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

Closing Celebration, General Assembly 2000

General Assembly 2000 Event 554

The hall is dark except for a wisp of light that picks out a veiled dancer. A harp beckons the undulating dancer toward the chalice and a flame is born. The harpist is Christina Tourin, and the liturgical dancer is Lisa Marie Napoli.

The full-stage lights reveal the General Assembly (GA) Choir and the Unitarian Universalist Musician's Network Children's Honor Choir, several-hundred singers filling the stage. Bart Bradfield directed the GA Choir in music by Handel, from Godspell and The Gospel Mass, and the chant "The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water."

Nick Page held us spellbound as he guided the children, dressed in yellow and black, through a diverse medley. "Courage," by Bob Blue, brought a standing ovation. The words in children's voices were especially poignant:

"Diane is a girl that I know She's strange like she doesn't belong I don't mean to say that that's wrong We don't like to be with her though.

So no one invited Diane. "…I acted like nothing was wrong When I saw Diane start to cry."

But later: "We studied what people have done With gas chamber, bomber and gun"

Until at the end of the song: "I promise to do what I can To not let it happen again ...I'll start by inviting Diane."

Olga Loya entranced us with stories. Under her spell, with one heart and mind we all succeeded in lifting the sky. We applauded the grandfather clock's resolve in persevering one tick at a time. And we were moved by her story of growing up in East Los Angeles. "I didn't know I had an accent; I was ashamed". In the end she concluded, "You must tell your stories or they will die. See, the world does go in a circle."

The Mountain Quartet evoked the misery of the civil war, intertwining songs of peace with the well-known song written by Unitarian E.H. Sears, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." In "It Must Be Today." Composer Shelly Jackson Denham was joined by the other Mountain Quartet members; Ian Denham, Jane Warth, and Tom Warth. Finally, they lead the congregation in singing "There Is More Love Somewhere." The Mountain Quartet is based at The Mountain Unitarian Universalist (UU) camp and conference center in North Carolina.

The Fulfilling the Promise Committee described how "we are a community rejoicing in our diversity" and urged us to "be visible by putting our faith into action."

The irresistible charm of the Children's Honor Choir persuaded the congregation to join in singing:

This little piggy believes in God, and This little piggy believes in the goddess, and This little piggy believes in multiple deities!

The song "All the Nations Love Banana" was even more popular and had young-in-spirit members of the congregation dancing in the aisles while the Children's Honor Choir told us exactly which nations "love banana." The final song, "Golden Thread," by Pete Seeger, wove the children's voices in a golden tapestry against the backdrop of the adult choir.

In his closing words, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President John Buehrens invited us to "step back and take the longer view." "We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We may never see the end results. We are prophets of a future not our own."

The childrens' and adult choirs streamed off the stage side by side and into the congregation singing the South African folksong "Siyahamba" or "We Are Dancing in the Light of God" and led the congregation in a rousing finale. The final message on the screens invited us to GA 2001 in Cleveland, OH. We'll be there!

The Closing Celebration

Choral Introit
Children's Honor Choir

"Hamisha Asar" by Flory Jagodaa, arranged by Nick Page (Hamisha Asar is the Ladino term for the Jewish holiday of Tu Beshvat, the fifteenth day in the Hebrew month of Shvat. In honor of the celebration, Jewish children in Sarajevo would gather fifteen different kinds of fruit.)

Chalice Lighting

A Story by Olga Loya

Musical Interlude "Come Live With Pleasure" by George Frederick Handel, arranged by Patrick Liebergen
GA Choir

"Thanks Be To Thee" by George Frederick Handel, adapted by Nick Page
Children's Honor Choir

"The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water" as sung by Libana
GA Choir

"Courage" by Bob Blue
Children's Honor Choir

"All Good Gifts" from Godspell by Stephen Schwartz
GA Choir

A Story by Olga Loya

Musical Interlude

"It Must Be Today"
Words and music by Shelly Jackson Denham

Two Songs of Peace

  • "Tenting on the Old Campground" by Walter Kittredge, arranged by Leopold Syre
  • "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"—words by E.H. Sears, music by R. W. Wills

"There Is More Love Somewhere"—traditional African American Spiritual, arranged by Shelly Jackson Denham
The Mountain Quartet

"Our Common Call"—The Fulfilling the Promise Committee Musical Interlude

"UU Children's Blessing" by Nick Page

"Banana"—Nicaraguan Folksong adapted by Flor de Cana
Children's Honor Choir

"Acclamation" from The Gospel Mass by Robert Ray
GA Choir

"Golden Thread" by Pete Seeger
Children's Honor Choir and GA Choir

Closing Words by John Buehrens

Choral Benediction: "Siyahamba" (We Are Marching In The Light Of God)—South African Folksong, arranged by Anders Nyberg
Children's Honor Choir and GA Choir

Program Participants

  • Nick Page (Director, Childrens Honor Choir) worked as a conductor with The Reverend Christopher Moore and The Chicago Children's Choir He now lives in Boston.
  • Susan Snyder (Accompanist, Children's Honor Choir) is from Nashville, TN
  • Christina Tourin (Harpist) divides her time between Mount Laguna, CA and Buckfield, ME. She has produced ten recordings of harp music.
  • Lisa Marie Napoli (Liturgical Dancer) is a Ph.D. student at Indiana University in Bloomington.
  • Bart Bradfield directs the GA ChoirBart Bradfield (Director, General Assembly Choir) is Director of Music at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL.
  • Barbara Wagner (Accompanist, General Assembly Choir) is the minister of music at the UU Church in Buffalo, NY.
  • Olga Loya (Storyteller) is a native of Southern California now living in San Jose. She is the author of a bilingual collection of stories and tours throughout the United States as a professional storyteller
  • The Mountain Quartet is based at the Mountain Camp and Conference Center near Highlands, NC. Members of the quartet are Shelly Jackson Denham, Ian Denham, Jane Warth, Tom Worth
  • The Fulfilling the Promise Committee is in the process of asking fundamental questions about the core values of our Unitarian Universalist faith.
  • The Reverend John Buehrens is the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network Children's Honor Choir
  • The Children's Honor Choir is a project of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network.

Project Directors

  • Lynne Beasley, Co-Chair
  • Beth Norton, Co-Chair
  • Nick Page, Director Joyce Gilbert, Fund Raiser

General Assembly Choir


  • Beth Armstrong
  • Marjorie Gelbin
  • Diana Pavao
  • Liz Barrett
  • Kristin Leigh Grassel
  • Lisa Parto-Crosby
  • Andrea Barsevick
  • Jennifer Hamel
  • Helen Pickett
  • Tod Bell
  • Victoria Hammel
  • Judy Pickett
  • Madelyn E. Campbell
  • Jennifer Hampshire
  • Eleanor Porter
  • Susan Clark
  • Kate Harrison
  • Betty Bobo Seiden
  • Barbara A. Cornell
  • Anne E. Johnson
  • Laura M. Shemick
  • Sue Creed
  • Dianne Kepsar
  • Kimberly Spencer
  • Karen Darr
  • Caroline Machl
  • Beth Sprinkle
  • Viki DuMez
  • Beth Malmgren
  • Christina Tourin
  • Kay Dunn
  • Virginia Margerum
  • Roberta Wallis
  • Irene Felsman
  • Bonnie Martin
  • Alice Weeks
  • Sylvia Forsyth
  • Vanessa Miller
  • Barbara Wells
  • Dawn Frase
  • Eileen Moremen
  • Karen Wells
  • Fran Gebuhr
  • Janet R. Nortrom


  • Joy Atkinson
  • Lois M. Hitchcock
  • Yvonne Rochon
  • Rosemary Bazuzi
  • Marty Hoffman
  • Kathy Scarpaci
  • Mimi Bornstein-Doble
  • Patty Jantho
  • Rebecca Scott
  • Ruth Bruns
  • Irene Johnson
  • Arline Senft
  • Cathy Cartwright
  • Sarah Dan Jones
  • Carole Sheatt
  • Eva Close
  • Barbara Kreek
  • Vicki Silberstein
  • Cathy Cohen
  • Jean Larson
  • Caroline Simonson
  • Kathy Converse
  • Linda Leon
  • Loan Smalley
  • Emily Curie
  • Carol Ann Maciel
  • Anne Staley
  • Mary Freed
  • Julie Margerum-Leys
  • Liz Stevens
  • Nancy Fuchs
  • Kate Marrs
  • Patricia R. Talbot
  • Helene Gersuny
  • Royalene Millard
  • Jacoline Troupe
  • Joyce I. Gilbert
  • Kim Miner
  • Sarah Watts
  • Kira Gray
  • Claire Morgen
  • Kay Westlie
  • Susan Grubb
  • Virginia Phillips
  • Margaret White
  • Judith Halseth
  • Barb Pitman
  • Lil Woolf
  • Marianne Hill
  • Cat Prindle
  • Alma Woods
  • Susan Hill
  • Linda Ramsey
  • Evelyn Rich


  • Keith Arnold
  • V. Langston-Kingsley
  • Rudy Sprinkle
  • Janice Marie Johnson
  • Allan Stern
  • Rosemary Lester
  • Bob Stone
  • Ken Damon
  • Jim McGuigan
  • Mike Drayton
  • Leslie Backus
  • Lee Thomas
  • Catherine Ann Taylor
  • Jim Moskin
  • Linda Thompson
  • Paul Gibb
  • Mary Ellen Olcott
  • Erv Young
  • Dave Keller
  • Wendell Putney
  • Jason Shelton
  • Tom Kemble


  • Joe Allison
  • Pete Fontneau
  • Tim Miller
  • John Ford
  • John Norris
  • Bryan Barrett
  • Dave Calvert
  • Charles Fater
  • Lorring Prosser
  • Don Campbell
  • Chelso Frescura
  • James Schmeltzer
  • Thomas Chase
  • George Fuchs
  • Bob Smith
  • Byron Dann
  • Bob Hurst
  • Lenard Starks
  • Mark Evens
  • Rusty Kaplan
  • Graham Stevens
  • Justin Kreek

Contributors to the Children's Honor Choir


  • All Souls Children's and Youth Choirs, Tulsa, OK
  • Fund for Unitarian Universalism
  • Music Committee, First Parish in Concord, MA
  • New York State Convention of Universalists
  • Unitarian Sunday School Society


  • First Parish in Concord, MA
  • First Unitarian, Cleveland, OH
  • First Unitarian, Rochester, NY
  • First Unitarian Universalist, San Diego, CA
  • Second Congregational Society UU, Concord, NH
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, MD
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, NY

Families and Individuals

  • Lenore and Bob Adams
  • Lois and Dick Allen
  • Lois and T. J. Anderson
  • William Belan and Kathryn Breidenthal
  • S A M Brooks
  • Millie and William Brothers
  • In memory of James M. Cunningham
  • Steve Finner
  • Donna Fisher
  • Joyce and Richard Gilbert
  • Sharon Glezen and Cara Calvelli
  • Carol Hamilton
  • Judy Harrison and Rowland Johnson
  • David P. Hubner
  • Elaine R. Jacobsen
  • Olive S. Lennox
  • David Lewis
  • Margaret Manico
  • Jean and David McLaughlin
  • Ann R. and Eugen Merzbacher
  • Margaret Neuman
  • John Norris
  • Joyce Poley
  • Peg and John Riebel
  • Harold Root
  • Catharine P. Rowntree
  • Anneliese and Albert Sawyer
  • Edward T. Schell and William Murray
  • Jim Scott
  • Lenard Starks
  • Lewis Ward-Baker
  • Debbie Weiner
  • Susan and John Weston

Reported by Mike McNaughton.