Plenary IV, General Assembly 2012
General Assembly 2012 Event 431
Reports from UU World
- ‘In 2017, Unitarian Universalism Has Gone Viral’
- Saunders Receives President’s Volunteer Service Award
- Phoenix UUs Know Pain, Fear of Deportation
- First-ever Posthumous Distinguished Service Award
- Delegates Pick Reproductive Justice as Next CSAI
- Tonight’s Vigil May Have Armed Counter-protesters
- Call to Order
- Chalice Lighting
- Run-off Vote Between CSAIs 3 and 4 (Selected: CSAI 3: Reproductive Justice: Expanding Our Social Justice Calling)
- Building a Community for Justice: Right Relationships
Report of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees
- Budget Report: Resourcing for Justice
- In Memoriam
- Presentation of the Distinguished Service Award
- Building a Community for Justice: Cultural Humility: GA 2012 Accountability Group
- Testimony: Comités de Defensa del Barrio
- Testimony: Tiffany and Geraldine Mendez, Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Phoenix
- Special Collection to Support Immigration Ministry
UUA President's Report: Rev. Peter Morales
- Special Presentation: Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ
- UUA President's Award for Volunteer Service
Call to Order
GINI COURTER: Good morning. Good afternoon. Let's be in order please. I now call to order the fourth plenary session of the 51st General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Let's make some noise.
GINI COURTER: You are there, thank you. Please welcome two candidates for the position of moderator, who are running for your election here for your joy and inspection, Mr. Jim Key and Miss Tamara Payne-Alex to light our chalice this morning. Show them some love.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: This space, this ordinary space is made sacred by our presence. This time is made sacred by the spirit that pervades it. Our lives are made sacred by the love and caring of our individual communities, and now by this community.
JIM KEY: This ordinary time has been transformed into the holy by our purpose in gathering here. But some people's lives are not deemed sacred, allowing them to be treated as less than fully human. We've gathered here to bear witness that all lives, everywhere, are sacred.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: We are here to illuminate those corners of our minds where secret fears of those who are different from us hide. They are not like us. We may be uncertain. We may not see there joy, their pain, their humanity. We may not see them at all.
JIM KEY: If we let the light the chalice banish these shadows, we can see new possibilities. We can forge new relationships in which our differences are a source of strength. The insights of the other can show us new ways of caring and commitment.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: One way to think of justice is the healing of broken relationships, or the building of relationships when none existed.
JIM KEY: We are not here to work on behalf of those whose humanity has been denied. Rather, we are here to work with them to build relationships between our communities, and the model for all what justice affirming relationship can be.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: The Flame fuels our love and the passion for justice that burns away the ignoble in our lives.
JIM KEY: But it is the chalice that represents the covenant community that makes the flame possible. A spark of passion kindles our souls into flame. These flames will unite with the flames of other communities and individuals, producing a conflagration that will burn away the prejudice and fear that separates us. Our Unitarian heritage asserts that all as one. Our Universalist heritage recognizes that oneness is based on love.
GINI COURTER: We have so much to do today. Let's get on with it, yes. So first, we left yesterday—so as I get ready to turn to the tech deck and ask them for just like one more thing. They have been working so hard at this general assembly. Could we show some love to our folks over on the tech deck?
GINI COURTER: And our folks on the cameras, and our folks on the lights and the switches, and everything else.
GINI COURTER: Perfect. I'm going to need that slide with the results of yesterday's vote on congregational study action issues, please. So here's our vote count from yesterday. You remember we ripped ballots off the bottom of our voting cards. And our rules stipulate that if no one CSAI that's purposed gets a majority, that we are going to have a run off between the top two. And as you can tell, by dividing the grand total it's under a chalice. But it's 1182 and 1/2. And then comparing that number or to the largest number of any of the totals, which is 417, you know no one got a majority.
So we're going to proceed to vote. And that runoff is going to be between CSAIs number three and number four. But just so you will recall what we heard yesterday, because we heard a lot about this, I've actually ask the Commission of Social Witness to have the two sponsors of these two resolutions each make their two minutes statement from yesterday. So you could hear it again before we vote. OK? All right. So Mr. David May, you have a speaker for us? OK. Just a second. Procedural microphone, yes?
CAROLINA KRAWARIK-GRAHAHM: Madame Moderator, I'm Carolina Krawarik-Graham from Valley UU Congregation. I just want to clarify whether or not that statement needs to be the exact original statement.
GINI COURTER: No. It doesn't, you're good.
CAROLINA KRAWARIK-GRAHAHM: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: You're good. Thank you. A statement much like what we heard yesterday but with new information.
GINI COURTER: How's that, Terry, does that work? OK. So let's get the pro mic on. And I'm going to recognize the delegate there who will be speaking on CSAT, proposed CSCI number—?
SPEAKER 1: Four.
GINI COURTER: Four, yes sir.
SPEAKER 1: Exploring class barriers. I know talking about class is probably one of the most uncomfortable things UUs can do. But being class unconscious has a high price. It hurts our outreach. And it limits our ability to do social justice. Making an unconscious assumption, I casually asked a woman, where did you go to college? She looked down and sadly related her family's history of alcoholism and drug addiction that stole her chance for a college degree. The hurt and shame in her face was evident. I was mortified that I could cause so much pain. When we ask questions like, where do you live? What do you do? Where did you go to college? We might as well be asking, how much do you make? We don't mean to do that, but we do it.
Developing social class awareness will help us create the framing and language to connect deeply with people who don't conform to our proceed demographics. Our misunderstanding of class has been a huge barrier to diversity. If we don't understand class and economic realities, how come we hope to shift our church and culture to be more inclusive? How come we better communicate and make needed improvements? So many UUs have a reality that's very different for most people? Our familiarity with so many highly educated people makes us oblivious to how intimidating and how unwelcoming we often can be.
I don't want to be intimidating. I don't want to be unwelcoming. I want us all to learn how to better interact between social classes. Adopting this CSAI would be fundamental to the ground work that we need to do in order to be more effective in all of our social justice efforts, and to help us move forward more powerfully in developing true justice, equity, and compassion, in human relations. Can you please vote first CSAI number four—?
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Mr. May? So we will now be hearing from this from a speaker for CSAI number three. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
MANDY RESTIVO: Mandy Restivo, the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood. The question today is not, which issue is most important? But rather, which proposed CSAI will effectively inspire us to our mission most effectively? The attack on birth control, abortion, women, nontraditional, and LGBT families has been led by the religious right. Therefore it really matters is whether or not we speak out as a faith community. Unitarian Universalist have a critical role to play. The reproductive justice framework cause us to be led by the experiences of those on the margins, especially women of color, and to view the whole tapestry of sexuality and reproductive health through a wide variety of lenses—including economics, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
All of these factors affect a person's ability to control their bodies and their reproduction. This framework cause us to create environments for children that are free of violence and pollution. In doing this we'll deepen the current journey we're on towards becoming an anti-racist, anti-classist, gender inclusive, faith community. There is an immediate need. We believe this CSAI offers our Unitarian Universalist Community the highest potential to make a concrete, immediate, and long lasting impact that will be transformative for our congregations, faith, and world. This is a human rights issue. This is a justice issue. This is a religious issue.
GINI COURTER: So we will now go to a vote. And I'm actually going to do them in the order in which you just heard them presented. OK? So all those in favor of proposed congregational study action issue number four, please raise your voting cards?
Yes. I can look up the—on class and study and class. OK? Good? OK. Thank you. Put those voting cards down, because you only get to do it once. All those in favor of proposed CSAI number three, please raise your voting cards. Thank you very much. We will be working with congregational study action issue number three.
GINI COURTER: And we will study hard, right? We'll take this excitement of this moment back to our congregations, where the study needs to happen. OK. So we have an agenda that we follow every single day. And we try to keep to that agenda just as much as we can. But I have something important to tell you. And so I'm putting it, right now, in the agenda. And because it's critical- one of the key events of our General Assembly, our Justice General Assembly is our religious witness tonight at Tent City. We are—where we are gathering in a vigil to protest the treatment of prisoners there and the mass number of arrests which have made this facility necessary.
I have three important things to tell you about our vigil tonight. So please pay really close attention. First, I want to update you on what you should expect at the Tent City vigil. It will be very hot tonight. And unlike last night, there is no shade at the sight of our vigil. There is pavement, and concrete, and dirt. There will be very few seats. So almost all of us will be standing for an extended period of time. And the Phoenix police have confirmed that there will be counter demonstrators present at Tent City. It is both legal and common in Arizona for these counter demonstrators to carry firearms, legal and common, OK?
Second, it is absolutely critical to the success of our witness that those who go refrain from engaging, in any way, with counter demonstrators. They will try to provoke us. But please remember that this is a religious witness, and that each and every one of you represent Unitarian Universalism to the wider world.
GINI COURTER: We must maintain our dignity and composure in the face of any provocation. While you are on site, if you feel threatened or endangered please take your concern to our Witness Team. Members of the Witness Team will be wearing purple shirts. Do I have a member of the Witness Team in the [INAUDIBLE] shirt right now. A couple of these—can we get a camera out on these shirts so people can see these great purple shirts? They're coming. Just I want you know exactly what you're looking for, not necessarily the hat, although it is grand, but the shirt for sure, OK? So that's what you'll be looking for if you need to tell someone, I feel endangered or threatened. That's who you would speak to. The police will be present to keep the situation peaceful. But we all must commit to non engagement. Not simply nonviolence, but non engagement.
Third, given these circumstances—heat, harsh conditions, and counter demonstrators. I need you to give deep consideration to how you will participate at tonight's vigil. To go to Tent City you must be physically capable, emotionally grounded, and spiritually prepared. A reminder from the leadership of our youth caucus, youth under 18 may not attend the witness event without their sponsor. This was also announced in this morning's caucus. We strongly encourage all used to go with groups of people that they trust. I would echo that for all of us. And the youth caucus leaders continue, we know that our youth can handle this with great maturity, and hopefully serve as an example of humble, justice seekers, looking at this challenge with grace, love, and calm presence.
GINI COURTER: Those not attending the witness tonight at Tent City can attend a solidarity vigil here at the convention center. If you decide to go to Tent City, and I hope many of you do. I hope most of you do. If you decide to go to Tent City please remember that we are here in religious witness. We are here as a public display of our Unitarian Universalist values. Whether we witness here or there, we stand on the side of love—love that is strong in its restraint, loved that is founded in peace, love that works for the common good.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
ERIC METER: Madame Moderator, thank you for helping us make an informed decision this evening. My name is Reverend Eric Meter. I serve the of congregation in Columbus, Ohio. Will there be members of the Sheriff's department in addition to those from the Phoenix police?
GINI COURTER: Whether there will be a presence from the Sheriff's department?
ERIC METER: Yes.
GINI COURTER: In our area, the area that is cordoned off for our demonstration, the folks who will be in that area would be people who allowed in—members of the public, other folks. There could be people from the Sheriff's department there. There's an area right outside where we are protesting where anyone can be. Anyone can be near our vigil Eric. Does that answer your question?
ERIC METER: Not really. Sheriff Arpaio has a real different style than the Phoenix Police Department. And I'm just trying to gauge what sort of—
GINI COURTER: I'm going to look to the—actually we have the lead for our Arizona Immigration Ministry here. Susan Frederick Gray is going to answer this question for us. It's the magic procedural microphone were real answers come forward. Susan, thank you so much.
SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: Thank you Madame Moderator. So the City of Phoenix Police Department will be providing the security for our event. We've been working with the City of Phoenix Police Department, which has an excellent, well trained department. They have the biggest proportion of community liaison officers of any city in the country. And so we've been working with the head of that department, Mark Schweikert for six months now, planning this event. They will be doing the policing for the event. The sheriff's department will be— their property is across the street from where we will be. Sheriff Arpaio may come out to see us. But the city of Phoenix police is in charge of keeping the peace, of policing the event. So they are the ones that are going to be making sure—you know helping us. We will have a perimeter with barricades, things like that. We will be communicating with the city of Phoenix if we have any concerns. But they are in charge of policing the event.
GINI COURTER: Susan, hang around for a second. Since this is the only piece of business, I bet this is what the next question is about. Go ahead.
MADELINE MORROW: Madiline Marrow, First Unitarian of San Jose. You said there's very few chairs. What if I bring a folded blanket if I need to sit down to ease my legs? Is not a problem? Should I stay home just because of that?
SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: So if you—there are, I believe, about 300 chairs. OK. So there's about 300 chairs. And if you feel like you're going to need to sit on the ground and a blanket, you could do that. But we're going to be—we don't have a huge amount of space. So there won't be a lot of room to sit on the ground. And part of that area we will be in is on the street. And the ground will be hot from being in the sun all day. It'll be night time. So if you really—if you don't feel like you can be out there for an hour and a half, there are 300 shares for people who need to sit. And I would ask those who can stand and shift their weight, to do that, and you can walk, and feel comfortable doing that. And to save the chairs for people who do need to sit.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
CAROL COLLIN: My name is Carol Collin. I'm from the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel, California. A question for all of those of us who have mobility issues—if you're going to attend tonight, which I'm going to do. Would it be better to go in something like this where I can move a lot faster, or something like a rolling walker, which I also have?
GINI COURTER: I had a conversation earlier today with our General Assembly Coordinator for Accessibilities, Patty Cameron. And she's actually at the accessibility booth now, which is out and around the corner, and we'll be here this evening, before worship and immediately after. And she's agreed to have these conversations one on one with each person to help them determine what's going to work for them. So I'd probably encourage you, rather than us give you a response, to let you have a conversation with Patti. Is that OK? Thank you very much.
Go ahead sir.
LARRY KELLAND: My name is Larry Kelland, UU of South County, Rhode Island. And just some basic questions—are going to be any porta potties there?
GINI COURTER: Yes, and water. Yes.
LARRY KELLAND: And well, the second thing is, if you don't want to stay all the way to 11:00, is there any intermediate buses or—?
GINI COURTER: No.
LARRY KELLAND: OK.
GINI COURTER: However—and we'll talk more about this in worship tonight. Because everyone who's going will go to worship first. But it's a good questions. There will be a group of buses that are leaving earlier and a second wave of buses. So it would be possible for you to, perhaps, not be on the first buses that leave and wait for the second wave. Does that make sense? Thank you.
There's also information about the Senior Program. I'm just trying to update you on the things that are new. Make sense? All right. The announcement that I just made a minute ago, we want to make sure everybody's clear about it. So as you leave the hall today you can get one of these on a—is that a Standing on the Side of Love gold color piece of paper? It is.
GINI COURTER: So that you're absolutely clear about the information that I provided about the conditions of the vigil. Our vigil this evening begins with a worship service, right here at 7 o'clock. And finally, I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
CATALINA HALL: Catalina Hall, Mountain Vista UU congregation of Northwest, Tucson.
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
CATALINA HALL: Can I drive myself and park? Do I have to take the bus?
GINI COURTER: You must take the bus. You may not drive yourself and park. We do not recommend that you take a cab, because we do not know how you would get one to come back. The number of folks who go—I mean we need you to start here in worship at 7 o'clock first. Because that's going to provide the setting that we all need to be there. Do you remember the part about spiritually prepared? That starts at 7 o'clock. And then we will all get on buses in two different waves and we will go to Tent City and we will all come back together.
OK? Thank you. Excellent. How are we all? How many of you came or for precisely this reason, to have this conversation? It's time for our report from the right relationship team. I recognize the co-chairs of our Justice GA Right Relations team, Tomoko Takano and the Reverend Melissa Carvill Ziemer.
Building a Community For Justice: Right Relationships
MELISSA CARVILL ZIEMER: Good afternoon. This has been a powerful General Assembly, with so many examples of the spirit of generosity. We have heard some great stories about people being in right relationship with each other. And we want you to know that we want to hear those stories, in addition to the ones of issues and challenges that arise between us. And so to start our report today, we would like to tell you a good story.
Yesterday, in planery, there was a person who made an impassioned statement for a study action issue. And the speaker indicated that to solve climate change, everybody should ride bicycles, as one of the examples. When her two minutes were finished at the microphone, she turned around and immediately realized that her comment had been ablest, and marched herself over to the door to tell us that she realized her comment had been ablest.
That, of course, was not her intent. And so that underscores what we shared with you on Thursday morning about the difference between intention and impact. And she immediately realized that the impact of her statement did not match her intention. And so we are just so pleased that some of you are working hard and thinking hard about this. What does it mean to be in right relationship? And we're glad to be here to do part of that work with you.
TOMOKO TAKANO: We are sharing a few out of our list of concerns with you today to use as a learning moment. We have heard that in passionate disagreements that language has ventured into verbal abuse, and even included physical violence. This has been hard to believe, but in our communities like in all communities, violence occurs. And is silence shrouded or justified?
This is absolutely unacceptable. As the week goes on, and we get more tired, and it gets harder to monitor our behavior. For this reason, it is more important to ere on the side of being kind and gentle with each other and to yourselves.
Yesterday morning those of you who were in attendance at our worship service were treated to a beautiful, thoughtful sermon. However we have heard from many, many of you who were dismayed and discomforted by the words of the hymn that followed, America the Beautiful. In particular, the words of the second verse were painful to many, including as they do, references to our history of genocide.
We have spoken with the person who selected this hymn to share the ways in which this caused pain. All of us who have the opportunity to participate in leading worship as clergy or lay leaders can learn from this importance of being very attentive to the implications of the messages in all aspects of our worship elements.
MELISSA CARVILL ZIEMER: Another item of culture and language—There are people who use scooters, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices in our assembly. Please refer to them with people-language first, people who use scooters, or other assisted devices. Scooters and other assistive devices are not their identity. It's only a tool that they use. Along the lines of the impact of marginalizing language, crazy is a word that's part of our lexicon that's used inappropriately. Several people have shared with us that that word has been difficult to hear this week and so we invite you to try to find a word that more precisely expresses your intentions.
We've had reports of people saying to our special guests from partner groups and workshops things like, I don't understand you because your accent is too thick. Instead of putting value on any one accent as normative, we suggest you consider something like, we all have different accents, none being normal or better than others. Yours, being different than mine, makes it difficult for me to understand, which is compounded by my hearing disability, which was the case in one of the scenarios shared with us. Let's try to find a way to communicate that works for all of us.
TOMOKO TAKANO: Another item of concern that has come to our attention is the use of exclusive binary gender language. Several times over the course of our assembly, worship and workshop leaders have chosen to use language—men and women, and brothers and sisters, to the exclusion of language that will include people of all gender identities and expressions. In addition, we have heard that those participating as off site delegates are required to choose either male or female when they try to register.
We are not suggesting that you can never use the language, man or woman, brothers or sisters. We are suggesting though, that it is important to try to broaden our language to make room for everyone. Please consider adding siblings, friends, cousins, communities, or a whole host of other inclusive words.
MELISSA CARVILL ZIEMER: On our list today is to explicitly thank all of our wonderful General Assembly volunteers. General Assembly would not happen unless we had all these wonderful volunteers.
MELISSA CARVILL ZIEMER: And we understand that being a volunteer can sometimes be a difficult and thankless job. In addition to that, our convention centers site staff have been gracious and welcoming. And we'd like to thank them also.
MELISSA CARVILL ZIEMER: Please consider extending your thanks to the staff and the volunteers when you see them as you're going about your business for the rest of the General Assembly. We are here in Phoenix with the explicit invitation from local and national partner groups, along with local Unitarian Universalist congregations. We are having our General Assembly in their community. In each of the local churches, along with members from partner groups, there are diverse community members, including people who work for the Phoenix police department. The Phoenix police department's involvement has been critical in our organizing and witness events. Our gratitude extends to them, too, for their incredible assistance and guidance.
TOMOKO TAKANO: We wanted to let you know that we, too, have made some mistakes. We made an error in yesterday's report and have not been in right relationship with some people. We still haven't found the chance to talk to them. So that we will report back to you do when we have. Tonight we are going to be asked to be uncomfortable and put aside our privilege. As witnesses, we must be willing to sit with our discomfort with other people's personal truths.
Finally, these reports are not meant to be 'feel good,' nor shaming or blaming. But we hope you hear them as opportunities for learning, and know that while we do have the power to grow, we all have a lot of work to do. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I love good modeling. So I made a mistake, too, just a couple of minutes ago. And I want to make sure that what I meant to say is actually what you heard. And I'll do that by actually saying what I should have said. As your program says, every one who goes to Tent City tonight—our expectation is that you will be back here by 11 o'clock. Not that buses leave there by 11:00, but you will be back here by 11:00. Does that make sense? OK. So if you were worried that you're going to be out there waiting for buses at 11:00, we'll be done. We'll be back here. So thank you to Cathy Ryan and Susan Frederick-Gray for catching me on that so I would tell you. All right.
So those are the extra things. I think we've taken care of everything that was not in the agenda to begin with—the CSAI, and the announcements and things. And at this point it looks like we're probably going to end, probably 15 minutes late today, is my good guess. Just so you know and settle in for your time. It's now time for the report from your UUA board of trustees. Please welcome them.
Report of the UUA Board of Trustees
ABHIMANYU JANAMANCHI: Good afternoon. In odd numbered years, such as 2011, we always have a change in the membership of the board, as approximately one third of the districts elect new trustees. In 2011 we had the additional election of a young adult to serve as trustee at large, and to the Youth Observer Position.
This is our summary of the work of your board in the past year. The details of this report are found in the minutes, reports, and agendas of the board on the UUA website. Going there will save several trees. We think you already may have heard that after a selection process led by a selection committee, the board voted to place Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex on the agenda of the 2013 General Assembly as nominees for moderator. Our bylaws permit the addition of other candidates to the election by a process spelled out in our bylaws.
For information about the election process contact Tom Loughrey, chair of the election committee. As many of you know and have seen in person, our association is located on Beacon Hill in Boston. Our building at 25 Beacon street is only the most recent of our many locations that constituted the home of Unitarian or Universalist faiths. Useful, nostalgic, and prominent as it is, it may not be the home of our faith forever.
The home of our faith is, of course, to be found in the heart of each individual, the life of every congregation, the witness of service and justice. Here is our challenge—our headquarters building on Beacon street is worn down and only an expensive renovation can make it operational again. Our building and Mount Vernon, a less prominent Beacon Hill property, is particularly ill suited to staff needs. Any renovation of these properties would cost millions. But even expensive renovations cannot turn those buildings into space appropriate for the way our UUA a works today.
To be fair to those who work for the UUA, to be serious about our purpose, it may be time to move to our next home. We recognize that hearing of a move is hard for many. But the opportunities to serve our faith better tell us something different is worth the change that might be required. While no particular places are presently being considered, expect that you'll hear more in the coming year.
CLYDE GRUBBS: Can we imagine a day when everyone knows you can not discover what is already known by others? Our partners here in Arizona have asked us to repudiate the doctrine of discovery. And you are now well acquainted with that doctrine. The issue of its repudiation has been presented, explain, and the issue will be in the hands of the delegates on Sunday. Your board encourages you to repudiate the doctrine of discovery.
CLYDE GRUBBS: Gathered here is our joint visioning effort of the board and our association. It is both the community conversations, as well as one to one conversations aim to reveal our shared aspirations and unleash the power of our faith. These conversations began last July and will continue into this coming October. If your congregation has not yet made a plan for such conversation, is not too late to begin. Go to UUA.org and search for "gather" to get started right in that way.
The 2000 resolution of the General Assembly called for the board to investigate how we might develop a covenant of right relations. The resolution asked a covenant that invites us all to learn the skill of compassionate witness, to that which one foregoes in the covenant, to have a skill to lovingly call that person to account and invite them back into covenant, enabling us to share the ministry of creating our beloved community to share together. A team has been working to bring to life, in a diverse community, that which is constantly changing and only occasionally together in person.
For the next year we will have a conversation with district boards, and district assemblies, youth participation, participants on committees, and delegates at next year's General Assembly.
Budget Resourcing for Justice
JEANNE PUPKE: Many of you know that the UUA offers an opportunity for congregations with investment funds to place these funds in the investments of the UUA. But congregations that do so right now have to sign a statement. And this statement says, that this fund is a business unit of the UUA and not to separate entity. As a result, the funds that are owed to investing congregations are subject to the claims against the UUA from any parties that might have claims which exceed the operating funds, endowments, or the physical assets of our association. While the likelihood of such a claim is very small, it's not impossible. Therefore our auditors have recommended to the UUA board that our organization establish a separate legal entity to invest the funds of our organization and member churches, to reduce risks a potential creditor claims against those assets.
In April of 2012, the board to authorized the treasurer to begin to set up a tax exempt, limited liability company, or LLC, that will own the endowment. The LLC will be under the full control of the UUA Board. But its existence will provide investors with greater assurance that their assets, your assets, are secure. We anticipate that it may take about a year to complete all the work necessary to have this safeguard in place. We will report on it again next year.
Board duties have included the work of the Committee on Committees. Yes, that's right. A committee who, together with your nominating committee, work to fill the many volunteer committees of the UUA board—committees, every opening, every time, all the time. They have done phenomenal work. But in 2011, the smaller board motion was passed by General Assembly, one which will make it impossible to support such large tasks.
Your board has undertaken two strategies. It is begun formation of an appointments committee to take up this work. And it has assigned to the administration the oversight of some other of our UUA work.
CALEB RAIBLE-CLARK: The role of the board always includes the need to link to our moral owners the congregations of Unitarian Universalist Association. In January we held our meeting in New Orleans, more than five years after Katrina and the disasters which followed. After some time spent volunteering, visiting, and learning, this is how we captured what experience had been. Whereas, the Unitarian Universalist Congregations of greater New Orleans have indefatigably and robustly demonstrated skill and aplomb in the practice of hospitality. And whereas, these congregations have modeled a collaborative, loving community, which has strengthened Unitarian Universalist presence in New Orleans. And whereas, this has occurred throughout, and continuing after, the tragic events of disaster of both human and natural cause rarely seen in national history. And whereas, the actions of our association and partners did not always meet our highest values and aspirations. And yet the spirit of generosity has endured and prevailed. And whereas, the practice has inspired us all, informed us all, and caused us to learn much about the strength of our deep association, our care for one another, and the importance of right relations.
Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Trustees of Unitarian Universalist Association do hereby express our deep gratitude and affection for our Unitarian Universalist brothers and sisters, and friends, and cousins. Our admiration for the resilience of the people, culture, and special place that is greater New Orleans, and the ties that bind us to one another.
CALEB RAIBLE-CLARK: On another note, your board has made its first ever posthumous selection of the Distinguished Service Award to be made in other parts of these proceedings. And lastly, as your board we want to recognize the there could be no Justice GA, nothing to take back to our congregations without the gracious effort from the administration and staff, the GA Planning Committee, Arizona ministries, and accountability group.
No one knew how to undertake this when we started, no one. And some people said it simply could not be done. But here we all are. And we have learned much. We appreciate all the devotion, imagination, and generosity has made this possible. Thank you all.
GINI COURTER: Those were our trustee at large, Caleb Raible-Clark, our youth observer, Abhimanyu Janamanchi, and trustee at large, Reverend Clyde Grubbs, and the Reverend Jeanne Pupke, who also happens to be the chair of UUA finance committee. So she'll be right back.
JEANNE PUPKE: Thank you Madame Moderator. This is the part where you want me to put up pie charts, right? Budgets may be moral documents, but most of the time they don't draw much of a crowd, not many calls for pie charts. Yesterday your board held a workshop to provide information, and to welcome any questions on our new UUA budget for the coming year. We had a record breaking crowd of 20!
JEANNE PUPKE: Thank you, thank you. And thank you for your generous contributions to the UUA today. Thank you for caring about the finances of our association. It takes a village to make a good budget. Many of you know about this unglamorous work of stewardship, of assuring that our congregations are well funded. How many of you who have served in your congregation, or in the UUA on committees for finance, treasuries, stewardship, retirement benefits, capital campaigns, or canvas? Could you either stand or signal and let the room show you some love?
JEANNE PUPKE: Look at this!
JEANNE PUPKE: I knew it. How many of you know that it takes so much energy to assure that the good work we do together can be sustained and we can thrive? Our UUA has good money people, too—UUA treasurer Tim Brennan, the Reverend Terry Sweetser and their staffs along with financial advisor Dan Brody, the UUA a audit committee, the annual program, fund the endowment, retirement, health insurance, socially responsible investing committees, and other volunteers pour over our information. And they do excellent work.
But they have a problem that I want to speak to about. Just like our congregations, they do not have enough money to manage well. We, you and I, and our congregations, and our association has something to do with this. We have forgotten how to speak together about something essential. What is it that we promise each other?
For too long we have been in relationship that might be discussed or described as transactional. By transactional I mean we have focused on what we exchange. What do you want? What should we offer? And our thoughts have been so focused on efficiency, and sometimes even on customer satisfaction, that our financial commitment to one another sometimes has felt like the question, what have you done for me lately? We thought of ourselves as autonomous congregations, and not as the interdependent communities we truly are.
We have forgotten that we rise or fall together. We've forgotten that big, successful, growing congregations ought to help other congregations that are struggling and need support.
JEANNE PUPKE: In our congregational life we forgot how it came to pass that you might need a new minister, and have a place to go find one. How it happened that you could go to a website and download a curriculum that took thousands of hours to prepare and just download it? How is it that you can don a yellow shirts in Phoenix, Arizona and find that it actually is a symbol of hope to a student who is undocumented here in that city? How did that happen? Think about it. Because there's one essential key, the most important thing I believe we need to understand about the health of all of our finances. And that is, that we do an amazingly good work when we covenant together.
We are not a faith tradition that's bound by some theological belief, but by a covenant, by a relationship we build up with one another, and by the promises we keep, the quality of relationship, the commitment we have to see our faith thrive. The way we show generosity from one another forms that covenant. So last evening at our service of the living tradition, the youth were listening to the Reverend Sean Parker Dennison. And they learned something about the compassion we express and the distribution of the Living Tradition Fund. Some of them did not know about it. Moved as they were, they gathered up $200 among themselves and contributed it.
JEANNE PUPKE: It was an unplanned, generous act of covenant. And I believe that many of them are going to grow up and remember this. And at some future service of the Living Tradition, they will be the ones writing $200 checks. Yes?
JEANNE PUPKE: This is how it happens. We're not separate, not independent, but interdependent. We forget that. And we have a problem when we do. It's a problem that affects everything—religious education, worship, justice work, ministry, community. Its affects are in our congregation. When we forget our covenant, then we forget our common mission. We falter. Our budgets shrink. And hope gets harder to find.
At all levels of leadership in the UUA a conversation is emerging that asks, what do we promise one another? It's a conversation that realizes how very much we need one another. And we do need one another. There is a reason that we are proud to be in this small group of people, this seeking, standing on the side of love, won't let you go, accepting your gender bending, partnership making, willing to honor your differences thinking, you're composting, con conducting, trying hard not to be misappropriating, your sexuality educating, casserole-making, glass-ceiling breaking, trying to get out of your own way multiculturalizing, chalice lighting, marriage equality advocating, vegan pot-lucking, multi-generational learning, theological quilt making, spirit of life singing, Unitarian Universalist. And we love it!
JEANNE PUPKE: You can never call us easy. But you have got to admit that we are sometimes wildly, boldly beautiful.
JEANNE PUPKE: So my friends, we will not bringing justice home if we do not bring home the message. That we need to not fear our commitments to each other. We won't bring justice home, unless we bring home the courage to say that Unitarian Universalism is something big, and bold, and beautiful, and worthy of our commitment. It's worthy of robust pledges to our congregations. It's worthy of faithful commitment to our funding to the UUA. It is worthy of saying thanks, and worthy of being generous with all our institutions, including our seminaries and our Service Committee. We cannot do justice work beyond our walls if we cannot covenant to do justice work among ourselves, in our own hearts, and in our congregations, and among our association of congregations. Always, my friends, our covenant to one another is our great treasure.
JEANNE PUPKE: And really understand our treasure, you and I will now remember our inheritance. The Reverend Dr. Peter Raible, inspired by Hebrew scripture, described our inheritance. And he said, "We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. Let us now take a few moments to remember, or perhaps to meet for the first time, some of the many generous Unitarian Universalist who died this year. Here are people, who in our congregations and in our association, have been lighting the fires that warm and guide us in our work today. Let us in gratitude remember."
[SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING]
Presentation of Distinguished Service Award
GINI COURTER: I call on your trustee from the Ohio-Meadville district, the Reverend Dr. Susan Ritchie, to come to the podium to present an important award on behalf of the UUA board.
DR. SUSAN RITCHIE: Thank you. Is my pleasure this afternoon to welcome you to the presentation of this year's annual Distinguished Service for the Cause of Unitarian Universalism Award. This is the highest award that our association can bestow. It is to go each year to a person deemed by your Board of Trustees, to have made an extraordinary contribution to strengthening our association. It is to go to the person lay or clergy who reflects fully the shared values of our shared faith.
It has been my pleasure this year to serve as chair of the Distinguished Service Award Committee. Also serving on that committee have been the Reverend Peter Morales, and Lou Phinney, your trustee from the Mountain Desert District. This year, for justice GA, we have made a departure from our usual tradition. So that we might offer this award to someone who has made extraordinary contributions, not only to our association, but to the capacity for Unitarian Universalist to serve justice. We have chosen this year to make this award posthumously.
This year's award goes to the Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley.
Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley
DR. SUSAN RITCHIE: The Reverend Clyde Grubbs will accept the award on behalf of Reverend Wheatley. But first, the Reverend Bill Sinkford has some words to offer by way of citation.
WILLIAM SINKFORD: From the words of the Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, "If recognizing the interdependence of all life we strive to build community, the strength we gather will be our salvation."
Marjorie's service to Unitarian Universalism spanned two decades. Among those named to receive the Distinguished Service Award this time is short. But her ministry help shape contemporary Unitarian Universalist thought, programs, and practices in significant ways. Her intellectual rigor and deep spirit helped our collective yearning for the beloved community take form. The questions she posed and the resources she developed helped shape the path we still strive to walk.
She died in 2006. And many Unitarian Universalist, myself among them, still actively grieve her death. This award is an opportunity to express great thanks, not only for her impressive work, but also for the blessing of her presence in our midst. Our liberal religious movement has lost one of its most brilliant and most passionate advocates for justice, a fierce, and tender, and loving mentor to ministers and religious professionals, a gifted minister, and religious educator, and a woman filled with God's spirit and grace.
Most Unitarian Universalist remember Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley for her writing and the resources for our faith that she helped to develop. Weaving the fabric of diversity, for which she was a contributing author, Soul Work: Anti-Racist Theologies and Dialogue, co editor with Nancy Palmer Jones, the adult study and process guide for belonging to the meaning of membership from the Commission on appraisal, Interdependence: Renewing Congregational Polity, co-author, 1997.
And her numerous articles in UU World Magazine—The First Day's Record, Inward Springs, The Christian Science Monitor, The Loretta Journal, and the Women's Federation Communicator. She was a founding member of the African American Unitarian Universalist Ministry, served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, served on, and then shared the Unitarian Universalist Association's Commission on Appraisal.
She held positions at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, the Metro New York District, and was Adult Programs Director at the UUA. As parish minister, she served Community Church of New York, and our congregations in Austin, Texas and Tampa, Florida.
Whether in our faith's engagement with racism, or in our collective reflection on our identity, Marjorie help provide the tools that allowed us to move beyond easy affirmations, toward the lived experience of transformation. A generation of religious professionals of color look to her as model, mentor, colleague, and companion on their journey. Her loving and challenging presence helped shape the beginnings of the transformation of our ministry.
Marjorie was friend, confidant, co-worker, and so much more. Her gentle, competent, and loving spirit remains with us, helping to guide us in the years ahead. Her contribution to Unitarian Universalism lives on with each step we take on the path toward reconciliation and wholeness. if we strive to build community the strength we gather will be our salvation.
PRESENTER: Reverend Grubbs, I ask that you accept this on behalf of Reverend Wheatley, on behalf of a grateful association.
CLYDE GRUBBS: Thank you.
CLYDE GRUBBS: Marjorie was an inspiration for so many people, so many people that are here that I've asked some of the people that Marjorie mentored to come up on the stage with me to accept this, as part of a community that holds Marjorie and continues to hold Marjorie. And I've asked Danielle DiBona to speak, just briefly, for the mentees.
DANIELLE DIBONA: It is a distinct honor and privilege to stand before you today to honor the late Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, my mentor, and my friend. Marjorie mentored innumerable women of color in her lifetime, including me. She guided me through the early days of my ministry, helping me navigate the rough and dangerous waters of the association's anti-racism work. The intricacies, and workings, and politics, of the UUA, and the pros and cons of shades of lipstick and nail polish.
DANIELLE DIBONA: Marjorie had little patience with us when we struggled to do our ARAO work, and would freely and often call us to task on our failings. From that we have become a better, more just, more loving association of congregations. There is not a week that goes by that I do not long to have Marjorie's voice in my ear—cajoling me, pushing me, crying, and laughing with me.
I often ask myself, what would Marjorie do in this situation?
DANIELLE DIBONA: And don't we all? And continue to strive to her high, uncompromising ideals. As I walked the corridors of GA asking people about Marjorie and her influence in their lives, I heard so many stories of lives not influenced, by changed forever.
So two minutes of speaking cannot begin to touch on how much Marjorie changed our lives. And so I ask your indulgence as I show you living proof of her life. If you are a woman of color who was mentored by, or who has been influenced in any way, by the Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, I ask that you stand right now. Please stay standing.
If there is anyone else in this plenary hall who was mentored or changed in any way by knowing Marjorie, or who has been influenced by Marjorie's work, or her teaching, preaching, and high expectations of you, please stand now. This, my friends, is the living legacy of a woman of passion, and compassion, a woman of understandable strength and courage, my beloved friend, the Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley.
Building a Community for Justice: Cultural Humility
GINI COURTER: For the past 10 months not a week has gone by that I have not been grateful to the volunteer members of the Justice GA Accountability Group, here to help us further all of our skills to be together. So please welcome them to the podium.
SPEAKER 2: We on the accountability group are continuing, at the moderator's to request, the conversation on cultural humility, which we began yesterday. It is a conversation into which Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley led many of us. Yesterday we talked about some principles. Here are a few harder questions about where we are going from our experience, serving as cultural translators as we prepared for this General Assembly. Our experience is, in some ways, unique to this justice General Assembly. And in some ways, for all of us, it is all too familiar.
SPEAKER 3: How do we move beyond individualism to the ability to work together, in community? That means that what we need to do together is sometimes more important than telling our own story, that listening is as important as hearing ourselves speak. It means that we will be less eager to share our credentials, and more eager to leap into service with one another.
SPEAKER 4: humility invites us to ask how we continue to marginalize people if we ask them to be leaders and do not allow them to lead out of their cultural context, out of their values, out of their particular vantage point they may bring, as youth, or young adult, for example. Do we ask them to be a round peg in a square hole of dominant culture, rather than a shaper of norms?
SPEAKER 5: we must set aside intention, as important as intention is, to look at what we actually do. Do we use groups, such as the accountability group, as window dressing? So we can feel as if we've addressed issues, even when we haven't? Don't worry, we've talked to so and so. She's black, she uses a scooter. She's transgender. Do we understand when commitments to the people who take on these leaderships are not honored these leaders become isolated, not only from the majority culture, but from their own communities as well?
SPEAKER 6: Do we ask from input from people from particular communities and then feel we are enough because we asked? Cultural humility says it is a dialogue. And that the majority culture, and those in institutional power, need to be accountable to explaining why advised was requested, and cultivated, and not used? Do we ask for hour's of time from people and then fail to tell them why their input it was not valued?
WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: Cultural humility requires us to dance with the hard truth, that we in the majority culture must learn to follow those who have insights into other cultures. And yet in doing so, we once again, ask much of them. How do we commit to doing our own learning, doing our own work? How do we stop asking others to do our work, because it would be more difficult for us to grow?
SPEAKER 7: If we find, as we journey together, that we have made mistakes, had moments where we lost our humility, where we might even have acted with arrogance or disregard of something simply not in our frame, does that mean that we are bad people? No. It means that we are human beings on the journey towards a fuller recognition of our humanity. Someone said it before. We need to forgive, and then in our multicultural commitment, pledge not to forget.
SPEAKER 2: One of the most basic skills of being multicultural is the ability to hold two competing truths. And as we move through these next crucial hours of this Justice General Assembly, how can we hold our determination to be of service and our commitment to do so without being self congratulatory? People have asked all of us throughout this General Assembly, was is it a success, is it a success?
For me personally, for all of us, I think, on the accountability group, or many of us, what we are asking is, was it all worth it—the time, the effort, sometimes the disregard, or even the hostility that we faced? The answer to that question, and that same question for the others who put in many more hours and much more energy, is very simple. It rests with all of us, all of you.
It will be determined by the success of our witness tonight. And as important as that is, it will also be determined when the decisions come down next week from the Supreme Court on the legality of SB1070. It depends on whether we come out in force in our own communities in the succeeding weeks and months. And it matters as we do so, that in doing so we follow the lead of those who understand best what these policies mean.
Did we do something different with this justice General Assembly this year? Did we meet the high bar that we set two years ago? Only if each of us remembers that vision of partnership and makes it real in the places that we each will return to in the coming days. No matter what happens, we know we would be continuing on a journey. And our hope, as one of our last acts as your accountability group, is that we travel towards that place where we will be able to see those different from us face to face, human to human, with no need to vilify or deify, that we are willing to continue to grow, to continue to learn, and to continue to question. For then, we can continue to travel together.
Theologian and writer Frederick Buechner says, that a miracle is what happens when the parts are bigger than the whole. So in this way we can, with and only with humility, make the miracle that is the unified the united, affirming love of our faith happen.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. The next piece of our time together is one of —or maybe I should say what we just had in the next piece. It was a section—I always thought as I looked at it, worship breaking out in plenary, which is always a good sign. Please welcome, and listen attentively, to Miss Isabel Chairez of the Comites de Defensa de Barrio. Who will be speaking to you in Espanol, in Spanish, and then who will be translated. A welcome please.
ISABEL CHAIREZ: [SPEAKING IN SPANISH]
GINI COURTER: That was captioned for you, right, in English during the presentation. Go ahead.
SPEAKER 8: In adding something else that she said, which was not included in the caption, and I was watching so I could translate for you. That she's asking for support and for you to notice that this is separating families, and separating families from their children, and to please give your support.
SPEAKER 9: Some of you were at this morning's worship service and heard Hal Walker's praise song. We wanted to share it again, as many of you missed it. It's a song to remind us that in the eyes of God we are all equal. Even know the pain of us not being treated equal was just heard so eloquently. Hal Walker's from the UUA church of Kent in Kent, Ohio. We hope this song will inspire us all to work for the day when we are all just people.
Song: "Tengo Sed De Ti"
GINI COURTER: Now please welcome Tiffany and Geraldine Mendez, who are members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix.
GERALDINE MENDEZ: My name is Geraldine Mendez. I know that I couldn't possibly tell this story to a more understanding audience. And this is why today I'm here to tell you my family's story and what we have been through over the past few years. I tell you this story in hopes that we can help others understand what families with undocumented parents go through.
My parents came here from Mexico 20 years ago, and with my brother, who was just four years old. They came here looking for a better life. And while they did not enter legally, they worked hard every day, sometimes times 12 hours a day, just to give my brother and I have a better life. On October—On October 21, 2009, in a blink of an eye my mother was taken from our home by 6 ICE agents without warning. In that moment my brother and I lost the one person who has always been there by our side.
After his tragic event our family is now broken. Each day we are reminded of our mother's absence. It has left a never ending hurt in our hearts. Not having her with us physically is not the only pain. But it has taken emotional pain to a whole new level I didn't know existed. There are moments and memories that my mother will never be a part of. Which makes me realize that no matter what happens in the future, this hurt will always be with me.
With her gone, she has missed one of my greatest accomplishments, high school graduation. My parents raised us to believe that our education is one of the most important things we will do in life, and that, with this, we could do or be anyone we wanted to be. To not have my mother see me receive my diploma was one of the most painful moments. I was lucky enough to have many others cheer for me, but with out her it didn't have the same meaning.
I am not the only one who has been affected by her absence On July 15, 2011 my beautiful niece was born.
GERALDINE MENDEZ: We all jumped with joy to see her cute little toes and fingers. The first thing my brother did was call my mom to let her know her first grandchild was born. It was a bittersweet moment. We were ecstatic to see the new member of our family, but at the same time we were reminded that our mother wasn't here to share the joy.
We are not sure when my mother will have the chance to meet her first grandchild, or when we will have the chance to see her again. But that is just one more thing we must deal with. Other memories that my mother will miss out on are birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, and much more. As you all can see, the pain of having someone taken away because they're not legally supposed to be here causes pain and hurt that no one should have to endure. Thank you.
TIFFANY MENDEZ: I am Tiffany Mendez. I have lived in Phoenix, Arizona all my life. I first met Daniel when we were in eighth grade. We started dating after high school, in June of 2008 we married. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary.
TIFFANY MENDEZ: As Geraldine told you, two and a half years ago our family was torn apart when ICE deported my mother-in-law. Fearful of Daniel being deported, we immediately got a lawyer. Before we could even begin the paperwork, we had to gather evidence of our relationship—pictures of us dating, our wedding, hanging out with friends, letters of reference from family members, co-workers, and congregation members, to show that, yes, they witnessed the bond of our relationship.
We had to collect our marriage certificate, birth certificates, passport, photos, and any other piece of information that would help prove our love and commitment to each other. After we had gathered the necessary items we were told that we had to wait for the next step. The next that came six months later. And it was just a paper to fill out to be sent to the United States Mexican consulate in Juarez, Mexico. The lawyer said now we wait until they schedule us an appointment.
As we waited to hear about this meeting, Daniel and I found out we were expecting. On July 15, 2011 we welcomed Isabella Rose into our lives. There were many emotions after the delivery—joy at this blessing of new life, grief that Danielle's mom was not there. But most of all, we felt worried about the challenges that our daughter will face as she grows up. Now, more than ever, I fear the day when those ICE agents return my home and split my family, once again.
Two weeks after her birth, we were called to the lawyer's office with supposedly good news. We were told that Daniel had an appointment set within the next three months. He would have to go to Mexico a couple weeks before his meeting. Once he his appointment, he will have to wait and see if he is denied or approved. This answer could take up to 10 months or longer. And he must remain in Mexico until he hears, one way or another.
As I sit there, nursing my new born baby, how could I think of this as good news? How is this situation not the same as splitting up my family? Isabella will be going through many firsts. And her daddy would miss the excitement of crawling, walking, saying 'Dada.' I am not prepared to raise my daughter with the computer for a father. For right now, we have put this stuff on hold. Our lawyer suggested we wait and see if the law will change to were Daniel can send the paperwork and get approved before going for the appointment. Until then, we sit worried.
Daniel, Geraldine, and I invite you to share our story. Let your friends, your neighbors, your communities know that the system is broken. Families are still being split apart, even if they try to go through the paperwork process. Let them know that we need everyone's help to keep families together. Thank you.
Special Collection to Support Immigration Ministry
GINI COURTER: In 2010 you directed the Unitarian Universalist Administration, President Peter Morales and his staff, to found an Arizona Immigration Ministry, AZIM, that would work to create a culture of collaborative work towards immigration, and racial and economic justice. Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray and Sandy Weir have worked diligently to create that culture. You've met some of the partners for this ministry during our few days together. The first outcome was to organize collaboration among the Arizona congregations towards this justice GA and lay a foundation for long term engagement with migrant and indigenous rights groups.
The second outcome was to create strong partnerships with UUs and organizations representing those most affected by current immigration and enforcement policies. The third outcome was to design the service and witness events for justice GA 2012, including the last night's rally and program, and tonight's vigil at Tent City. In the fourth outcome for the Arizona Immigration Ministry was to boost excitement for Justice GA by exchanging plans and ideas with Unitarian Universalist around the country, including travel to other UU congregations and gatherings.
In the next year AZIM will be focused on two things—strengthening the collaboration and cooperation between Arizona UU congregations on resisting SB1070 and other anti-immigrant laws. And you should certainly know, in this moment, how much that is needed. And then focusing specifically on strategies for ending mass detention of migrants and immigrants, including developing a tool kit for all of our congregations that includes personal testimonies and stories of people caught in the mass detention system, and sharing this resource that all of our congregations can work against mass detention in our own States.
This is our week to join in the work, right here. And tonight we will vigil, shoulder to shoulder, with other Unitarian Universalists, but also with our partners. But you know that tomorrow, no matter what we do tonight, tomorrow there will still be racism, and racist deportation, and racist genocide in Arizona when we wake up in the morning. Reversal of the current trends in this state will take many years because many of these injustices now are embedded in the laws of the state.
The Arizona Immigration Ministry must continue. If the Unitarian Universalist, here in Arizona, will continue to make a difference in this dry desert of a watershed state. We took the plunge two years ago into this Justice GA and Arizona Immigration Ministry. It's just one expression of the love that Unitarian Universalist have. We stand here on the side of love to advance justice, because we are a religious community.
Last year we raise money in plenary for the Arizona Immigration Ministry. We raise about $30,000. And I was actually kind of stunned that that was all it was. I trust that this year, here in Arizona, we know why we are here. And so when we take the collection today for the Arizona Immigration Ministry, I want to invite you to dig deep, to dig a really, really deep. Because this collection, right now, is what's going to ensure that the work of this Justice GA in Arizona will not end at the end of the week, but will continue boldly and in solidarity, here on the ground in Arizona, for the years or for the decade it will take to begin to turn the tide, here. Right here, right now.
I'd like to ask Jason Shelton to come up and provide some music for us. But friends, if there was ever a time to stand on the side of love, and to show it through your generosity, it is this moment. Please give as generously as you are able for the future of this state and for the future of our world. Jason.
JASON SHELTON: Love one another. Serve one another. Honor one another, as equals hand in hand. Love one another. Serve one another. Honor one another. That's how we understand. Each year I have the privilege of working with my youth group and writing music for their youth service. And I could use some youth help up here, if any of you are prepared to help with this song. Why don't you come on up? Hopefully you got the word about this.
So as we were preparing to write a song, I was aware that we would be coming to Arizona this summer. And that if we're going to be doing this kind of work, we need some new songs. We need some songs that take us out into the street. Songs that help us move, and move ourselves, and move the world. So we started thinking about, what are the kinds of songs? What does it mean to be a protest song, a marching song?
There's a song out there you may have heard called Standing on the Side of Love. I see lots of you have the t-shirts, and that's appreciated. I don't get any royalties from that but—but the problem with that song, I would say, is that, if we were to march to Standing on the Side of Love we wouldn't even make it out the door. Because it's a slow jam, right?
You're not going to get very far singing that. So I asked my youth to help us come up with a song that would help us march. And so we studied songs of the civil rights movement. We studied songs of labor movements, songs of people marching in the street. And what did those songs have in common? What was the rhythm? What was the beat? What was the feel? What it sounds like?
We went out and did our parking lot at the church. And we marched around. And we started finding a tempo, and what words we wanted to say. And this is the song we came up with. We invite you to join us. It's a song we sang last night at the end of the service of the living tradition. There are multiple parts. The first part goes like this. This is the low part. You get to sing this a lot. It goes like this.
[SINGING "LOVE ONE ANOTHER"]
GINI COURTER: Well that was all good. And faster than I thought. Moderator's log, fast music, fast collection.
GINI COURTER: So if you did not have an opportunity to give here and you want to give when you get back home, or when you go back to your congregation, and you'd like to say, you know, we share the plate. And we could share the plate one Sunday with the Arizona Immigration Ministry. There's an easy way to do that. All you need to do is contact your Unitarian Universalist Association, right? We will make that happen. And there's and individual giving form, 'donate now,' on the UUA website. You can go to any page, click 'donate now' . And where it says, 'in honor of' you could put Arizona Immigration Ministry, and that would work too. Ready? Please welcome and show great love to your Unitarian Universalist Association President, the Reverend Dr. Peter Morales.
UUA President’s Report
PETER MORALES: I can hardly believe this is happening, it's wonderful. A little over two years ago we came to Phoenix to bear witness, to stand on the side of love, to stand on the side of human dignity. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists came from all across the country. We came because we were called by our congregations here in Arizona, and by grassroots organizations here, fighting for human rights for migrants. But more than that, we were called the memory of brave men and women who struggled, so that slaves could be free, so that women could vote, so that African Americans could break free from the oppression of Jim Crow laws.
More recently we've stood on the side of love against the fear and hatred that marginalizes LBGTQ people. We came, some in body, thousands more in spirit, because we were called by the distant memory of Jesus reaching out to the most despised people of his time—prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers. Teaching his followers and helping the most despised person was the same as helping him. We were called by the ancient teaching that we should walk humbly and do justice.
We came because we are a religious people. We came affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every one. Because affirming it means exactly that. We either mean it, or we don't. And we made a difference. Our voice was heard. Our presence was felt. Of all the faith groups, we were the most visible. In part, because of that bright yellow color.
We managed to get all kinds of coverage in the media, including CNN, The Washington Post, NBC, The Huffington Post, the Associated Press ran stories in papers all over the country. And we've been in Spanish language media, as well. But this report is not about reliving what happened two years ago. I want to tell a story behind the story. Because the story behind the story, the story of how it all came together, has much to teach us.
First, our congregations here in Arizona had built strong relationships with grassroots community organizations. You've seen examples. Organizations like [? Donna Tiera ?], [? Juente ?], Somos, and No More Deaths. They formed these relationships as a religious people living out their faith, living out their commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of all in the context of their local communities. However, Arizona had become a microcosm of the malaise of fear and hatred sweeping much of our nation.
The protests two years ago were both local and national. It became clear that we are all Arizona. Or in Spanish, [SPEAKING SPANISH] Arizona. Our district and national staff became involved. Ken Brown, our district exec and Tara Little, also, of the Pacific Southwest District work with the Arizona congregations. National staff, like Susan Leslie, our Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director were able to coordinate with national immigration rights organizations. Organizations with whom we, at the UUA, have a long relationship. We used the outreach capacity of our Standing on the Side of Love campaign. Our UUA Communications Team, led by John Hurley, pitched in. Helping us shape a message that got national attention.
My point is that we all worked together. Local, regional, and national staff all collaborated. I cannot overemphasize the lesson here. When we collaborate, when we work together at all levels, we multiply our effectiveness. Had our local congregations, as committed as they are, participated in isolation, they would hardly have been noticed. Had our headquarters staff try to swoop in and dictate what happened here, our impact would have been small. Ah, but together, together, we were able to be a highly visible religious presence. And more importantly, we continue to be a voice for compassion and justice.
The Arizona Immigration Ministry team, led by Susan Frederick-Gray and Sandy Weir have done outstanding work.
PETER MORALES: You and I cannot thank them enough. Together we have raised the awareness of UUs everywhere. We've help put a human face, as you just saw, on the brutality of what is happening. Working together, collaborating, working with partners who share our values, learning from one another, sharing, multiplying our power, nurturing bonds of love and respect, hand in hand, mano en mano, this is how we will thrive.
We are not just an association of 1,000 independent congregations. We are a religious movement of people in congregations that are interdependent. This is what has always been true of us at our best. Working together, we founded what became the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the UUSC. Working together, we raised our voices in the civil rights era. Working together, we are steadily moving to make marriage equality the law of the land.
PETER MORALES: And just imagine—imagine—the future we can create together in the coming months and years. By working together we will be able to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the coming years. And I want to be clear. The challenges we are facing are daunting. And the opportunities before us are breathtaking.
Unitarian universalism today looks very much as it did 20 years ago. There's been change, but it's been slow. But fasten your seat belts. In 20 years we're going to be dramatically different. Because we are in the midst of a historic cultural change in America.
PETER MORALES: 20 years ago we had just over 1,000 congregations. Today we have just over 1,000 congregations. We have a 1,054 congregations today, a generation ago there was 1,037, 17 more. A generation ago our membership was 140,000. Today it's a little over 160,000. And as you can see in the chart that's up on the screen showing the last decade, the last 10 years, our membership has shown little change. In fact, in the past five years our adult membership has actually gone down a little bit.
Ironically, the number of people who say they are Unitarian Universalist it's about three times as great as the number we count as members. And we can go off that slide now. It's enough bar graphs for now. And more about that later. But things are changing rapidly in the religious landscape. You may have heard about the rapid membership decline in the mainline Protestant denominations. Presbyterians,
Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, have all dropped rapidly. In the last 50 years the percentage of Americans who call themselves these mainline denominations—Methodist, UCC, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Lutheran, the percentage has dropped in about half in the last 50 years. And even the numbers for evangelicals have dropped in the last 20 years. The evangelical movement, the boom in America, is over. It's been over for a generation.
PETER MORALES: That's ungenerous, but I understand. What is happening—and let's have this part bar graph here. What is happening all over America is the rapid rise the 'nones.' That's the N-O-N-E-S, not the N-U-N-S. Although there's been a quite a rise of the nuns lately, as well in America.
PETER MORALES: I grew up in San Antonio, and that frightens me. There's a lot of power there. The number of 'nones,' the N-O-N-E-S, is simply exploding. 50 years ago—look at this graph. 50 years ago, about five out of every 100 American young adults said that they identified with no religion. 10 years ago, it was right at 12 out of 100, said they had no religion.
Today the number has jumped to 25 out of every 100, a quarter of young adults. Churches become a bad brand. A new generation of Americans associates church with insincerity, hypocrisy, and narrow mindedness. However, and this is crucial, this is absolutely crucial, these nones are not against religion or spirituality. They're not secular in the usual sense. They are spiritually hungry people who've been turned off by church. By and large, this exploding demographic is politically progressive, and accepting of cultural diversity, and of homosexuality. In other words, they're us.
PETER MORALES: They are us.
The number of people who are in sympathy with the core values of Unitarian Universalism is shooting through the roof. Our values are being embraced by a new generation. This is our historic opportunity as a faith. But while our values are embraced, these new nones are not joining congregations. They're very suspicious of church. That's our challenge. We even see this among Unitarian Universalists.
When sociologists survey Americans they consistently—this has been true for more than a decade, they consistently find something like 600,000 to 650,000 people who say they are Unitarian Universalist. Think about that. Three out of every four UUs don't belong to one of our congregations. A lot of them are our young adults. They're my children, your children, your friends.
Our theology aligns perfectly with a rapidly growing segment of America. That's great news. We are a religion with values of compassion. We celebrate human diversity. We have spiritual depth. We act for justice, and that resonates with the America that's coming into being. On the one hand, our values are in ascendancy. On the other hand, we live in a time where the institution of church is viewed with suspicion and indifference.
So here's our twofold challenge. We have to strengthen our congregations and help them adapt to this tectonic shift. And—and we have to create new ways to engage the millions of spiritually hungry nones.
PETER MORALES: And we've got about a decade to get it. We've got about a decade to get it right. Luckily, we have the talent, the passion, and the vision. We can do this, if we work together. So what do we have to do?
First, we have to continue to work together to strengthen our congregations, as I said. I talked about the new challenges that our congregations face, challenges of a changing culture that views religious institutions with skepticism. Yet, we are here today because we have experienced what congregations can be.
We know the intimacy and the depth of a spiritual community where lives are transformed. We've seen children nurtured. We have felt the power of love as someone is supported in a time of loss or transition. We've shared joy and laughter. We've worked shoulder to shoulder in our communities.
There's great irony here. Two seemingly contradictory things are simultaneously true. The first is that our congregations face the new challenges that I've mentioned. The second truth is that the hunger for authentic, progressive, spiritual community is palpable. When I served a congregation I made it a practice—it really became a spiritual practice—of standing outside, greeting people as they came to worship every Sunday. And week after week, I met seekers, hungry for religious community.
They came searching for worship that touched their souls and their minds. They came eager to connect deeply with other people. I am a parish minister. I served a wonderful congregation. I have seen scores of fabulous UU congregations in every part of the country. And I know what a blessing congregational life can be. I served a congregation that grew from 400 members to more than 750 members. Millions are hungry for the kind of spiritual community that we can create.
I'm convinced that our congregation still have enormous potential. However, people will no longer come to church out of habit or a sense of duty. People are starving for religious communities that feed their souls. But if their souls are not fed, they will go elsewhere. There is no place in tomorrow's America for mediocre church.
PETER MORALES: The work that we do together, to support our congregations, to grow leaders, to educate and mentor religious professionals, and to provide resources has never been more important. We must do all of these things that are association does, and do them better than we've ever done them before. We, at the UUA, must also continue to do those things which only a headquarters can do. We have a critical role at the national and the international levels. Because we're your voice in national media, now at the United Nations as the United Nations officer has joined the UUA, and in relationships with faith communities throughout our world.
I want to show you, briefly, some examples of what we have been doing. The first me, but you can't see me because I'm a tiny speck in the center, under the Buddha, speaking at the great sacred hall of the Rissho Kosei-kai, their annual founding day. There are about 3,500 people there. And they're broadcasting it to their Dharma centers all over Japan.
This is a relationship, begun by Dana Greeley, that has been going now for well over 40 years, an interfaith partnerships with people who share our values for freedom and for peace in the world. After the tsunami we created a fund, in conjunction with the UUSC, to raise relief money and to channel it primarily through the RKK, Rissho Kosei-kai because we knew them and trusted them. And part of my visit this last year was not so much to speak at the founding day, but then to go and participate in memorial services one year after the tsunami.
The photographs—and we've all see them on the news. Here are a few more. As so often happens, they are like photographs of the Grand Canyon. They do not prepare you for the size of the hole, if you've ever been to the Grand Canyon. The devastation of the tsunami in these towns along the Northern coast of Japan is beyond description.
Our faith partners there lost hundreds of their parishioners, of members of their congregations, of their Dharma centers, as they call them. And the gratitude they felt, it was more symbolically. Because the amount of money we contributed in a developed country is not going to rebuild a city, for heaven's sakes. But what it meant to these people, the people across the ocean, cared enough to contribute, and to send a leader, was simply amazing.
There was a service—I'd like to see the slide. It reminded me so much of an observation of the day of the dead. Slide number 12, has it come up yet? No, before at Rissho Kosei-kai. Again, this as a service being held at the home of a member of that congregation, someone who's disappeared, who's home was utterly destroyed. And you see nothing above foundations for as far as you can see.
And finally, just another taste of what we've been doing. Now that the United Nations Office is part of us, a program we've inherited from them is the Every Child is Our Child Program, where the children you see there in front are orphan children, survivors of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. And they've been placed in homes of people. And our support buys school uniforms and books that allows these children to attend school and get an education. It costs $120 a year to support a child getting an education in Ghana. Very proud of that program, is was amazingly touching.
So, in addition to supporting our member congregations in doing this work that only our association can do internationally, we also have to go beyond, well beyond, congregations as we know them. Most of us have heard the phrase of John Murray, one of the founders of Universalism in America, who told the people to go out into the highways, and byways of America, and to give the people something of your vision, about giving them hope.
Well the highways and byways of America are electronic today. And I'm not talking about our creating a substitute for congregations that we love, but something that is in addition to them. There are an amazing number of creative ways our people are already reaching out. Congregations are using the web in all kinds of ways. Groups are forming that could never form in one congregation—like language groups, and social justice issue groups, and youth groups.
The Church of the Larger Fellowship has completely revamped its website. And they have an app for mobile phones. How many of you have got the CLS app? All right. And now we've got one. The UUA has an app. I don't know where this road will lead, nobody does. Just look back 10 years ago. And look at the change we've seen. But I do know that this is a road we must follow.
You may have heard me say that in order to meet the challenges before us, that we have to do three basic things as a culture, as a religious culture. We have to get religion, grow leaders, and cross boarders. Getting religion, growing leaders, and crossing borders are ultimately spiritual challenges. By 'get religion' I mean connecting to what we most love, to what moves us most deeply, about what gives us unspeakable joy, about what binds us together as a people. The real religious question we must answer is not what we believe. The real religious question is what we love.
By growing leaders, I mean the recruitment, training, nurturing, and empowerment of leaders at all levels. The spiritual challenge here is learning to trust. When we learn to trust one another we release one another's power. And the third great challenge is to cross borders. The spiritual challenge here is allowing love to overcome fear. The great borders that divide us from others are the artificial borders of class, culture, and race.
And now, I want to briefly highlight a few things that your staff is doing to help us meet all of these challenges, and to support our congregations, to bear witness in the world, and to share our faith. Every single one of our programmatic initiatives is founded in the conviction that collaboration is essential. I can only touch on a few highlights and I really invite you to look at things like the annual report that we provided as a staff to the Board of Trustees. Because it's not a dull report. It's inspirational to see what folks are doing.
Let me highlight a couple of things. One of you heard of a little bit before, the Gathered Here Initiative, that we've been working with Amanda Trosten-Bloom to develop. It's really about listening to one another, using the tools of appreciative inquiry, to begin person to person within congregations, and then—here's a thought—across congregations, and across our movement. We're going to be pulling all of this together this fall. This goes so much deeper than any survey that anybody checks off.
We're trying to get a sense of what really moves and touches our people, what they hold sacred, and let that guide our work. I want to mention, also, the strategic review of professional ministries that we undertook a while back. It began my first year as president. It involved—Well, the key recommendations go all the way from recruiting, ministers supporting, multicultural immersion learning, supporting advanced learning. Our staff has been working in close collaboration, key word, with the UUMA to do some amazing work. It's a fabulous partnership.
Another one I want to mention, quickly, is Leap of Faith. It's a small program with a big name. We're good at that. But the idea is one that came from our own ministers. And it's a program that involves congregation to congregation learning and growing. We're starting a new venture with the UUSC. You're going to hear more about that in the future, this college of social justice. This is one of the most exciting developments in a long, long time. And this other one that I've mentioned, which we're labeling congregations and beyond.
Because we are this larger movement, we're looking for ways and piloting new ways of the coming year- stay tuned—to engage all of these people, these 'nones,' and these- what someone referred to as 'free range UUs.' And I had to say—and someone said, no they're not 'free range.' They're feral.
PETER MORALES: Whatever name you want to give them. But we're looking for creative ways of an engaging these people in small groups, and in some of our witness work, much more to come.
And also at this moment I want to, as I've done before, recognize the work, the tireless, dedicated, creative work, our UUA staff. Those that are here, over here in the sort of bullpen, would you please rise as you are able and receive the appreciation?
PETER MORALES: If you haven't been down that UUA expressway—I just saw for the first time this morning, briefly—take a look at that I work with a dedicated and committed staff. And I'm proud to call them my colleagues. And now I want to give you a sneak preview of what I hope to report to you five years from now, in my final report as your president.
I hope to stand before you—I already have this outlined. I like to get ahead on my work. Here's what I not only hope, but fully expect to be able, to report in 2017. So imagine, if you will, an older, grayer, hopefully wiser, maybe thinner president.
In 2017, my friends, not only is Unitarian Universalism thriving, but our prospects are bright. We're finally beginning, finally, beginning to realize the potential we always knew that we had. Most of our congregations are growing. We are a more powerful and respected voice in the public arena. And our new outreach efforts are engaging tens of thousands of people beyond our congregations. And how have we done this?
Really it comes down to unleashing the power of love. We unleash the potential of our people. We learn how to reach out in new ways. In other words, we got religion, we empowered leaders, and we reached across borders that had imprisoned us. We got a whole lot better at working together. And let me remind you of how all this happened.
Seven years ago we initiated a modest pilot program, named to Leap of Faith. The idea was to link some of our finest and most vibrant congregations working as mentors with other congregations that aspire to learn and grow. The idea came from our ministers. And now congregations routinely form pairs and small groups to learn from one another. And now that we're learning from one another, were inspiring one another as we never had before.
Way back in 2012 we met in Phoenix. And remember how hot it was? At a GA we called a Justice GA. Back then, I said that the true measure of that GA would be what we were doing in five years. Our real goal was to raise our capacity to engage with people working for justice in our home communities. Today, in 2017, the seeds we planted back then are bearing fruit all over the country. We're doing amazing work. We've learned to be good partners. And the relationships that we formed are transforming us as we find joy and fulfillment, and as we've worked together, with others, to build the beloved community.
Our college of social justice, which was just announced five years ago, is thriving. More than 1,000 UUs, including youth, and young adults, religious professional, seminarians have participated in service learning journeys in Latin America, Africa, India, and the Philippines. The UUA in the UUSC are collaborating as never before. Eight years ago we undertook a strategic review of professional ministries. We consulted with ministers, religious educators, musicians, seminaries, and others. Out of that came a plan that has guided us the last seven years.
We work together as never before, now with the UUMA, to improve continuing education of ministers. We've developed new tools for assessment. We're partnering closely with our seminaries. Our ministers and other leaders are more diverse than ever. Four years ago we moved into a new headquarters. Wow. What a difference that has made.
Today in 2017, we have a modern facility with up-to-date technology that allows our staff in Boston and across the country to work together in flexible teams. We have accessible and comfortable meeting spaces for staff and lay leaders. We're hosting continuing education conferences and interfaith gatherings. We have a fabulous reception area that tells the story of our past and our present.
What I'm most proud of though, is how we've reached out and engaged so many religious seekers and UUs who are not currently members. What began as a group of staff and creative UUs from across the country, meeting in Orlando in 2012, is now a major part of who we are. Small groups are popping up everywhere, using online resources that we helped develop, or that they develop and we help share. We're helping people to connect to our faith as never before, people who would not have found one of our congregations. Lots of those people are attaching to our congregations.
Thousands have joined our public witness efforts, making us a powerful voice. In 2017 Unitarian Universalism has gone viral. It's about time. Thus endeth my 2017 report. There's no reason, no reason, we can't do this, none. All of this is doable and practical. I said at the beginning that ours is a time of challenge and opportunity. The religious world we have known is disappearing. And a new world is emerging. My friends, the opportunities for us in this new world are amazing.
We have to do two things. We have to help our congregations to adapt. And we know how to do this. We have hundreds of thriving congregations who are embracing the possibilities. And second, we need to reach out into the electronic highways and byways of America. We need to engage those people who think of themselves as UUs, but are not members of a congregation, and to the millions who share our values and seek liberal religious community. We can do this. We just need to work together. We need to unleash our passion, and our creativity.
Love will guide us. Come. Let's build this faith together. Hand in hand, mano en mano. Thank you for all you do for this faith and we love. And finally, I want to thank you for the privilege of serving as your president.
PETER MORALES: Thank you. I have a special introduction to make. We're honored to have the Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ joining us today.
PETER MORALES: The UCC serves 5,600 congregations with 1.2 million members. We have been collaborators on our whole [INAUDIBLE] curriculum. And together we're intentionally seeking ways for more interfaith engagement. This justice General Assembly and Geoffrey and members of his staff being here is one such opportunity.
Geoffrey Black was elected president of the UCC in June 2009, is known for its creativity, passion for justice, humor—I can attest to that—and progressive values. He's spoken out against SB1070 and in favor of humane immigration practices. On a personal note, I want to thank Geoffrey and his staff for their gracious hospitality when I and three other UUA staff visited their Cleveland headquarters last year. We're proud to have him here. Join me once again giving him a warm welcome.
GEOFFREY BLACK: Thank you.
PETER MORALES: It's good to have you here.
GEOFFREY BLACK: OK.
GEOFFREY BLACK: Well good afternoon UUA. I'm delighted to be here. And I can't wait to tell all the folks back home what this was like. It's really been a joy to be among you, a distinct honor and pleasure to be a participant in this UUA General Assembly. I want to thank Peter and all of you for inviting me and my colleagues—the Reverend Linda Jaramillo, our executive for justice witness ministries, and the Reverend Karen Thompson, our ecumenical and interfaith relations officers. They're both here with me. Their present with you. And we give thanks for this opportunity to be with you and for me to say a few words.
Part of our joy today is that this occasion signals the beginning of a long, and I might add overdue, relationship. That we would hope would be a long lasting relationship, one that will be mutual beneficial to both of our traditions. Of course, we have a history, and a long history. Some would say that we're already relatives. And I would agree.
GEOFFREY BLACK: We've had a list of points of cooperation in the past, most notably our whole lives, which Peter already mentioned. We share a common quest for justice, and a hunger for peace, as well as an active yearning for the full inclusion of all people in the life of the Church and the society. So it only makes sense. It is indeed natural, that we would draw closer together. One of the most resonant phrases in our United Church of Christ statement of Faith is this, God promises to all who trust in the gospel courage in the struggle for justice and peace.
It is that theological premise that serves as an affirmation of our engagement in that struggle together, and as an encouragement and inspiration to those who are thus engaged. Today is a day when we are reminded of that affirmation. We are here together, in solidarity, to engage in that struggle, knowing that it is called forth and affirmed by God and all that is holy. We are also encouraged to know that we are not alone in this struggle, that you and the United Church of Christ are allies, and that we have allies.
We know that the struggle may be long, but we are assured that until it is won, it has not ended. After all, the Holy One empowers and inspires all who would embrace this cause. So as we look forward to our future together, a shared future, let us do so with the confidence born of our solidarity, and our trust in the guiding presence of a loving God. Thanks for having me with you. I'm enjoying my visit. And again, I'm looking forward to sharing all that I'm learning and hearing in my time among you. Have a good afternoon and the successful meeting.
UUA President’s Award for Volunteer Service
PETER MORALES: I want to add that Geoffrey is going to join me and a small delegation of other ministers who are visiting Tent City right before our vigil this evening. That's real public witness. Oh, we have found—this is a wonderful. And now I want to turn to the President's Award for Volunteer Service to the UUA.
The President's Annual Award for volunteer services to the UUA is given to the person designated by the president as having performed extraordinary and vital service to the UUA as a volunteer. We are pleased to honor Carolyn Saunders as the 2012 recipient of the President's Annual Award for Volunteer Service to the UUA.
PETER MORALES: Thank you.
CAROLYN SAUNDERS: Thank you.
PETER MORALES: We couldn't find her a couple of minutes ago. And let me just give you a brief outline of why she's getting this award. Carolyn has lived in Germany and was active in the UUA Fellowship of Heidelberg. She's now a member of the UUA of Tucson. In her 13 years of membership there, she's volunteered as a finance secretary, denominational representative, and a worship associate. She's also served two terms on the UUA Church of Tuscon's board, serving as board president. Her colleague describe her as gracious and cheerful.
While this award is given for service rendered to the association, you should know the Carolyn also serves a wider community. She's active in PEO, an organization that raises money for scholarships for women, and helped organize their Arizona convention. And she also volunteers as a reading coach at a local elementary school. But at the association, Carolyn has served as this year's district coordinator for General Assembly.
PETER MORALES: Given the special nature of this justice GA, she's been faced with trials that have gone far beyond the usual. She's worked closely with other district staff, the GA Planning Committee, the Arizona Immigration Ministries, and our host of GA volunteers in order to create and promote the most affective and energizing justice General Assembly possible. We are tremendously grateful for the work that she does for our association. And it gives me great pleasure to bestow this year's award to Carolyn Saunders. Would you like to say something?
CAROLYN SAUNDERS: Well I just wanted to say thank you so very much. And I'm deeply honored by this award.
PETER MORALES: Well let's get over here where people can see it, and do a little grip and grin.
PETER MORALES: Madam Moderator, the podium is yours, once again.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Let's take Peter for his reporting again.
GINI COURTER: Let's get Tom Loughery up here for some announcements, because there are a few, but not many.
TOM LOUGHERY: We will make them quickly. Tonight Radio Phoenix, a listener supported community radio station, will be broadcasting live from our vigil. If you're not going to be attending, or would like to listen to them there, they're at radiophoenix.org. Tonight, the Weir lecture is scheduled from about 5:15 to 6:15, here in this room. The worship and witness event starts about 45 minutes after the completion of that, and then moves on to the Tent City.
Please consider the very limited amount of time you have between these two events for dinner. We recommend to you that you actually plan to eat dinner before you even start the Weir lecture. Because there simply isn't going to be much time between the events. I was asked by the—Thank you, Gini—by the GA office to let you know that we have these wonderful t-shirts. Our volunteers have been setting a fashion statement for us, all week. You can now take this fashion statement home with you. They're available in the volunteer office for $10. So take a souvenir home.
Voting cards—I'll get it here where you can see it. Voting cards—if you find one, please take it directly across from the entrance to this hall. And leave it with the credentials desk. If you have lost yours, check at the credentials desk. And if you put your name on it, hopefully they'll be able to find it for you. If it's truly lost, and you haven't found it, we have an expedited, hopefully quick, process for you to be able to get another one. And we have many opportunities for voting tomorrow. So I encourage you to make sure you have your voting card with you, make sure you have your name on it. And if it's lost, we'll help you as best we can, get a replacement.
Finally, take a look around where you're sitting. If you find some trash, take a moment, or something that needs to be picked up, it doesn't belong there—a water bottle, whatever it happens to be. Pick it up. You can save our ushers a good deal of time at the end of this session, and each session we're in here, by picking things up, disposing of them properly over in the bins and receptacles that we've provided for you as you leave this hall. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Tom. Expeditiously done. There being no further business to come before us in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this plenary session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 2:15 PM. I will see you all at vigils tonight.