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Plenary IV, General Assembly 2013
General Assembly 2013 Event 3003
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Moderator Gini Courter presides over the plenary sessions in which the business of the Association is being conducted.
Reports from UU World
- Delegates Pass Immigration as a Moral Issue Statement of Conscience
- Commission on Appraisal Report Explores Authority
- Board, Financial Advisor Report on Budgets
- Divestment, Shareholder Advocacy Hot Topic at GA
- Plenary Honors Retiring Kay Montgomery
- Article II Change Recommended by Mini-Assembly
- Making Congregations Safer and More Sexually Responsible
- Preliminary Report Shows 3,256 People Registered for GA
Late-arriving items may require rearrangement of the agenda as published.
- Call to Order
- Chalice Lighting and Recognition of District Presidents
- Preliminary Credentials Report for GA 2013
- Introductions: International Guests
- Remarks from Rev. Rebecca Sienes, President of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines
- Report from the Partner Church Council
- Report of the Nominating Committee
- Statements from Candidates for the Nominating Committee
- Report from Beacon Press
- Celebration of Service: Kay Montgomery
- Budget Report
- Recognition of Departed Donors
- Financial Advisor’s Report
- Statement from the Candidate for Financial Advisor
- Report of the Commission on Appraisal
- Statements from Candidates for the Commission on Appraisal
- Report of the Commission on Social Witness
- Statements from Candidates for the Commission on Social Witness
- Statements from Candidates for the Board of Review
- Congregational Singing
- Remarks from a Dreamer
- Debate and Vote on the Proposed Statement of Conscience: Immigration as a Moral Issue
Call to Order
GINI COURTER: And I need to encourage all of you please to find your seats. Please give a rousing we love our District President welcome to Kathy Burek, president of the DPA and Prairie Star District president and all of her colleagues who are coming up to light our chalice this morning. Warm up this spot for them.
Chalice Lighting and Recognition of District Presidents
KATHY BUREK: Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal faith, not a credal faith. Relationships within our congregations and among our congregations are grounded in covenant. The institutions we create together, clusters, district, regions, General Assembly, our entire association is grounded in covenant and is covenantal. Covenant, however, entails both autonomy and accountability. We light our chalice this morning for renewal and an affirmation of our covenant.
Good morning. I am Kathy Burek, president of the Prairie Star District and president of the District Presidents Association. The 19 districts of the UUA play a vital role in providing services to you, our member congregations. As president of your district boards, we are in relationship with district staff who serves your, our UUA administration, and our UUA board.
The mission of the District Presidents Association is to serve as the primary advocate for districts and emerging regions within our Unitarian Universalist Association. We listen and lead, imagine and model, to realize the goals and aspirations of our Unitarian Universalist faith.
I am pleased to introduce this morning members of the District Presidents Association. To my far left, from Ballou Channing District, Janet Richardi, DPA treasurer. From the Central Midwest District, the Reverend Bill Sasso. From Clara Barton District, Justine Sullivan, DPA secretary and vice president elect. From the Florida district, Ila Klion.
From the Heartland District, Amy Taylor. From Joseph Priestley District, Lillian Christman. From Massachusetts Bay District, Laura Graham. From Metro New York District, Ted Fetter, outgoing president, Mia Morse, incoming president. From the Mid-South District, Kirk Bogue, DPA secretary elect.
From the Mountain Desert District, Marcia Bowman. From the Northern New England District, Sue Buckholz, outgoing president. From the Ohio-Meadville District, David Petras. From Pacific Central District, Judy Young. From the Pacific Northwest District, Elton Hall, outgoing president, Reverend Carol McKinley, incoming president.
From the Pacific Southwest district is the Reverend Kent Doss, who was unable to be here this morning. From the Southeast District, Denise Rimes. From the Southwest UU Conference, Kevin Bolton, DPA president elect. And from the St. Lawrence District, Jeff Donahue.
I'd also like to acknowledge some of the district presidents who are unable to be here this morning. Some presidents finished their terms in the spring. And others were just simply not able to come.
From Mass Bay, John Laurenson, past president. From Northern New England, Charlie Boothby, incoming president. From Pacific Central, Sue Polgar, past president. And from the St. Lawrence District, Dave Munro, past president. Please join me in thanking your district presidents for their service to our faith.
GINI COURTER: How great is this, huh? I'm going to ask the secretary of the Association, who we all know is Tom Loughrey—Let's say, hi, Tom.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Tom.
GINI COURTER: And let's do that every time we see him today. That would just be too much fun. —to give the preliminary credentials report.
Preliminary Credentials Report
TOM LOUGHREY: I'm going to start with the off-site delegates. We have a total of 85 off-site delegates.
TOM LOUGHREY: 73 members of congregations who are certified as delegates, an additional 12 ministers emeritus making the 85. They represent 55 congregations and 22 US states. That's our off-site delegates. Congratulations to them. I hope they're enjoying GA as much as everyone else is.
For our on-site, we have total delegates of 1,247, representing 311 ministers, 22 ministers emeritus/emerita, 2 DREs that are certified as DREs. We have 25 board members, 4 delegates from our associate member organizations, UU UNO, UUSC, and UU WF.
We have a total of 1,611 delegates, representing 372 congregations, 49 US states, and 1 Canadian province, a total attendance so far of 3,256, including 230 youth.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Tom. Perfect. This morning, the Reverend Eric Cherry will introduce important guests to this assembly. By the way, how many of you were here for the worship this morning?
GINI COURTER: Yeah. It's worth getting up for every day, isn't it? This is a cool thing. This morning, the Reverend Eric Cherry will introduce important guests at our assembly. We will then hear remarks from the president of the Unitarian Church of the Philippines. We will see a video and hear remarks from the chair of the board of the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council.
It's worldwide day. We've gone global, todo mundo. Eric Cherry.
Introductions: International Guest
ERIC CHERRY: Thank you, Gini.
ERIC CHERRY: Good morning, friends. We are so blessed to be joined by representatives from many Unitarian, Universalists, Unitarian Universalist, and interfaith communities from around the world at this year's General Assembly. The Unitarian Universalist Association's sixth principle declares that we covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community, with peace, liberty, and justice for all. May the time that all of us share together at General Assembly this year contribute to the achievement of that great vision.
We are so glad to welcome each of you. From Risha Cosa Kay, our historic interfaith colleagues in Japan, we are honored to welcome the minister of the Hiroshima Dharma Center, Reverend Kotaro Suzuki.
ERIC CHERRY: From India, the president of the South Asia chapter of the International Association of Religious Freedom, we welcome Dr. Thomas Mathew.
ERIC CHERRY: From the United Kingdom, representing the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, which networks and supports large and small worshipping communities of Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists in nearly 30 countries around the world, we welcome executive director Reverend Steve Dick.
ERIC CHERRY: From the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians, the minister of the Prague Unitarian Church, we welcome Reverend Petr Samojsky.
ERIC CHERRY: From the Canadian Unitarian Council, we are honored to have interim executive director Vyda Ng with us today.
ERIC CHERRY: Bishop Balint Benczedi, in Kolozsvar, Transylvania, writes to us these words. "I am sending the greetings and good wishes of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, a new institutional entity which comprises the former Unitarian Church in Hungary and the Transylvanian Unitarian Church in Romania. Last year, the synod reestablished the unity of the Hungarian Unitarians, once divided by political decisions and separated by state borders. Thus, the Hungarian Unitarian Church resumes its former institutional framework and is in the process of adjusting to this new situation.
The world is changing around us. And this new framework is an opportunity for redefining ourselves and our mission. We are confident that this task is not beyond our powers. Through this process, we hope to have insights and support from all those churches with which our denomination has a longstanding relationship. And in this new context, the theme of your General Assembly thus strikes a resounding chord in our lives, as we too are trying to move from promises to commitment.
I wish you a successful and fruitful work at your General Assembly. May the road from promise to commitment be trodden by many. And may the UU congregations show an affirming flame of faith, love, and hope for tomorrow."
And from the Hungarian Unitarian Church, we welcome Reverend Arpad Csete, the president of the ministers' association in Transylvania.
ERIC CHERRY: And Reverend Adel Nagy, the minister of the Recsenycd Unitarian Church, and Balazs Scholar at Starr King School for the Ministry this year.
ERIC CHERRY: From the European Unitarian Universalists, a collection of fellowships in Europe representing fellowships in Frankfurt, Germany, and Basil, Switzerland, we welcome Logan Deimler and Lara Fuchs.
ERIC CHERRY: Also with us throughout General Assembly this year, but unable to be with us on stage, is the president of the assembly of Unitarian Churches of Burundi—actually, Cassius Shirambere has arrived.
GINI COURTER: And finally, we welcome Reverend Rebecca Sienes, president of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines.
ERIC CHERRY: Reverend Rebecca has a few remarks to share with us this morning.
Remarks from Rev. Rebecca Sienes, President of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines
REBECCA SIENES: On behalf of the UU Church of the Philippines, I am sending our warmest greetings from your brothers and sisters in faith to you all, the honored delegates to this General Assembly. I
The UUCP just had our 58th annual convention in April. We were as pleased to welcome international guests to it as you are today. We welcomed Dr. Reverend Don Southworth, the executive director of the UU Ministers' Association. He was our keynote speaker.
We welcomed Reverend Roger Bertschausen, the senior minister of Fox Valley UU Fellowship in Appleton, Wisconsin. He preached the ordination sermon of Reverend Theresa Gallardo, our newest minister from Manila. They visited our Banaybanay, the partner church of Roger's congregation, and Siapo congregation. They visited Doldol Village, which has a unique model or relationship from a church to a community partnership with the UU Church of Annapolis. They went to our Bicutan UU Church and to the [? Caison ?] City Discussion Group, both in Manila, preaching and teaching UU hymns.
It was also a great joy to welcome Reverend Ron Robinson, the executive director of the UU fellowship. He was our anniversary preacher and he led two workshops. It was a wonderful reconnection with our Universalist heritage.
The UU Church of the Philippines is growing. Through Facebook, I am communicating with people who are interested to know more about us. And [? Gino Paradala, ?] a university professor from Siabo, is one of them. We have [? Algier Merkita, ?] our first member from Mindanao Island, who became a UU while in Canada. She came and was a great help during the convention. We have a long time Church of the Larger Fellowship member from the island of Bohol, Bonifacio [? Kiroc, ?] who has been a UUCP facilitator during our conventions.
The UUCP has 30 congregations and now has 33 ministers. All of our ministers are leading their churches on Sundays voluntarily. Few of them are gainfully employed outside UU church settings. Of the 30 congregations, 6 have partners in the USA, San Mateo, San Diego, and Monte Vista, California; Fox Valley, Wisconsin, Castine, Maine; and Honolulu, Hawaii. And there will be one more shortly, the Melbourne, Florida congregation.
REBECCA SIENES: There have been various types of support from American UUs over the years that have been extremely important. I am very glad, for example, that the UUMA has shared with us contributions from its annual worship service celebrating ministers who have served for 25 and 50 years. For the last two years, the UU Society of Ministerial Relief has provided relief aid to ministers over 55 years old. Each year, the UUA International Office makes a large financial contribution to support the administrative work of the UUCP. The impact and the importance of each of these contributions cannot be overstated.
The UUCP is excited to be growing toward self-sufficiency through innovative initiatives. The Church has recently embarked on its biggest social justice project ever. The city government of Dumaguete issued a call to the business institutions to provide safe housing to university students.
The UU Church of the Philippines responded to this call by planning to construct a two-floor ladies dormitory. Many students from different parts of the country and even from other countries come to study at the many universities there. The Quimada Dormitory will provide quality and safe housing to these students and provide self-sustaining income for the UUCP.
We are doing well in our fund-raising efforts to build the dormitory. And if your interest is kindled to know more about it, kindly visit our website www.uucpdorm.com, or visit the International booth in the exhibit hall for more information. Thank you for welcoming me.
ERIC CHERRY: Thank you, Reverend Rebecca. Thank you to all of our guests from around the world who have joined us this year. And may the time that we spend together be a blessing.
SPEAKER 2: In 1993, a small group of dedicated volunteers met to answer the call of the Transylvanian Unitarians who were just emerging from 45 years of Communist dictatorship. They founded the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council and elected the Reverend Dr. Leon Hopper as their first president.
Over the past 20 years, the mission of the UU Partner Church Council has evolved from saving Transylvania to fostering true partnerships between North American UU churches and Unitarian and UU congregations around the world. From charity to parity. Today we celebrate over 200 partnerships in 11 countries. We are living our sixth principle.
International partnership is about celebrating life together. We work together, some harder than others. We play together.
We worship together. We celebrate life's milestones together. And in between, we take time just to be together, because that's what good friends do. Partnership transforms lives.
CAROL COOK: Getting to know the UUs of the Philippines is a life-changing experience that has deepened our faith.
SUSAN GRIEGER: For us, it's about connection. Meeting with our partners was better than anything we could have imagined. We laughed. We cried. We loved it.
BROWN PULLIAM: I went because I wanted to visit some of the places where Unitarian history had been made. But the real revelation to me were the Transylvanians. Their loving hospitality and graciousness I should hope to emulate. The things they value are mostly what I value. And in a ruined citadel on top of a mountain in Deva, when I saw the villagers' visible response to the story of the martyrdom of Francis David, I felt, yes, these are my people too.
SPEAKER 2: Partnership transforms congregations.
MARLIN LAVANHAR: Our partner church in Uganda, Africa, has an orphanage that they support for AIDS orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. Many of these children are infected as well. And being in a relationship with this church has allowed our children and members of our congregation to be connected to this really important work and doing worldwide work to help on a grassroots level those most in need around the world. And this has been a really important part of our partner church relationship.
GARY E. SMITH: I served in Concord a congregation that was fairly well-to-do, really could buy things that they wanted. Those who went with us to Transylvania to the [? Sakay Charister, ?] they begin to appreciate what money cannot buy and the hospitality of the people who would give their tablecloth off the table if you admired it. That transforms people. And that transforms a church.
SPEAKER 2: Partnership transforms lives. Let it transforms yours.
Report from the Partner Church Council
GARY SMITH: Good morning. I'm Gary Smith, chair of the board of the Partner Church Council. At this General Assembly, we celebrate 20 years of being a matchmaker for your congregation and for Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world, first in Transylvania, in Eastern Europe, and now in India, the Philippines, Africa, and in nations that are asking for our attention. And we invite you to join in our celebration.
Stop by our booth in the exhibit area, because we have more than a dozen congregations that are seeking the interest of your congregation to be partners in our faith. And in these congregations are good and loving people. They are not looking for your money. They're looking for your support and your friendship. And if you already know the joy of partnership as an individual, please consider sponsoring a student.
We are here to help. We've done it for 20 years. Join us. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Please welcome Mr. Larry Ladd for his final report as chair of your UUA Nominating Committee. Larry Ladd.
Report of the Nominating Committee
LARRY LADD: The Nominating Committee is elected by you to nominate candidates for all positions elected by the General Assembly except president and moderator. The bylaws say the nominating committee shall endeavor to nominate individuals so that membership of the board of trustees and each elected committee reflects the full diversity of the Association, especially in regard to historically marginalized communities, but also balancing amongst size of congregation, lay and ordained, geography, age, including youth and young adults, and gender, among others. The nominating committee shall consult with groups and organizations—this is all in the bylaws—including those traditionally under-represented in Unitarian Universalist leadership, to help inform the nominating process.
Needless to say, we take our work seriously. The slate of candidates we present reflects our commitment. The Nominating Committee has a majority of people of color. And every member of the Committee is either a person of color or a committed white ally. The people—
LARRY LADD: The people of color on our committee report that it is the best functioning committee on which they have served. You are looking at one of the two white males on the nine-member committee. The committee lives and breathes its commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multi-culturalism.
Our nominations were informed by an understanding, imperfect as it may be, of the systems of racism and oppression at work on the boards and committees of the UU and how those systems impact the people of color we serve. As a consequence, we actually made less nominations of people of color than we would have based on the applications. We only made nominations where we believed that people of color who would not be nominated had a good chance of success in serving and a positive experience. Tokenism we did not practice.
With respect to the board nominations, we believe that our nominations will result in a new board with the experience and perspective to make the transition to a smaller size and to effective policy governance very successful. We have intentionally appointed many individuals with experience and expertise in smaller boards and in the healthy practice of policy governance in our larger congregations. Those individuals had not applied on their own, but were actively recruited by us.
The end of this General Assembly concludes my service as a member and as chair of the UUA Nominating Committee. I feel gratitude for each opportunity I have had to serve our Association. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Tom.
TOM LOUGHREY: Thanks, Gini. I have the pleasure of presenting to you the candidates for the Nominating Committee. And we have three very fine people to do this extraordinarily important job. The candidates for the Nominating Committee are Reverend Sofia Betancourt, of New Haven, Connecticut; Ken Wagner, of Marlborough, Massachusetts; and Abhimanyu Janamanchi of Clearwater, Florida.
Abhimanyu cannot join us this morning. But let me just say a couple of words about him. Abhimanyu is a long, long time, maybe [INAUDIBLE] UU. Abhimanyu was a member of the Board of Trustees as our youth observer and brings with him great passion for Unitarian Universalism and our faith.
First, let me introduce for her statement Reverend Sofia Betancourt.
SOFIA BETANCOURT: Good morning. I'm the Reverend Sofia Betancourt. And I am currently serving as consulting minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Storrs. In just a few months, I will be serving as interim minister at the UU Church of Fresno, California.
The opportunity to join our UUA's Nominating Committee is a real privilege. I see the Nominating Committee as having a deep investment in the future leadership of our movement. I hope to draw on the experience of my four years on our national staff to help identify and develop new leadership while ensuring that our more experienced volunteers have opportunities to mentor others and to continue their own leadership development. Perhaps more important is my commitment to multi-generational leadership, including our youth and young adults of color, which I hope will be an added benefit to our religious future.
Since I'm running unopposed for a position on this committee, I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to each and every one of you to consider serving our Unitarian Universalist Association in new ways. We are in need of your gifts to fulfill the promise and the commitments of our great faith. There are many ways to learn more about leadership opportunities while you are here at our General Assembly. Look for your fellow UUs with Nominating Committee ribbons on their name tags. Ask them about openings in the coming years.
And please consider coming to our joint workshop with your new Appointments Committee on Saturday at 5:30 in Rooms 203 to 206 of the Convention Center. We won't mind if you bring your dinner with you. But please, don't miss out on this opportunity to join with fellow UUs in service to our Association. Thank you.
TOM LOUGHREY: Our next candidate, Ken Wagner, from Marlborough, Massachusetts.
KEN WAGNER: Thank you, Tom. Good morning. My name is Ken Wagner. And I am honored to be nominated as a candidate for election to the UUA's Nominating Committee.
While I have had a number of leadership positions within the Clara Barton District and the District Presidents Association over the last 10 years, and I currently serve as the chair of the Clara Barton District Leadership Development and Nominating Committee, my primary engagement in recent years has been my own journey of growth in anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multicultural awareness. I have served on the Allies for Racial Equity steering committee for the past five years and have led or collaborated in leading a number of congregational and district-based initiatives focused on AR/AO/MC work. I have led AR/AO/MC services in a half dozen churches and have never failed to learn more than I teach. This work continues and is enriched in my work with the Clara Barton District AR/AO/MC transformation team, known as GRACE.
One of the factors drawing me to the opportunity to serve on the UUA Nominating Committee is my experience over the last five years in the Allies for Racial Equity booth in the exhibit hall at our General Assemblies. And I've had the blessing and the experience of meeting and connecting at profound levels with an incredible number of extraordinary UUs, you folks out there. It has provided me with the opportunity to refine my skills and renew my commitment to meet people where they are and to invite them to another place in a gentle and nonjudgmental fashion.
While I fail as often as I succeed, it is for me a journey of spiritual growth that I embrace every year. The UUA Nominating Committee is deeply grounded in its commitment to bringing an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural lens to all of its work. I believe I can bring my experience and personal growth to that already impressive group. And I humbly request your support and vote for my candidacy. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: OK. So the "Hi, Tom" thing wasn't such a good idea. All right. Please welcome Helene Atwan to tell us about the fine and impressive work of your Beacon Press.
Report from Beacon Press
HELENE ATWAN: Thank you, Gini. Thank you, in fact, for 10 great years of leadership.
HELENE ATWAN: We've all learned so much from you. And I, for one, am very grateful for your support over the past decade.
We're leaping into so many changes in the coming months, new leadership in the moderator role and a new configuration for the UUA board, new headquarters, and of course, Kay Montgomery is retiring. And I need to give Kay a special shout-out, because she has been for 30 years a great supporter of Beacon Press, and for the past 17 and 1/2 years, a strong personal mentor and advisor to me, as well as the most perceptive and intelligent supervisor anyone could ever hope for.
Kay, we will all miss you. 1,000 thanks doesn't even begin to repay all that you have done for our faith.
HELENE ATWAN: Beacon Press is, as Cornel West told me a few months ago, a long distance runner for truth and justice. He had phoned me specifically to praise the King Legacy series, grateful that Beacon had chosen to present Dr. King as a global human rights leader, to lift up Dr. King's writings as a prophetic voice for justice.
And this reminded me of what John Buehrens had said to me about the role of the press in Unitarian Universalism when I first came on board as director in 1995, that Beacon was a prophetic voice for the movement. And my colleague Gail Forsyth-Vail reminds me that UUs believe in the words of James Luther Adams that revelation is not sealed. There is more to be discovered. And of course, that is such an important part of the role of Beacon Press.
With all this change on the horizon, we will be changing our logo and our tagline to reflect how we see the role of the Press within Unitarian Universalism and in the wider world, to be that long distance runner, that prophetic voice, and so to ignite hearts and minds. We're gathered here in Louisville to talk about moving from promise to commitment, so I want to reflect on the work we've been doing in recent months and the recent months and years to support our promises and to solidify our commitments.
UUs are committed to families, to protecting and nurturing all kinds of families. And that means support for marriage rights, of course, something Beacon began doing in 1997, when we signed our first book arguing for same sex marriages. I think we're missing a couple of slides here.
We're also committed to equal rights for families and all people. And we've been publishing books which make the arguments by activists who model community work in support of their ideals. These books aim to ignite discussion, to provide inspiration and support in the pursuit of equality.
Families are diverse, as we all well know, and need support, interracially, interdenominationally, intergenerationally. Beacon author Jorja Leap works with a group of men who are struggling to become better fathers. Dr. Leap has focused on gangs, gang violence, and youth development at the local, national, and international level. In Project Fatherhood, she will tell of her time embedded in a community of men who have turned their lives around from being embroiled in violence in order to be better fathers to their children.
Eric Schwartz has worked with families in disadvantaged neighborhoods for decades. He founded Citizen Schools to create community support for kids and their parents, as well as their teachers, reaching across both economic and generational boundaries, pulling in retired professionals to be mentors, working with school staff teaching low-income students in their various fields of expertise. This is a prime example of multi-generational mentoring working to make communities safer, better places for families.
Freeman Hrabowski was a child activist in the Birmingham Children's Crusade, became a teacher, and now advocates for science and technology education for black youth. He spoke a few months ago at the Beacon Press lecture series on Race, Education, and Democracy, to a crowd of public school teachers and administrators. And I promise you he was igniting some hearts and minds.
UUs recently made a strong commitment to military families. And Beacon is supporting that with books which advocate for justice and support for our military personnel for their children. Helen Benedict, whose book on sexual abuse in the armed forces was adapted into a powerful play, was called to testify before Congress about the issue. At least one Representative credited her book with breaking open a candid discussion.
Soul Repair has been welcomed by the military chaplain community. A Disciples of Christ chaplain wrote to us, "my humble belief is that you have started something really important that might just help our military reclaim its soul." We carried with us—
HELENE ATWAN: Pretty great words. We carried with us into Justice GA in Phoenix and into the future a deep commitment to justice for immigrant families, an area of long concern at Beacon. We've been proud to publish books by activist David Bacon, who has been especially committed to arguing against the forced immigration of workers which causes devastation to many families. Many of you read and discussed Margaret Regan's The Death of Josseline, which was a UU Common Read.
All this, and so many important books about the environment, about labor, about women's rights, disability rights, food justice, and so much more. These commitments we cannot carry alone. So we invite interfaith dialogue, build alliances with other faith communities, begin to work together.
Tonight many of you will hear from Beacon author Eboo Patel. We're bursting with pride about Eboo. But also Chris Stedman, who is even younger than Eboo and who insists that interfaith activists welcome atheists to the table. And Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali, who redefine liberal religion by starting with extremely conservative perspectives and finding invaluable middle ground to come together to work together. And Bill Clinton, by the way, insisted on writing the forward to their book when we had only asked him for a comment.
HELENE ATWAN: That's our Bill. We didn't say no. He's doing it for free.
We would like to be part of your work in your faith communities, in your learning communities, in your youth groups, and especially in your activism. Many of our books have discussion guides which help groups to benefit from them. No matter what causes are gripping your communities, I think it's a safe bet that Beacon offers an excellent perspective, an informative and persuasive book, or an entire library, and likely a good guide to help you use that book to turn your promises into deeper commitments, into meaningful advocacy and action.
You can find them on our website. You can find a list of them here at the UUA bookstore, along with samples of many of the books which you might even want to buy. And as you read them, in the words of our wonderful poet Mary Oliver, be ignited. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I am so glad that we are doing this next piece right after the Beacon Press report. Please welcome UUA President Peter Morales and former UUA president the Reverend Bill Sinkford.
Celebration of Sevice: Kay Montgomery
PETER MORALES: Kay Montgomery, who has served us for so long, in her public persona is well known for her grace, her humor, for being self-effacing and very smart. What most people don't see is the private person that those of us on the senior staff work with day in and day out. The Kay Montgomery I work with constantly is someone who brings such wisdom and such a wealth of not only institutional memory and history, but such insight into people that she shapes decisions made in the president's office and among the Leadership Council in so many ways that her fingerprints are really all over most decisions that are made at the UUA. So as the most recent boss that she's had to tolerate in a long series of presidents, I want to express my deep, deep gratitude and my very, very best wishes to Kay on her new adventures. Bill?
BILL SINKFORD: Kay Montgomery. What words to use? Smart? Oh my. Wise? Yes.
Funny, committed, tireless? All those, for sure. Trusted, loving, tough? Those too.
Deft. It's a word Kay sometimes uses to describe people she admires. Kay is the queen of deft. She managed to work closely with five UUA presidents, five strong and different personalities, five sets of strengths and five sets of weaknesses, five lists of priorities. And for that alone, she deserves whatever sainthood we might be able to agree on.
BILL SINKFORD: The irony is that we would want someone as deft as Kay to manage the process of defining what sainthood might mean for us. Kay never forgot that it was the president and moderator who were elected to lead. But she also never forgot that this faith abides beyond and sometimes in spite of any individual leader. She was a through line, a constancy, that tempered our pride when we triumphed and kept us steady when we stumbled.
Each UUA president that worked with her found that somehow outcomes were better, smoother, more productive when Kay was involved. I watched her up close for 15 years. And to this day, I do not know how she does it.
Faithful. Perhaps that's it. Kay has managed to have faith and keep faith in this faith, faith that our cumbersome folkways of selecting leaders and making decisions can result in something that feels like hope, faith that out of this particular religious people, leadership can be found to meet the challenges of new day after new day, faith that our way of being religious can make a difference in our world and in the lives of those who find here their religious home.
Not blind faith. No one understands better our issues with authority of any kind, the challenges of our homogeneity and our privilege, our reactivity to anyone or anything that smacks of hierarchy or doctrine. But Kay kept faith because she was as well moved by this faith at its best, the sharp intake of breath when we manage to name the truth, the tears that accompany healing, the courage of our work for justice, and the joy when we managed to get it right.
I speak for myself but I know not only for myself. I know a blessing when I see one. And Kay, you have blessed me and you have blessed us. Thank you.
BILL SINKFORD: You know, it's not bad for a working class Irish girl from Detroit. As you go, may the wind be always at your back. And we will hold you in the hollow of our hands and in our hearts. Thank you, Kay.
GINI COURTER: Oh, yeah.
GINI COURTER: I believe we have some slides? Ask the deck to run the slides. There we go.
KAY MONTGOMERY: My favorite current poem is very, very short by Ron Padgett, six words. "That was fast. I mean life."
KAY MONTGOMERY: And, of course, anyone over a certain age knows that that's true. But it's also been true of my experience at the Unitarian Universalist Association. And I am filled with gratitude. Our faith has helped me break down personal barriers, build bridges, and has been a privilege beyond anything I might have imagined.
For the lay people with whom I've worked over the years, talked to, visited in your congregations, seen the beautiful work you do, thank you so much. To our ministers who have welcomed me, nurtured me, ministered to me, thank you so much. To the moderators with whom I've worked, Natalie Gulbrandsen, Denny Davidoff, and of course, Gini, thank you so much. It has been a privilege. And I've learned from each of you.
To the past presidents, the guys, my guys, it has been an amazing experience. Each of them has been remarkably kind to me. Each of them has put up with me. Each of them has taught me more than I could begin to tell you.
But I've saved the best to last. Are there any people in the hall this morning who aren't now but in the past have been on the UUA staff? If there are, would you stand up? Yes, there are. And then will the UUA current staff stand up? These are the people who have done all the work that I've gotten credit for, so I want to conclude by thanking them.
GINI COURTER: I just love celebrations. Want to sing? We want to sing, David Glasgow. Can you sing?
DAVID GLASGOW: I've been told I can, actually. But even better, I know a lot of other people who can too. And that's kind of what Unitarian Universalism is all about, ain't it? So let's welcome Matt Meyer back.
And I think we're going to sing "Gather the Spirit," Matt.
MATT MEYER: That's the plan. This song has become a Unitarian Universalist anthem, written by our own Jim Scott, an itinerant musician like myself. I owe Jim a debt of gratitude.
My first year as an itinerant worship leader and musician when I had no gigs and hadn't quite earned that title in any real way, Jim took me on tour with him before we had had even much of a chance to play together. And so, I'm going to sing this song in gratitude for him. Let's join together.
[MUSIC - "GATHER THE SPIRIT"]
GINI COURTER: That was grand. I call on the Reverend Jeanne Pupke, chair of your UUA Finance Committee, to present the budget report on behalf of your Board of Trustees. Please welcome her.
JEANNE PUPKE: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. Don't go to Starbucks. Don't leave.
I pride myself annually in making your budget report a human experience. I promise not a single ledger, spreadsheet, or chart will pass in front of your eyes while I stand before you. I leave all that to Dan Brody. In fact, of course, if you want to go deep, and I know some of you do, join us today at the budget hearing later at 1:45 in Room 203. And leave your armament at home.
So for this particular conversation, I don't whip out the charts, because we need to know. We need to know. And I have two points of brief information that I wish to share with you. And they are about the resources of our Association.
Let's start with the briefer information, so that we can get warmed up here. I've been around congregational roles, and you have too. How many of you here are leaders in your congregation, now or past? OK. So we're talking among friends.
Every now and again, a year happens where the unexpected event occurs. And this year in our budget is one of those years. Our closing budget bears a short term costs which exceeded our budget by $280,000, give or take a few dimes.
We did not anticipate this happening. But when it became apparent that it would happen, the administration took appropriate action. It is not what we forecast. But everything was done in a proper response, including the unfortunate need for layoffs which are recognized in this fiscal year.
They are not predicted to recur. And we approve of what was done as appropriate to the situation. Layoffs were completed with compassion and respect. And we are better at the end of the year as a result.
The second thing I wanted to tell you is I asked for a 12-foot ladder to be put behind me. There was some deep discussion as to whether I had gone off my mind and the fear that I might attempt to climb it. But I wanted to illustrate one concern which is outstanding among you, some of you, about the rising sea levels which we have heard so much about in terms of our own understanding of climate change and the fact that we are moving to the Seaport of Boston, at Farnstock.
OK. So I want you to do a little visioning with me. I have no props. About where the top of my head is is the mean flood level for the 100-year forecast flood at increased climate change for the city of Boston in the next 100 years. And I would have to go up the 12-foot ladder to show you where the first floor of Farnstock begins. All right? That's not really the only point, though, to be made, I think, here.
The other thing we need to say is we could stay at higher elevations with the wealthy people. But the fact of the matter is, if Boston floods like that, our building will be the least of our problems.
JEANNE PUPKE: Climate change demands our solidarity of compassion and heart with everyone. We got ourselves into this. OK. So enough of that stuff. I want to talk about something a little deeper.
Our Association budget is not a calendar year, but on an off year starting July through June. It ends up at the end of General Assembly, which makes sense for us. A lot of you have churches that budget in that manner.
Your UUA board reviews the budget as presented by the president and has three possible responses to the budget to which they are addressing. The board may vote to adopt the budget as it is. They may suggest minor adjustments and some rework. Or they may decide that major rework is needed, that the budget cannot be accepted even to the point that they could create the budget if they felt the need.
Well, in each of the prior three-year budgets, the board held some concern that it was not always possible to see the connection between the ends of the Association and the expenditures of the proposed budgets. So we worked harder. We struggled, even, with the Board and the administration working to come to a fulfillment of each of their roles that would allow us to move forward.
We tried different things to make progress. Everyone really wants to make it work. And it has been fair to say that it has been somewhat difficult for us to figure out just how to do that. When good people disagree, it can be the hardest thing. But it is not simply to be dismissed as one or another group not doing their job, but both of us having different roles. And bringing those things forward and out into the open is a good thing in governance.
In each of the prior years, the Board acquiesced to the President's budget not feeling entirely that they could make the connection. And many on the Board expressed their concern. This year, a significant number of trustees felt they could no longer simply vote for the budget without those clear connections of the budget to the ends of the organization.
When doing more of the same is not working, you either do something different or you fulfill that definition of insanity we all know about. So a group of the Board went apart and returned to the elected trustees with an idea, a different idea. The proposal was brought to the meeting. And gratefully, President Morales was very positive in his response. And so we planned and went forward.
The plan is to bring in an outside consultant, an expert in organizations, who would allow the trustees to vote for the budget with that consultant expenditure added. Now, some have expressed concern about the expenditure. Indeed, some have mocked it, calling it expensive marriage counseling or saying that the Board and the administration need to do their job. But these comments are coming from people at some remove from the reality of how very hard everyone has been working to fulfill those roles.
The fact is that every year our Association spends millions to do our work. And if indeed we are to hire an excellent consultant to help us do our work better in the future, that is in the interest of our Association.
JEANNE PUPKE: I almost grabbed Gini's water. All right. So I want you, if you have concerns, to bring them to the budget hearing or to send us a note or to find me in the hallway. And if I'm not the middle of a busy conversation, you can talk with me then. And we can hear a little bit more about what each other are thinking.
And if you are willing to connect your passion to your hands and to your backbone, you can volunteer for one of these committees. You can come forward and serve your Association in some role that has a hand in the outcomes.
But here is what you cannot do. You cannot feel a little uneasy and just sit back. It can happen when there's some difficulty made evident that people pull back. And they wait to see how it turns out before they support and stand forward to help out.
Lean forward into this, everyone. This is the time when faithful people strengthen their commitment to all the parties involved. This is when you increase support. And this is when you are grateful for the people who stay at the table, or as Marge Piercy has said, who pass the bags along.
To be direct and forthcoming in filling the roles we have is not always easy. People want to find simple solutions. But we support our Association. It's no one but us.
This is the year you should go back and encourage your folks to get involved on the national scene. This is the year you should argue for increasing your giving to the annual program fund. This is the year in which you send a message that you like what you see, you want to see more strength in our organization, and that you believe in the people you elected to do this work. There is no help coming from some other place. We don't get a bag of money from overseas.
Look left. Look right. These are the people who make up the congregations who make up the UUA. And we are enough to do what we are called to do together and make this faith a continuation of the living tradition it serves. Blessings all. I'm done.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Jeanne, very much. Terry Sweetser, come on up here.
GINI COURTER: Yeah. We welcome people here, don't we?
GINI COURTER: You good?
TERRY SWEETSER: Good.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you.
Recognition of Departed Donors
TERRY SWEETSER: This is our time to honor generous Unitarian Universalists who have passed away during the past year. Their gifts of time and talent and yes, treasure, have profoundly transformed their congregations and our entire Unitarian Universalist community. Their dedication to love and justice will continue to enrich the lives they've touched.
As Peter Raible used to say, we build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. We profit from persons we did not know. And so we are ever bound in community.
May we honor these lives, friendships, and memories as we work together to nurture and grow all of Unitarian Universalism across our nation and across the world. Blessed be.
GINI COURTER: I'm pleased to be in the generation of leaders who knew and then gets to miss Reverend Bill Jones. Let me introduce our financial advisor, Dan Brody, for his last report as financial advisor. So we're going to give it up big time. And then we're going to hear from the person who has been nominated to succeed him. So please, lots of love for Dan Brody and then Ed Merck.
Financial Advisor's Report
DAN BRODY: Thank you, Gini. Good morning. My name is Dan Brody. This week I complete my eighth and final year of service in the volunteer position of UUA financial advisor. We've just heard—
DAN BRODY: We've just heard the budget report from the chair of the finance committee, Jeanne Pupke. And if you were disappointed about the lack of charts and graphs and numbers and tables in her report, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed in mine as well.
But if you want your numbers fix, you can just go to the written report to General Assembly that is on uua.org. I have a report. And Jeanne has a report. And there's a report from the treasurer Tim Brennan as well.
But rather than talking about numbers today, I'd like to discuss our accomplishments during the last eight years. I stress the word "our" because I was only one of many people who played a part in these changes. The change I'm proudest of is the establishment of the UUA health plan.
DAN BRODY: Today more than 725 ministers and congregationalist staff members, along with their spouses, partners, and children, have excellent health insurance through the plan. 450 congregations have joined the plan. Rate increases have been moderate. And the plan is an excellent financial condition. I'm particularly proud that the plan includes such innovative features as a benefit for hearing aids.
8 years ago roughly 15% of all ministers and congregational staff had either no health insurance or totally inadequate coverage. That was truly a scandal. Today we estimate that the number without adequate insurance is about 5%. We've made great progress. But we shouldn't congratulate ourselves until that number is zero.
A series of General Assembly resolutions have affirmed that access to health care is a right. And while we applaud the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we must continue to affirm that congregations have a moral responsibility to provide health insurance to their ministers and staff.
DAN BRODY: One of the most surprising and satisfying moments of the last eight years came while our retirement committee was considering switching from Fidelity to TIAA-CREF as the record keeper of the UU retirement plan. Roger Ferguson, the president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, came to Boston to tell us how much he wanted our business. Considering that TIAA-CREF already served 3.9 million customers, the fact that he was even aware of us and traveled to Boston to talk to us was amazing.
But the reason for his interest in our business became clear when he recounted how he had recently gone to Beijing to try to meet with Chinese government officials to persuade them to stop funding genocide in Darfur. UUA president Bill Sinkford had publicly made an issue of Fidelity's refusal to confront this issue. Our position of leadership on this important moral issue made us a valuable customer for TIAA-CREF. And the fact that their statements and actions will closely in alignment with UUA values on Darfur and a host of other issues was a strong factor in our decision to move our business to them.
DAN BRODY: The UUA Investment Committee has done important work over the past eight years. The UU Common Endowment Fund has consistently performed in the top 20% of all funds of its size while making good progress towards aligning our investments with our values. The latter job hasn't been easy. And the current debate over investments in fossil fuels suggests that it won't get any easier.
But I'm very pleased with the progress that we've made. If your congregation doesn't invest in the UU Common Endowment Fund, you're probably getting a lower return while putting a greater percentage of your assets in morally risky investments. It's time for you to join the Common Fund.
DAN BRODY: The one change in the last eight years that I will take most of the credit for is our new endowment spending policy. We learned from painful experience during the recent stock market collapse that our old spending policy allowed us to spend too much during years of strong market performance and then required painful spending cuts in bad years. Our new policy has restrained spending in the last few years as the market has rebounded. But setting extra money aside now should avoid the need for any spending cuts, even when substantial stock market declines occur in the future.
DAN BRODY: Helene Atwan reported to you earlier about the accomplishments of Beacon Press in furthering the ends of the Association. I'd like to congratulate Helene for her financial success as well. Beacon's net assets have increased in each of the last eight years. The combined increase of $1 million has brought the Press' total reserves to $3 million. In an industry that's changing as quickly as publishing, this is a major accomplishment.
DAN BRODY: During my eight years on the Board of Trustees, I've had a hand in some important changes in how the Association is managed. The Audit Committee took the lead in drafting comprehensive conflict of interest and whistleblower protection policies that the Board adopted. We now have greater assurance that UUA employees, officials, committee members, and volunteers will behave in accord with the highest ethical standards.
Sometime during these eight years, I found myself put in the role of the Board's unofficial expert on the Association's bylaws. I believe that the bylaws are simpler and clearer now than they were eight years ago. But if you've read the business agenda for this GA, you know we have some work to do on the subject this weekend.
In a minute, you'll get to meet Ed Merck, the only candidate to succeed me as financial advisor. I'm just amazed that we didn't have a bunch of people submitting petitions to run for this position. It's a great job. But I'm thrilled and relieved that someone with Ed's qualifications has agreed to take on this role.
Ed has an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He served as vice president for finance and operations at Wheaton College. And he co-founded Future Perfect, the premier strategic and financial planning computer model used in higher education. I actually have worked with Ed a little bit on that, so that's just not rhetoric. It really is great.
He's a teacher of yoga and Buddhist meditation. And he's the author of a soon-to-be-published book called Sailing the Mystery, My Journey into Life's Remaining Chapters. I met Ed eight years ago when I joined the UUA Audit Committee, of which he was the first chair. Ed is tougher than I am, more diplomatic, and more spiritually grounded. I can't imagine a more capable successor. Now's the time—
DAN BRODY: He deserves a round.
DAN BRODY: Now's the time in this presentation when I should start thanking the many wonderful people who during these eight years have helped me, educated me, advised me—yes, the financial advisor needs advice too—put up with me, inspired me, and led me in song when I needed a song. But whenever I hear such a list of thank yous, whether at the Oscar ceremony or at GA, I worry about the people who contributed almost as much but didn't quite make the list.
So I'll name only my wife Julie, who's always first on the list of people to whom I'm grateful. The rest of you know who you are. Thank you.
DAN BRODY: And finally, as I complete my work as financial advisor, I also want to thank you, the delegates to General Assembly, for giving me this amazing opportunity to serve our Association. Thank you.
Statement from the Candidate for Financial Advisor
ED MERCK: So what's worse than one financial advisor on stage? [LAUGHTER] Right, two. One current and one aspiring. So, hi. I'm Ed Merck. And welcome. I'm honored to be your candidate for the position of financial advisor.
Having been a congregational member for 20-plus years, both my dedication to the UU mission and my enthusiasm to further its reach are strong and vibrant. This current opportunity to support the ongoing good work of the UUA is met by me with open arms and a warm heart. As Dan indicated, over my career years I walked a long and interesting road—well, mostly—of financial and strategic management.
Yet equally important to me are my other life-balancing engagements, writing, making music, teaching yoga, meditation, and sailing my trusty boat, Kairos, which is Greek for opportune moment, a definition I trust is particularly apt at this moment. Of course, existentially speaking, all moments are opportune if we choose to make them so.
I suppose another way of summing up Ed is, I can count and referencing the musician in me, I can tap my foot. Or more formally, I spent 35 years with a focus on finance and strategic planning, then 10 with a focus on the heart and its central role in the art of meaning making. If elected as your next financial advisor, it is my intent to integrate these two aspects of the whole, offering financial and strategic guidance always within the context of the heart, mine and yours.
The decisions we make together about where to put our resources matter. And our underlying intent is paramount. Let's move together in both quantitative precision and value-driven choices. I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead. And thanks for considering my wish to serve you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Please welcome your Commission on Appraisal.
Report of the Commission on Appraisal
GINI COURTER: And their great shirts.
MEGAN DOWDELL: Thanks, Gini. Good morning. I bring you greetings from your UUA Commission on Appraisal. I'm happy to introduce my colleagues in our exciting and challenging work.
Reverend Erica Baron serves our congregations in Bennington and Rutland, Vermont. Reverend John Cullinan serves our congregation in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Mr. Pete Fontneau of Springfield, Virginia, is an active lay leader in the Accotink UU Congregation and graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary.
Reverend Lynne Garner serves our congregation in Brunswick, Georgia. Ms. Bev Harrison of Campbell, California, and East Greenwich, Rhode Island, is an active lay leader in our San Jose, California, congregation and the East Greenwich, Rhode Island congregation. Reverend Dr. Nana Kratochvil is minister emerita in Muskegon, Michigan, and consulting minister at the UU Fellowship of Central Michigan.
And I am Megan Dowdell, from Oakland, California. I'm a doctoral student at UC San Francisco and an adjunct faculty member at Starr King School for the Ministry.
MEGAN DOWDELL: At this General Assembly, I complete my term as chair of the Commission. Bev Harrison and Pete Fontneau are completing their service on the Commission at this General Assembly. And we thank them for their service to our Association.
We are all elected by you, the General Assembly delegates. Our mission is to provoke reflection and evoke creative transformation of Unitarian Universalism, our congregations, and our Association. We study issues of importance to Unitarian Universalism and report to you, our General Assembly.
ERICA BARON: UUs far and wide have expressed excitement about our current study. We are thrilled to announce the release of the final report of this project here at this General Assembly, "Who's in Charge Here? The Complex Relationship between Ministry and Authority."
MEGAN DOWDELL: In this brief presentation, we will explain how you can get your own copy of this report and share with you the ways we studied this multi-faceted topic and what we learned. Lastly, we will invite you to the workshop on Saturday that will engage you in making this report come alive.
The seven of us before you are not the only people who worked on this report. In addition to the many participants in our study, we shared this project with former commissioners who concluded their work prior to its publication, Reverend Barbara Child, of Nashville, Indiana; Michael Ohlrogge, of Oakland, California; Reverend Mitra Rahnema, amount of Long Beach, California; and Jacqui C. Williams of Albany, New York. Lastly, this report is dedicated with love to Commissioner Don Mohr, lay leader from Columbia, South Carolina, who passed away on October 21, 2012.
ERICA BARON: In the research for this study, we engaged Unitarian Universalists in 25 focus groups around the country. In each focus group, we brought together people who held similar roles to each other but came from different congregations. Because we know that issues of identity have an impact on ministerial authority, we also created focus groups that brought together women in ministry, religious professionals of color, transgender and gender-queer ministers, as well as gay, lesbian, and bisexual ministers.
We asked participants questions about ministry and authority, such as, how do professional clergy or lay people make decisions about ministry? What types of conflicts in your congregation have been caused by differences of opinion about authority? Perhaps not surprisingly, almost all of the participants in our study believed that conflicts over ministry and authority are sources of stress in the life of their congregations.
MEGAN DOWDELL: As we looked closely at the stories of conflict around ministry and authority in congregations, we discovered three important types.
ERICA BARON: One, situations. Events such as transitions in ministers, size, or theology, or times of financial difficulty are likely to produce stress and conflict around ministry and authority. One minister described the stress of a size change this way.
PETE FONTNEAU: "All of a sudden, the dynamics are changing. And the governance, therefore, has to change within the congregation. The way you do things systemically has to change, which creates anxiety and conflict. And then the first thing that sort of gets put on the altar, if you will, is the ministerial authority issue."
MEGAN DOWDELL: Two, roles. Relationship, such as the ones between people given formal authority, like the board, and those given significant informal authority, like longtime members of congregations, frequently produce complicated questions about who is really in charge and who can make what types of decisions. This kind of informal authority often manifests in people we think of as the matriarchs and patriarchs of the congregation, longstanding members who often make large pledges each year and who exercise authority in the congregation. Matriarchs and patriarchs can be powerfully helpful in congregational life. But they can also undermine the authority of other leaders, like the minister and the board, as one minister once told us in one of our focus groups.
PETE FONTNEAU: "Before I was called to my congregation, both interims shared that one woman in particular had been identified as the person who held the most power in the church, a layperson. And it didn't matter what position she held. And it was true.
PETE FONTNEAU: "So I've kept her so close, making sure that she and I have a fabulous relationship, because she has the power to make or break my ministry."
ERICA BARON: Three, behaviors. Working from hidden agendas, maintaining poor boundaries, turning individual personality conflict into all-church struggles, or not staying at the table can escalate conflicts around ministry and authority. A board member from one of our focus groups described it this way.
PETE FONTNEAU: "What I heard was there's a group of people who would disagree. But they aren't upfront about their disagreement. They're talking in the background. And my opinion is you need to short circuit that."
MEGAN DOWDELL: As we analyzed these types of conflict we made the decision to center the voices of historically marginalized groups and individuals who participated in our report. We asked ourselves, what insights from the margins help us understand issues of ministry and authority in new, important ways? We found that all three types of conflict have the most negative impact on people who are the most vulnerable, newcomers, youth, and those with marginalized identities. They are all less likely to have their voices and perspectives heard and honored and are more likely to be scapegoated in situations of conflict. As one member of the focus group of religious professionals of color put it—
PETE FONTNEAU: "You can gain some level of authority. But that level of authority is veneer-thin, because you never know when it's going to be snatched back because you've made somebody more uncomfortable than they were prepared to feel."
ERICA BARON: We also know that these problems do not happen in a vacuum and our congregations are permeated by a cultural context that exposes our communities to particular ways of speaking, listening, and sharing power that lift up or validate particular styles and abilities while oppressing or neglecting others.
MEGAN DOWDELL: So how do we begin to address the conflicts over ministry and authority? In our report, we respond to this question drawing from the wisdom of our participants and dialogues among the commissioners as we analyzed the results of our study. We emphasized that if congregational leaders take the time to understand how power is attained and shared and derailed in our congregations, we can shift our attitudes, our culture, and our institutions so that we can engage more lovingly and skillfully in conflict.
ERICA BARON: We have many other suggestions in our report, which looks like this. And we are offering a special opportunity for you to participate in the life of this report through our workshop tomorrow at 5:30 in KICC 100. We will share some more of our recommendations with you and give you a chance to experience some of the tools we used as we conducted our analysis.
MEGAN DOWDELL: How can you get your hands on a copy of "Who's in Charge?"—"Who's in Charge Here?" rather. You can find this report in the UUA Bookstore booth in the exhibit hall and through the Bookstore's website. It is available both as a hard copy and as an e-book.
ERICA BARON: Next year, with your help, we will select a new study topic. You can make suggestions about our next topic and follow the news from the Commission on Appraisal at www.uua.org/coa, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Thank you. And see what the workshop tomorrow, "Who's in Charge Here?" KICC 100 at 5:30.
TOM LOUGHREY: So you've heard from the Commission on Appraisal. We have several—
AUDIENCE: Hi, Tom.
TOM LOUGHREY: We have several new members of this Commission. I'd like to introduce you Reverend Lucy Bunch of Sacramento, California; John Hawkins of Westfield, New Jersey; Nathan Hollister from Carrboro, North Carolina; and Myriam Renaud from Chicago, Illinois. Nathan is not able to join us at this time. However, let me start with Reverend Lucy Bunch.
Statements from Candidates for the Commission on Appraisal
LUCY BUNCH: Thank you. I'm delighted to have been nominated to the Commission on Appraisal, and excited by the possibility of serving our denomination in this capacity. I've been an active Unitarian Universalist leader for more than 20 years. And late last year, I was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister. Beyond my experience in congregations I will bring much skill and experience to the Commission, including more than 20 years as an administrator in higher education, a position that I retired from on Friday of last week.
LUCY BUNCH: This background provides me with excellent analytical, verbal, communication, and leadership skills that I hope will be of great use to the Commission. The Commission's work is to provoke deep reflection and to evoke timely creative transformation of Unitarian Universalism, our congregations, and our Association. I love the ideas of provoking and evoking.
This is a critical time in the history of our denomination. And the transformative work is needed now more than ever. I have a strong calling for the work of transformation. We must ask the hard questions and be willing to listen deeply to the answers.
I believe that Unitarian Universalism has much to offer this hurting world. We must recognize that beloved community can be open as well as tight-knit. We must balance individual freedom with the benefits of community, engage our spirits as well as our heads, and develop an appreciation for the power and responsibility that comes with privilege.
I believe that Unitarian Universalism can be a beacon of religious liberalism in the 21st century. And I want to be a part of the leadership that makes that happen. Thank you very much.
TOM LOUGHREY: Let me introduce John Hawkins from Westfield, New Jersey, a friend and a former UUA trustee.
JOHN HAWKINS: Thank you, Tom. You can find my candidate statement on page 125 of your program, so I'm not going to repeat it. I'll just summarize that I have a lot of experience with working in our congregation, in our district, and with the Association. I'm honored to serve on the Commission on Appraisal. And I'd very much look forward to hearing from all of you about what issue you think is really most pressing and worthy of our study in the coming term. Thank you.
TOM LOUGHREY: Finally, Myriam Renaud from Chicago, Illinois.
MYRIAM RENAUD: Good morning, Unitarian Universalists.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
MYRIAM RENAUD: I'm Myriam Renaud, a candidate for the Commission on Appraisal. It is a great honor to be a candidate to your Commission, which has explored such important issues within our tradition, membership, ministerial authority, theology, to name a few, and which has produced such valuable resource materials for all Unitarian Universalists over so many decades.
But who am I, exactly? Though I've lost my accent, I am an immigrant to this country. When I moved to the United States from France at the age of 10, I did not speak a word of English. I was raised a Unitarian Universalist after my parents joined a small fellowship in my hometown of Rolla, Missouri.
I was called to the ministry and moved with my family, that is to say my partner and my daughter. I moved to Chicago so I could start on a master of divinity degree. I was ordained in 2005, having graduated from the University of Chicago's Divinity School. I'm currently working on a doctoral degree in theology, also at the University of Chicago's Divinity School. This past year I had the great privilege and learning experience of teaching classes in liberal theology and co-teaching the first year of the master of divinity degree's core curriculum at Meadville Lombard Theological School.
MYRIAM RENAUD: I am a regular contributor of theology columns to the UU World. I'm the community minister at the Dupage Unitarian Universalist Church, which recognizes my scholarly work as ministry. I look forward to being in conversation with you while choosing and researching the new topic of study with the other very fine members of the Commission on Appraisal.
TOM LOUGHREY: Just a reminder from an announcement made yesterday. You heard an invitation recently from the Commission to join them and meet with them. They will be in Room 100. And if you recall from yesterday, that's not a room that's actually numbered.
It's called the Conference Theater. And it's down—you'll see the rooms 106, 105, et cetera, going down. You'll get to the Conference Theater down there. It's across the street and near the area where you registered. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Tom. How are we doing? So for those of you who are new to General Assembly delegate stuff, what happens is we have all of the mini assemblies and all of the processes leading up to voting that were going on yesterday and today. So we shift all of the reports to this time so we're prepared for all of that.
Once we start voting, things just go like this. All righty. It's because it's a big process. Please welcome Dr. Susan Goekler to give the report of the Commission on Social Witness.
GINI COURTER: Big welcome.
Report of the Commission on Social Witness
SUSAN GOEKLER: Good morning. Since the 2010 General Assembly, congregations throughout the denomination have studied and acted on immigration as a moral issue, as a Congregational Study/Action Issue. In 2012, work began on a new Study/Action Issue of reproductive justice. The Commission on Social Witness prepared a draft Statement of Conscience on immigration as a moral issue in August of last year, of 2012. And they assisted with the design of the congregational poll on whether to advance the draft statement to the final agenda for this General Assembly.
As part of the congregational poll, 463 congregations voted to advance the draft statement to the final agenda. 12 voted no. And 350 abstained. Those responses reached the threshold of 25% of the certified congregations participating in the vote to allow it to be put on the agenda.
I've asked some of the commissioners to be on the stage with me. And I will introduce them at the end. But they are holding up some signs, because I want to emphasize the point that we have a bunch of acronyms that we use. And so when you see these letters, numbers, CSW for Commission on Social Witness, SOC for Statement of Conscience, AIW for Actions of Immediate Witness, CSAI for Congregational Study Action Issue.
So after we got the congregational poll from hopefully all of your congregations, then we did another draft of the Statement of Conscience. And as we were doing that, we considered the following elements. First of all, a Statement of Conscience should stand a test of time and state general moral principles, not be specific to a given point in time or an immediate political issue. Secondly, a Statement of Conscience should state what we believe. It's a moral issue, not necessarily what is current law.
Third, for the most part, it should be universal and not specific only to the United States, although there may be certain elements that are specific to the US, especially in the Calls to Action. And finally, as we write the statements, we consider who is the audience. And we realize that probably the President of the United States and Congress are not going to read these. So the audience is probably UUs. So that's the assumptions that we made as we were drafting the statements.
The second revision has been out for congregations to review and look at. Yesterday we held a mini assembly and received possible amendments from congregations and delegates who were there. You received this morning a CSW Alert that has the revision. At the end of that are unincorporated amendments.
We finished our work last night after midnight. And when we got up this morning, we realized that given our mental condition last night, we omitted one of the unincorporated amendments. So you should have received, if you're a delegate, a second piece of paper this morning. And this is what in our state of alertness last night we forgot to include.
The unincorporated amendments are prioritized. So when it comes later that we get to vote for these, they have to be admitted, if someone chooses to admit them for discussion, in the order. And we ask that this one be placed between B and C in terms of priority.
So there is another Study/Action Issue that's on the table, as I mentioned, for reproductive study. And that one we have the UU staff has prepared a curriculum for congregations to help them engage in studying the issue. And we have used comments that we have received back from congregations to inform this year's workshop, which will be held this afternoon at 1:45.
Other things that we have done in this past year is that we revised the information on the UUA website that explains the process. So I encourage you to look there if you want to have information throughout the year on what the processes are. We also co-sponsor with the Unitarian Universalist Ministers' Association a sermon contest. And that sermon will be presented tomorrow as one of the worship services at 5:30.
Right now we are also working on AIWs. Some of you know these are Actions of Immediate Witness. They are another mechanism for expressing an opinion for the delegates that are here at the General Assembly. Yesterday at 5 o'clock was the deadline for people who had a proposed Action of Immediate Witness to submit those.
Today at 5 o'clock is the deadline for signatures. So you may well see people with clipboards asking you to sign petitions. They have to get a certain number of petitions from a diverse range of the delegates for them to be eligible and to be admitted to the agenda.
Tomorrow morning you will have an opportunity to vote to admit them to the agenda, up to three. And then on Sunday afternoon, you will have the opportunity to vote whether you want to adopt them or not. And there will be an AIW mini assembly on Saturday afternoon, which is the only opportunity to propose amendments to those that are admitted to the agenda.
If you have questions about the process, you can come see one of us. We will be wearing our CSW hats when we are on duty, either here on the floor or in the booth. Our booth is 427.
I do want to ask you to join me in thanking those people who are volunteers, who are commissioners, who put in long hours, especially here at General Assembly, to help give voice to our denomination in the wider world through these statements. Dr. David May, who is former chair of the Commission, who will be leaving us this year; Reverend Heather Rion Starr, who will be leaving us this year; Dr. David Breeden, who is staying on, thank goodness; and Caitlin DuBois, who is also leaving us this year. So please join me in thanking them for their service.
Statements from Candidates for the Commission on Social Witness
TOM LOUGHREY: Your ballot will have two names on it for CSW. Kiera Wesley has withdrawn from consideration on the ballot. But Reverend Christina Sillari, from Portland, Maine, will be on the ballot. Unfortunately, she can't be here but asked me to read a statement for her, so I will do that.
"Hello, everyone. I apologize for not being with you. I am most likely on a plane to Louisville. I was called to First Parish in Portland, Maine, three years ago on my first call. I love my ministry. I love parishioners and preaching and pastoring and even policies.
But it was not until I began my ministry that my passion for justice strongly emerged. Oh, I'd been a part of justice projects at churches and in seminary, but really only to fulfill the requirements for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. I even did an internship with UMass Action the year I was in search. I thought moving from Boston to Portland was going to take me away from the social problems of a big city and land me in a sweet coastal oasis in Maine."
I've been there. It is a sweet coastal oasis.
"In reviewing First Parish's packet and talking to friends in Portland, I did not see any indication that there were major issues I would be dealing with. So off I went to Maine to serve a 200-year-old stone church in Portland.
After experiencing five years of unstable ministry First Parish's Faith in Action work had whittled down to a sharing the plate every week with the local organization that was in alignment with UU values. There's nothing wrong with this. But as many of you know, it is the easiest and least effective way to do justice work.
The congregation showed their commitment to do deeper work when 50 parishioners showed up at a Faith in Action retreat on an ice cold Sunday morning in February. We worked hard that day, which resulted in five different focus topics. Each topic had a team of people committed to coming up with a plan of action for their project to present to the congregation at the annual meeting three months later.
Through our democratic process, the one with most votes would win. It was a fun and healthy competition. Three topics ended up being presented and the neighborhood won by a long shot. In a little over three years, First Parish now has a restorative justice center, a monthly neighborhood dinner for people in need, a group of elders tutoring youth at a high school, an organization called Safe Harbor, which supports African immigrants to receive political asylum, a homelessness task force, and our most recent initiative, Each One Reach One, which will engage parishioners in tutoring immigrants in English.
Each of these projects has a team leader and a group of people from the congregation who work on the team. Many of the projects engage with other faith communities, civic leaders, and nonprofit organizations doing justice work. Well, as you can imagine, these neighborhood projects are taking up quite a bit of our congregation's time and resources. Leaders of the congregation are excited about the work, but have asked me to slow down.
I cannot slow down. My passion and energy for justice work continues to grow. So I thought it would be a good idea to place some of my time and energy toward justice work on a denominational level. I think my leadership of Faith in Action in my congregation and my growing experiences with many social issues will be an asset to the Commission on Social Witness.
I also think that the Commission will inform the work my congregation and its partners are doing. Portland, Maine is a sweet coastal oasis. It just has all the problems every city in America has during these challenging and transforming times.
Every person, every congregation, every city making small shifts through awareness and relationship in our own neighborhoods makes a difference. We know this as human beings. We live this as Unitarian Universalists.
Just one more thing. My congregation and I worked hard on the freedom to marry issue. Our efforts paid off. Same sex marriage is now legal in Maine." Yay.
Statements from Candidates for the Board of Review
TOM LOUGHREY: From Reverend Christina Sillari, Portland, Maine. She'll be with us a little later.
We move right on. I didn't even have to get off the stage. We have two nominees for the Nominating Committee with statements. I'd like to present to you Reverend Orlanda Brugnola from New York, New York, and Maris Cornell from Lebanon, Connecticut. We'll first hear from Reverend Brugnola.
ORLANDA BRUGNOLA: It's certainly an honor to be nominated for the Board of Review. I've served in both parish and community ministry for three decades. It's taught me a lot. And it continues to do so.
And of course, this faith tradition of ours continues to challenge all of us to be and do what we can to make our communities and our world a better, safer, more beautiful place to be. Work that challenges us to engage values, nuances, and passions really excites me. While I firmly believe in allowing the process to unfold, I am deeply committed to being measured, fair, and firm in all deliberations.
I am a good listener. And I know how to ask good questions. Perhaps my years of teaching philosophy have helped me out in that regard. And the one-on-one experience I have with moving hearts and minds on issues concerning the manifestations of identity, privilege, and power will add spiritual depth and breadth to the work that the Board of Review does. I would be honored to serve in this capacity, choosing to bless the world. Thank you.
TOM LOUGHREY: I think I may have made an error. I think I earlier said the nominees for the Nominating Committee. They are nominees for the Board of Review. Let me present Maris Cornell from Connecticut.
MARIS CORNELL: Hi. I am both thrilled and intimidated to find myself here today as a nominee for the Board of Review. I became a Unitarian Universalist 20 years ago when my oldest child was a toddler. Over the years, I have accrued solid experience at the congregational, district, and Association levels.
In my home congregations, I have served on most committees and boards and am currently an at-large board member at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London, Connecticut. For many years, I was a compensation consultant for the Clara Barton District. I've served on my district board as an at-large member, vice president, and president. These years of service have given me an understanding of the dynamics of congregational leadership and the hopefully healthy tensions that keep us sharp. This knowledge has served me well.
In the application process for the Board of Review I was asked what was the most significant learning I bring from past experience. My answer, the importance of listening, listening well, and withholding judgment until the conversation is complete. I am honored to be nominated for the Board of Review and look forward to serving our Association. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Please welcome a special guest to our Assembly, Heyra Avila, from Florence, Kentucky, who is joined on stage by Don Sherman and Sandy Weir.
Remarks from a Dreamer
HEYRA AVILA: Hello and good morning, everyone. My name is Heyra Avila. I am 17 years old and an uprising senior at Ryle High School in Union, Kentucky. I was born in Veracruz, Mexico. And I was once undocumented.
I was brought over to the United States when I was just four years old. My mom, dad, and I lived in a tiny dirt hut in Mexico. We struggled to find food with each passing day, no running water, no electricity, and barely even a roof above our heads.
My father knew that that life was not what he wanted. So he took the bold decision to pack the little belongings he had and he tried to find a job in a new country, the land of opportunities, the USA. Upon his arrival, he found work in Texas, later moved to Chicago, and finally to northern Kentucky, because that is where my uncles had found stable work.
Within a couple of months, he was making enough money to spend for my mom. And she too left me. My grandma took care of me for the year or so that they were gone. And when they came back home, I didn't recognize my dad for being away for so long.
My parents told me they were ready to start a new life in America. Of course, I was too young to even know what was going on. But I trusted that my parents made the best decision, taking into consideration the harsh circumstances. We came straight to Florence, Kentucky. And I specifically remember it was during winter, because of the strange white flakes falling from the sky. I was completely baffled by the snow, by the large apartment buildings, and by the gueros all around.
When I started preschool, I didn't speak a word of English. That year I managed to get by with hand signals and facial expressions. Not to mention, I was the only Hispanic in the whole school.
The following year I learned more and more English, becoming mostly fluent by first grade. By second grade, I was identified as gifted and talented in the area of leadership. And ever since then, I have fulfilled that role. AB, honor roll, and perfect attendance were some of the many accomplishments of grade school.
I always knew I was different. But it was in middle school when I realized that I was undocumented. My parents always told me that if anyone ever asked where I was born, to say USA. I didn't understand why I needed to lie. They just told me it wasn't their business knowing my birth location.
Not thinking much of it, I agreed to it. But eventually, that wasn't enough. Me, being the nerd I am, began to research what I was. And I found out the ugly truth.
I lacked a Social Security number, the roadblock that would make having a job a difficult task. Always being a star student, I was very angry at the fact that I might not even be able to go to college. So many emotions inside of me stirred, anger, disappointment, and pity for myself.
I vent it out by sharing my story. In eight grade was the first time I ever told anyone the secrets I kept inside of me. And the crowd listened, intently. Ever since then I have advocated for immigrant rights, the rights we ought to have as humans and inhabitants of this country.
I am a very active member in my school and community. I am captain of the speech and debate team, member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society, chairperson of community service for the Future Business Leaders of America, and the student representative on the Boone County Board of Education.
HEYRA AVILA: I maintain myself busy with AP classes and extracurricular activities. But everywhere I go, I talk about immigration. Positive as well as negative feedback keeps me going. I'm sure my whole school knows my story by now. But not everyone agrees.
I remember one day I was explaining to my friend why, at 17 years old, I still didn't have my driver's permit. I mentioned my crossing to the US. And she turned around, eyes bulging, and she asked in disgust, you're an illegal alien? It hurt coming from a friend. But that still doesn't stop me.
My senators and representatives even know my name and story. I fight for this cause.
HEYRA AVILA: I fight for this cause, because I know we all deserve to seek a better life, especially when the decision was made for us to cross country borders without identification. A set of numbers shouldn't hold a person back from their dreams of just providing for their family and improving their lives.
Today I am no longer undocumented. I now have a work permit through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA.
This allows me to have a Social Security number, obtain my driver's permit, finally, and work legally. However, I along with thousands of other youth are stuck in limbo, because this is only a temporary two-year relief, with still no pathway to citizenship or ability to visit our loved ones in our home country. I lived my life 14 years of being undocumented and hiding in the shadows. I consider Kentucky my home, because I have lived here basically my whole life.
My parents remain undocumented. And I fear for my family's future. Even though my three siblings are citizens, my family can still be torn apart any day. Something has to be done about the broken immigration system. And it has to be done now.
HEYRA AVILA: I hope my story has opened your eyes to your neighbor's sorrow. My intentions are not to change your mind completely, just to open your mind a little bit and to put a face to the issue, because I am not a statistic. I am a person. This issue is about people, after all.
I will continue to fight. And I hope I will have your support. Thank you for listening.
SANDY WEIR: Thank you, Heyra. And all of you have an opportunity—well, not all of you will fit. But there is a workshop at 1:45 this afternoon in Room 101. And Heyra will join us for that.
Debate and Vote on the Proposed Statement of Conscience: Immigration as a Moral Issue
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Sandy. Thank you. [INAUDIBLE PHRASE].
Our next item of business today is to consider and vote on the proposed Statement of Conscience, "Immigration as a Moral Issue." The text is found on pages 81 through 84 of the final agenda. And then we had handouts coming into the hall today, two of them. The first is cantaloupe colored and the second is mango colored.
GINI COURTER: I'm right, aren't I? All right. I don't know all the colors, but I know most of the fruits.
GINI COURTER: So I'm going to call on the chair of the Commission on Social Witness to do a brief explanation of why there are two pieces of paper and then make the appropriate motion.
SUSAN GOEKLER: What you're going to be voting on today is the revised Statement of Conscience that's found on the cantaloupe colored. And before we have the final vote, I will make the motion, you will have an opportunity if you so choose to consider unincorporated amendments.
After the mini assembly, the CSW incorporated many of the proposed amendments. The ones we incorporated are found in the cantaloupe version. And you will see that they are either underlined as insertions or strike-outs. So if you want to unincorporated an incorporated amendment, you would have to make an amendment to unincorporate.
Then, if there are none that you want to unincorporate, then we will look at the unincorporated amendments. And if there is anyone who wants to still bring that to the floor for your consideration, they will go to the Amendment mike over there, in the order in which they are here, but if someone doesn't choose a particular amendment to advocate for, then we will go to the next in order. On this sheet, this one in terms of putting them in order will go between B and C.
The line numbers in the unincorporated amendments refer to the line in this version in your program book. So you'll need the program book, the cantaloupe, and the mango. OK. So with that, on behalf of the Commission on Social Witness, I move acceptance of the proposed Statement of Conscience entitled "Immigration as a Moral Issue" as distributed in the Friday CSW Alert.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. So this is the first time we're doing this. So let's make sure we know how all the parts and pieces work. Pro statements will be taken from the Pro microphone, which is stage left, to your right. Con statements from the Con microphone, stage right, to your left.
Procedural microphone is where we go for matters of procedure, right here with the good looking Jerry Gaynor. And amendments, when they are in order, will be taken from the Amendment microphone, way to my left, to your right, over there.
Does somebody want to speak in favor of the proposed Statement of Conscience? And the delegate is going to do this fabulously. He's going to start by stating his name and the congregation he's from. And at that point, we will start the clock for two minutes for him. Go ahead.
Thank you, Madam Moderator. I'm Daniel Stracka. I'm a member of the Palomar UU Fellowship, founder of UURISE, and a Unitarian Universalist for 35 years. We Unitarian Universalists are a justice-seeking people. We stand today to uphold our principles as a dogma-free, liberal religious body through the democratic process.
We have a long and proud tradition of witness and action for immigrant justice. We passed resolutions, provided sanctuary for those fleeing persecution from dictators, supported worker rights. We protested and engaged in civil disobedience against SB1070 and have been jailed in Arizona, and then returned to stand in solidarity with those detained in our Arpaio's inhumane Tent City.
We completed applications for citizenship for 300 permanent residents in one day. We transformed GA into Justice GA in Phoenix in 2012 with five days of service and witness. We were arrested in LA only weeks ago while standing on the side of love with immigrant families and shouting, "no more deportations." Since 2010, we have studied immigration as a moral issue. Kudos to the Commission on Social Witness and to Kat Liu for her outstanding work on the study guide.
As an advocate for immigrants, as president of UURISE, as chair of the Immigrant Justice Steering Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California, I urge delegates to support this Statement of Conscience. I support it as a moral imperative. No statement is ever perfect. I'm reminded the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are not perfect, but the result of compromise. They endure today.
Let us be bold and take a stand as a matter of faith. I urge your vote in favor of the Statement of Conscience on Immigration as a moral issue.
GINI COURTER: Hi. Who says tigers don't change their stripes? So I recognize the delegate at the Con microphone.
NEAL ANDERSON: Yes. My name is Reverend Neal Anderson. I'm a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada. My one concern about the statement is that it does not include the issue of cost.
Currently the Senate Bill in front of the US Senate costs immigrants at least $4,000 to get documents. Many of the undocumented immigrants who I minister to in Reno have no chance of affording that. So I just want to put it in front of the delegates here that it's very important for us to ensure that any immigration reform in any nation is affordable to immigrants.
GINI COURTER: So I'm having a great time, because we just are having a little piece of theater right now. Let me tell you what it is. If there's nobody at the Con microphone, I don't recognize the next speaker at the Pro microphone.
But here comes Youth Caucus. So thank you, Reverend Anderson, because I'm sure he wants us to vote in favor of this. We won't do this all day. But you all get this, right? Because I recognize the delegation at the Pro microphone now.
ZAC COOPER: Thank you, Madam Moderator. I'm Zac Cooper from the Dupage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Illinois. And I'm speaking on behalf of the Youth Caucus.
Yesterday, we as a Youth Caucus came to consensus in support of this Statement of Conscience. We are a nation of immigrants. And the opportunity to move across borders is what makes this country what it is today.
We believe that our UU principles and sources call us to treat all people in a just manner. Everyone, no matter what background or national origin, is deserving of kind treatment. We've been raised to understand that no being should be marginalized.
The statement displays an attitude of bipartisanship and cooperative working which is necessary to bring success to any motion. And we as the Youth Caucus celebrate that our faith is leading the way in this cooperative movement. The inclusion of our purpose and that all people should be treated justly and humanely is a vital part of this moral statement. And we appreciate the fact that it sets reasonable minimums which apply to basic human rights instead of specific ideologies.
The Youth Caucus recognizes that this is not the final solution, but is an important stepping stone towards justice. As youth, we will be building off of these stepping stones for years to come. And we know how important the youth support is in such a large issue. We ask for your support by voting to pass this Statement of Conscience. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. That was like watching a press conference, because when you all started to speak, the camera guys are having trouble even finding an angle to put you on the screens because you were so popular. Thank you very much.
I have nobody at the Con microphone, friends. So what we can do right now is we're going to move immediately to amendments, because it appears we want to do this. But we'd like to maybe have some options about what this looks like when it's done. So we are switching to cantaloupe and mango.
And the way this works is we have, starting on page eight, unincorporated amendments. And they can be moved for incorporation in the order in which they appear. These are prioritized. And they need not be moved by the person who made the motion in the mini assembly. So let's all just take a breath and figure out how this is going to work.
And as Dr. Goekler pointed out, at this point it says, for example, unincorporated amendment A is on line 172. But that's not 172 on cantaloupe. That's 172 in the book. Are we good?
Could we make this harder? Give us a chance. We're Unitarian Universalists. We can do anything.
Are we ready? Is there someone to move Unincorporated Amendment A?
GINI COURTER: No. Unincorporated Amendment B?
AUDIENCE: No. Not B.
GINI COURTER: C?
GINI COURTER: All righty. Let's go to the delegate at the Amendment microphone.
FRED HAMMOND: Madam Moderator, my name is Reverend Fred Hammond. I am from the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I recently returned from a School of the Americas delegation to the border at Nogales, Arizona, and Mexico.
We as Unitarian Universalists should be outraged that our tax dollars are issued to train—are used, sorry, to train the militaries in Latin America and elsewhere. The School of the Americas training camp has trained the recent military coup that occurred in Honduras in 2009 and the mafia cartel in Mexico. This makes each of us accomplices to the egregious crimes against humanity.
I urge inclusion of this sentence in this document. It was placed here because imperialism and colonialism is not just a legacy. It is our current reality. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Gini. Gini. To clarify, this is the one that was overlooked. So look at the orange sheet. This is the one he's speaking for. Mango.
GINI COURTER: Oh, so we're all the way down to G2?
AUDIENCE: No, this is like B and a half.
GINI COURTER: Help me out.
AUDIENCE: It's between B and C. But it's labeled G2. All right. Thank you.
OK. So Unincorporated Amendment G2 on here is labeled G2 because it was a group amendment, not because it's G in this order. So we're actually on the mango sheet, right? Thank you all.
All right. So this is an insertion at line 44. That helps me a lot, because it didn't fit at 29. Great. Somebody's not in favor of this. I recognize the delegate at the Con microphone.
MADELINE MORROW: Madeline Morrow from First Unitarian Church of San Jose. I've read over the entire statement and the unincorporated amendments and I want to speak for brevity and clarity as the Commission on Social Witness has put together a really great document. When we take this back to our congregations, making these sentences complex, adding unnecessary detail, does not really help the process of education at our congregations. And every locality is going to have to work on issues of local importance anyway. I speak for clarity and simplicity.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Seeing no one at the Pro microphone, I'm assuming you are ready to vote on this proposed amendment on the mango sheet. And let's put the amendment back up on the screen if we could, please. So it's right there, insertion at line 44. So this is an amendment. All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you.
All those opposed. The amendment clearly fails.
So you're queued up. What's the next one you have for me, Teller. Which one? No, which amendment, please.
GINI COURTER: C?
GINI COURTER: OK. I recognize the delegate at the Amendment microphone.
JOSH DAVIDOFF: Hi. I'm Josh Davidoff, from the CLF based in Evanston, Illinois. And just to clarify , I'm not speaking on behalf of the Youth Caucus. I'm an individual.
So Amendment C, while this document speaks extensively about various motivations to immigrate, it makes little to no mention of the popular motives to keep immigrants out. A large part of this issue stems from misconceptions about a loss of culture and undercutting of jobs from citizens. Amendment C addresses this important chapter of the story in the Historical Background section, and is therefore not made redundant by any already unincorporated amendment contrary to the stated CSW reasoning. It is vital that we recognize the disguised intolerances of immigrants that have permeated the world for centuries. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I have no one who wants to speak against this. I'm assuming that means we're ready to vote. So we are looking at Unincorporated Amendment C and including it starting at line 29. Are we good?
All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed.
We're going to ask you to do it again. Ready? All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Hold them in one place. Don't wave them around. All those opposed.
OK. We're sorry. We're going to try this one more time so we don't have to count this vote. Hang on.
All those in favor of incorporating Amendment C raise and hold your voting cards. We've got some vote over here too. OK. Thank you. Lower your cards.
All those opposed. The motion fails. Thank you.
Amendment microphone? Yes. I recognize the delegate at the Procedural microphone.
RACHEL CHRISTIANSEN: My name is Rachel Christiansen. And I'm a delegate from the University Unitarian Universalist Society in Orlando, Florida. I appreciate that we have the text of the amendments on the screen. But they are not legible. The font is not large enough for us to read them.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you. So let's beef that up as much as we can, Tech Deck. We also have paper. If that was all we were working with, yes, we would have stopped this a bit ago. Does anybody need to have either cantaloupe or mango who doesn't have it? Thank you. We'll work tomorrow on pineapple and blueberries.
GINI COURTER: All of these foods are good for us. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Amendment D.
GINI COURTER: OK. So I recognize the delegate at the Amendment microphone.
TED PAPPAS: Thank you, Madam Chair. Ted Pappas, Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester, Connecticut. Unincorporated Amendment D deals with inserting the following language. "Attaching a profit motive to the incarceration of immigrants creates a system in which it is beneficial to the prison to maximize the numbers of people held in custody."
I would like to briefly speak in favor of the amendment. In virtually all of our government's efforts to save money, we are increasingly privatizing, whether it is in the military, in the prison systems, or in so many other areas. This privatization speaks to efforts of those benefiting to maintain those systems. War is one of the best examples. But the prison system works equally as well.
When you have a system of private prisons, it is in their best financial interest to maintain all of those items which fill their coffers. We should be eliminating the financial incentive of private industry to maintain prisons, particularly at the expense of people attempting to come to our country. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the Con microphone.
JESS CULLINAN: Thank you. Madame Moderator. My name is Jess Cullinan. I'm from Los Alamos, New Mexico I rise to speak against this amendment, and actually all of these amendments, because I really want to commend the Commission on Social Witness for doing such an amazing job in creating a document that is actually useful to individuals, congregations, and our denomination.
It's concrete. It's not overly pedantic. And it speaks to all of the broader issues of immigration, without going into so much detail that it gets overwhelming. So I want to think the CSW for doing such a fantastic job. And let's leave this piece of art as it is.
GINI COURTER: Seeing no one at the Pro microphone, that means we are ready to vote on the amendment, which is to insert at line 72 Unincorporated Amendment D. So here's what we have, by the way. We have—oh. I have somebody.
Come on up. It's all right. There's nothing wrong with this. Let's go back to the screen for just a hot second, though, Tech Deck, because you've made the accommodation that I requested. We have bigger print.
GINI COURTER: But you're going to have to listen and look on the sheet to know where it's going right, because that's what they were trying to show us was the line numbers too. So thanks for checking and thanks for doing that for us.
Hang on just a second. It's after the word overcrowded on 72. All right. Great. I recognize the delegate at the Pro microphone.
JOHN JENKINS: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is John Jenkins. I'm from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Southeast Arizona. And as one who sees the results of the detentions, the unsubstantiated abuse or unsubstantiated assaults on immigrants every single day—my house is less than two miles from the border. I see these people coming across to feed their families every single day.
And to watch how our country has decided to treat these folks is just unconscionable. We have to make a change. And this is one small step we can take to do that. And I definitely urge a yes vote on this amendment.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the Con microphone.
JIM KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Thank you, Madam Moderator. Jim Graham, Krawarik-Graham, from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I rise in opposition to this amendment as adding unneeded complexity to be document. If folks will reference to the mango, there is a sentence beginning at line 80 and running through line 82 which speaks directly to this particular language. So I believe that this particular amendment is additional language that is unneeded to the document at hand.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the Pro microphone.
RACHEL ROTT: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Rachel Rott. And I'm a delegate from Palomar Unitarian Universalist in Vista, California. And I would like to speak in support of this amendment.
Having finished the Immigration as a Moral Issue class or course with our congregation, one of the important points that we learned is that the for-profit prison system is a very, very important piece of why our current system is so broken. And we noticed that while I agree with a previous speaker at the Con microphone that the CSW did a beautiful job with this document, we also have a really beautiful process of going through this together in the mini assembly and working on improving it. And I think that this is an important improvement, because we have not lifted up enough the importance of recognizing the for-profit prison industry in this country.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I see no one at the Con microphone, so we are going to vote on this, which is inserting at line 72 this Unincorporated Amendment. All righty. Find your cards.
All those in favor of inserting this, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. It fails. The motion fails.
Can I take a straw vote? How many of you are totally inclined that you're not going to pass any amendment? Raise your voting card.
OK. Good. I got it. So this is a good thing we're doing. Then I'd like to recognize the delegate at the Amendment microphone. We're just waiting to be convinced, right? Thank you. Yes, ma'am. How are you?
CAROLINA KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Sleep-deprived, Madam Moderator.
GINI COURTER: OK. Let's go.
CAROLINA KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I would like to support Amendment E. I was actually in the group that was talking about this. We felt that some of the document was very, very focused on just undocumented immigrants.
And the realities are that both documented and undocumented immigrants tend to face these challenges. There was considerable discussion about [? how we might ?] word that. There were several members in our group that said, oh, this and that. And we really, really talked about, well, how do we make it not too clunky? But it really, really was the feeling of our group that we should include documented and undocumented immigrants in facing those struggles. So I would ask you to support Amendment E.
GINI COURTER: So this is at line 67 in your book. And the amendment is to say "documented and undocumented immigrants alike are often denied the civil rights protections of citizens, paid less than citizens, and labor in unsafe and unhealthy conditions." OK. We got it? All right. We have no one at the Con microphone.
Let's see how we feel about this. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. That motion clearly carries. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the Amendment microphone. Do we have one? Yes. Let's go.
JOHN BOUSTEAD: My name is John Boustead. I'm from Tennessee Valley UU Church of Knoxville, Tennessee. I'm here to advocate—this is Amendment K. I advocate the addition of six words to the Statement of Conscience to cover an issue not now covered.
I want to include in original line 43, 46 in the revision, immediately following the word globalization, this phrase, "the United States'" the United States', apostrophe S, "food aid dumping."
JOHN BOUSTEAD: Yeah.
GINI COURTER: Please don't be helping him. Let's go.
JOHN BOUSTEAD: Here's how it works. This is not about trade policy. This is about foreign aid and foreign policy. When famine looms, often in Africa or Asia or Central America, the United States policy and practice is not to send cash to purchase food locally and regionally.
The United States policy instead dumps our agricultural surpluses in places like Mexico, Kenya, Egypt, and Bangladesh. So these are the mountains of food surpluses, many of which have been promoted by our farm aid bills. Billions of dollars of farm aid policy dumps billions of dollars of food surplus on developing countries, thereby putting millions of small farmers out of work. And they then seek to migrate to better places.
I feel, this policy of ours of putting small farmers out of work all over the developing world is a moral issue which is not covered in the present thing. It's a moral issue which I think most Americans are not at all aware of. And that's why I would like to ask for these six words.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. So the amendment being made is at line 43. The sentence actually starts online 42. And it would be amended to read "contributors to these economic conditions include population growth, environmental degradation, globalization, the United States' food aid dumping, and policies that address land ownership, tariffs"—and it continues. Does that make sense? Thank you.
I recognize the delegate at the Con microphone.
TIM ATKINS: Howdy, Madam Moderator. My name is Tim Atkins. I'm a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. I think this term "food aid dumping" is probably a technical term none of us has ever heard of before right now. And I think that if we're going to put something like that into the Statement of Conscience about immigration that we should have something a little bit more clearly defined that's in the document. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I have no one at the Pro microphone, so you are ready to vote. So we are looking at incorporating Amendment K at line 43. All those in favor of adding this amendment, please raise your voting cards. All those opposed.
We are not going to be doing that, then. The motion clearly fails.
What did that look like on off-site delegates too? When you see it go to a chart on the screen, that's our off-site folks. And they're just rolling that—let's all yell hi to the off-site delegates.
AUDIENCE: Hi. We love you.
GINI COURTER: Good. Somebody yelled "we love you." That's ever bit so true. How are we?
And we didn't have anybody want to join the debate from off-site, because I would see that right here. So we might have people—we might have our online off-site delegates with us later on.
Amendment mike? We're clean. Are you ready to vote on this thing?
GINI COURTER: Look at you. All right. Good. I'm pleased. Let's thank the Commission on Social Witness one more time, please.
GINI COURTER: Well, then, all those in favor of the proposed Statement of Conscience, "Immigration as a Moral Issue," please raise your voting cards. This is as amended. Thank you. All those opposed. That clearly carries.
GINI COURTER: Wow. Wow. Wow. Am I like right that this is our last item of business this morning?
GINI COURTER: How about announcements? Don't run away. Let's make sure we're getting everything done. When we're this early, I'm always afraid that I've done something really wrong.
GINI COURTER: It doesn't rule it out. Anything's possible. We're good? Good.
GINI COURTER: Let's have some announcements. This will be a grand thing. So how many of you are going to Reflection Groups today? Yes, yes? All right. I don't know what the rest of you are doing.
We're having a conversation about covenant. It's about our future. Please participate.
I'm going to recognize our secretary, Tom Loughrey, for announcements.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Tom.
GINI COURTER: This is a gift that keeps on giving.
TOM LOUGHREY: I'm just going to roll with that.
SPEAKER 3: The last thing I got, it says I'm required to be registered with—
TOM LOUGHREY: We have the air traffic control tower somewhere.
AUDIENCE: Just saying hello.
GINI COURTER: Off-site people saying hello back.
TOM LOUGHREY: Oh, terrific.
GINI COURTER: How cool is that?
TOM LOUGHREY: We have several announcements. The GA Planning Committee, Chip Roush, has asked me to request that during the closing ceremony, those persons who will be leaving and coming on to various committees of the Association please sit near the front center during the closing ceremony, so that you may be easily recognized.
This afternoon there's going to be a collection taken up for the Greater New Orleans UUs, GNOUU, a good thing. Checks, cash, credit cards will be gratefully received.
We also have some announcements the Council on Crosscultural Engagement would like to acknowledge attribution of three pieces of liturgy from yesterday morning's workshop. The chalice lighting was authored by Hope Johnson, the invocation by Rebecca Edmitson-Lange, and the benediction by Janice Marie Johnson.
The Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee invites your continued participation in their collection of stories about how we're doing on the journey toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural community. Please continue to drop off your cards or visit their Facebook page to tell your stories. They are also hosting a conversation tonight at 10:00 PM in Marriott Suite 310. That's Marriott Suite 310 at 10:00 PM. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Tom. OK. So this is the part we started saying yesterday we were going to do better. And we're going to do that. We're going to stay in our seats and let folks with scooters and walkers and canes get out of the hall. And those of you, I think, who are walking already maybe weren't here for that part.
But we're not going to be a faith where the people who are using scooters have to wait until all the rest of us leave. So let's let those folks leave, because it's what we do. Chip, did you need something?
That's how we roll. Hey, Chip. Can I have sound on the Amendment mike, please?
AUDIENCE: While we let the scooters take off, might we sing?
GINI COURTER: If I had thought to have a musician here for us, it would be—oh! Here comes—look at this!
GINI COURTER: David Glasgow. He sings. He dances. He sprints! Yes. Thank you, Chip. What do you have for us, David?
DAVID GLASGOW: Not a clue. Um. I know we got permission to do "I'm On My Way" this week.
GINI COURTER: Let's do it.
DAVID GLASGOW: Because we're on our way to lunch.
GINI COURTER: [SINGING] We're on our way. And we'll eat a lot. Yeah.
DAVID GLASGOW: Anybody know what number that one is? Or what key it's in? That would be good enough too.
GINI COURTER: We're just going with you. Take us away.
DAVID GLASGOW: Let's do it in F, because that's an easy key to play.
[SINGING - "I'M ON MY WAY"]
GINI COURTER: There being no further business to come before us and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this plenary session shall stand in recess until 3:30 this afternoon. Be here or be square. See you then.