Today, 5,000 hearts beat faster. Hues of blue, green, and every shade of the rainbow proudly glow. Today, we are encompassed by the colorful and comforting aura that the world is better than it was yesterday.
Today, on June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal in this nation. In an auditorium packed with overjoyed Unitarian Universalists of all ages, the celebration and contagious energy assures us this is one of the best days we’ve experienced.
This is the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly 2015 in Portland, Oregon. We’re privileged to attend the largest gathering of Unitarian Universalists in the world. We experience stories of intense struggle and hear songs evoking empowerment. During worship, assembly gatherings, and workshops, we’re inspired to carry a piece of this experience from the larger UU community to our home congregation and individual lives.
At General Assembly, UU’s of every ethnicity and age share ideas and emotions. During one workshop, a panel of diverse men discuss the meanings of feminism and notions of “masculinity”. This illustrates how traditional gender expectations are detrimental to people and the need to drop the common gender stereotypes, such as the “manly” men and the subservient women.
During the much anticipated Bridging Ceremony, youth receive national recognition and support from the assembled UU community. The intergenerational crowd chants: We Are the Revolution. The bridging youth walk across a glittering stage, state our name and congregation, and are symbolically welcomed into young adulthood. As we hug and shout, all of the motivation and inspiration I've collected runs through my mind.
WE Are the Revolution. Later in the week, we experienced an emotional speech from an African American activist. She has lost people she loves and yearns for justice in Ferguson and everywhere else. We march into an intersection as a silent human wall. We grip hands as shouting begins and crowds gather. Volunteers lay in the center of the street for four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and half hours Michael Brown lay on the street of Ferguson. After this experience, feelings of empowerment, sadness, anger, and commitment wash over us. The words “Black Lives Matter” are shouted from our collective voice, bouncing through the hallways.
This experience, along with many others at GA, prompted us to more fully realize the importance of acting upon what we have learned and witnessed. Acquiring the social justice mentality is one of the most significant elements of UU events. We learned the importance of not branding yourself an ally, but proving it by offering help and assistance to those most in need. The issue, not yourself, is what deserves acknowledgement.
This is a peek into what we experienced at General Assembly 2015. The impact on our lives continues to ripple as our motivations were renewed, our minds were filled with new ideas, and our spirits were lifted.
About Colleen Lee & Phoebe Mussman Colleen Lee & Phoebe Mussman are actively involved in congregational life at Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, MO. Colleen Lee is a youth group leader, teaches Religious Education to preschool children, serves on the Christmas Pageant Director Team, and is a trained youth chaplain. Phoebe Mussman served as an RE teacher, youth group leader, a Christmas Pageant Director for four years, and participated in a service trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 2012. She bridged in May 2015. Both Colleen and Phoebe attended UU Youth Midwest Leadership School in 2014 in Beloit, WI, are recognized as Unitarian Universalist Luminary Leaders, and were excited to represent their congregation and youth group at General Assembly 2015.