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

Closing Celebration, General Assembly 2012

General Assembly 2012 Event 511

Program Description

Speakers: Gini Courter, Janice Marie Johnson, Rev. Paul Langston-Daley, Rev. Peter Morales

Join us as we reflect on our time in Phoenix, and resume our work creating joy and justice in our local communities. This Celebration features our General Assembly (GA) choir, directed by Keith Arnold; and Kellie Walker will lead us in song. This week’s service is over; tomorrow’s service begins!

Report from UU World

Order of Service

  • Aloha—Welcome (and Goodbye)
  • Opening Music
  • Teaching “Jubilate Deo”
  • Music: "Tree of Life"
  • Chalice Lighting
  • Opening Song: “Grow Your Heart”
  • Opening Litany
  • Music: "Marching Into the Light"
  • Reflection: “Power,” Jonipher Kwong
  • Reflection: “Accompany,” Gini Courter
  • Hymn: "Ven Espiritu de Amor"
  • Word Collage
  • Reflection: “Love,” Nate Walker
  • Reflection: “Humility,” Leslie Takahashi-Morri
  • Hymn: "Hand in Hand"
  • Exhortation, Mark Hicks
  • Choir: "Choose to Bless the World"
  • Charge, Patricia Jimenez
  • Anthem: "From This House"
  • Benediction, Paul Langston-Daley
  • Chalice Extinguishment
  • Recessional


Aloha—Welcome (and Goodbye)

Opening Music

KELLIE WALKER: It's my pleasure to introduce some in-gathering music, starting with the wonderful emma's revolution.

PAT HUMPHRIES: Thank you so much. We were standing behind the stage last night, trying to think of appropriate words. So we wrote this little song for the rally. But we tried it out after some of you had already left because we were a little shy. So now, you get to sing it with us.


KELLIE WALKER: Wow, isn't that great? A new song, just like that. This is my last time with you as GA music coordinator. I've done it for two years now. I just want to tell you what a pleasure it's been.


KELLIE WALKER: It's been A real pleasure for me to stand up on stage here and lead you all in singing. The sound you make together, I got to tell you, from up here, it's awesome. And I'd like to thank the UU Musicians Network and the GA Planning Committee for giving me this opportunity to grow, and learn, and be of service.

But you'll be in great hands next year with David Glassgow. I'm going to invite him up. He's going to help sing on this next one. Some of you've been asking, why have we not sung Standing on the Side of Love?

DAVID GLASSGOW: I think we need to fix that, Kellie.

KELLIE WALKER: But before we sing—and I do want to talk a little bit about it—we were considering it for the banner parade. It's not the easiest song to sing while you're walking, so we didn't really do that while we were moving down the road. But more than that, I was very conscious of the use of words that are somewhat exclusive, not inclusive as they could be, like "stand," and "march," "walk."

At this Justice GA in particular, I knew we would have accessibility issues in the heat, getting on buses. And I'm really aware that those words get in the way sometimes. Part of it is the fault of the English language. Other languages have different words for "stand" meaning "to take a strong position," and "stand," "to be standing."

But English does not. And so we found that we had it in a lot of the songs. I would like to challenge all of us to think and be more creative and maybe poetic about other words we could use that might be as inclusive as possible.

I had a really wonderful conversation in planning GA about this. And Suzanne, can I say? I've already said your name. So I hope it's all right.

She said something that really stuck with me. Why do able-bodied people have trouble coming up with words as strong as they think "stand" is? If that's the strongest word we can think of, we're taking a position.

And part of it is the limitation of English. But she reminded me how strong sitting and not moving can be and has been in all and many different justice movements. And so then, I remembered this song We Shall Not Be Moved, and how strong sitting and not moving can be.

Now, for musicians, sometimes we're looking for a word that's just one word because of the way it fits in the flow. So even though we might be able to think of a sentence or a phrase or something that conveys better how we mean, it doesn't fit with the music.

So my challenge to you is help us think more creatively, more poetically, more inclusively. And I want to invite you also to show up for events that help us do better with accessibility and for people who are differently abled. Show up and be there. That's my challenge.


KELLIE WALKER: Now, having said that, I personally love this song. And I know some of you do, too. Thank you, Jason Shelton. He's in the pit helping us with this tonight, Standing on the Side of Love. So please rise in body or in spirit and sing this song about taking a strong position for justice in many areas. And do not forget we need to be mindful of accessibility.



KELLIE WALKER: I'd like to invite the wonderful Reverend Jason Shelton to come up.


JASON SHELTON: They didn't tell me I was going to be up here. Otherwise, I would have put pants on. Friday night, you learned a fairly new song. And there's been some requests to sing it again. So if you would like to singing Life Calls Us On, we invite you to rise in body or in spirit and join in singing.


Teaching “Jubilate Deo”

KEITH ARNOLD: I'm Keith Arnold, the minister of music at Jefferson Unitarian Church and this year's GA choir director. Thank you.


KEITH ARNOLD: To help break down the barriers between the choir and the congregation, we're all sitting in this choir piece at the end. We have a special part for you in one of our songs. Later in the service during "Choose to Bless the World," I'll invite you to sing the words jubilate deo, hallelujah, which means "Rejoice in God, hallelujah."

Let's say those words together. Jubilate.

AUDIENCE: Jubilate.



KEITH ARNOLD: Hallelujah.

AUDIENCE: Hallelujah.

KEITH ARNOLD: And the melody goes like this. (SINGING) Jubilate deo, jubilate deo, hallelujah.

AUDIENCE: Jubilate deo, jubilate deo, hallelujah.

KEITH ARNOLD: Wow, you are a quick learning bunch here tonight. This melody was written by the hymn writer Michael Praetorius in 1571. We'll have a chance to sing it later in the service together.

B. LOEWE: My friends.


B. LOEWE: My friends, what a time we've had together, and what a long time coming it's been. When we asked you to come to Arizona, we didn't ask you to come to transform Arizona. We asked you to come to be transformed by Arizona.


B. LOEWE: And this week, we have lived that truism that those who set out to change the world will surely be changed themselves. In your assembly, I can say we have found new recruits and old friends for the movement for migrant rights and human rights. And I think in our movement, you may very well have found some new recruits for the Unitarian Universalists as well.


B. LOEWE: On our first night, Pablo Alvarado issued a challenge to all of us. By inviting you to come to Arizona at a time when a boycott was our strongest tool, we extended the belief that you coming here would be more powerful than you going elsewhere. And as he said, that is still to be seen. We have had an incredible, incredible week together. But our success will be defined by where we go from here.


B. LOEWE: Doing justice is not about assembling once a year. It's a daily chore, as common as brushing one's teeth. . And as Pablo said last night, the road ahead will not be easy. It will not be smooth. But if we continue walking it together in partnership, we will be victorious.


B. LOEWE: So as you go home, you must be asking the question, where do we go from here? For us, where we go from here is the undocumented and unafraid Ride for Justice, a bus tour that will take off from here in Phoenix filled with undocumented families who will come out and challenge the defenders of hate throughout the South on the way to the Democratic National Convention.


B. LOEWE: We will demonstrate our power, the power we hold within, and we will demand the inclusion that they deserve. From here, we launch a campaign to restore trust and break ICE's hold on our communities. From here, we prepare for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling on the Department of Justice SB-1070 case likely tomorrow.

And to be honest, it's a case we never believed would fully vindicate our rights. But it doesn't matter how they rule because the decision has already been made in our communities and in our congregations. Not even the highest court in the land can turn back a determined people.


B. LOEWE: We will stand on the side of love. And we will not comply. To carry out the hard work of the world, we will need each other. We will need to be resolute in the face of our adversaries. And we will need to be kind in the company of our friends.

And so I want to ask you to do an exercise with me. Perhaps some of you came here thinking you were just a participant. But when you leave here tonight, you leave a leader, someone who your congregations back home will look to for how we go forward.

And with that, let us accept that collective responsibility and that shared commitment. The president of this country is not the only one to tell us that we are the ones we've been waiting for. We, ourselves, also have to know that's true.

So please, turn to someone next you. Find a partner. And if you're comfortable, hold each other by each other's wrist—not the hand, but by the wrist so that you can feel the pulse because behind all of our statistics, behind all of our protests, there are people—living, breathing, pulsing humans—yearning to be free.

Feel that. Hold that. And I'm going to ask person one to look at the other and tell them, "You are the one we've been waiting for."

AUDIENCE: You are the one we've been waiting for.

B. LOEWE: And person two, tell them with the greatest sincerity, "I will not fail you."

AUDIENCE: I will not fail you.

B. LOEWE: And now, let's do that in reverse. You are the one we've been waiting for.

AUDIENCE: You are the one we've been waiting for.

B. LOEWE: And I will not fail you.

AUDIENCE: And I will not fail you.

B. LOEWE: With our sincerest gratitude for being here, with our greatest determination to continue, Arizona, you are exactly what we have been waiting for. And Arizona, we will not fail you. Thank you.


PETER MORALES: This is the last time I will speak at this general assembly. And—bless you. And I will leave here with an image. I wish all of you could have seen what it looked like last night from that flat-bed truck to look out on what seemed like an endless field of these small lights.

I was so deeply moved by that and by so many other things at this General Assembly. And I've been asking myself today, why has it all been so powerful? And I don't think I have the answer fully. But I have part of it.

It's because we acted out of our core spiritual convictions, around the power of love human to human. And we brought our best selves. Another piece is I think we prepared in a way that we normally don't for a General Assembly. And we came ready. And the other piece I'm increasingly convinced of is that we did it with partners who are not Unitarian Universalists.


PETER MORALES: It got us out of ourselves in a way that is powerful and essential. And it was and is beautiful. So I want to say thank you. Because of you, because of what we have done together, my faith is stronger today. Because of you, we are stronger.

We have seen what is possible if we work together. Take that with you. Take that with you like one of those lights looking out from the flat-bed truck. And you know what? I can't wait to see what we do next. Thank you.


CAROLYN SAUNDERS: Words are important. We've talked a lot about words this week, words like "love," and "justice," and "humility." These words are important because of the feelings they invoke and for the actions they inspire. This evening, we'll share a few more words before we close General Assembly and take the things we've learned to our local communities.

Our first word tonight is "chalice." As we like this symbol of our tradition, may we feel inspired to live out our best ideals tonight and every day. So may we be.

KEITH ARNOLD: Our choral prelude is a meditation beginning with the soprano saxophone, continuing with hand-bells and the GA choir. The Reverend Wendy Williams provided the lyrics and the inspiration for this music whose essential message is this.

We come to church to grow our own hearts so that we can hold one another into greater health, wholeness, and holiness.

Opening Song: “Grow Your Heart”


Grow your heart.
Grow your loving heart.
Hold one another, giving life.
Hold one another, whole and holy.
Hold one another, living grace.
Souls held by love.
Life-giving soul journey.
For when we grow our hearts together,
When our hearts awaken…

Grow our hearts.
Whole and holy,
Hold one another, giving life.
Hold one another, giving grace.
For when our growing hearts awaken…

Music & Words: Keith Arnold and Wendy Williams. Used by Permission.

Opening Litany

SPEAKER 1: We came together in Arizona for this Justice GA in response to a resolution. We resolved to support our companions and partners in Arizona on the journey to learn something new about ourselves and to live out the purpose and principles to which this association is committed. This resolution is our resolution.

SPEAKER 2: We've made every effort to respond to this resolution with integrity and honesty.

SPEAKER 3: We have gathered to examine and overcome our own individual assumptions when encountering new people, and to engage in compassionate response and witness even when we fall short of our aspirations to expand our capacity to be allies to all people in need.

SPEAKER 1: Here we are.

SPEAKER 4: We invite you now to enter a time of prayer and reflection.

SPEAKER 3: Sit comfortably. Breathe deeply.

SPEAKER 1: Let us pray.

SPEAKER 2: It is ancient wisdom that says "Do justice, love mercy, and go humbly with your god."

SPEAKER 1: It is ancient wisdom that says "Love your neighbor as yourself." Easy to say.

SPEAKER 5: Hard to live.

SPEAKER 2: Easy to forget.

SPEAKER 4: Let us remember to meet injustice with compassion.

SPEAKER 1: Let us remember that compassion is the true root of justice.

SPEAKER 3: The invitation is always there—

SPEAKER 2: —easy to ignore.

SPEAKER 4: The invitation is still there.

SPEAKER 1: Easy to fail.

SPEAKER 3: The invitation to do justice, love mercy, and to love our neighbors as ourselves is eternal.

SPEAKER 5: We respond to the invitation in many ways.

SPEAKER 4: We have many words for it.

SPEAKER 1: We preach about it.

SPEAKER 3: We teach about it.

SPEAKER 5: We wrestle with it.

SPEAKER 2: We struggle. With it.

SPEAKER 1: Ancient Mother, we struggle with it.

SPEAKER 3: Holy God, we struggle with it.

SPEAKER 5: We fall short of our vision for ourselves.

SPEAKER 3: We lose our way.

SPEAKER 4: Yet we can find it again.

SPEAKER 3: The invitation to do justice, love mercy, and go humbly with God is eternal.

SPEAKER 5: We make assumptions.

SPEAKER 2: We do make assumptions.

SPEAKER 4: About God.

SPEAKER 1: About the sacred.

SPEAKER 5: About our neighbors.

SPEAKER 3: About people we perceive as different from ourselves.

SPEAKER 4: Assumptions are like prisons for the other and the self.

SPEAKER 1: They wall us in, hold us down, keep us in place.

SPEAKER 3: We ought to get to know each other first.

SPEAKER 2: Know each other deeply.

SPEAKER 4: Know each other's passions and dreams.

SPEAKER 1: Know each other's gifts and talents.

SPEAKER 3: Know each other's challenges and failings.

SPEAKER 5: Know each other's joys.

SPEAKER 4: Know each other's suffering and sorrow.

SPEAKER 1: Know each other's children.

SPEAKER 3: Know each other's parents.

SPEAKER 5: Know each other's stories.

SPEAKER 2: Know each other's history.

SPEAKER 1: Know each other's name.

SPEAKER 3: Know each other's families.

SPEAKER 5: Know each other's people.

SPEAKER 2: Then, we can be allies.

SPEAKER 4: Then, we can be accountable.

SPEAKER 3: Then, we can work together.

SPEAKER 5: Sing together.

SPEAKER 2: Dance together.

SPEAKER 4: Dream together.

SPEAKER 1: Seek justice together.

SPEAKER 5: Build community together.

SPEAKER 2: Pray together.

SPEAKER 4: Recall the ancestors together.

SPEAKER 1: Say hallelujah together.

SPEAKER 3: Say masakhane together

SPEAKER 2: Say shalom together.

SPEAKER 4: Say blessed be together.

SPEAKER 1: And let us not fool ourselves. Along the way, we will fall short.

SPEAKER 3: Along the way, we will miss our mark.

SPEAKER 5: Along the way, we will let each other down.

SPEAKER 4: Along the way, we will fail.

SPEAKER 1: But the invitation to do justice, love mercy, and go humbly with God is always present.

SPEAKER 3: That invitation is eternal.

SPEAKER 5: Let us hold each other when we fall short of our vision.

SPEAKER 2: Let us respond with compassion when we miss our mark.

SPEAKER 1: May our bonds remains strong even when we let each other down.

SPEAKER 3: May our hearts remain open even when we fail.

SPEAKER 5: May we remember the ancient wisdom that called us to do justice, love mercy, and go humbly with our God.

SPEAKER 2: May we remember the ancient wisdom that calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

SPEAKER 4: May remember here and now.

SPEAKER 3: May we remember here and now—

SPEAKER 5: —to make our time together sacred.

SPEAKER 2: To make our time together holy.

SPEAKER 4: So that we may be community.

SPEAKER 1: So that we may call each other beloved.

SPEAKER 5: The invitation is eternal.

SPEAKER 2: The invitation is eternal.

SPEAKER 4: The invitation is eternal.

ALL: Let us, once again, accept the invitation.

Music: "Marching Into the Light"

KELLIE WALKER: I would again like to invite the Reverend Fred Small up to sing.


FRED SMALL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]. This song is by Andres Useche from Columbia, who lives in Los Angeles. On July 29, 2010, 29 Unitarian Universalists including eight ministers were arrested here in Phoenix in nonviolent civil disobedience standing on the side of love with immigrant workers and students and families.

That night, those of us who were not arrested gathered outside Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail. We didn't know how long those arrested would be detained. We didn't know how they were being treated or mistreated. We didn't know how their spirits were holding up.

All we could do was bear witness and pray and sing. This is one of the songs we sang.


She worked all night long
She cleaned up six floors
Her working day is now beginning

He worked all day long
He picked up the crops
His swollen fingers are still bleeding

They work in the offices and serve in the restaurants
These hands keep lifting America

Some came from the South, some came from afar
Tell me who is the Native American?

Did you forget we're human?
Don't you know we are the same?
Did you forget you're my family, my neighbor?
Don't you know we share your pain?

Out of the shadows
We are walking together
and into the light

Out of the shadows
We’re moving together and into the light.

Estamos unidos
Marchemos juntos
hacia la luz

Estados Unidos
Marchemos juntos
Hacia la Luz

Fred: There a play on words in the Spanish—Estamos Unidos, we are united. Estados Unidos—United States.

Did you forget we’re human?
Don't you know we are the same?
Did you forget you are my sister, my brother?
Don't you know we feel your pain?

Did you forget we’re human?
Don't you know we are the same?
Did you forget you are my sister, my brother?
Don't you know we share your pain?

Estamos unidos
Marchemos juntos
hacia la luz

Estados Unidos
Marchemos juntos
Hacia la Luz

Out of
the shadows
We’re walking together
and into the light

Out of
the shadows
We’re moving together
and into the light

Music & Lyrics: Andres Useche. Used by Permission.


FRED SMALL: Andres Usechu, Marching into the Light.

Reflection: “Power”

JONIPHER KWONG: This GA, we have come to learn just how sexy power can be. Power is sexy because it's something we engage in, build upon, and co-create. It is the coming together of energies to scintillate our lives and bring meaning and depth to our religious movement. It is our mojo as Unitarian Universalists on our quest for social justice.

We clearly saw this power at work in a mighty way during the past two years when DRUUM, LUUNA, Trust, Equal Access, and other groups within our own movement came together to plan what Justice GA would look like. We even went beyond our own movement and joined powers with groups like Somos Arizona and Puente to think strategically.

Power is sexy because it harnesses our desire to build a more just world. And when used in a life-giving way, there is no room for the kind of power that would abuse, exploit, or dominate another human being.


JONIPHER KWONG: Sexy power is the kind of shared power that arises when we hear each other's stories and participate in each other's struggles. There is power not in the deportation of families, but in the importation of friendships.


JONIPHER KWONG: You know, last night, a certain sheriff tried to exert his power by Facebooking and Tweeting his supporters to counter-protest what we're doing here in Arizona? Well, yes, we do appreciate the publicity. Today and tonight, however, we boldly proclaimed that here in Phoenix, there's a new sheriff in town.


JONIPHER KWONG: While the old sheriff shows off his power and might by building borders, this new sheriff summons the power of love by building relationships. While the old sheriff values the love of power, the new sheriff thrives from the power of love. And did I also mention that this new sheriff speaks Spanish?


JONIPHER KWONG: He'd be the first to tell you that in Spanish, the word for power is poder. When we learn to speak one another's language, there is poder. When we persuade elected officials to work for justice, there is poder. When we protest and make a public witness of solidarity, there is poder.

May our work extend beyond this week and beyond Phoenix to our local communities as we build poder or share power with one another. And may the sexy power to persuade and advocate for immigrant justice transform not just our country but indeed our world. May we, the new sheriff in town, become a powerful witness to what Unitarian Universalists are truly capable of. And to that, lots of people say, "Yeah, baby!"


Reflection: “Accompany”

GINI COUTER: Our next word, accompany, acompanar, to escort, to attend, to chaperone, to keep company, to convoy, go along with, hang out with, band together with, to associate or be an association, to care for, to tend. [SPEAKING SPANISH], to coexist with, be connected with, go hand in hand with. [SPEAKING SPANISH], complete, whole, and holy, to reach forward, to see fully, to wonder, to imagine the possibilities.

To dare, to dare to discard "do for" for "go with." To choose, elegir, to choose again, tambien. To choose until not choosing is no longer a choice, to go with when the destination is unclear or unknown, to go with when some possible outcomes are frightening or unsafe, to go when going will change you so much that there will be no coming back, no reclaiming the self you are now.

[SPEAKING SPANISH], to go as an embodiment of faith, to journey with as a manifestation of love, to err, to stumble, to almost regret, to question and wonder again, and then decide we will discard regret for gratitude and begin again in love, wiser and more resolutely. [SPEAKING SPANISH], we accompany, we learn together, leading and following, committed and committing acts of love and faith and learning. [SPEAKING SPANISH], you will not journey alone again. We will not allow it. Somos unos, we are one transformed, accompany.


Hymn: "Ven Espiritu de Amor"

KELLIE WALKER: We will remain seated for this next hymn. There is strength in sitting. There is strength in not moving. You heard the district choir in the opening ceremony sing this next song as a choral response. Tonight, it's your turn to sing "Ven, Espiritu de Amor." I'm working on my Spanish singing and it will be better next time.

We will still sing for you, though. We will sing it two times through. Remember the meaning of these words as we return home to continue the work of justice in our own communities. The English meaning, spirits of love, descend upon me, take me, fill me, change me, use me. Spirit of love, descend upon me.


Ven, Es-pi-ri-tu de A-mor, ven so-bre mi.
Ven, Es-pi-ri-tu de A-mor, ven so-bre mi.
To-ma-me, cam-bia-me, Ile-na-me, u-sa-me.
Ven, Es-pi-ri-tu de A-mor, ven so-bre mi.

Music: Daniel Iverson (1890-1977), alt., c. 1935, 1963 Birdwing Music. Translation: anonymous.

Word Collage

SPEAKER 6: We offer a brief collage of words from the Justice GA journey we are concluding.

SPEAKER 7: We enter into a sea of faces.

SPEAKER 8: Confront the doctrine of discovery.

SPEAKER 6: Swinging from despair to joy and back.

SPEAKER 9: Forgive and don't forget.

SPEAKER 8: How can it be that some are imprisoned?

SPEAKER 7: In our nation?

SPEAKER 6: Do we want a parallel America?

SPEAKER 9: Intention does not equal impact.

SPEAKER 7: We can't just talk about what we want to change.

SPEAKER 6: We need to act.

SPEAKER 9: Arrest injustice.

SPEAKER 8: Don't ignore the Arpaios in your own backyard.

SPEAKER 7: Todos samos Arizona.

SPEAKER 6: Drink more water.

SPEAKER 9: Practice cultural competency.

SPEAKER 8: Spirit is the opposite of domination.

SPEAKER 7: Si, si puede.

SPEAKER 8: It is possible.

SPEAKER 6: I will do what I can.

SPEAKER 9: I, too, will not comply.

SPEAKER 7: Making the invisible visible.

SPEAKER 8: We are not looking for saviors.

SPEAKER 9: Humanizing one another.

SPEAKER 6: We are all the same differently.

SPEAKER 8: Pursuing the spirit of justice.

SPEAKER 7: The first lesson of accountability is humility.

SPEAKER 6: Be accountable to hope. Seek—

SPEAKER 7: Libertad.

SPEAKER 9: Love is not afraid.

SPEAKER 8: Love shows up.

SPEAKER 6: We will prevail.

SPEAKER 7: Mano en mano, moving forward.

SPEAKER 8: Brothers, and sisters, and cousins, and friends, the dreamers are our future.

SPEAKER 9: Living the questions.

SPEAKER 8: Partnering with others.

SPEAKER 7: Give your support.

SPEAKER 9: Ask not what our rights are, but what our rights should be.

SPEAKER 6: Remember, we all have different accents.

SPEAKER 7: Remember words that should not be said—illegal.

SPEAKER 8: Be willing to pry the nails out of the complaint box.

SPEAKER 6: Change the definition of minority. Change this America.

SPEAKER 9: Can we make a new America?

SPEAKER 7: Si, se puede.

SPEAKER 9: It is possible.

Reflection: “Love”

NATE WALKER: I'm from Philadelphia, the city of love and sisterly affection. But this pilgrimage of love has left some sorrow on my chest. During our vigil last night, many of us stood at the foot of a sign that read "Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Smart Tents." Do you see it? I felt a fire inside. I felt enraged. I felt the impulse to bolt. I wanted to bolt through the armed guards, pass the police on horses, and scale the barbed wire fence.

Now, this might be a good moral impulse to have, but not a wise impulse to enact because it was you, the love people, who curbed my impulse to bolt. It was you, the love people, who curbed my impulse to be a hero or be a martyr.

You taught me how to be a partner. So there we were under the stars. And little did you know that each of you were my PST, my personal spiritual trainer. You taught me something simple—make love not simply a political slogan, but a way of life.

You taught me that it not about leading by doing, but leading by being. You led by being kind. You led by being present. And the greatest gift you gave was to be present with those in prisons. They heard you.

And that's my wish as you return home. May you continue to do what you did last night so that each time a Unitarian Universalist shows up, no matter where, those present will exhale and say, "Ah, the UUs have arrived."


NATE WALKER: Why don't you try that? Ah, the UUs have arrived! So ask yourself, what will be the quality of your presence next time you're home when you enter that heated town hall forum? Will you be known for using your power to shame and blame? No, because you are an agent of love who learned from those who came before, who to that same meeting who said, "Hello, I am Buddhist." And those present exhaled and said, "Ah, the Buddhist has arrived."

So ask yourself next time, how will you be? How will you behave when you're in that peace march in that public square? Will you be known for screaming and demeaning? No, because you are an agent of love who have learned from that person who marched with you. And they turned and said, "Hello, I'm Quaker." And you said, "Ah, the Quaker has arrived!"

It's really that simple. You are a lover of life, a lover of freedom who knows that leading is not only about doing and doing and doing and doing justice. It's about being. It's about being kind, about being present. For lovers, know when we feel the impulse to be the interrogator, we must choose to be the generator of visions larger than ourselves.

When we feel the impulse to be enraged, we must accept the invitation to be empathetic and no longer make people the object of our aggression. When we feel the impulse to be furious, we become curious. When we feel the impulse to be righteous, we transform our soapbox into a music box. Right, choir?

So lovers of justice, listen to the music of Phoenix calling you. From the fires of oppression, we rise. From the ashes of discrimination, we move. From this smolder of bigotry, we take flight. Go now from the Phoenix and dare to be powerfully playful.

In doing so, your very way of being in the world just might curb the aggressive impulse of someone standing right next to you. And if you keep doing that, if you keep doing what you did last night, if you keep being who you were being last night, then each time a Unitarian Universalist shows up, those present will exhale and say together, "Ah, the UUs have arrived."


Reflection: “Humility”

LESLIE TAKAHASHI MORRIS: We have heard a lot of good words. And one good word which has fallen to me to discuss for the third time at this gathering is humility. I've tried not to take this as some personal, prophetic message from the universe.

Humility is not something often discussed in enlightened groups such as ours, and it is probably not by accident that this word is not actually found in the subject index of our hymnal. You check, it's true.

Now ironically, what I had planned to say has been overtaken by events, overtaken, in fact, by two experiences of humility. I had the experience last night of being part of a small delegation led by Peter Morales and Susan Frederick-Gray that went into the jail.

And so the first experience of humility was that sense of overwhelm which I experienced upon entering and witnessing through Tent City last night. Humility was the only possible response in the face of the dehumanizing treatment we witnessed there.

And I saw it through the eyes of my father's family, who was placed in an internment camp in Poston, Arizona, and also then in the name of a nebulous national security. And I saw it through the eyes of my children with a pain in my heart that we have not yet somehow learned to see humanity in one another.

And I gazed in the eyes of as many people as I could, people housed in those barren, soul-crushing, concrete yards with scarred, metal bunk beds under decades-old faded canvas flaps, people who were so eager, so eager, to be heard that they risked punishment, sure punishment, to tell us how they were denied water, about the rats, about the anxiety, and the depression that could be so overwhelming.

The word "humility" is related to humans, of the Earth, of the soil. The Earth is a connecting and life-giving force. And in the face of such divisive and destructive forces, my only choice was to seek solace in the ground beneath me.

So my second experience of humility occurred only minutes after we emerge from that place when I, too, as Peter mentioned, had the privilege of viewing the vigil from the stage and looking out and seeing all those lights, that sea of lights, a mass of mattering caused by thousands of individuals' small decisions to come and be present.

And those candle flames were a testimony to the humility that knows that every one of our acts matters. And I saw those lights through the eyes of one of the men who I talked to just an hour earlier who had said to me, "No one knows and no one cares that we are in here."

I watched those lights as I drank water knowing that the human beings in that sick staging area for an ambitious politician only yards from us were very possibly being denied that very essential element of life. Our religious tradition invites us to humility, to remember that we, too, are of the Earth of the most basic matter, of the unity which binds us each to each.

And how can we not understand humility when we are the ones moving towards a recognition of the humanity of all people? It is said before, but it bears repeating. The journey that we have been on does not end with this General Assembly. Here is where it begins, this long journey towards making the invisible visible.

Si, se puede. It is possible. It can be done. May we with humility pledge to be part of making it so.


MELISSA MONFORTI: There's some good energy. We have to use that good energy. I invite you to take a big breath right now. Breathe in all that great energy right now. We're going to do some singing.

This song calls on us to remember that we are not in this journey alone. We always have each other. We have to remember to go hand in hand to do this work. We have to keep showing up, stay interdependent. So I ask you to join me, join us, in singing the chorus of the song.

Hymn: "Hand in Hand"


Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

This house is built on love,
This house is built with faith,
This house is gonna stand for good,
Forever and a day.

Come on down this path with me,
To the place where the road ends,
Beyond, beyond, beyond.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

People gonna see us speakin' out.
People gonna see us holding strong.
Everybody gonna sing out loud.
Come on, sing along.

Come on down this path with me,
To the place where the road ends,
Beyond, beyond, beyond.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

It's the church of the open mind
It's the church of the loving heart
It's the church of the helping hand
Everybody plays a part

Come on down this path with me
To the place where the road ends
Beyond, beyond, beyond

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

I don't need to be afraid of the dark
'Cause you love me the way that I am
Promise me you'll keep showing up
Again and again and again

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Hand in hand,
Stone by stone,
Help me build
Our sacred home.

Words & Music: Melissa Monforti. Used by Permission.


MARK HICKS: Let's say amen!



MARK HICKS: Amen. My name is Mark Hicks, and I am the Angus McLean professor of religious education at Meadville Lombard Theological School. And also the director of The Fahs Collaborative for exploring and deepening faith.

I am a religious educator because I have confidence in what is possible in human creativity when it comes into place in our lives. I'm a religious educator because I believe in the transformation that happens when we confront both our inner and outer selves in order to make the world a better place. I am here because, as people of faith, we choose to believe that our humanity is always, always in the process of becoming to understand something that we just don't understand.

You know, I've been deeply inspired by so many of the stories of growth I have witnessed over these days, stories that have allowed us to put our faith into action. These experiences have reminded me that every encounter is sacred, that every person has value, that, as Martin Luther King, Junior, said, it is possible to move from a thing-oriented society to a people-oriented society.


JOHN HICKS: Indeed, these days have reminded us that we have not finished learning who we are nor who we can be. So today, as we transition from this learning community nested in the hot sand and rock of Arizona and return to our communities around the world, remember—remember—the kind of beloved encounters we have shared here.

Remember that we tried not to be passive consumers of our personal projects, that we tried to connect to those outside of our circle of care. Remember how we have confronted our fears and anxieties in order to grow our souls. Remember that we tried to unshackle ourselves from stories of woe and regret and recreate new and fabulous directions for our souls to walk.

Remember the joy we felt as we reach out across all sorts of divides in order to create something new and sacred. You know, Take Nhat Hanh said to be an educator is to be a healer. I believe that each of you are religious educators engaged in learning how to live a life that is fully human.

So my friends, my friends, keep reminding yourself that you are not fully baked yet. My hope, my dream, is that you keep setting up opportunities for teaching and learning in every aspect of of your life, moments that create, educate, rejuvenate, invigorate, animate, stimulate, communicate, investigate, effectuate, translate, punctuate, meditate, inoculate, mediate, regenerate, coordinate, captivate, activate, agitate, mandate, facilitate, advocate, collaborate, vindicate, corroborate, evaluate, collaborate, accommodate, and always, always, always to commemorate what it is that brings us back into this beautiful, loving community that we are.

So let's go forth wide awake, fully engaged knowing that we are the ones we've been waiting for. Amen?




Choir: "Choose to Bless the World"

KEITH ARNOLD: It's almost time for us to sing the "Jubilate Deo" we sang earlier this evening. We'll be weaving "Jubilate Deo" into a powerful message that invites us to use our lives not for harming but for healing.

We have deepened the reach of our hearts. We have joined hand in hand. And now, composer Nick Page has set words of our own, the Reverend Dr. Rebecca Parker, exhorting us to choose to bless the world. Please take in this message in music. And at just the right time, I'll invite you to join with us in "Jubilate Deo."


You who light the world, oh you who love the world,
Be the light today, be the love today.
Choose to bless the world.

Oh, the power of your mind
can bless or curse the world.
The strength of your hands
can bless or curse the world.
The reaches of your heart
can bless or curse the world.

To work for justice, or ignore injustice,
to praise the sacred or obscure the sacred,
To offer love or withhold the love,

You who light the world, oh you who love the world,
Choose to bless the world.
Be the light today, be the love today.
Choose to bless the world.

In the midst of a broken world
A benevolent rage,
urging, insisting,
Bind the wounds.
Work for justice.
In the midst of a broken world,
Beauty and grace,
an embrace of kindness.
Those who bless the world, and those who love the world,
this beauty and this rage,
Are drawn to each other, a heritage passed on.
A heritage passed on.

The power of your mind
can bless or curse the world.
The strength of your hands
can bless or curse the world.
The reaches of your heart
can bless or curse the world.

To work for justice, or ignore injustice,
to praise the sacred or obscure the sacred,
To offer love or withhold the love,
You who light the world, oh you who love the world,
Be the light today, be the love today,
Oh, Alleluia.
You who light the world, oh you who love the world,
Oh, Alleluia.
You who light the world, oh you who love the world,
Oh, Alleluia.
Jubilate deo, alleluia
Choose to bless the world.

Words: from a poem by Rebecca Parker; additional words by Nick Page; Music: Nick Page, © 2008 Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Used by Permission.



AUDIENCE: Good evening.

PATRICIA JIMENEZ: I want to ask you to take a moment to reflect on what brought you here to General Assembly 2012. Some of you came wanting an opportunity to learn as much as you could about the issues of immigration. Some of you came yearning for opportunities to connect with people in their own communities and opportunities to work with people as passionate about justice as you are.

Some of you came wanting something, but not sure what that something was. Perhaps for some of you, the answer is all of the above and more.

Now, General Assembly 2012, Justice GA is coming to a close. Perhaps some of you have been disappointed that what you wanted did not happen. Or perhaps some expectations were met and others fell short.

Some of you may be leaving with the idea that no matter how much things change, the more they stay the same. And some of you may not be sure at all how you feel about your experiences these last few days here.

Now, no matter where you are on this spectrum, these experiences will become part of the whole that make up your way of being in the world. You will not leave them behind. But over time, they may change.

Recently, I came across a particular description of hope that made me stop and think. This writer described it this way.

Hope opens us up and removes the blinders of fear and despair and allows us to see the big picture, allowing us to become creative and have belief in a better future. I was reminded of a morning several years ago when I was drinking my morning coffee and reflecting on why I was a Unitarian Universalist.

I found myself telling myself my faith community will never, ever, ever, ever—and the evers continued into infinity—be as diverse as the world that I live in. But rather than falling into despair—and it surprised me that I didn't immediately fall into a funk—I thought, OK, what do I need to do to make my environment into a space that can encompass as much of the world as I can embrace?

I felt great comfort from that question because I understood that I could do something. And that something was only limited by my imagination and creativity and my own ability to have courage in the face of fear.

This week, I kept noticing moments of despair followed by courage, moments of courage and hope. I noticed individuals owning up to their vulnerabilities, individuals wondering how to be in solidarity and be true to their values and authentic selves.

I noticed the youth, who understand the imperative to justice-making and the need to feel joy in the laboring. I heard about the kids in Kids Justice Camp who, by the end of one day, had figured out how to feed 8,000 people.


PATRICIA JIMENEZ: I caught snippets of conversations between people and among people struggling with questions, concepts, ideas, and the paradoxes of human life. I heard individuals frustrated and perhaps feeling unnoticed because their skills and gifts were not recognized by the process.

I heard about the woman who asked an armed man last night, "Do you always bring guns to church?" We've come to the end of General Assembly 2012. And when you leave, I want to challenge you to reflect on your experiences here and find a way to integrate into your value system a definition of hope that allows you to move forward with courage and creativity.

Now, I know because I've done it myself that you may feel yourself falling into questioning, and questioning everything including yourselves. And so I'm going to ask you in a minute to practice something.

Poet Marilynn Anderson wrote, "Sometimes, when it gets to be too much, I get in the car and I roll up the window. And somewhere between backing out of the driveway and turning the first corner, I let out a yell that would topple Manhattan. How do you pray?"

How do you pray? So we're going to practice. Now, I will give you the words. But I also realize that when you go home and are in other communities, you may find other words.

We're going to practice a yell that expresses this deep, inner sadness that sometimes wells up. And we don't know where to put it. And the word for that is going to be Ah! So Ah!

All right, come on. A little feeling here. Ah! Yes!

We're going to practice a word for perhaps some of the anger that might come up. The word we'll use is "no" because that can also energize us and empower us to set limits, to move. So we're going to go, no! No! Yes. Wow.

The last word is going to be an expression of the great joy that sometimes makes you want to dance, and yell, and scream, and I don't know what else. And we're going to say "yes." It is the yes to life. So, yes! Again, yes! Thank you.


PATRICIA JIMENEZ: And so we practiced. But I also want you to add to your process a dose of kindness, a reminder that change and transformation may be messy and often uncomfortable and can sometimes feel slower than you want it to be. Instead, remove the blinders of fear and despair and allow the impulses of imagination, and creativity, and the synergy of community to take over and inform the work of justice making. Amen.


Anthem: "From This House"


From this house
To the world
We will go
Hand in hand.

Music and English Words: Ben Allaway, © Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Spanish translation by Edwin Barrios. Used by Permission.


PAUL LANGSTON-DALEY: In his book Frederick the Field Mouse, author Leo Lionni tells the story of mice gathering stores for the winter. He writes, "And once, Frederick seemed half asleep. 'Are you dreaming, Frederick?' they asked reproachfully. "But Frederick said, 'Oh, no. I'm gathering words for the winter days are long and many. And we will run out of things to say.'"

As Unitarian Universalists, we may never run out of things to say. But we know that the call to support human rights is a difficult path. We offer these words to you to think of them in the coming days, months, and over the next year in the time when the days feel long and many, when you are feeling helpless or hopeless. Allow these words to overtake you like the rising tide of the ocean, like the blossoming flowers in spring, like the still small voice that calls us to participate in creation.

May these words sustain you, energize you, move you to action, and provide solace in the days to come. May you recall the work that we have done here and know that it was good.

Chalice Extinguishment

ELIZABETH HITCHCOCK: Our gathering has ended, and we now extinguish our chalice. May the flame of justice continue to burn within each of us, lighting our paths for the year to come.