General Assembly: GA Presentations: Presenter views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UUA.

General Assembly 1998

John Buehrens speaking.

Rev. John Buehrens.

Fulfilling the Promise

Rochester, NY, June 25-30

The largest General Assembly (GA) in the history of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) ended on June 30 after meeting for six days in Rochester, NY. More than 4,000 Unitarian Universalists participated in this General Assembly, surpassing the previous record of 3,600 at the General Assembly in New Haven, CT, in 1989.

During the course of the General Assembly participants attended plenary sessions that included reports delivered by Rev. John Buehrens, president of the UUA, and Denise Davidoff, the Association's moderator. Among the most heavily-attended presentations were Professor Robert Bellah's lecture which placed Unitarian Universalism within a wider cultural perspective; Dr. Rebecca Parker's presentation on the nature of covenant; and the Ware Lecture, delivered by Amitai Etzioni, founder of the Communitarian movement. Also prominentaly featured was an analysis, by Rev. Clark Olsen, of the recently completed denominational survey which is part of "Fulfilling the Promise." This four year re-covenanting program was the theme of General Assembly (GA), focusing attention of attendees and delegates on the characteristics of covenantal relationships and the connection of individual Unitarian Universalists (UUs) to the entire Unitarian Universalist Association. Many of the participants attended the Sunday morning Service of the Living Tradition which honored recently deceased ministers and welcomed new ministers into fellowship with the Association.

General Assembly offers an opportunity for delegates from each member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association to cast their votes in UUA policy-making and institutional processes. This year delegates focused on issues of how congregations can effect positive change in society through interfaith efforts; how church members can nurture family life; and how to better understand the links between economic injustice, poverty, and racism.

General Assembly News

Armed with digital cameras, mini-disc recorders, laptops and workstations, a small staff of volunteer Web reporters covered a wide variety of GA events. We are sorry we weren't able to cover everything, but we hope this coverage gives you a sense of what it was like to be in Rochester this year. Maybe we'll see you next year in Salt Lake City!


Theme Presentations


  • "Crowns and Dreams," Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons
  • Service of the Living Tradition, Rev. Dr. Barbara W. Merritt
  • "Second Movement," Rev. Galen Guengerich
  • "Your Mission," Rev. Dr. John Buehrens
  • "Saving the Earth, Savoring the Planet," Margot Adler
  • "Sí, ¿cómo no?" Rev. José Ballester


Vital Congregations Worship

  • "Crisis Communication in the Electronic Age," Deborah Weiner
  • "Start, Nurture, and Grow a Local Youth Group," Jennifer Harrison, Sienna Baskin, Alison Purcell
  • "Preserving Your Past to Support Your Future," John Hurley
  • "Raising Congregations to be Fair Employers," Barb Brown, Brad Brown, Barb Lewis
  • "Small Talk: Congregations' Start-up and Staying Power," Holly Loring, Margaret Beard, Betsy Williams
  • "Strengthening Your Congregation through District Resources"
  • "Welcoming Congregations: Changes and Next Steps," Keith Kron
  • "Creating Anti-Racist Multicultural Congregations," Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Rev. William Gardiner
  • "Leading Change: A Process for Fulfilling the Promise," Christopher Cappy, Denise Davidoff, Rev. Terry Sweetser

Topical Workshops

  • "The Impact of Women on the Unitarian Universalist Ministry," Rev. Helen Lutton Cohen
  • "Reaching Up for Manhood," Geoffrey Canada
  • "Why Our Health Insurance Is Making Us Sick," Rev. Ralph Mero
  • "Race and Gender," Rev. Meg Riley and Alyce Gowdy-Wright
  • "Doing Our First Works Over: Whither Congregational Polity?" Rev. David B. Parke
  • "Congregational Polity: History and Practice," Rev. John Buehrens and Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley
  • "First Steps on the Journey Toward Wholeness," panel discussion led by Rev. Susan Suchocki
  • "Advocating for Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Your Community," Workshop led by Sarah Gibb
  • "What's Your Religious Education Program Missing? A LREDA Grant!," The Liberal Religious Educators' Association (LREDA)

Personal Path Workshops

  • "Spiritual Practices in Everyday Life," Rev. Scott Alexander
  • "Thinking about Ministry," Rev. Ellen Brandenberg
  • "What Did the Buddhist Say to the Humanist?" Rev. Wayne Arnason
  • "Homeschooling UUs: Living Our Principles," Rev. Jane Dwinell, Rev. Linda Olson Peebles


  • Olympia's Daughters—opening set, Penny Gnesin, conductor
  • Act I of "Sweeping Maria," Rev. Jennifer Justice
  • General Assembly Choir Concert, William Wells Belan, conductor

Day-by-Day General Assembly Highlights

  • June 24, 1998: Ministry Day: A pre-GA event for ministers. Click here for the UUMA page about this event.
  • June 25, 1998: Opening Day: Opening Celebration and Banner Parade, including pictures of the parade, the words to a new version of "Amazing Grace," and other highlights.
  • June 26, 1998: First Plenary and Workshops: Worship, the first plenary, workshops, and more.
  • June 27, 1998: GA Gets Down to Work: After today's plenary and many workshops, most GA participants attended "Leading Change: A Process for Fulfilling the Promise," then listened to Dr. Robert Bellah comment on the place of UUism in America today.
  • June 28, 1998: Sunday at GA: Sunday's highlights include the Service of the Living Tradition, followed by lots more workshops.
  • June 29, 1998: At plenary, UUA Executive VP Kay Montgomery gave her report, many GAers attended the Empty Bowls lunch, and more.
  • June 30, 1998: GA Wraps Up: The last plenary session, including discussion of and voting on the Actions of Immediate Witness.