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

Opening Celebration and Plenary I, General Assembly 2012

General Assembly 2012 Event 113

Reports from UU World


  • Welcome and Call to Order
  • Vote on Rules of Procedure
  • Welcome New Congregations
  • Introduce Youth and Young Adult Caucuses
  • Journey to the Doctrine of Discovery: Steve Newcomb
  • Choral Anthem
  • Keynote Speaker on the Doctrine of Discovery
  • Story of Today and Tomorrow Part I: Pablo Alvarado, Exec. Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
  • Story of Today and Tomorrow Part II: Rev. Peter Morales
  • Introduction: Right Relationship Team and GA Chaplains
  • Invitation to Witness: Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Tupac Enrique Acosta
  • Closing Congregational Song
  • Recess


Dramatic Opening

SPEAKER 1: We are gathered here in the midst of one moment in time. One moment in the flow of human history.


SPEAKER 3: Ordinary people writing a new story.

SPEAKER 4: A story telling of human dignity and self determination, of encounter and the richness of human meeting.

SPEAKER 5: A story that tells us of our unity reminding us we are all one.

SPEAKER 6: As Unitarian-Universalists, we have struggled for human dignity, justice, and equality.


BEVERLY MCCORMICK: Tonight, tomorrow, this week, we gather to bear witness to the human rights abuses in Arizona and the exploitation inherent in our broken immigration system.

SPEAKER 4: Some of us have crossed barriers of fear to be here, picket lines of our conscience to be present in Arizona.

SPEAKER 2: Some of us have crossed barriers of history, distances of culture, the built up scar tissue of oppression, of injustice, and indignity to be here together, to continue the work for a new day.

SPEAKER 3: Some of us come carrying great privilege of skin color.

GROUP 1: Of status, of education, of ability, or of wealth. We must be willing to unlearn much of what we have been taught.

SPEAKER 7: Today, we meet heart to heart and human to human.

SPEAKER 6: May we open ourselves to a youthful spirit in us all.

SPEAKER 1: To be more vulnerable in our truth telling, to break through the barriers of hurts and fears, to share the truth of who we are with each other.

SPEAKER 5: May we learn to trust and be willing to risk to join with others to make justice.

SPEAKER 3: May we listen deeply and be willing to become uncomfortable.

GROUP 2: Let us sing together, learn together, dream together, and hope together.

SPEAKER 4: May our work take the form of words and prayers and actions. Action following action from Phoenix back to the places where we have come, creating a world of justice for all.


SPEAKER 2: We are together, hand in hand, a part of a continuing story. One that will be strengthened by our time together here.

Congregational Singing: "Gathered Here / Unidos en el misterio"



SHANNON RIVERS: [SPEAKING O'OTHAM] My name is Shannon Rivers. I come from the O'otham people whose territory you are now in. My people have been here for thousands of years. They have seen the sun, the dust, the struggles, and the arrival of the Spaniards and the European.

This land that you sit on is called O'otham [? Juva ?]. We have no other name for it, meaning that this is where we come from. My descendants are the [INAUDIBLE]. Archaeologists will tell you they were here 1,500 years ago. And that's the only time that they know of.

But in our histories and our stories we've been here for millennia and more, 10 times more. So we welcome you to our territory. This place that you gather is known for one of the largest villages where we once lived.

Since the beginning of this arrival of the Spaniards and the Europeans, we have been moved out. We've been moved to reservations where many of us still live. We still struggle with many of those that still come and take the land, many of those that use up the water and all the natural resources.

Many years ago—1872—our chief Antonio Azul said that sometimes the river is dry and now there are many dams above us. And the country is full of ditches, and they keep taking our water. As O'otham people, we have struggled with the coming of your people, of your ancestors.

And that relationship has been strained many a times. And it is my understanding that you come here and gather for justice. In this country, however, indigenous peoples have yet to see justice. They have yet to recognize what justice is.

Our people all over the Americas, we need your help. We want your help. But not at the cost of giving up who we are. Our traditions, our cultures, our livelihoods, our languages, our ceremonies, they are thousands of years old. And so today I come here with a message that as indigenous peoples you must listen to us, the original inhabitants of this country, of this country that you call America.

America has many flaws. It has many problems. We are one of the greediest Nations on this earth. This land that you sit on, my people have been here for a long time. And many decades ago when they built this building, they removed many of my ancestors from this very ground and they put them in museums for display.

So brothers and sisters I call upon you, that if you truly come here for justice and the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, that you hear not one story, not just my story, but many stories. In the lifetime of our leader, Antonio Azul, there was once the abundance of crops running along the Gila River. But in this lifetime he witnessed extreme poverty.

And unfortunately today there is no difference. Our foods are being modified. We are consumers of the natural resources, the gas and the coal that is being ripped from Mother Earth. Many of you wear gold.

This electricity that you sit under comes from the Navajo Nation, the Dine people who struggle with water and even paying their own electricity bill. As Americans we are rich with ritual, but we lack the spirituality. We lack the relationship with one another.

So today many of our warriors, our men and women, still fight. And many of you may ask, why do you fight? Why don't you assimilate?

I'm not an American. I'm Akimel O'otham and my people have been here forever. But one thing that we are is we're human beings. We're human beings and we should honor each other. We should respect one another. Not just the two legged, but the four legged, the winged, the ones that crawl on Mother Earth.

Today, our warriors still fight. They still struggle. They want recognition for their own rights, their own ability.

In the late 1800s a man by the name of Tatanka Yotanka Sitting Bull, said to some Generals that were sitting around an military people, he said, warriors are not what you think of as a warrior. The warrior is not someone who fights because no one has the right to take another life. A warrior for us is one whose sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, and those who cannot provide for themselves. And above all, the children who are our humanity.

So brothers and sisters this creed has been amongst us indigenous people for generations, countless of generations. So this land that you gather on, the feet that walk across this land when you touch the Mother Earth, remember whose territory you are in. And honor those people.

And all throughout America, honor those indigenous peoples. We're not asking for your permission. It is our right. It is our right as the original inhabitants. It is our right as indigenous peoples. It is our right as Akimel O'otham people.

It is our right as a human being that all people should be free. All people are equal. You are no different from me. We pray, we eat, we love our families, we drink the sacred water.

So do not treat me different, but recognize that those who are struggling, those who have difficult life here in America are the indigenous peoples. We have reservations today, in 2012.

My people are warriors. And that word, warrior, is an English word. We are O'otham. We are human beings as you are my relatives. So welcome, once again to O'otham [? Juva. ?]



Chalice Lighting

SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: I am Susan Frederick-Gray, the minister of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona and the lead of the Arizona Immigration Ministry.


And this is Sara Surface and Asha Arora the co-deans of the Youth Caucus.

ASHA ARORA: The chalice is a cup. It is a symbol of sustenance, of the way we care and nurture one another in community, the way we hold and challenge one another to grow.

SARA SURFACE: The flame of our chalice is a symbol of wisdom and truth. It reminds us of the spark of the divine, the creative light of flame and all creation, and of every human being.

SUSAN FREDERICK-GRAY: We kindle the flame of our heritage. Come, let us worship.

Choral Response: "Ven, Espiritu de Amor"



DIANE DOWGIERT: Welcome to Phoenix for the 51st annual gathering of the Unitarian-Universalist Association of Congregations Justice General Assembly 2012.


My name is Diane Dowgiert. I serve as minister of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Tucson, whose mission statement says, "we envision a world where justice and compassion cross all borders." With deep gratitude I welcome you to Arizona, the Grand Canyon state. A place of wide horizons, abundant sunshine, and a rich and diverse history.

Arizona is home to 21 Nations of indigenous peoples. It is also populated by people from all around the world. This General Assembly coincides with the 100th anniversary of Arizona's statehood.

I welcome you to the Pacific Southwest district, which covers Southern California, all of Arizona, and the Southern portion of Nevada. I invite you to sense the deep spirit of this place, infused as it is with native beauty and ancient wisdom. Your presence here is an expression of solidarity with Unitarian-Universalists in this district who have been crossing the borders of our faith tradition to form relationships with individuals and organizations working to preserve human dignity and secure human rights for migrants and immigrant communities locally and across the United States.

I join with you in extending a warm welcome to our partner organizations. Bienvenido, amigos. Welcome, friends.

DANIEL RODRIGUEZ: Good evening everyone. My name is Daniel Rodriguez. I am undocumented and I'm not afraid. Welcome to summer in Arizona.

Here, the inherent worth and dignity of every person isn't self evident to everyone. Here, it's so hot that the rivers of justice and equity are believed to be dried out. Here, peace, liberty, and justice for all are as absent as socks at a UU summer service.

Because I live in the desert, I, like many of you, have learned the importance of roots. I have roots in the transcontinental tracks in Sacramento that made it possible for the United States to become an industrial powerhouse. I have roots in the fields of Oregon, where farmhands made it possible for the US to win World War II.

My roots are strong and form a network where art, science, and stories coexist to generate a multi-disciplinary conscience that keeps alive the spirit of community resistance, people resistance. You, we, the people—we the people must call everyone to action. And I hope that your General Assembly here is the call to action.

We the people must do. We the people are a nation united around the creed in which all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This creed is personified in the form of a statute directed to look beyond the ocean line and shout, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

We the people will suffer the consequences of inaction. Secure communities is said to be implemented nationwide by 2013. Immigrant youth in Arizona and across the nation are being denied an education, a future. If this trend continues, soon the 14th Amendment could one day be changed and state laws will criminalize the very act of being born.

Arizona is the place to be if the work is justice. And in the following days—


—and in the following days, I welcome you. And you will be joining the people who are doing just that. Once again, my name is Daniel Rodriguez. And on behalf of the Somos America Coalition and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and all the tired, but still fighting fighters of Arizona, welcome. And I hope you enjoy your historic General Assembly. Thank you.


Banner Processional

BEVERLY MCCORMICK: As we begin our justice GA, we honor the music of people who came before us trying to create a better world. This year, we have chosen to start with slow dignity by singing Once to Ev'ry Soul and Nation, one of the earliest social gospel hymns. It was written to protest the war against Mexico.

Then we will sing about a day in which people will no longer live in fear. And we remember from the civil rights era how sitting and refusing to move can be even more powerful than walking.

We honor African American people who, in the time of slavery, dreamed of a day when we would all be welcome at the table. And the people of South Africa called on a higher power to help them rip down prisons and lift the people. We now join in a long line of people struggling for freedom and justice as we begin our banner processional.


"Once to Every Soul and Nation"

Once to every soul and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Then to stand with truth is noble, when we share its wretched crust;
Ere that cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong;
Though its portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong.
Then it is the brave one chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they have denied.

"Soon the Day Will Arrive"

Soon the day will arrive when we will be together,
and no longer will we live in fear.
And the children will smile without wondering whether
on that day thunderclouds will appear.

Wait and see, wait and see what a world there can be
if we share ,if we care, you and me.
Wait and see, wait and see what a world there can be
if we share, if we care, you and me.

2. Some have dreamed, some have died
to make a bright tomorrow, and our vision remains in our hearts.
Now the torch must be passed with new hope,
Not in sorrow, and a promise to make a new start.

Wait and see, wait and see what a world there can be
if we share, if we care, you and me.
Wait and see, wait and see what a world there can be
if we share, if we care, you and me.

"We’re Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table"

We’re gonna sit at the welcome table.
We’re gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days, hallelujah!
We’re gonna sit at the welcome table.,
gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.

2. All kinds of people around that ta—ble.
All kinds of people around that ta—ble one of these days, hallelujah!
All kinds of people around that ta—ble,
gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.

3. No fancy style at the welcome ta—ble.
No fancy style at the welcome ta—ble one of these days, hallelujah!
No fancy style at the welcome ta—ble,
Gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.

"We Shall Not Be Moved"

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved,
Just like a tree planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

We are fighting for our freedom,
We shall not be moved.
We are fighting for our freedom,
We shall not be moved.
Just like a tree planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

We are black and white together,
We shall not be moved.
Every face a different color,
We shall not be moved.
Just like a tree planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

With the strength of gathered peoples,
We shall not be moved.
With the strength of gathered peoples,
We shall not be moved.
Just like a tree planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

Welcome and Call to Order

GINI COURTER: I now call to order the 51st General Assembly of The Unitarian-Universalist Association.


Vote on Rules of Procedure

Our first business item for tonight's plenary session is the adoption of the rules of procedure for this General Assembly. The proposed rules of procedure can be found on pages 87 through 89 of the program, which is the final agenda. It looks like this.

These rules will govern our consideration of and voting upon the business items that will come before us during our plenary sessions. The rules are largely the same as in previous years, and there are a couple of—let me ask. How many of you have never been here before though? All right, so all these rules might be new to you.

And there are a couple of rules I want to draw everyone's attention to. Please note that rule five provides that no amendments to a business resolution, bylaw change, or rule change will be in order unless submitted for consideration at the mini-assembly for that item. Also please note that rule two provides that unless the association's bylaws otherwise require, actions on all our matters together will be decided by an uncounted show of voting cards or by an uncounted standing vote, which is far less likely in my opinion.

A vote will be counted in only two instances. If there is doubt about the outcome of a vote, I will call for a count. But a count will also be taken if so requested by a delegate and 99 other delegates join their request. In either instance the count will be made by the tellers who are present on the floor of the assembly. They are wearing GA T-shirts and striped vests. Let's hear it for the tellers. Where are they?


They are volunteers just like you and me. So please treat them with great kindness throughout the General Assembly. In addition, rule seven provides that separate microphones will be designated as Pro and Con for discussion of proposed bylaw amendments, rules, resolutions or actions. The Pro microphone is up front over here. The Con microphone is on the opposite side to aisles over.

We also have a Procedural microphone, which is immediately in front of me, and an Amendment microphone over to the side. Please note that points of personal privilege and points of information must be made from the Procedural microphone, not from the Pro or Con mikes or the Amendment microphone.

By the way, only delegates may speak from any of these microphones except by express permission of the moderator. That would be me. I strongly urge those of you who are attending General Assembly for the first time to read the rules of procedure. They're not that long.

Particularly look at rule six on page eight-seven of the rules so that you understand the time limits in effect. No person may speak on any motion for more than two minutes. Thirty minutes is the time allowed for discussion of any proposed bylaw amendment rule change, resolution, or action on a report that is on or admitted to the final agenda.

Also, a reminder that based on a vote taken at a prior General Assembly there will be no actions of immediate witness this year. Before proceeding with our business I need to introduce you to a couple of gentleman who will be helping us with our proceedings. There they are. I knew they were somewhere.

First, let me introduce Tom Bean, our legal counsel. Thank you, Tom. And now, please say hello to a gentleman appearing in a mystery guest role, Massachusetts superior court judge and our formal legal counsel, Ned Liebensperger, who will serve as our parliamentarian.



How excellent this all is. So we're going to need a motion from the First Vice Moderator of the UUA Board of Trustees, who will be coming up to make a motion with respect to these rules of procedure. This is a great time for you to scan them if you have not done so already. Your First Vice Moderator, Jackie Shanti.

JACKI SHANTI: Moved that the rules of procedure of this General Assembly as set forth in full on pages 87 through 89 of the final agenda be adopted.

GINI COURTER: Discussion. OK. Find your voting card. You know what they look like, right? If you have a sample, hold one up so others can find them. Now put them down so we're not confused.

There be no discussion of the rules of procedure. Discussion is now closed and a vote is in order. All those in favor of adopting the rules of procedure, please do so by raising your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Thank you. The motion clearly carries.

Please welcome back—so we have rules. Now we can do things. And the offline vote was pretty good too. We have offline delegates. Actually, online off site. I got that wrong last year too.

We saw some of their banners earlier on the screen. You might have wondered, who are those banners from? Folks who are participating who aren't here in the hall with us. Why don't you all yell hello to them?


Welcome New Congregations

GINI COURTER: OK. K Please welcome back the trustee from the Clara Barton district and First Vice Moderator of your UUA Board of Trustees, Jackie Shanti.

JACKI SHANTI: Thank you Madame Moderator. One of the most rewarding experiences each year at GA is welcoming new congregations into our UUA family. Starting a new congregation is an extraordinary piece of work and an astounding active of faith. It takes vision, courage, leadership, patience, bureaucratic brilliance, jumping over hurdles and through hoops. But most of all, it takes love.

The leaders you will meet in a moment have given all of this and more to their dream of a Unitarian Universalist congregation serving their communities. New congregations come into being because local UUs work closely with district staff and district presidents. And so it is my pleasure tonight to ask three district presidents to introduce to you people of vision and faith in their districts who have planted and nurtured three new congregations.

I will ask President Peter Morales and Moderator Gini Courter to join me in greeting our newest UU member congregations and ask you to welcome them with hearty applause as they are introduced. From the Heartland District, District President Amy Taylor.

AMY TAYLOR: Please welcome Leisa Huyck interim minister of the UU congregation of Traverse City, Michigan here on behalf of the UU congregation of Petoskey, Michigan.


JACKI SHANTI: From the Pacific Southwest District, District President Michael Sallwasser lost it

MICHAEL SALLWASSER: Please welcome Vice President [? Barbara Wellington ?] of the Unitarian Universalist Community of Cambria.


JACKI SHANTI: From the St. Lawrence District, please welcome Connie Goodbread.

CONNIE GOODBREAD: From the St. Lawrence District, please welcome Karen and Bernie LoBracco, representing the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.


JACKI SHANTI: Friends, members of this great UU family, let us once again welcome these three spectacular new congregations to our association with hopes that they will be as enriched by their association with us as we are by their presence among us.


GINI COURTER: I call on the deans of this year's youth caucus, Sara Surface and Asha Arora and Co-Moderators of the Young Adult Caucus, Laura Gilmore and Ellen Zemlin.

SARA SURFACE: Hello everyone.

ASHA ARORA: My name is Asha Arora and I am from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix.

SARA SURFACE: And my name is Sarah Surface, and I am from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia. We are the co-deans of the Youth Caucus at Justice GA. This here we have around 300 youth registrants.


We could not be happier to be here standing on the side of love with you all.

ASHA ARORA: We would like to formally invite everyone of all ages to share our space in room 222 in the Youth Caucus room. Youth Caucus staff will be carrying pink bandannas like this one around GA. Don't be shy. We want to say hello to you. So stop and get to know us.

SARA SURFACE: When Asha and I came together last year, we brought vision statements that have guided us through the process of leading Youth Caucus. And we would like to share them all with you in the hopes that they also guide you through your GA experience.

ASHA ARORA: I envision Youth Caucus as being an integral and interactive part of GA that educates and encourages acts of justice from youth.

SARA SURFACE: I envision a GA of healing. I envision a GA where we come together with our partners and inspire change, not just in their community but in our communities and in our hearts.

ASHA ARORA: We are very excited to bring these visions of reality with you this GA in the spirit of justice.

SARA SURFACE: Thank you.


LAURA GILMORE: Good evening. My name is Laura Gilmore and I'm from the First Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ELLEN ZEMLIN: And I am Ellen Zemlin from Indianapolis, Indiana and the Church of the Younger Fellowship.

LAURA GILMORE: And we're the Young Adult Caucus Co-Moderators. Our other staff members this year are Emrys Staton, our Justice Liaison, as well as Lane Campbell and Jennifer Chanin, who are our Young Adult Caucus Chaplains.

ELLEN ZEMLIN: If you're looking for us in Plenary Hall, the Young Adult Caucus is sitting over there. This year, you can pick young adults out of the crowd by the ocean blue ribbons on our name tags. And Young Adult Caucus staff are also wearing ocean blue bandanas somewhere on themselves. We can be found in room 222A.

LAURA GILMORE: This Justice General Assembly, the Young Adult Caucus is excited to join with the rest of you in multi-generational and multi-cultural community to learn, build relationships, and work for change.

ELLEN ZEMLIN: We have some programming that we would like to bring your attention to this year. Look for specific details in your program book.

LAURA GILMORE: Join us for a contemporary joint worship with the youth on Friday evening. We also invite you to join us at the multi-generational synergy worship tomorrow night, where we will welcome our bridging youth into the Young Adult community.

ELLEN ZEMLIN: Learn about young adults in congregational social justice ministries at our workshop on Friday afternoon. Additionally, we will be having a young adult focus introduction to justice work tomorrow morning.

LAURA GILMORE: And finally, we hope that everyone will make wonderful connections at this historic Justice General Assembly. Have a great GA.

GINI COURTER: I call on the Reverend Michael Tino from the Unitarian-Universalist Association Board of Trustees.

Journey to Discovery

MICHAEL TINO: Good evening. I am Michael Tino and I'm honored to serve as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, New York, as the UUA Trustee from the metro New York District, and as President of UU Allies for Racial Equity. In 2010, the General Assembly instructed our Board of Trustees to create a different sort of GA in 2012.

Specifically, the board was asked to make sure that this GA was planned in accountable relationship with partner organizations here in Arizona, who had invited us to Phoenix, as well as to UUs whose identities marginalize them in our society. At the time, we thought we knew what that meant.

We would arrive here ready to witness for human rights. We would participate in service. And we would do no more business than was absolutely necessary.

One of the first lessons of accountability, however, is humility. And we were surprised when the first request to come from our partners was for a piece of business to be put on our agenda. Our partners in Tonatierra asked that we take up a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and asking the United States government—


—and asking the United States government to fully implement the United Nations declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples.


Further, they asked us to provide ways for our congregations and delegates to educate ourselves about the doctrine, its history, and its persistence in US law and practice as the basis for the abuse and marginalization of the indigenous peoples of this continent.

Given our mandate from the General Assembly to be accountable, your board set out to study this issue and agreed to put forward a resolution addressing it in the only way that it was admissible to the agenda. What we found in our study was shocking and saddening. It was clear to us that the Doctrine of Discovery could in no way be reconciled with Unitarian Universalist theology and principles.

We hope that you will listen with open minds and compassionate hearts to the presentations we've brought for you tonight and throughout this GA. We hope that you will bring what you learn home using the resources collected and developed by our UUA staff to study this issue. Later this week, you will have the opportunity to vote on the resolution your board has brought forth. And between now and then, the opportunity to discuss debate and amend it.

Thank you for being here and for your participation in this historic General Assembly. I now welcome the Reverend Doctor Ken Brown, District Executive of this, the Pacific Southwest District.

Introduce Steve Newcomb

REV. DR. KEN BROWN: It is my distinct honor to introduce Steven T. Newcomb. Mr. Newcomb is Shawnee-Lenape. He is the indigenous and Kumeyaay research coordinator for the Sycuan of Kumeyaay Nation in the traditional Kumeyaay territory now commonly known as San Diego.

He is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, a columnist with the paper, Indian Country Today media network. His book, Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding The Doctrine of Christian Discovery has been a major resource for these discussions. Mr. Newcomb has dedicated last 30 years researching the origins of the United States federal Indian law and international law and has worked as an advocate for indigenous nations and peoples.

In 1992, along with Birgil Kills Straight, Oglala Lakota Nation, founded the Indigenous Law Institute and began a global campaign to challenge the Doctrine of Christian Discovery by calling on Pope John Paul II to final revoke the Terra Papal Bull of May 4, 1493. That document called for the domination of all barbarous nations and for the propagation of the Christian empire.

This year, as a result of the longstanding efforts of the Indigenous Law Institute, the [INAUDIBLE] Shawnee, particularly the chief Oren Lyons' Onondaga Nation, and the American Indian Law Alliance, particularly Tonya Gonnella Frichner, the Doctrine of Christian Discovery was the theme of this year's 11th session of the United Nations permanent forum on indigenous issues. After our energetic singing, Steve will share with us his remarks.

Congregational Hymn: "Unidos en el misterio"

SPEAKER 8: Please rise in body or in spirit and join in singing with me Unidos en el misterio. It's the Spanish version of Gathered Here. Please rise in body or spirit.


Keynote Speaker: “The Doctrine of Discovery”

STEVEN NEWCOMB: Good evening.


That's just a brief prayer in our Lenape language. And I'm honored and humbled to stand before you this evening in the traditional territory of the [INAUDIBLE] O'otham Nation. This evening I'll be talking about the resolution regarding the repudiation of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and, what I call, the Doctrine of Discovery And Domination.

I first want to acknowledge my wife Page. And to say that her selfless support, her joyous personality, and her intelligence have been crucial to my healing and fundamentally important to my work. I also want to acknowledge my friend and colleague and mentor, Birgil Kill Straight from the Oglala Lakota Nation, who took me under his wing in 1992 when we began a campaign to call upon Pope John Paul II to formally revoke the interests of Terra Papal Bull of 1493. And I'll speak more about that document shortly.

I also want to mention that in 1992 I attended a traditional circle of elders and youth gathering and presented information to the elders there about the Doctrine of Discovery. And I wanted to commend Chief Oren Lyons, faith keeper of the Onondaga Nation for having carried forward that message so earnestly since that time in 1992. I want to thank you for humanizing me by allowing me to speak before you in this forum this evening.

One of the things that's critically important to acknowledge but usually is never understood is that we as the original peoples of this land, from this continent, we are the original free and independent nations and peoples of this turtle Island. By originally free and independent, I mean free and independent of domination and dehumanization as brought from Western Christendom all those centuries ago, I want to give a brief account of what I mean by that.

This is from a London Times article written by Norman Lewis in 1969. "By the descriptions of all who had seen them, there were no more inoffensive and charming human beings on the planet then the forest Indians of Brazil. And brusquely we were told they had been rushed to the verge of extinction. The tragedy of the Indian and the USA in the last century was being repeated. But it was being compressed into a shorter time. The official report said pioneer's leagued with corrupt politicians had continually usurped Indian lands, destroyed whole tribes in which bacteriological warfare had been employed by issuing clothing impregnated with a virus of smallpox and by poisoned food supplies. Children had been abducted and mass murder gone unpunished. The government itself was blamed to some extent for the Indian protective services increasing starvation of resources over a period of 30 years. The service had also had to face the disastrous impact of missionary activity." That's a direct quote.

What these symptoms are really describing are the effects of domination and dehumanization. By that, I mean treating human beings as if they are less than human beings. Treating them as if they don't deserve compassion or pity or human dignity.

These patterns of domination are evident in wording from the Papal Bull of 1493 in Latin. That wording reads—[SPEAKING LATIN].

Those words mean, "Not under the domination of any Christian dominator." So meaning the voyagers from Christendom sail forth to non-Christian lands, to lands where people's—our original Nations and peoples— were not baptized, they believed that they had the right to claim a right of dominion or domination over those lands. There's an additional sentence in that document that reads, we trust in him—with a capital H on Him—from whom empires and dominations and all good things proceed.

When they asked the Buddha are you a god, he said I'm awake. One of the things we need to do in this English language is to awaken to the hidden meanings and to the deeper understandings that are buried within it that we don't even notice. Take as an example, the word mortgage. It's a combination of the Latin word marked for death and gage for grip.

If we said, I have to pay my death grip this month but I don't know where I'm going to come up with the money, we'd have a different understanding of what's contained in that word. We can all laugh. But there's a deeper truth within that.

The idea Christians had the right to take over the continent and dominate our unbaptized ancestors gave rise to the notion of manifest destiny. The American empire's expansion was a manifestation of the religious claim that Christian people were assigned the task by their deity to forcibly take all the lands of this continent as a providential empire. In the context of this powerful and religiously premised myth, the United States is portrayed as an empire of liberty. And the American people are portrayed as following the model of the chosen people in the promised land.

This narrative was lifted from the Old Testament context and transplanted centuries ago to this continent and hemisphere. It has become the backdrop of the US Supreme Court ruling that I will mention further in a moment. The Old Testament narrative of domination resulted in a national credo that serves as a backdrop to the history of the United States.

By any means necessary go forth and discover the lands of unbaptized peoples wherever they may exist. And take all that belongs to those non-Christian Nations and peoples by asserting a dominating and judgmental authority over them because I, the lord your God, have promised you all their lands, territories, and resources.

In Psalms 2 verse 8, for example, the deity of the Old Testament is said to state to King David, "ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." The belief that the Old Testament deity had given his chosen people all the parts of the earth was behind the so-called claim of Christendom traveling forth to look for non-Christian lands and engage in domination and subordination. The Latin terms for that are reducere, meaning to reduce, and [SPEAKING LATIN], meaning to press down, to weigh down, to hold down, and so forth.

When Christian vessels arrived to our shores, they planted standards, a royal standard, in the soil. And that word standard is a double meaning. It's double entendre. It means the flag, but it also means the standard of judgment against our Nations and peoples.

In 1823 the US Supreme Court used that backdrop of Christian discovery and domination to say that the first, "Christian people"—that's a direct quote with italics on "Christian people"—to discover lands inhabited by natives who are heathens, had the right or did assert the ultimate dominion to be in themselves. And exercised, as a consequence of that ultimate dominion, the power to grant the soil while yet in possession of the natives. That exercise is still being exerted to this day.

"However extravagant the pretension," said John Marshall in that decision, "of converting the discovery of an inhabited country into conquest may appear, if the principal has been asserted in the first instance and afterwards sustained, if a country has been acquired and held under it, if the property of the great mass of the community originates in it, it becomes the law of the land and cannot be questioned." But it can certainly be questioned by us as the original Nations and peoples of this continent and this hemisphere.


He went on to say that if it be indispensable to that system under which the country has been settled, it may perhaps be supported by reason and certainly cannot be rejected by courts of justice. In other words, according to the court, a manifest injustice cannot be rejected by courts of justice. In 1975 the late Vine Deloria, Jr used the expression, because Indians were not Christians, to explain the main rationale behind US Federal Indian law and policy.

One of the things that Joseph Story said, who was also on the Supreme Court at the time that the Johnson decision was handed down, he said of the Indian people, as infidels, heathens, and savages they were not allowed to possess the prerogatives belonging to absolute sovereign and independent Nations. And so there's that same idea, because they were not Christians. It is a little known fact that domination is actually an American value.

We might call it the first covert American value heard in the refrain, we're number one. It is the desire to always be on top in the dog-eat-dog world. To dominate the other team in sports, for example. Or is it is now being expressed in the US military's program, "a full spectrum dominance 2020," which is the target date for achieving global supremacy in a military sense over the entire world.

And we also have, as an example, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 31, 2011. It authorized the US government to detain US citizens and lawful residents indefinitely until the end of hostilities in a time of endless war.

What I'm attempting to bring to your attention this evening is that the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and Domination is not something relegated to the past. It's actually very much present, these patterns of domination. And they endanger us all. Now, according to Defense Department documents than just recently come to light, in the next 10 years there is a plan to have 30,000 drones flying above the skies of United States. Does that suggest a society that is more free or one that is more and more under the domination of governmental officials?

Despite all this evidence of domination and dehumanization it is strange isn't it, that we hardly ever hear of these two words being used as something that afflicts the human race? Because what I have noticed in all of my decades of research are these very same ideas. That's what I keep seeing over and over again. But we cannot simply talk about what we're against. We also have to speak very plainly and clearly about what we're in favor of.

What is the opposite of domination? It is spirit. It is to be found, for example, in the seven laws of the Oglala Lakota Nation, the seven laws of the Anishinaabe Nation, just to provide two examples. The laws of the Oglala Lakota people are stated as follows: "honor and respect, compassion and pity, sharing and caring, to carry the welfare of the people in your heart, patience and fortitude, bravery and courage, humbleness and humility, seeking wisdom and seeking understanding."

And from the teachings of the Anishinaabe people we also learn to uphold the value of kindness and love. For a traditional Anishinaabe man the highest form of behavior is to be kind. Think of how different society would be if we evaluated ourselves and the leadership in terms of how compassionate we are or how compassionate and kind they are.

When we take all those laws together holistically, we come up with a paradigm of a completely different way of life. When those Europeans came here so many centuries ago, they didn't discover anything really. But they didn't discover a new world for sure. They discovered an old world, thousands and thousands of years of existence, accumulated knowledge and wisdom and understanding of how to interact properly with all of the forms of life.

John Collier was Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945. As a result of his experiences with Indian leadership, spiritual leaders in particular, particularly the Taos Pueblo people, in his book Indians of The Americas he wrote, "they had what the world has lost. They have it now. What the world has lost the world must have again lest it die. Not many years are left to have or have not, to recapture the lost ingredient." He wrote this in 1945 by the way.

This is not merely a passing reference—excuse me, 1949. This is not merely a passing reference to World War III or the atom bomb, although the reference include these ways of death to. Think of Fukushima. These deaths will mean the end if they come—racial death, self-inflicted—because we have lost the way and the power to live is dead.

What in our human world is this power? It is the ancient lost reverence and passion for human personality joined with the ancient lost reverence and passion for the earth and its web of life. They had and have this power for living, which our modern world has lost.

If our modern world should be able to recapture this power, the earth's natural resources and web of life would not be irrevocably wasted within the 20th century, which is the prospect now. True democracy founded in neighborhoods and reaching over the world would then become the realized heaven on earth, and living peace—not just an interlude between wars—would be born and would last through the ages.

There's a recent event that I attended with the Anishinaabe spiritual leaders, particularly [? Dave Krushain. ?] It was called a gathering of indigenous wisdom keepers. And out of that event came a declaration of spirit. And I'll just read a few lines from this.

"We are the original free and independent peoples of Turtle Island extending back to the beginning of time and spirit. In keeping with our original instructions given to us by the creator, we have a sacred responsibility to our ancestors and our future generations. We also have a ceremonial responsibility to the waters and to our traditional lands and territories for the sake of Mother Earth and all living things. Everything has a spirit.

Spirit is the life force of every human being and lasts forever. When we rise in the morning, we acknowledge the sun as a way of honoring and celebrating the spirit of life itself. Our spirituality is our life. Our traditions contain the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by our ancestors and contained in our languages.

It is one of our teachings that the beauty of nature is the face of the creator and results in our deep and abiding love for the land and water. Water is life. As humans we are born through the water of our mother. And the women are responsible for the waters of Mother Earth.

And acknowledgement of the sacred feminine is critical to the transformation needed at this time. It is one means of ending the epidemic of violence by men against women and the neglect and abuse of children, which is destructive to our families, our communities, our nations, and detrimental to our future generations. These symptoms are a result of a human spiritual disconnection from the land and from the healing comfort and beauty of Mother Earth.

Now is the time to come to the understanding that we cannot respect the future without respecting what makes the future and what makes the future possible, specifically our women and children. Our—


Our healing wisdom and traditions continue to live on, carried and taught by our elders who are precious to us. Without the kindness and compassion of our elders, we would not be able to carry on our spiritual way of life and our ceremonies to which body, mind, spirit, and heart are more fully connected to our ceremonies and songs, sacred fires, our prayers and prayer bundles, and original instructions of our sacred laws. We are continually reminded that all life is interconnected and that all the colors of the human family and all forms of life are relations or relatives." A young Anishinaabe teenager put it very succinctly and brilliantly: "we are all the same differently."

One of the things that always strikes me is how so much of our languages and cultures and traditions have been destroyed by the destructive policies of the United States government in an effort to make us into Christians and Americans. My own grandfather and great grandfather went through Haskell Boarding School. And our language among our people, the last of our elders and our Lenape people in our particular community in Bartlesville has passed away.

So now we have no more elders that were born into our language. That's called linguicide, the intentional killing of indigenous languages. Some people say, we lost our language.

But I said, that's not correct. There's a book that just came out about the history of California. And it's called Murder State. And it documents, according to the UN convention on genocide, that the history of California really was a genocidal history. And it was implicitly just allowed to happen by those who didn't participate directly but are the beneficiaries or were the beneficiaries. And the generation today is the beneficiary of that.

But then there were those who were complicit, who actually engaged in those atrocious acts. What are we to do with that history? Are we to acknowledge it? Or are we to shy away from it and pretend that it never happened?

The thing is that there's actually so much history that could be recounted here. There's something that was called the Indian System written about in an amazing book called Lincoln and the Indians by David A. Nichols published in 1978. It had to do with what resulted in the hanging of the 38 Dakota Indians in Minnesota at the end of the war of 1862.

And Mr. Nichols creates the context to understand how that war happen. When you take this particular paragraph that I'm about to read to you and you extend that throughout the whole United States, you get a picture. And then you could extend it throughout the whole hemisphere. You get an understanding of the domination and dehumanization that's contained in the Doctrine of Discovery because this Indian System I'm about to read about is a direct outgrowth of that so-called Doctrine of Discovery.

"The Indian system revolved around the efforts of rapacious white men to commandeer these treaty annuity monies. Again and again tribes were moved to barren country where they could not sustain themselves either by hunting or farming. That opened the monetary floodgates, creating a demand for contractors and traders to provide provisions with payment overseen by the Indian agent.

The system featured every conceivable kind of financial corruption, kickbacks, inflated prices, false claims, and payments for goods and services never actually delivered. Most of this money never trickled down to the natives. Starving Indians became commonplace in the West.

Such starvation was precisely what touched off the Indian War in Minnesota in 1862. As one example, the Winnebagos were removed from Minnesota even though they had nothing to do with that war. There were 1,300 Indians—meaning the Winnebagos—only 116 of whom were males 15 years of age or older. Camped around the Winnebagos were 600 white people. And what were they doing there? They all lived in one way or another from the government appointments was the answer."

I could have ended my talk this evening by using the words of the wisdom keepers, the Anishinaabe people. And that would have been good to do. But for some reason I kept going a little bit further than that.

I wanted you to have an understanding that there's so much to be learned from indigenous knowledge and wisdom. And that one of the things that has happened is through the domination dehumanization process is that the non-indigenous peoples have deprived themselves from so many of the things that could be learned.

In the wonderful book 1491 by Charles C. Mann—he also wrote another book called 1493, recently published. But in 1491 he explains that the Amazon— which are Amazon forest, which is considered to be the lungs of the earth— were actually intentionally planted by the indigenous peoples. There's strong scientific evidence to demonstrate that.

Think about that for a moment. When they did cross cutting of the soil all the way down to the bottom, there was charcoal and pottery shards all the way up. And this tells you about the incredible responsibility that those people's understood in their relationship their sacred relationship to the earth. Think of how wonderfully we could make life on this planet, if that was our understanding. Not just in terms of our rights, but what are our sacred responsibilities to the earth?

So I invite you to walk with us on the sacred path of life in keeping with the first indigenous law, respect the earth as our mother and have a sacred regard for all living things.

Wanishi. Thank you.


Choral Response: “Ella’s Song”

SPEAKER 8: The Pacific Southwest District choir will now sing Ella's Song written by Bernice Johnson Reagon of the vocal ensemble Sweet Honey and the Rock, based on the words of Ella Baker who said, "until the killing of black men, black mother's sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens."

I invite you all to sing with us whenever we come to the chorus which is, "we who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes." I'll have you remain seated for the beginning part. I'll turn and let you know when to start singing your part. Maybe halfway through if you want to rise in body or spirit, feel free.



Story of Today and Tomorrow Part I

GINI COURTER: Please welcome Pablo Alvarado, the Executive Director of the National Day Laborer's organizing network and UUA President, the Reverend Peter Morales.


PABLO ALVARADO: Buenas noches. I can't hear that. Arpaio has to hear at least. Buenas noches!

AUDIENCE: Buenas noches!

PABLO ALVARADO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]. Thank you for inviting me. And I am very proud and honored and humbled to be here with you today. I am grateful for the relationship that we've built together here in Arizona for the last years.

Two years ago, we locked arms in the streets of this city to stop a great injustice. And we succeeded for a day. The day that SB 1070 went into effect, Reverend Peter Morales and Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray and many, many of you set an example for the entire country of what true solidarity really is. They stood alongside the community and answered it's call to action, and responded by saying, "you will not suffer this alone. I too will not comply."

Thank you Reverend Peter. Reverend Susan and Reverend Peter, thank you so much. Since that time yellow shirts have brightened immigration rallies across the country.


And Arizona has set an example that had to spread and left no corner in this country untouched. It is in that moment, literally, when we locked arms together in struggle, that we invited you to come to Phoenix. And at that time, when the boycott of the state was our strongest weapon and our greatest defense, we asked you to come to Arizona anyways. Why?

Because we hoped that you would do more than strike a one blow to Arizonification We believe you will fully join us in a longer battle. There were those who said that it was a mistake. Those who even claimed that this assembly would hurt the movement in Arizona. And frankly, it is up to you, up to all of us here to prove them wrong.

So what will you do while you're here? What will you do when you go back home? What will you do that will be a larger blow against the forces of hate in Arizona than the economic impact that canceling this assembly would have had?

What will you do to advance human rights, to support the front lines of defending and expanding our rights? Yes, Arizona is the epicenter. But is not a rogue state. Do not allow the [INAUDIBLE] of Arizona example to keep you from seeing the Arpaios in your own backyard.

In Los Angeles where I live with my family, with my wife and my beautiful two children who are with us here tonight, and where my organization is based, we have the majority of democratic leadership. We have a Latino mayor. And we are the second in deportations just behind high Maricopa County.

Do not be fooled by professions of those who charge, whether it is the President's claim to feel our pain, or your governor's claim to not be able to help to alleviate the suffering caused by today's misguided immigration policies. Not only is it possible for every one of us to do something to improve our front in our own backyards, it is our moral obligation to do so.

Every one of us has a role to play in turning the tide from hate to human rights. If we do not, the extreme, systematic persecution of migrants, communities of color and poor people in this state will be the future of your state.

Arizona was born from policies that criminalize instead of legalize. And it has festered in a country that demands, that enjoys the benefits the fruits of migrant's labors but refuses to accept our humanity. But luckily for all of us, also born in Arizona is one of the most vibrant community led movements that we've seen.

A movement led by humble people, by domestic workers, by housekeepers, by day laborers, by farm workers, factory workers and their families, who are defending and advancing the rights for all of us. We have not invited you here because we're looking for saviors of any sort. In fact, it is likely that the people in Arizona will save us all. We owe them a great deal of thanks to those who have stood in these front lines and who have not backed down.


And I would like to ask those of you who are from Arizona, especially the members of the Barrio Defence Committees, from Tonatierra from Puente, from Somos America, to please stand—those of Arizona, [INAUDIBLE]. People from Arizona. There you go. You have them around.


There they are. We owe them a great deal of thanks. And we all have a great deal to learn from all of you. So let us spend this week together, finding the new meaning in the term of justice. And with a new commitment to see and realize here in Arizona and beyond.



REV. PETER MORALES: Gracias, Pablo. You look beautiful out there. This has been a long time coming.

Story of Today and Tomorrow Part II

More than two years ago, Unitarian Universalists were called to Phoenix by our Arizona congregations and our partners. We were called to stand on the side of love, on the side of human dignity, on the side of compassion, on the side of justice. Hundreds of us from all across the nation came, many of us wearing our bright yellow t-shirts.

A few months later when SB 1070 was to be implemented and Sheriff Joe Arpaio threatened one of his illegal sweeps in the barrios we came again. Some of us were arrested alongside our partners. Once again, we stood on the side of love.

Last July the first, I returned and stood trial with Susan Frederick-Gray, Sal Reza, and others. Well Amigos in Arizona, we're back. And this time, we brought several thousand of our good friends.


We are back because we are a religious people. We're back because we are committed to building what Jesus called the Kingdom of God and what Martin Luther King Junior called the beloved community. We're back because to stand on the side of love means to stand for justice, equity, and compassion. We are back because we realize that todos somos Arizona. We are all Arizona.

We're back because of this is who we Unitarian Universalists are. We're here because we are a people who cannot turn our backs when our neighbors are brutalized and marginalized. We especially cannot turn our backs on our partners and neighbors who've asked for our support.

Look at our history. We stood on the side of love against slavery. We stood on the side of quality for rights for women. We stood for justice during the Civil Rights era. We are standing for equal treatment for our LGBT brothers and sisters. And isn't it wonderful that are President has finally, finally taken a stand for marriage equality?


We come to stand once more on the side of love. Because love cannot keep silent, we will bear witness. Because love reaches out, we will join hands with our partners. We will learn from one another.

Because love is sacred, we will worship together. We will be inspired. We will sing. Because love delights in friendship, we will celebrate together. Because love opens us at the core of our being, we will learn. We will be moved. We will be changed. Because love is strong, we will prevail.

Not today, maybe not next week or next month, we're in this for the long haul. Ending slavery took a great struggle. It took generations to get the vote for women. Susan B. Anthony, the great Unitarian advocate for women's suffrage never voted. The civil rights movement was a great struggle and racism still infects America.

We continue in the midst of a long struggle for rights for LGBT people and for environmental justice. But love is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than hate. Make no mistake. We will prevail.

Love is not afraid. Love is tough. Love endures. We will prevail. Come, let us stand on the side of love together. Come hand in hand, mano en mano, let us create a historic Justice General Assembly. So may it be.


Choral Response: “Esto Les Digo

SPEAKER 8: Esto Les Digo is a Spanish chorals piece with text based on Matthew 18 verses 19 and 20, "where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be also." As the sounds of the music and this beautiful text wash over you, may we all be reminded that when we join together to work for a more just world something greater than ourselves enters in.



GINI COURTER: Please welcome the Reverend Patricia Jimenez, chair of the General Assembly Chaplains and Tomoko Takano and the Reverend Melissa Carvill-Ziemer, co-chairs of this year's Right Relationship team.

REV. PATRICIA JIMENEZ: We have gathered this week to be part of a journey of discovery. And our work together will challenge us to stretch and grow. And at times that might feel uncomfortable. Tonight, we invite you to lean into any discomfort you might feel.

Embrace it as an opportunity for spiritual growth and movement towards wholeness. There is much for us to discover together when we keep our hearts and minds open. And through your reflection groups and informal exchanges, we hope you will support and encourage one another to be present, engaged, and open to this unique experience.

And I invite every single one of you to also reach out to one another to engage in conversation, remembering that not everybody you may speak to will be a UU. It's our job, part of our call this week, to find our higher selves. As chaplains we want to ask you, invite you to come see us, to speak to us, to reach out to us if you find that you need additional support.

Look for those of us who are wearing this blue t-shirt. It says Chaplain on the front. You might find them out in the audience right now.

We're here to provide spiritual care for our community that we are creating. Our mission is to offer an attentive ministry of presence to you so that you can make the most of this experience. If you need us, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here for you.

TOMOKO TAKANO: We are here for you too. The Right Relationship Team exists to listen to and engage with people who experience any form of oppression or identity based marginalization while at General Assembly. No one is perfect and we are going to make mistakes.

Though it might happen in good faith, hurtful assumptions, painful words, and inconsiderate actions are going to be part of this experience. We know that we are not immune to racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, and other poisons that pervade our society. When hurt happens, we hope that you'll consider how you individually, as well as General Assembly as a whole, is called to work towards right relationship.

If you're not sure what next step right relationship requires, or if you need support to process your experience, please seek us out. Our mission is to hear, note, and if possible respond to incidents of racism, oppression that occur in this gathering. We will use our daily reports to plenary to share with you some of the experiences that are brought to our attention so that we can learn together from our missteps and our successes.

We all make assumptions. That's part of human nature. For example, as Patricia pointed out, most years we assume that everyone at General Assembly is a Unitarian Universalist. That is not the case this year.

And this presents us with opportunity and challenge. We have the opportunity this week to engage with partners in the work of justice. Many of our partners are committed to their own religious traditions.

In our midst are Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, members of the United Church of Christ, and others. Religiously and in many other ways, we are a diverse gathering. Our challenge this week is to check our assumptions before they lead us to inaccurate conclusions. For example, some among us are Latino, Latina, and/or of native descent, do not speak English, and are Unitarian Universalists. Others among us are white and English speaking and here with one of our partner groups.

Assumptions won't tell us anything true or important about one another. So today we ask everyone to be together in this space as fellow human beings. To let go of some of the barriers of fear and privilege that often inform our assumptions and travel alongside each other in our common humanity humbly, yet determined, as we are, to create a just world.

Introduction: Right Relationship Team and GA Chaplain

GINI COURTER: The times for the daily office hours and 24-hour emergency number for the chaplains are listed in your program book under Chaplains. The same information for the Right Relation Team is listed in your program book under Right Relation Team. If you begin to discern a pattern, you are fortunate. We do have one announcement this evening.

In the interest of keeping us all safe while here in Phoenix, I'd like to pass along some information from the Phoenix police department. Over the course of 10 days in mid-May, three yellow lantern style flashlights—like camping flashlights with a button on the top—containing a small amount of explosive material were found in random locations around the city. When folks who found the flashlights tried to turn them on, the flashlights exploded causing minor injuries. And as of today, the police have not arrested anyone for these incidents.

No specific group was targeted and there's been no incident since May 24th. But if you see a yellow flashlight on the ground, do not touch it. And please notify the police right away.


There being no further business to come before us and 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 7:45 AM on Thursday, June 21st. But it's not time to leave quite yet. Please welcome Sandy Weir from the Arizona Immigration Ministry and Tupac Enrique Acosta of Tonatierra.

Invitation to Witness

SANDY WEIR: We are gathered here in the cool, in safety, in inquiry, and in community.

TUPAC ENRIQUE ACOSTA: But we have a restless spirit. We are called talk to go to the earth, to the desert, under the sky with the darkness. We will gather there in the struggle and with the power.

SANDY WEIR: We will journey together on the street as we have done many times to call for justice. As we went to the state capital, to the Department of Education, to the baseball field, and to the jails.

TUPAC ENRIQUE ACOSTA: We will journey together as human beings with equal rights of self identification and self determination as peoples of the nations and pueblos of Mother Earth.

SANDY WEIR: We will speak our truth this evening and in the days to come in these halls and on the streets.

TUPAC ENRIQUE ACOSTA: We invite you to join us. Join us for our witness about turning the tide from fear to human rights. After our final song here, we will sing as we go out down the escalators out to fifth street and cross to heritage square one short block away. Follow us.

Closing Song: "Freedom is Coming"

SANDY WEIR: We will recess to our closing song, Freedom is Coming. We invite everyone to keep singing as we exit. For those who need to use an elevator please come forward to the front left corner of the hall as we begin singing. Ushers will lead you to the elevator behind the stage, which descends directly to the fifth street exit.

Everyone else is invited to exit after we have sung Freedom is Coming twice through. Follow Tupac and me and the Witness Team down the escalators to the witness event. Tonight's witness will be brief. And then you will go from heritage square to your lodging.

SPEAKER 8: As Sandy said, our closing song is Freedom is Coming, which comes to us from the brave people in 20th century South Africa who never gave up their dream of creating a more just society. May this call be ours today as we encounter the injustices here in my home state of Arizona and wherever we encounter them. I'll sing the song through first acapella from the tradition it comes from. And then I'll invite you to sing with me and then start to exit the hall. We will keep leading, singing the music from the stage as you exit.