many other things. And it would have been easy for us to get fractured about this, but it was really that we didn't tell the whole story, and we didn't understand the whole story.
But what we chose to do is something that we have never done before, never done before. We hold General Assembly every year. Have we ever held a justice GA before? Never, never. And we have this fine group of people who we ask to planned General Assembly, and between last year and now, they were planning this one. It was kind of a big one, yeah? And now they can turn and start the next one, and yet, this is a huge task. Why would we expect that we could build a new, unimagined things using only the tools we have already in hand? Isn't that silly? That we would say, we need a GA we've never had before, that we've never imagined before, and we'd like you folks who've done the one we've always had, please, to retrofit yourself and figure out how to do it. Can anybody besides me imagine how unfair that is? Or if you can't imagine unfair, can you imagine simply, if you use a little systems thinking, probably not the best course in a way?
We asked people to do things that are really hard for them to do, and you asked everybody to do this. You asked yourself to do things that are hard to do. You asked the board to do things that are hard to do. And yet, who here is going to go to Phoenix? And so we have a dilemma. And I'm speaking to you now not as the chair of the board. I'm speaking to you as the moderator of the General Assembly. Because when we go home tonight and we next meet together, we're going to be in Arizona, friends. OK?
So here's the issue. The issue is that in this sort of flat story we've told each other about who we are and how we're inspired and asking folks who have historically done a great job doing one thing to totally imagine, to retool themselves, and do a different thing, folks who by and large were elected to do a different thing to imagine to do a new thing, and one of the things that I find is that there's a point at which we need to say that we asked too much. In other words, I think it's fine for us to say we need to go to Phoenix. I think it's fine for us to design a justice GA. But I have to tell you that, from my point of view as a leader, it seems unfair then not to provide more help, more assistance, more resources, more guidance to the folks we want to do this work.
So I want you to meet another team that's involved here, and then I'm going to talk some more. So could you please welcome—you asked us last year—you told the board, accountability group for GA 2012, right? Give us some accountability structure. We appointed a group because it was a respectful way to do it. I'd like you to meet these folks. Please welcome the Reverend Leslie Takahashi-Morris, who's the convener for the accountability group.
LESLIE TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: It is my great honor to introduce to you the other members of the accountability group for Phoenix 2012. These are the people who have been serving on this group from January to June of this year, some of whom are here, and some of them aren't. They will indicate by raising their hand. Allyson Diane Hamm, who represents Interweave; Clyde Grubbs, representing DRUUMM; Ian Jaffe, representing COEN; Jim Hobart, representing Allies for Racial Equity; Laura Wells Gilmore, representing COEN; Linda Wright, representing Equal Access; Michael Hahn,, a representative from the Youth Caucus into 2010; Mitra Rahnema, representing DRUUMM; Patricia Jiminez, representing Luna; Paul Langston-Daley, representing Trust; Sean Parker Dennison, representing Trust; Sun Principe, representing Interweave; Suzanne Fast, representing Equal Access; and Wendy von Zirpolo, representing ARE.
And I want to say just one thing about this group, which is that when you hear that list of names, you can think about this as a group of people who have been historically marginalized in our association. And you could think from that that this might be a group of people who come solely to protect their own self-interests. One of the most amazing things that I've had the experience of doing as a Unitarian Universalist is work with this group, because they have taken as their primary charge making sure that we implement the charge that was given to us by the 2010 General Assembly to go to Phoenix for a General Assembly of witness, a justice General Assembly of witness and service. Secondarily, in a both/and paradigm, they are also working hard to bring to the table the interests of those who do, in fact, face the greatest risk of physical or spiritual damage as a result of our attending there. But it is a both/and, and they're doing it beautifully and diligently on your behalf. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Great, yes? And I'm grateful. And yet, here's the problem. Who went to a workshop here that changed the way they though about something? Yeah, I did too. I was sitting on the floor in a workshop on how to make change in congregational life, how to really make meaningful change. Not should we have the announcement at the start or the end of the service, but how shall we create a congregation that reflects the diversity in our setting, the diversity where we are located? Where are we located, my friends? Everywhere, right? So our job is to create the diversity of everywhere in Unitarian-Universalism. Do you see the diversity of everywhere here yet? No, it's not. And so the question, then—Jacqui Lewis, who's the senior minister Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan, and I've worshipped with them several times when I've been in New York, is sitting, talking about this in a congregational setting, and I walked in, and I got drawn in. I just opened the door thought, what's going on here? And I got drawn into the room. I'm sitting on the floor thinking she's talking only to me. Have you had that happen to you here? You know this.
What she said is something very basic: if you're planning to do something new and different, and particularly if it needs to be what she calls multi ulti—multicultural, multi-age, multi-racial, multi-ethnicity, multi-ability, multi-gender—you get it. Who we are and who we want to be. Then the group that plans has to include the diversity you want to be. Does that make sense? And I realized in that moment that your board—I love them, but they reflect you more than the diversity we want to be. It's better, but they reflect—does that make sense? And yet—and you know I love them. I love this board that works so hard on your behalf, but they're not the beloved community yet we need to be. And the Planning Committee for General Assembly, even less so. The Commission on Social Witness, even less so. Do you begin to see our planning problem?
So here's what we need to do. We need to make the planning team not with the board and the Planning Committee and then the accountability group that we check in with, because there's so many opportunities for triangulation and emails that go missing and oh, I should have looked at that, but I didn't have time. But what Jacqui Lewis told me is you have to plan with the diversity that you want to see, because that's how you're accountable from the beginning. Does this make sense to you? And so I'm going to ask, because you asked us to create a General Assembly, to call a General Assembly. You charged your Planning Committee to create this. The CSW was supposed to bring processes that would help us minimize business. And do you begin to see the problem when all of the groups who you elect don't reflect the diversity we want to see? Yes? OK.
And so I'm going to go back and ask your board to create a meeting, not of groups to negotiate, but a meeting that lets more people in to plan and GA 2012 so we can do this right. And this is not a meeting to take power from the Planning Committee. They have their job. It's a meeting to cast the biggest vision we can. Does that work for you? Because it's not good enough—in our faith, it's not good enough to move us forward. It is not good enough to reach the beloved community by making a set of plans and asking people of color, people with accessibility issues, youth, young adults, trust, gay/lesbian, was this OK? We have to start farther back, right?
And so we had a rough year, your board and your planning committee together, as we tried to hold them to do what you asked without looking at the basic design that would get us there. And I want to apologize to the Planning Committee, who I love, for how rocky our relationship has been, because we didn't think to make it bigger to start with. Thank you, Planning Committee, for even putting up with me. And I want to apologize to you board for helping lead them in ways that made it seem like the best way to get the Planning Committee to do something was to tell them to do something when what we had to do to begin with was make the plan bigger. OK? And I apologize to the accountability group, because we put them in a bad place.
Anybody here ever worked in manufacturing? I come from Flint, Michigan. You remember when quality control came in, and everybody in the plant said, oh, good, we'll just build it however we want to, and then at the end they can throw it out if it's no good? So when they put quality control as a separate function in manufacturing, quality, did it go up? No, it went down So what we did was we said, let us plan the way we've always planned. Let the board work as they've always worked, the Planning Committee plan mostly as they've always planned. Oh, they've been working hard to do something different. And then you tell us if we made it, accountability group. Wow. If we build in any more triangulation, we could be like our own channel on DirecTV right now.
If we're going to build the GA we need in Phoenix, we can't look to somebody else for vision. We can't wait for the vision from one group or one person. We need the vision of all of us. We need the passion of all of us. We need the wisdom of all of us. And everybody has to know that they will be part of the story of the next 50 years. So I started by talking to you about how we represented our history. And do you see now why it's important? Because if we look back in our history, it's always a history of holding up this president, this minister, this important lay leader. We never tell the story of what it actually took to get there. It's part of the story, an important part. But to do the next pieces of work we have to do, we need the wisdom of all of us. And so that we can do it again and again, we have to learn better ways to tell the story.
If I've asked you in this time I've been talking you to go out of your comfort zone, I'm not going to apologize. That's why I'm here. But I want to assure you that I know that we can do this, that I know that we can learn to have the kind of bold, deep, loving relationships that will let us plan and things with new partners in new ways. I know that just as you were here a year ago telling us, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, and in Spanish. That's right, si se puede, just as we could do that a year ago, your leaders, your elected leaders, whether they be board or Planning Committee or moderator or president, your elected leaders, with the help of good people, smart, wise people, some of whom you've just seen on this, stage we together, we together can make a new story for the next 50 years, a new history, a bold history, a history that is worthy of our aspirations. I ask you to join me in tenderness, in patience, in tenacity, and in telling all our stories, wherever we are.
Recognizing the GA Planning Committee, Local Committee and Staff
GINI COURTER: I thank you. You honor me. Now let's honor some of the other folks. OK? Your UUA Board of Trustees. I need the GA Planning Committee and local volunteers up on the stage. Come on, let them see you. Come on up. Commission on Social Witness, up here. Let's go. Musicians who've been helping us sing our way through this. Come on up. Tellers and ushers off the floor. Come on up. General Assembly and Conference Planning Services staff, come on up. Who've I missed? Oh, oh, oh, off-site delegate team, come on up. Timers, come on up.
Look at what it takes to make a GA. Keep it up. Let's go. Who are we missing? Got the board coming. Who are we missing? Right Relationship Team, get up here. We need you. Accountability group for next year, come on up. UU World Online, come on up. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Come on up. Youth and young adult caucus teams, come on up. Anybody who was elected to do this stuff in the next two years, get up here. You don't get out of this. Nancy Lawrence and Dea Braden, get up here. Peter Morales. Come on, President Morales. We need you. Don't we need him?
Our camera guys. Local ministers who were here with us at the protest, come on up. Will we need them in Arizona? Arizona ministers, come on up. We're going to need you. Did I get my guys at the timing table? Get up here. Tech deck. [? Tieran ?] from the tech deck up there. Our captioners. They're not here. They're in Canada. Say hello to them, yay.
GINI COURTER: All the GA volunteers. Parliamentarian and legal counsel. Where's Gordon Martin and Tom Bean? You began to see what it takes to plan a General Assembly and execute it? And we need to be even bigger, even bigger. This is what it takes. These folks have been working for a year, two years, three years for this event right here. Thank them. And we're going to ask them to do it again in a whole new way, and we're going to promise to help them, yes? And we're going to tell them that we'll send them help, yes? And if they ask us for help, we're going to say yes, yes? Are we ready to go to Phoenix? But not yet. We're not done here yet. But it's close. Go away for a minute.
I want to say two quick things, and then we're going to close. Oh, two quick things. Responsive resolutions, if there are any. It's why I have this Got Resolutions button here. They can leave. You want to cheer them off, though?
[SINGING: "STANDING ON THE SIDE OF LOVE"]
GINI COURTER: We spent a lot of time talking about Charlotte when we got here, but I was reminded that for many of our younger Unitarian Universalists, Charlotte—that's long time ago. They weren't born, or they were children then. But all of our conversations about Charlotte reminded me of another time, at the Fort Worth GA, when I sat with our youth and young adults of color through a very painful and difficult evening, where we talked about the racism that had been—and ageism—in combination—how convenient—with which local authorities and we, their fellow delegates, had plagued them during that General Assembly. And I want to give a call out that sometime, if we talk with about something like Charlotte, it makes it seem like it's a place, like racism happens here. But for our youth and young adults, Fort Worth was their Charlotte. Part of our job is to make sure that, wherever we go in a particular year, that we continue to move forward and make better and honest mistakes, have tried in every way we could to see the world, not just through our own eyes or through the eyes of whatever privilege or identities we have, but to see the world perhaps as it affects other people, as well. So I want to give a call out to that and how good it is to see at this General Assembly so many of the young adults who were youth at that GA back with us again. It is moving for me as you moderator.
OK, let's have responsive resolutions if we have a couple. What you got?
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, David Anderson, University Unitarian Church. I want to move to amend rule 15 to adjourn no later than 6:00 p.m., since it's already 5:00.
GINI COURTER: I guess you better. Is there second? We just need—it's formulaic. We don't want—she's not staying until 6:00. He doesn't want to have to run up more than 15 more minutes, OK? We're almost done. All those in favor? Thank you. All those opposed? Clearly carried. Thank you. Because you're excited about it. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone—the delegation, right?
AUDIENCE: Yes. Madam moderator, my name is Michael Tino. I serve as minister of, and I am a delegate from, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mt. Kisco, New York I'm also the trustee-elect from the Metro New York District, and I stand here with David Friedman, the UUA trustee from the St. Lawrence District and John Hawkins, the UUA trustee from the Metro New York District to offer this responsive resolution to the report the president.
Whereas the Standing on the Side of Love campaign was recognized President Peter Morales in his report as the major public witness campaign of the UUA. And whereas, this campaign has advocated fiercely for marriage equality. And whereas, while Unitarian Universalists from throughout the world met in Charlotte at General Assembly, the New York State legislature, in a bipartisan vote, passed marriage equality legislation that was signed into law by governor Andrew Cuomo. And whereas, multiracial, interfaith coalitions, including Interfaith Impact of New York State, were instrumental in the passage of this law by showing the legislature that diverse people of faith stand on the side of love. And whereas, Unitarian Universalists from the Metro New York and St. Lawrence Districts played significant roles in these coalitions, be it therefore resolved that the 2011 General Assembly celebrates with the people of New York on the occasion of this historic victory and expresses enthusiastic joy for this step towards equality. Be it further resolved that we recognize that the struggle for equal marriage rights is only one small piece of a larger movement for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Lastly, be it resolved that the delegates call upon our congregations and institutions to continue our religious witness and advocacy for love as well as the dismantling of barriers of inequality and oppression wherever they are found.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Are you ready to vote? All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? That worked. OK. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. Orlanda Brugnola, interim minister in Poughkeepsie. This is a response a resolution to the report of the President Peter Morales. Whereas, president Peter Morales' annual report referred to communities with a, quote, spiritual hunger that can be fed by Unitarian-Universalism. He referred to the need for multicultural competence in serving these communities. He cited the strategic review of professional ministries, which states in part, quote, our UUA president, Peter Morales, believes that vibrant multicultural congregations are essential for a thriving Unitarian-Universalism of the future, unquote and, quote, our ministers, religious educators, and musicians must be equipped with a strong multicultural competence, unquote, and recommended that we should, quote, strengthen RE and music credentialing and continuing education, unquote. And whereas, some fluency in a second language is one of the paths to multicultural competency, as our Latina/Latino/Hispanic colleagues have already demonstrated, it enhances our ability to engage effectively with diverse communities. Whereas, the 50th anniversary of the merger of Universalists and Unitarians offers a powerful challenge and opportunity for our meaningful presence in the future, therefore be it resolved that General Assembly strongly urges members of congregations and religious professionals to engage in continuing education programs in the Spanish language beginning as early as July 2011.
GINI COURTER: Gracias.
AUDIENCE: De nada.
GINI COURTER: Are we ready to vote? So that's like next month, right? So this is saying that we're encouraging people really quick to start working on this, and that because Arizona is only how long away?
AUDIENCE: A year.
GINI COURTER: OK, you get it. Ready to vote? All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? OK. Go home and start working on it. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Thank you, madam moderator. My name is Deborah Gray Boyd, and I'm from the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, Ohio. I come before you today because I believe we are a body that is grounded in covenantal community. And in that manner of covenantal community, I must come forward, because last year, we had a response resolution which the board agreed to come back to this body and speak to how we might actually have a covenant upon which to stand. I am confident that this body is more than willing to extend the understanding and forgiveness and appreciation of the board not being able to fulfill that commitment.
GINI COURTER: Correct.
AUDIENCE: However, I do feel that we must avail the board the opportunity to acknowledge that and to further commit to bringing a response, at least by GA 2013.
GINI COURTER: 13?
AUDIENCE: Therefore, I move and ask that the board make that progress and report back no later than GA 2013.
GINI COURTER: OK. So we had motion last year. There were several responsive resolutions. The board, as the delegate has noted, actually did not complete work on this one. You ready vote—and they're nodding. We good? OK, board's is nodding. They'd appreciate two years to do this. OK? All those in favor of asking the board to work on covenant in the next two years? Like we did last year? Thank you. All those opposed? OK, good. We'll do this. Thank you. Anything else? I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
AUDIENCE: Madam moderator, thank you. My name is Rob Smith. I'm here from Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Chandler, Arizona. My great-grandfather was the minister of the first Universalist church in Bangor, Maine. My grandparents were UUs. My dad was raised UU. After being brought up on a steady diet of questioning everything, seeking justice, and serving others, he arrived in young adulthood to find that his faith community was unable to evolve and adapt. Their inability to stop talking about world's problems in committee and get out into the world and actually do something about them left my father frustrated disillusioned with the faith of his childhood.
As a result, I was not raised in a UU church. I did not get YRUU. I did not get to go to cons or camp or have bridging ceremony. I did not have a beloved community to support me through the many long years of feeling awkward, different, and alone.
I am here to challenge you all. Go back to your congregations and start talking about what next summer's GA could mean for you, for our faith, and for the communities we live in. Come to Phoenix with an open heart and an open mind and a generous spirit, ready and willing for your life and our faith to be changed forever. Stop talking about how to keep young people from leaving our faith in droves, help them get to Phoenix, and find a reason to stay in our faith, and let them help us see what the present future of our movement looks Like I'd therefore like to suggest the following responsive resolution in response to your report.
Whereas, the assembled delegates to the 2010 General Assembly passed business and responsive resolutions acknowledging the importance of engaging and empowering youth and young adults to bring their unique gifts to the planned justice general assembly 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona, therefore be it resolved, we, the delegates of the 2011 General Assembly, do hereby call on the UUA Board of Trustees, staff, and GA Planning Committee to facilitate the creation of an Arizona youth and young adult action ministry tasked with organizing, educating, training, and energizing our youth and young adults around these issues surrounding Justice General Assembly and empowering them to help plan and attend this historic event. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Is this pursuant to that?
GINI COURTER: Do you want to speak in favor of it?
AUDIENCE: No. I have a point of information.
GINI COURTER: OK
AUDIENCE: My name is Laura Gilmore. I am a delegate from the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, and I'm one of the co-moderator of Young Adult Caucus this year. I just wanted raise point of information to say that, while I personally am not—I can't take any stance on this, I wanted people to know that neither Young Adult Caucus or Youth Caucus had seen this in advance.
GINI COURTER: My guess is going to be that, since it's based on report that was delivered about 20 seconds ago—
AUDIENCE: Yes. However, neither caucus had any idea. And I want people to know that.
GINI COURTER: OK. If they had, I would wonder who had been reading my email. Never mind. OK. OK, good. You ready to vote? All those in favor? Thank you. All those opposed? Clearly passes. Are we done with responsive resolutions? Looks like.
Invitation to General Assembly 2011
GINI COURTER: So is Carolyn Saunders around?
CAROLYN SAUNDERS: I'm here.
GINI COURTER: Come on up. We keep talking about going to Phoenix, and talking about going to Phoenix, but I think you should come invite us. Is that a deal?
CAROLYN SAUNDERS: That's a deal.
GINI COURTER: That's a deal. Want to wear the tiara while you do it? She said yeah.
CAROLYN SAUNDERS: Good afternoon, or evening, as the case may be. I'm Carolyn Saunders from the UU Church of Tucson, Arizona, and I am honored to serve as the district coordinator for next year's General Assembly. In my home district of the Pacific Southwest, there are almost 10,000 Unitarian Universalists who are all looking forward to hosting the Justice GA. Despite all that Phoenix has come symbolize, we look forward to having each of you join us in Phoenix June 20th through the 24th, 2012. We hope to show you that the people in Arizona are much more compassionate, much more just, and much more sensible than many of their elected political leaders.
Our district is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and we have a proud history of supporting social justice in Southern California, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. So what have we been doing to get ready for Justice GA? In Las Vegas, UUs have been working with the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to help immigrants learn about their rights regardless of their documentation status. UU congregations like my home church in Tucson and our neighboring congregations in Phoenix have been forging relationships with immigrant rights organizations such as Puente, Somos, BorderLinks, Derechos Humanos, and No More Deaths, among others.
California congregations are holding legal clinics for migrants, and in all three states, we are united in our opposition to the unjust laws that Arizona has passed. We are appalled by the human rights abuses that are taking place along our borders, and we are unwilling to be silent. But we need your voices to join with ours. You know, inviting you all to come to Arizona should be easy. After all, it's a beautiful state, filled with majestic and diverse natural beauty, as well as caring, compassionate, and diverse human beings. But perceptions about Arizona are making it much harder to extend this invitation this year. And that's why I want you to know that the Arizona and people in Arizona are working hard to make it a hospitable, welcoming place for all of our visitors from the UUA.
Those of us who live in Arizona know there is much more to the state than you may think. My Arizona is place where Latinos and Anglos are coming together to work for a future when all people will be treated with the civility and respect that they inherently deserve. In my Arizona, we believe that civil rights are for everyone. In my Arizona, UUS are joining businessmen and -women, members of other faiths, and human rights organizations to strongly resist the criminalization of immigrants. In my Arizona, we are standing on the side of love.
So, friends, come to Arizona for Justice GA next year. We need your voices, your presence, and your encouragement in Phoenix. I invite you to come to learn, to work, to witness, and to worship with us. Bring your numbers to add to ours in speaking out for justice and human rights. Arizona's shameful immigration laws and other injustices are the very reason why you should come to GA next year. You have a historic opportunity to experience a different kind of General Assembly, one that has the possibility to transform you and to change the world.
The delegates at GA last year voted to have the assembly in Phoenix rather than boycott the city and the state. With that vote, you all said that it mattered that we show up and speak out against the injustices. And that action at GA 2010 will be just empty words unless we bring our numbers to Phoenix and put our principles into action. Our partner organizations in Arizona feel same way. You heard that yesterday from Sal Reza and Cesar Lopez. In addition, I would like to read to you the following message from Luis Avila, the recently elected president of the Somos America board.
Quote, as president of Somos America, a coalition representing almost 30 organizations in Arizona with the mission to defend and promote the rights of immigrant communities in our state, I would like to extend an offer to work with your Planning Committee in helping make your General Assembly a justice-focued event. The Somos America coalition has an active boycott against the state of Arizona. We are requesting that groups not visit the state and spend their money in Arizona, because every year, our state legislature has approved hate-based legislation which impacts immigrant families and communities. But in July 2010, your organization partnered with several local groups to stand for justice and to take action that shines a light on the unjust treatment of immigrant families in Arizona. Because of this and the goodwill to use your visit as an opportunity to continue the immigrant justice cause, I look forward to collaborating with you in new ways to accomplish the most effective visit to our state in the near future. End quote.
So show up for our partners in this work. Hear their stories and write one of your own. Again, I invite you, come to Phoenix in 2012. Come experience the heat, the hope, the work, the love. I promise you a very warm welcome.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Carolyn.
Right Relationship Team Final Report
GINI COURTER: One more time, the folks who help us create the community that we want to be, your 2011 Right Relations Team.
GARNER TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: Good evening. I'm Garner Takahashi-Morris.
MORGAN IVENS-DURAN: And I'm Morgan Ivens-Duran. And we are some of your Right Relationship Team.
GARNER TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: Over the last five days, members of this General Assembly have given us, the Right Relationship Team, the opportunity to bear witness to your stories. With your consent, we have shared from this stage some of the words and actions that have broken trust and made our Unitarian Universalist siblings feel unwelcome in this space. These concerns of accessibility, inclusive language, and differing perspectives on the history of our movement have provided opportunities for us to grow together, to grow more compassionate, more aware, and grow to the fullest expression of the faith community we deeply need to become.
MORGAN IVENS-DURAN: But at the close of this gathering, we want to lift up stories of joy, of appreciation, and progress. So many of you have shared tearful, honest, real experiences of your conversations in response to unintentional hurt. We have allowed our lives to be changed by each other, and that is the most precious gift we can give. The support you have shown us in doing this work has been incredible, and that some of you want to create your own versions of Right Relationship Teams at home is the best thanks we could get.
GARNER TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: While solutions for most of our oppressive behaviors are probably still decades away, so many you have come to us with constructive suggestions for how to begin addressing recurring issues around physical, mental, and financial accessibility, transphobia, our inter-generational relationships, and our evolving understanding of multiculturalism. As you heard from your Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee, this work does not end here, but continues on throughout the next years.
MORGAN IVENS-DURAN: Last night's Ware Lecture and this morning's service gave compelling calls to compassion and authenticity. We have a long way to go. But based on passionate bravery we have shown with each other, I have no doubt that, as we return to our home congregations, we will keep on taking the risk of treating each other with love. Our efforts to be in right relationship with each other will be imperative to the success of our Justice GA in Phoenix next year. We hope the experiences you have had and shared here help all of us to answer that call.
GARNER TAKAHASHI-MORRIS: Thank you for your inspiring courage. Amen, and blessed be.
Announcements and Installation of Newly Elected Servants of the Association
GINI COURTER: I'm going to move the item that would normally be after the end of plenary because it seemed weird. We're we're just going to move it right in, because we should still be plenary when we install our new folks we just elected, I think. That makes sense. It gives them our power, right? And we have to do it before the closing, anyway. So I asked on the Secretary of the Association, Tom Loughrey—he's got one critical announcement, I think, to be made. Well, it's important. Nobody likes it when they lose their banner forever.
TOM LOUGHREY: Three congregations, two notes. We've got your banners still in room 105: the UU church of Joliet, First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We've got your banners, and you can pick them up in room 105, the GA office.
It is my honor to install the new officers and trustees of the board, the newly elected and appointed persons to our committees. An installation is also a goodbye. It's a goodbye to many volunteer servants of this association who have become friends over the years. And the first thing I want to start off with is an appreciation and thank you to all of you who have served and now go off as we say these words of installation. Thank you, one and all.
Let me introduce these folks to you. Let me start with the board of trustees. The trustee at-large, elected this year, Reverend Clyde Grubbs. Our youth trustee, Caleb Raible-Clark Clark. Our newly-elected youth observer, Abhimanyu Janamanchi. From the Prairie Star District, Graham Kreicker. From Ballou Channing, Catherine Cullen. From Joseph Priestley, Natalia Averett. From Metropolitan New York, Michael Tino. From the Heartland District, David Jackoway. From the Massachusetts Bay District, Pat Manley. From the Northern New England District, Sarah Stewart. From the Central Midwest District, Erik David Carlson.
Our committees, the Board of Review, Denise Rimes, who cannot be here with us tonight, and the Reverend Jann Halloran. From the Commission on Appraisal, Reverend Lynne Garner, Reverend John Cullinan, Reverend Mitra Rahnema. From the Commission on Social Witness, Susan Goekler and Reverend David Braden. From the General Assembly Planning Committee, Kathy Charles, Gregory Boyd, the Reverend Nan White, Tim Murphy, the Reverend Chip Roush, and Debra Boyd. For the Nominating Committee, Reverend Danielle Di Bona, Elnora Williams, and Chris Sims.
Our act of installation. May our Unitarian Universalist faith and heritage inform your work and deeds as you serve with our leadership, our congregations, and our staff. Make your efforts and work inspire goodwill among all.
INDUCTEES: [INDISTINCT PHRASE] justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
TOM LOUGHREY: As you signify Unitarian-Universalisism in the wider world, may you serve as an instrument of reconciliation, hope, and welcome.
INDUCTEES: I covenant to affirm and promote a goal of community, of peace, justice, and liberty for all.
TOM LOUGHREY: May you deal forthrightly and honestly with us, keeping foremost your heart the health and well-being of our movement, speaking your truth without fear of repercussion, and encouraging others to do the same.
INDUCTEES: I covenant to affirm and promote right conscience and the use of the democratic process.
TOM LOUGHREY: In the spirit of hospitality and understanding among people, may all who cross your path feel they have been heard and seriously considered.
INDUCTEES: I covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all.
TOM LOUGHREY: We covenant to encourage you and support you as you serve our movement. May our trust carry you through both difficulty and triumph. In gratitude, we thank you for your willingness to serve.
INDUCTEES: With gratitude, I acknowledge and accept the trust that you have placed in me.
AUDIENCE: Thus do we covenant together.
TOM LOUGHREY: Thank you and welcome.
GINI COURTER: Tom, stick around a second, because I'm going to need a motion. Not emotion, a motion. Could you make a motion that we adjourn?
TOM LOUGHREY: Madam moderator, I make a motion we adjourn General Assembly until we meet at this time next year in my district, the Pacific Southwest, in Phoenix, Arizona.
GINI COURTER: Ah. Is there second? All those in favor? All those who'd rather stick around and do more meetings? There will be no one to do them with You.
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