General Session Participation Guide

The Unitarian Univerealist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees shall offer rules of procedure for adoption at the first session of each General Assembly.

Living the Democratic Process


General Assembly: A Meeting of Congregations is an annual opportunity for delegates from member congregations to affirm, promote, and practice the democratic process while conducting the business of the Association.

Rules of Procedure are adopted at the start of the Assembly. They are printed (as proposed but not necessarily as adopted) in the GA Agenda. The Rules of Procedure are designed to help the delegates effectively represent their congregations.


Consideration of and action upon items must proceed in the order set forth in the Final Agenda unless during the meeting that order is changed by majority vote.

The Moderator may propose a single consent agenda motion consisting of items that have received no proposed amendments at the appropriate Mini-Assembly or items that are otherwise deemed appropriate by the Moderator. An item may be removed from the consent agenda and treated as a regular business item by the Moderator or by the vote of at least 99 delegates. The consent agenda motion will be admitted if approved by majority vote and will be considered first on the agenda. Once admitted, the consent agenda is not debatable and requires a two-thirds vote of support to be adopted.


So long as a quorum is present, action on any question, unless the Bylaws otherwise provide, will be decided by on-line vote through the GA Participation Portal. The Moderator may request straw polls to assess the readiness of the Assembly to vote, but such straw polls are only advisory and carry no official weight or constitute any official decision. Provided a quorum is present at each General Session, all matters submitted to a vote of the Assembly will be determined by the number of votes cast by delegates and Trustees voting on the matter. The required proportion of votes cast by delegates and Trustees to approve any action or resolution will be as set forth in the Bylaws or Rules or these Rules of Procedure.


The Board of Trustees will approve the minutes of the General Assembly General Sessions, which will be prepared by the Recording Secretary in consultation with Legal Counsel.


The provisions of Rule 5 notwithstanding, the Board of Trustees and/or the Commission on Social Witness will, at their discretion, move the item as printed on the Final Agenda or move an amended version of the item.


Except for clarifying amendments, amendments to the main motion will not be in order until there has been at least 8 minutes of discussion, if that much is needed, on the merits of the main question as moved. The Moderator may, at their discretion, entertain a motion to amend the main motion before 8 minutes of discussion has taken place.

Amendments to a business resolution, a bylaw, a rule, or a proposed amendment must be submitted for consideration at the appropriate Mini-Assembly in order to be offered in the General Session. No amendment or other change to any motion under consideration will be entertained unless it is submitted in writing on forms prescribed by the Moderator, who may, however, waive this requirement.

Only the section of particular bylaws that are proposed to be amended may be amended during GA. The remaining text of a bylaw, which may have been printed for the convenience of the reader, may not be amended. The Moderator will determine whether a particular section of text is eligible for amendment.


The following time limits are imposed on all business transacted by the Assembly except as otherwise provided in these Rules for Actions of Immediate Witness. If, however, there is no objection from the floor, the Moderator may grant minor extensions of time. Any time limits imposed by this rule may be extended by a two-thirds vote of the delegates and Trustees.

a) Statements through the “Pro” or “Con” queues must be in writing or recorded video or audio and submitted through the form in the GA Participation Portal, or other electronic form designated by the Moderator. Any recorded statement must be submitted at least two hours before the posted start time of the General Session.

b) Pro/Con Discussion Time. 15 minutes of discussion time shall be provided for “Pro” and “Con” discussion of any proposed bylaw or rule amendment, resolution, or action on a report that is on or admitted to the Final Agenda. Only statements from the “Pro” and “Con” queues shall count toward the discussion time limit, which includes time devoted to “Pro” and ”Con” discussion of any amendments to the proposed motion. Time for members of the Board of Trustees to explain proposals will not count towards the time limit. Any motion to extend the time or debate must be made from the procedural microphone before time for discussion expires. Whenever possible, the discussion time will be equally divided between people who are in favor of the motion and people who have concerns with the motion through equitable recognition of the “Pro” and “Con” queues.

c) A motion to refer or table the motion or to call the previous question on the main motion shall not be in order if there are potential statements at both the Pro and Con queues, and 10 minutes of pro/con discussion has not expired. However, a motion to call the previous question is in order if there has been at least 5 minutes of pro/con discussion concerning the main motion and there are no speakers at either the Pro and Con queues.

d) Time taken by comments in the course of the debate by the Moderators, Parliamentarian, procedural questions and responses or for motions to make an amendment from the Amendment and Procedure queue, will not count against pro or con discussion time.


These Rules of Procedure will be adopted by a two-thirds vote and may be amended, suspended, or repealed during the course of the Assembly only by a two-thirds vote, the amendment, suspension, or repeal of which requires a four-fifths vote.


a) Proponent and Concern Queues. Discussion through the queues designated “Pro” or “Con” is limited to recorded or written statements in support of or to raise concerns with the motions, respectively. Concerns raised through the “Con” queue should be substantial enough that the speaker is not ready to support the motion on the table.

b) Amendment and Procedure Queue. Questions or statements submitted through the Amendment and Procedure queue must be written. Questions submitted under item 4 below will be responded to by the Parliamentarian or the Moderator, who will ensure that the Assembly remains informed of active procedural questions. Usage of the Amendments and Procedure queue is reserved for:

1. Making an amendment to a main motion or another amendment, provided the motion is in order and recognized by the Moderator;

2. Making any other motion that is recognized by the Moderator to be in order;

3. Stating the Board of Trustees’ position at the outset of debate on those items on the Final Agenda on which the Board takes a position;

4. Questions or clarifications about the process of the debate or the implementation of the Rules of Procedure; and

5. Other comments recognized by the Moderator.


Any motion concerning the 2020–2021 budget that is to be made at the time provided for such motions during the formal business sessions must be filed by email to by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on Friday, June 26. All such motions must comply with Rule G-10.1.4. Adoption of the motion requires a two-thirds vote.


A Resolution or Action not on the Final Agenda may be considered only under the following circumstance:

Under Bylaw Section 4.16(c), which permits the addition of Responsive Resolutions in response to a substantive portion of a report by an officer or committee reporting to the General Assembly.

The author of a Responsive Resolution must notify the Moderator in writing of the title and content of the Responsive Resolution as soon as it is practical to do so, but not later than 5:00 PM ET on Friday, June 26 for Responsive Resolutions based on reports delivered in General Session.


a) An Action of Immediate Witness maybe submitted by any delegate. The proposed Action of Immediate Witness must be in writing.

b) Actions of Immediate Witness must be emailed to by 10:00 PM ET Wednesday, June 24. To be considered by delegates, proposed AIWs must meet the CSW’s published criteria, available at

c) The Commission on Social Witness will review all proposed Actions of Immediate Witness to determine if they can be considered and, if necessary, engage with the authors of the proposed AIW on the text of their submission. Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness that meet the criteria will be posted online through the GA Participation Portal by 12:00 PM, ET, on Thursday for consideration by the delegates.

d) Delegates shall use an online form to vote for up to three Actions of Immediate Witness. The online form will be distributed electronically to delegates through the GA Participation Portal. Voting must be completed by 12:00 PM ET on Friday. The three Actions of Immediate Witness that receive the most votes shall be eligible to be admitted to the final agenda.

e) Each sponsor of a proposed Action of Immediate Witness determined to be eligible will have up to 2 minutes to present a statement in support before the vote to admit the action to the agenda.

f) The motion to admit is not debatable and requires a two-thirds vote of support.

g) Up to 7 minutes will be allowed for “Pro” and “Con” discussion, if needed, on each proposed Action of Immediate Witness admitted to the final agenda. No amendments shall be in order to the proposed Action of Immediate Witness.

h) Discussion and voting on affirmation of an Action of Immediate Witness will occur during the General Session on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. Affirmation must be by two-thirds vote, as specified in Bylaw Section 4.16(c)(2). Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness are not in competition with one another. Each of the proposed Actions of Immediate Witness admitted to the Final Agenda may be affirmed or rejected by the delegates and Trustees.


In the event of a conflict between these Rules of Procedure and the Bylaws or Rules of the UUA, the Bylaws and Rules of the UUA take precedence. In the event of a conflct between these Rules of Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order, these Rules of Procedure shall take precedence.


The final business session of the 2020 General Assembly will be adjourned no later than 6:00 PM Eastern Time on Saturday, June 27, 2020.

Gini Courter speaks at GA 2012 Plenary I.

Gini Courter served as Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 2004 to 2013.

A small group of delegates and officials gather in discussion near the amendment microphone in General Session

Delegates to the 2019 General Assembly discuss procedure with Vice Moderator Gregory Boyd.