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Election Campaign Closing Worship, General Assembly 2001

General Assembly 2001 Event 3113

Worship Service Closes the Campaign

The 2001 UUA election campaign closed Saturday evening with a worship service. Rev Wayne Arnason and Rev Kathleen Rolenz presided.

The order of service (PDF) included "Beatitudes for Those Who Campaign," written for the occasion: blessings for those who serve as visionaries, leaders, candidates, campaigners, delegates and, finally, winners and losers who can still call each other friends.

Arnason and Rolenz graciously announced the election results by thanking those who had been candidates, and expressing gratitude to those who would be serving in two, four and six year terms for the various offices.

They declared the 2001 election season complete, and said that "we are no longer candidates and campaigners, advocates and defenders… We are as we always have been companions within our Unitarian Universalist faith and heritage." This was followed with a prayer for the health, safety, wisdom, energy and vision of the newly elected officeholders, and a prayer as well "for the soul of our association of free congregations." The benediction closed reminding leaders and candidates that they are not alone.

The worship service was followed by statements to the press and delegates by the newly-elected president and moderator, and then by a dance.

New UUA President and Moderator Speak to Press and Delegates

Read the prepared text of William Sinkford's remarks (PDF, 2 pages) following his election as Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President.

After a worship service closing the 2001 campaign, the prevailing candidates for president and moderator spoke in the Ambassador Room of the Renaissance Hotel.

Kay Montgomery, executive vice president of the UUA, presided. She first introduced Diane Olson, saying, "she works from her heart and is willing to do the deep work of being a religious person."

Diane spoke of her happiness at a "most extraordinary and humbling experience." She thanked the many people who had supported her and promised to work as hard as she can. She gave special thanks to several people including Denny Davidoff, outgoing moderator, and Patsy Sherrill Madden, the other candidate for moderator. She recalled the long promise between herself and Patsy Madden that whomever won the election would make sure that the other would have "an incredible part of this administration." She closed with a commitment to social justice and to a truly diverse movement.

Montgomery then introduced Rev. William Sinkford, incoming president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, with words she had also spoken at Sinkford's 1995 ordination.

She spoke of honoring his ministry, and especially his willingness to tell the truth, his service as a "shuttle diplomat for congregations all over the continent," his fidelity and his insistence on justice.

Sinkford came to the microphone to applause and cheers. He thanked those two to three hundred gathered for coming out to be together "in the faith community we hope to become and know that we can be."

He continued with a reminder of the pain of the UUA General Assembly in Cleveland, thirty-three years ago, when delegates split over the black empowerment controversy, and the progress and travail over racial issues in the years since. "At this historic moment and in these echoing halls," he told the crowd, "it is a tremendous honor to have been chosen to be the next president of the Unitarian Universalist Association."

Then he called on those present to take off all campaign buttons: "The campaign is over."

He expressed his delight in accepting the support of Diane Miller, especially in light of her long service and her full intention to continue in that service in years to come.

He pointed to the forty years of growth in the UUA, in both numbers and spiritual depth, as well as the role of Unitarians and Universalists in shaping so many civic institutions. "This is a time to honor our history and a time to look ahead," he said, as well as a time to proclaim "that Unitarian Universalism has good news—news which has been palpable in our own lives, and which will be a blessing to the world outside our sanctuary walls."

He also called for paying close attention to the energy in the youth and young adult movements, and the need to practice radical fellowship, listening to what they need to remain Unitarian Universalists (UUs).

The job of the president, he said, to make this healing voice heard in our hurting world. "Our Unitarian Universalist values are an antidote to the shrill and divisive voices that claim to speak for religion in our land," Sinkford continued. We need, he said, "a new concept of family values that honors the transformative value of love wherever it can be found."

"The fact that I am standing here as your new president, the first African American president of an historically white denomination, is itself witness that we can move toward reconciliation." He called for racial justice, gender justice, justice for bisexual, gay, lesbian and transsexual people, responsible stewardship of the environment, an end to the economic injustices that plague our society, and for pluralism: "We know, because we live it week after week, that difference need not divide."

After a call to move from a mode of campaigning to living out our faith in the world, he led a moment of silence to reflect on the campaign and the work ahead.

He closed in the name of "those on whose shoulders we stand" and called for standing together, finding "our mission and ministry in this world."

Reported by Jone Johnson Lewis.

A Statement from the Rev. Diane Miller on the Election of Rev. William Sinkford as UUA President, June 23, 2001

This statement was written by the Rev. Diane Miller for publication in the Sunday GA Newsletter. Due to a scheduling error, the piece did not run in the newsletter. We are publishing it on the UUA's website, and it will run on uua-l and the UUA's elections email lists.

I extend my congratulations to Bill Sinkford.

I wish him and the Association well in his presidency.

I extend my admiration and gratitude to all who ran for the various offices .Thank you as well to all who participated in these campaigns. Thank you to the Delegates who deliberated and voted. Thank you as well to the staff of the UUA for their graceful neutrality and to the many local volunteers without whom our democratic process cannot work.

Elections are times of challenge and opportunity, exercising, as they do, the democratic process that we affirm as fundamental to our religious sensibilities. I want to honor everyone for your commitment to this process.

I acknowledge that some of you are disappointed in its result.

Let us seek together an easing of any grief and a shared commitment to this faith we love.

I pray that we might heed well the words of Francis David "that we need not think alike to love alike."

Thank you all.

—Diane Miller, June 23, 2001
Cleveland, Ohio