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

Welcoming Celebration & General Session I, General Assembly 2014

General Assembly 2014 Event 107

Program Description

Love Reaches Out! An in-gathering hymn sing at 7:15, followed by the Call to Order by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Moderator Jim Key. This year, our traditional Banner Parade includes music honoring Pete Seeger. We will share and shape a message of tradition and transformation in a participatory, multi-generational, multi-vocal worship celebration.

Order of Business

  • Banner Parade
  • Call to Order
  • Welcome New Congregation
  • Introduction: International Guests
  • Introduction: Leaders from Youth Caucus and Young Adults at General Assembly (YA@GA)
  • Introduction: Right Relationship Team
  • Review and Adopt Rules
  • Recess


Call to Order

DAVID GLASGOW: Well, hello there.


Welcome to Providence. So tell me, how does it feel to be sitting in a stadium full of Unitarian Universalists?


We're going to get things rolling officially here in just a few minutes, but could we do some singing first to get our juices flowing. I hope so. Sometimes it can be helpful, as we take over a convention center full of 7,000 of our closest friends, to remember that what we are really about is quite simple, love reaching out. Nothing more, nothing less. Would you join us in singing the wisdom of this 18th century American Shaker hymn? We'll sing it once in English and then we'll sing it again in Spanish.



SPEAKER 1: It is easier for love to reach out when it reaches out from a place of gratitude. And friends, we have so much to be grateful for. Please join us in singing the timeless words of Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, "For The Beauty of the Earth."



SPEAKER 2: When we pour out our hearts in gratitude, it makes room for the spirit of love to enter. Let's sing together a famous prayer by American Daniel Iverson, as translated in our Spanish hymnal, Las Voces del Camino.


SPEAKER 3: When our hearts are filled with the spirit of love, we find the strength to draw wide circles of welcome, crossing boundaries of fear and uncertainty until we can say with confidence, hallelujah, we will sit at the welcome table one of these days.

DAVID GLASGOW: We might want to rise in body or spirit for this one I think.

SPEAKER 3: I think so.

DAVID GLASGOW: Here we go.




Call to Order

JIM KEY: I call to order the 53rd General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.


I've been tweeting selfies. I would suggest you do the same. We're going to talk about that a little later. Are you ready for a great week in Providence?


Are you ready for yet more inspiring music and worship?


Are you ready to sample some of the 156 workshops to inspire you and challenge you?


And are you ready to participate in the democratic process as our Association conducts its business?


Do we have any governance wonks in the assembly besides me? Oh, good. Oh, good. So the—if you have the answer yes to any of these questions, you're in the right place at the right time. My name is Jim Key and this is my first General Assembly.


As your moderator, if this is your first General Assembly just raise your hand and wave. How many people? Typical. Hands down. If you have been here 10 or more GAs. Little thinner.


Good. How about 20 or more?


I have it on good authority, there's at least one couple in the hall that have been here—this is their 30th General Assembly. Where would they be?


Where would they be. There they are. Back there.


30 GAs and that's the best seat you could get? Talk to me next year. Well, whether this is your first or your 53rd, you're going to have a great four days and it may be different than what you've experienced before. The board, the staff, GA planning committee have taken notice of comments and evaluations from participants from previous GAs. So you GA junkies will have some changes to go through this week in worship, in witness and in our general sessions—the general sessions known as—formally known as plenary. We have 11 fewer hours this year in general sessions than last year.


And this allowed us to offer 48 more workshop opportunities then last. That's what you asked for and we heard you. We've asked our presenters to take less time with their reports and to link their remarks to this year's theme of love reaches out. We've also asked them to conduct their present—connect their presentations to the Association's global ands or shared vision which hundreds of you have participated in crafting over the past few years. And you can find them on page 100 in your program book, and I urge you to become familiar with them as the week goes out. They are our North Star guiding your Association into the future.

Additionally, we've asked our presenters to challenge us to think about the issues facing this free and liberal religion in this increasingly secular world, and how we might learn from those new revelations we expect to hear about this week. And we hope you enjoy the GA talks that are sprinkled throughout—sprinkled throughout the general sessions, like TED talks—you know, the technology, education, design talks that many of you are familiar with. We hope they introduce ideas worth spreading. So before we start the banner parade, I want to call on the Vice Moderator of your UUA board of trustees, Donna Harrison.


Welcome New Congregations

DONNA HARRISON: Thank you, Jim. So Jim has asked me to do one of the most fun things. One of the most rewarding experiences each year at General Assembly is welcoming new congregations into our UUA community. And starting a new congregation is an extraordinary piece of work, an astounding act of faith. It takes vision, courage, leadership, patience, bureaucratic brilliance, jumping over hurdles and through hoops. But most of all, it takes love.

And the leaders that you will meet in a moment have given all of this and more to their dream of a Unitarian Universalist congregation serving their community. And tonight we will welcome our newest congregation, Original Blessing, into our association. And this brings—yeah.


And this brings the total number of congregations in our Association to 1,048.


So I would like Moderator Key and President Morales to join me as we welcome our newest congregation. And most congregations come into being because local UUs work closely with district staff and district presidents. So it is my pleasure tonight to ask the District President from the metro New York district, Mia Morse, to introduce you to your new congregation. And as Mia and the representatives from Original Blessing join us here, let's roll a video that we have about Original Blessing, our newest member congregation.


-At Original Blessing, our mission is to transform the lives of the 400,000 people who live in North Brooklyn and Western Queens.

-I think that there is a need or a want for a spiritually progressive voice.

-Our sermons aren't based on what's happening in a book. It's based on what's happening in the news. That's where we live. We're not living in a book. We're literally living here.

-We don't have like a this I believe and therefore you should believe this.

-I find that there's a give and take discussion of what God or the creator is.

-Everybody finds that they feel like they belong.

-You don't have to be anything, you just have to show up.

-It's not like the people who are there are the only people allowed.

-It's a wonderful place to interact with people without anything other than, hi, I see you, how are you today?

-It's singing, it's dancing and it is—it's joy.


-People say things like, well, God loves and then you better change your life or you're going to go to Hell. There is no experience with God that would ever condemn you to Hell.

-We're born with worth and dignity and goodness that doesn't need to be heard.

-We're born from love and that's all we want for the rest of our lives.

-That's it.

-All I wanted for us to do as a community is just go out and just love the hell out of the world.

-All of the things that the world is suffering from can't be eliminated until we start with understanding that we're all interconnected and that, in order for me to get somewhere, I need to help everybody that comes into my path.

-For me, Original Blessing is really spirituality through service.

-I've never been a part of a community like that before. It's always been more like, someone should do something about that. And today I see that I can be that someone.

-How can I help make this a more uplifting and more fulfilling place for other people to be.

-When we move from, oh, I want to pray to have a calm life or meditate to have a calm life, to I want to meditate and pray for you to have a calm life.

-It's not about me as an individual becoming better. But I need to help you, need to help me, and that it's as we figure things out that we all grow and become more of ourselves.

-I think I have escaped from a sense of loneliness and disconnection.

-I really had the desire for us to be more connected in the ways we live with one another.

-You know, being out there and telling people that there's a greater experience of love and we would love to walked that path with them.



MIA MORSE: My name is Mia Morse and I'm a member of the Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey, and president of the metro New York district. I'm honored to present to you the Reverend Ian White Maher and his board member Robin Bossert. Original Blessing is our district's first new church in almost 20 years, founded in part with support from the First Congregational Society of Brooklyn and our Chalice Lighters program, and conducts Sunday evening services at 5:00 PM in the northern section of Brooklyn in the community of Greenport, New York. Sounds different, right, already?

The church was founded by Reverend Ian White Maher, a true visionary that has taken our principles to a new plane and put our dreams in motion to create a church home for our sisters and brothers that feels, acts and looks like home. As a growing family of 40 plus, Original Blessing's mission statement reads, "We are a spiritually ambitious movement seeking a relationship with God in order to transform our world through creative worship, social justice and compassionate community."

What's intriguing is their aspirational model of membership encouraging the idea of ambition as belonging to a people who strive for a more deeply related world. Each developmental stage of membership has meaningful goals, defined stewardship and a path for leadership development as a basis. This is definitely a model that's appealing and key to attracting new members with a clear plan for giving of time, treasure and talent within the church.

This six-core ministerial areas of spiritual development, social justice, thought leadership, earth, community and art. Before serving the community and taking on new projects, each must fall within one of these core areas, further illustrating the mantra, mission first. Moving worship, RE—religious exploration—member moving music, thought leadership. Wow. Yes, you may see the leaders of Original Blessing at Kripalu or other retreat centers sharing our values and growing our faith.

When I think about Original Blessing, I'm reminded of Martin Luther King Junior's quote, "Life's most urgent question is, what are you doing for others?" There's not a doubt in my mind that Original Blessing is a blessing for others. So please keep your eyes on the prize. We lovingly support you as you embrace others and illuminate your light to shine in the world. On behalf of the metro New York district, we express heartfelt thanks to the UUA board of trustees for welcoming Original Blessing and many thanks to every member of Original Blessing, and to you, Ian.


Banner Parade

DONNA HARRISON: And now it's time for our banner parade.


It's a time of ritual and celebration in this historic city known for brave and bold leadership. And to start us off, we have a special treat that is pure Providence. Our grand marshal this evening is a local anti-bullying activist and world renowned traffic officer, Tony Lepore--


--whose celebrating his 30th year as the Dancing Cop of this fine city.



Wasn't that fun?


And so let's let the banner parade begin.

SPEAKER 4: Good evening, we're Emma's Revolution. This is Brother Sun. And we're so excited to be with you here at UUGA 2014 and to celebrate our beloved Pete Seeger.



SPEAKER 4: Pete Seeger was a dear friend of ours and a great supporter of mine and Sandy's. And when I got the message that he was in his final days, I went to his hospital bed to spend a last few moments with him. It turned out those last few moments were Pete's last moments. So we sang his songs to him. And in those moments, as he peacefully passed, we thought of all the remarkable ways that our lives intersected and how he shaped who we are. So this song started to be born. It has a chorus for you to ding. So please join us.



SPEAKER 5: He's got to get his guitar up. One of Pet's great songs was "Turn, Turn, Turn" from the book Ecclesiastes. One, two, one, two, three, four.





What is New at GA 2014 and Tweeting GA 2014

JIM KEY: What'd you think? Wasn't that fantastic?


Great music, beautiful and fanciful banners from all over. I've walked in that banner parade a time or two. It's always fun. This was the most orderly I think I've experienced, frankly. Thanks to the planners for that.

Before I introduce some folks to you that you need to know for this evening, let me suggest you keep your smartphones handy. We encourage you to tweet if you are so moved, and you might want to use the hashtag UUAGA. Some of you are already familiar with it. So those of you that are tech savvy can follow all the commentary, photos, that sort of thing during the course of the general sessions and other events going on this week.

And if you haven't downloaded GA app, you might want to do so now, quietly. And you can search the AP store—the app store for UUA General Assembly 2014. If you search for that you can take it from there and get some help from people beside you. I want to let you fiddle with that while we proceed to introduce some folks to you.

Introduction: International Guests

So my pleasure this evening is to introduce Unitarians, Unitarian Universalists, interface and human rights partners from around the world to our General Assembly this year. And please be sure to extend your welcome to all of our honored guests during the week together. You can visit the international booth in the exhibit hall to find out about events that they'll be participating in. And we look forward to sharing some more time with them during the general session on Saturday morning as well where you'll learn more about our international affiliations.

I'm going to introduce some folks to you and I would ask that they stand—hold your applause—and stand as they're introduced. And I hope the cameras can pan and catch them. They're mostly on this side of the hall, just set people up for this. From Osaka, Japan, the most Reverend Mitsuo Miyake, chief priest of the Konko Church of Izuo, and his daughters the Reverend Kauru Miyake and Izumi Miyake. Where are they? Over here. Welcome.


And you don't follow instructions very well. We're glad to have them all, but we want to wait till the end. Also from Tokyo, Japan, Reverend Waichi Hashina, director of the social ministry group from Rissho Kosei-kai with members of the RKK external affairs staff joining. Miss Hiroyo Murayama and Mrs. Ikuye Kase.

From India—from India, leaders of the human rights organization Shamrik Elgar—this is the workers Push—and partners of the UU Holdeen India program—Paromita Goswamand and Kalyan Navan. From Transylvania, Bishop David Gyero, counselor to the bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, the Reverend Karoly Vass, assistant minister for the Unitarian Church of Sepsiszentgyorgy, and Balazs Scholar at Starr King School for the Ministry this past year. And two leaders of the Women's Association of the Hungarian Association Church, Gizi Nagy and Zsuzsana Szabo.

From Kisii, Kenya, Justine Magara, a lay minister of the UU Church of Kenya. And from the Philippines, the Reverend Tet Gallardo, minister of the Bicutan UU Church in Manila. From Prague, Czech Republic, the Reverend Petr Samojsky, minister of the Prague Unitarian Church. And four members of his church, Katerina Samojska, Michal Kohout, Marketa Drtinova and Denisa Fialova.

From North East India, the Reverend Darihun Khriam, the minister of the Unitarian Church in Smit and Kharang. And from the United Kingdom, Derek McAuley, Reverend Richard Boeke, Reverend Jopie Boeke and the Reverend Andy Pakula, chief officer and ministers with the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian churches, and the Reverend Steve Dick, executive director of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.

From Switzerland, Laura Fuchs, leader of the UU fellowship of Basel. From Toronto, Canada, the executive director of the Canadian Unitarian Council, Vyda Ng. From Paris, France, the president of European Unitarian Universalists, Dorcy Erlandsen. And from Germany, Logan Deimler and Tina Huesing, vice president and social justice chairperson for European Unitarian Universalists. We welcome all of our international guests and we're glad you could join us.


Introduction: Youth Caucus and YA@GA

JIM KEY: If there was—if there was ever any doubt in your mind that we are an international movement, one of the interesting things to me as the new moderator over the first year are the emails and Facebook postings I get from all over the world. We are truly international. It's a blessing to have you all with us.

I'd now like to welcome and introduce Olivia Calvi and Owen Huelsbeck, the co-deans of the Youth Caucus for this General Assembly, and Hannah Roberts and the Reverend Jonathan Rogers, co-facilitator of Young Adults at GA. Please welcome them.


OWEN HUELSBECK: Hello, everyone.

OLIVIA CALVI: My name is Olivia Calvi and I'm from Emerson UU Church in Los Angeles, California.

OWEN HUELSBECK: And my name is Owen Huelsbeck and I'm from Tahoma Unitarian Universalist congregation of Tacoma, Washington.


We are the co-deans of Youth Caucus here at General Assembly 2014. We have over 300 registrants this year, seated over there.


And we cannot be happier sharing our faith with you all, reaching out in love together.

OLIVIA CALVI: We would like to formally invite everyone of all ages to share our space in the Waterplace Ballroom at the Omni.

OWEN HUELSBECK: And when we say all ages, we really mean it. We'd love to see every one of you here share our space throughout GA.

OLIVIA CALVI: Youth caucus staff will be wearing pink buttons or bandanas throughout the week. Come up to us and talk to us if you have any questions. Or if you just want to talk, we love doing that too.

OWEN HUELSBECK: Last year, when Olivia and I began planning for General Assembly, we created a vision statement that has guided us through the planning process. We want to share it with you in hopes that it will help guide you through GA as well.

OLIVIA CALVI: We envision GA 2014 as a deeply spiritual and religious community that provides the opportunity for all generations to collaborate and grow as leaders.

OWEN HUELSBECK: We envision a gathering where people of all ages are challenged, encouraged and equipped to live their values in the world, reaching out beyond themselves in service of a collective mission.

OLIVIA CALVI: We hope that this vision statement helps you reach out in love. We are so excited to be a presence in this community and we hope you join us as a caucus in celebrating our faith.



HANNAH ROBERTS: Good evening everyone. I'm Hannah Roberts, co-facilitator of young adults at General Assembly, or YA at GA.

REVEREND JONATHAN ROGERS: And I'm Reverend Jonathan Rogers, GA Talks program coordinator.

HANNAH ROBERTS: Formerly known as a Young Adult Caucus, our staff has been hard at work designing programming that needs the diverse needs of the multitude of identities and life experiences that fall under the umbrella term young adult. We hope to be in conversation with young adults about this shift throughout GA. This year's staff also includes co-facilitator Nic Cable, our community engagement coordinator Abigail Clauhs, and our worship coordinator Christopher Watkins.

REVEREND JONATHAN ROGERS: If you're looking for us during general session, young adults have our own seating section over there in the hall.


Many young adults will also be wearing ocean blue ribbons on their name tags. You can identify the YA at GA staff by our ocean blue bandannas, which we'll be wearing in some fashion throughout GA.

HANNAH ROBERTS: We hope to see all of you regardless of age during this General Assembly. Love reaches out across so many boundaries. And our goal is to facilitate multi-generational and multicultural community throughout GA. Check out the program book for the complete listing of YA at GA offerings.

REVEREND JONATHAN ROGERS: Specifically, we'd like to draw your attention to our series of GA Talks workshops. These three sessions will give you the opportunity to engage with innovators in our faith movement. Join us for the first session tomorrow at 12:30 PM in convention center hall C.

HANNAH ROBERTS: Finally, we'd like to invite you to the YA at GA opening worship tonight. This special collaboration with the sanctuary Boston, will be at First Unitarian Church of Providence at 9:45 PM. All ages are invited to worship with us. See a YA at GA staff member for more information.

REVEREND JONATHAN ROGERS: We hope that each and every one of you let's your love reach out in ways you never imagined possible.

HANNAH ROBERTS: And we look forward to spending these next few days with you all and--

[TOGETHER] Have a great GA.


Making GA 2014 More Accessible

JIM KEY: And again, a shout out to the young adults at GA. We stole the GA Talk from them and we've used them liberally using their model. We really appreciate that. Now it's time to welcome Patty Cameron who is here to tell us about accessibility services at this General Assembly. The GA planning committee and Patty have done a great job over the years of making GA more and more accessible to more and more people.


PATTY CAMERON: Welcome to General Assembly. My name is Patty Cameron and it's my pleasure to coordinate the accessibility services for General Assembly. I want to express my appreciation to the GA planning committee for allowing me this time to share with you how we can all be in beloved community. All of us, including those who use mobility equipment, listening devices, interpreters, have chemical sensitivity, assist dogs or need special seating to accommodate for vision or hearing.

Our services are available to anyone registered here at General Assembly and our goal is to provide assistance that allows everyone to participate fully in General Assembly. I hope you'll take notice of the accommodations available and bring these ideas back to your own congregations. And while you're here, please pay particular attention as you pass along the halls, navigate the Public Witness event, and attend worship workshops together.

Moving along the hallways, remember that people using scooters don't have brakes. Please don't stop suddenly to chat because the person behind you using a scooter can't stop suddenly. Please reserve the elevators for people with mobility or health needs.

I invite you to be with one another this week in ways that allow you to practice radical hospitality. Stretch your comfort zone, enrich your spirit, open your heart a little or a lot, and widen your field of vision as you take all those around you whether they walk or ride. We are all part of this General Assembly, one beloved community, a bright, wonderful community of people of all abilities. Be with each other in love. Thank you.


Introduction: GA Chaplains

JIM KEY: Thank you, Patty. How you feeling? You all look great. You really do. I can't imagine how many we have in here, but the hall is really full, isn't it? Now I want to welcome the Reverend Bret Lortie to tell us the important work of the GA Chaplains.


BRETT LORTIE: Greetings Providence General Assembly. Before I go into my prepared remarks and introduce the team, I do have a bit of Chaplain business to perform. We're looking for someone named John Shonle from Milford, New Hampshire. And if I could meet John immediately after this segment right over there by the tech deck, that would be great.

So greetings. My name's Bret Lortie and I'm the lead General Assembly chaplain for this year. There are many chaplains at General Assembly serving many of our constituent groups. Let me tell you what makes the GA Chaplain core unique.

We are the chaplains chosen by the General Assembly planning committee available to everyone 24 hours a day. All of our chaplains are ministers in full fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association and we come from a diversity that we hope reflects the beauty of this gathering. Your GA chaplains offer several services including we've got morning devotional practices in the Blackstone Room at the Omni hotel with posted hours for self-directed practice. Every day there will be scheduled drop in hours at 9:00 and 11:00, 2:00 and 4:00, 7:00 and 9:00 in the chaplain office room 550B which we're now sharing with the Right Relations Team. We said we wanted to be closer this year and, boy, we are.

And we are going to be working very closely with your Right Relations Team. We know that often a breach of relationship needs or could use both an institutional and a pastoral response, and we will strive to see that both needs are addressed. You can spot your GA chaplains roaming throughout the convention center by our bright orange logos, sporting the new UUA symbol. And even if you're not needing to talk to a chaplain, feel free to pull us aside and say hello or drop by the chaplain's office. We are here to serve this gathering of beloved community.

So please let me introduce each of your 2014 GA chaplains. Jennifer Brooks.


We can—we'll hold applause til the end. Marisol Caballero, Beth Dana, David Pyle and Julie Taylor.


Thank you.


Introduction: Right Relationship Team

JIM KEY: Thank you for that. And now it's time for me to introduce and welcome the co-chairs of your 2014 Right Relationship Team, Raziq Brown and Mr. Barb Greve. Bring it on.


RAZIQ BROWN: Good evening. We are the Right Relationship Team. We exist to help all live into our Unitarian Universalist covenant of care and love. As we lean into creating a more just and sustainable community that counters oppressions, we call forth our compassion, wholeness and liberation. The Right Relationship Team is here to help us stay in healthy relationship with one another. Our role is twofold.

One, if you find yourself out of relationship with other attendees of the assembly and would like help returning to right relationship, we will help you directly address those with whom you are out of relationship. And two, the RRT will pay attention to the multiple and intersecting realities of injustice, suffering and oppression in our lives, noting the places where we do well and the places we need to continue to pay attention.

To live in right relationship takes effort and practice. As a religious community, all of us here must be committed to stay engaged with one another, to listen carefully to one another, to remain curious and open to learning about the ways our words and actions impact those around us. This work can be challenging. It requires that sometimes we let go of our need to be right and instead embrace a state of unknowing. But this is the work our faith calls us to do.

BARB GREVE: To be in right relationship means we have to be forgiving when we make mistakes and trust the best intentions of those around us. Because we are human and fallible, we can also trust that there will be times when we make mistakes. This is OK. Being in right relationship also means that at times admitting that we don't know everything. It might even mean apologizing for saying or doing something that we didn't realize would hurt someone else. A simple acknowledgement of the situation is pure gold. In my opinion, it diffuses tension and makes people feel that they have been heard, respected and understood.

You can always find us because we'll be wearing these bright orange shirts. Our phone number is in your program book and the GA app, and our office hours are 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM in the chaplain's office, convention center room 550B. Remember that we are here to help you directly address each other and we will help facilitate direct conversations if you feel like your relationship has been broken.

Our team this year is led by Raziq Brown, member of the First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, an avid writer and a smart church consultant for the UUA southern region. And myself, Mr. Barb Greve, interim director of religious education to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Georgia, member of the Star King School for the Ministry Board of Trustees and co-founder of TRUST—Transgender Religious Unitarian Universalists Together.

We are delighted to have the following wonderful folks on our team this year. Meghan Cefalu, assistant minister for congregational engagement and pastoral care at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts. Ben Gabel, office administrator at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield, Michigan, and a lay leader at Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Elandria Williams, member of the Tennessee Valley UU Church who is on the UUA presidential search committee and on the advisory committee for the Fahs Fellowship—Fahs Collaborative. Elandria also works on the Highlander Research and Education team. Halcyon Westall, assistant director at the Fahs collaborative, a Laboratory for Leaders in Faith and Learning based at Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Tessie Mandeville, palliative care chaplain in Atlanta, Georgia, and until recently, the pastoral care coordinator at the UU congregation of Atlanta, Georgia. Elizabeth Mount from the UU congregation of Asheville, North Carolina, and a first year seminarian at Meadville Lombard. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, associate minister at the UU congregation of Asheville, North Carolina and very active in the Moral Monday movement.


Ila Klion, from Lauderhill, Florida and a member of Church of the Larger Fellowship. Ila is a member of the GA planning committee and our liaison to that committee. Phoebe Masterson-Eckhart, member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society San Francisco and one of our youth caucus chaplains. Last but not least, Oliver Evans from the UU Church of Akron, Ohio and our other youth chaplain.


We are here to serve you. Find us in our office hours, call us or grab us any time we're wearing our orange shirts.


Review and Adopt Rules

JIM KEY: They do [INAUDIBLE]. We thank them. How's the Twitter feed going? I've just done totally dead. How's it going? We tweeting out there? Excellent. Excellent. Let me find my place here.

We have one singular item of business for tonight in tonight's general session that requires the delegates to vote, is the adoption of the rules or procedures for this General Assembly. So start fumbling for those yellow voting cards, you're going to need them in a bit.

And you governance wonks, listen up. This is important. The proposed rules of procedure can be found on pages 84 through 86 of the final agenda of the program book. These rules will govern our consideration other than voting upon the business items that come before us during our general sessions together. The rules are largely the same as in previous years. There are a couple of rules that I want to direct your attention to. They challenge questions every year.

Please note that rule five provides that no amendments to a business resolution, a bylaw change or a rule change will be in order unless submitted for consideration at the mini assembly for that item. So you'll want to pay attention to the agenda and when those mini assemblies occur. Also, please note that rule two provides that, unless the Association's bylaws otherwise require action on all matters, will be decided by an uncounted show of voting cards or by an uncounted standing vote.

A vote will be counted only in two instances. If there's a doubt about the outcome of a vote, I will call for a count. A count will also be taken if so requested by a delegate and if 99 other delegates join the request. In either instance, the count will be made by the tellers who are present on the floor of the assembly, and they are wearing those highly fashionable and very visible vests. Hi, Denise, how are you?

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 on the—your right. The con microphone is up front on your left. Thank you, Vanna. There is also an amendment microphone which has been placed at the front of the arena over here and procedural microphone which has been placed immediately in front of me, there.

Please note that the points of personal privilege and points of information must be made from the procedural mic not from the pro mic or the con mic. This way, only delegates may speak from the microphones except by express permission of the moderator. And that would be me.

I strongly urge those of you who are attending General Assembly general sessions for the first time to read the rules of procedure. Particularly, look at rule six on page 84 of the rules so that you understand the time limits in effect. No person may speak on any motion for more than two minutes. And the timers do not lie. 30 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. There will be testing on this at midnight.

Before proceeding with our business I want to introduce you to Tom Bean, our legal counsel and parliamentarian. And he is sitting—standing—on my left here.


TOM BEAN: Thank you, Jim.

JIM KEY: So we're good? We're good?

TOM BEAN: We're good.

JIM KEY: We're good. So will the vice moderator make the appropriate motion with respect to the rules of procedure.


JIM KEY: Thank you.

DONNA HARRISON: Moved, that the rules of procedure of this General Assembly, as set forth in full on pages 84 through 86 of the final agenda be adopted.

JIM KEY: Is there a second?


JIM KEY: Oh, good. Oh, good. Does anybody want to discuss the rules? There being no discussion of the rules or procedure, discussion is now closed and a vote would be in order. All those in favor of adopting the rules of procedure, this is it, raise those yellow cards. Oh, I think this is going to carry. Cards down. All those opposed. And do we have anybody in the off site queue?

We might. But I don't think they can overcome the votes. So I declare that the rules are approved. So the motion carries.



There being no further business to come before us in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this general session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until 9:15 tomorrow morning.



But I'm not through. To prepare for tonight's worship service—I warned you earlier we were going to use our phones—the first of its kind in General Assembly—not the phone, the worship service—rather than turning off your cellphone or smartphone, we ask you to silence them or put them in airplane mode. But keep them on. If you have a smartphone you may want an app such as the UUA Illuminations app or the Chalice Lighters app, or just a candle or flame. Whatever you've got.

If you can't find an app and there's nobody next to you to help you download an app, just hold up your phone at the appropriate time and your phone will emit some sort of light that will help with the effect. Our ushers have given out electric or battery candles to those who don't have cellphones or choose not to use them in this way. And I must admit, I don't have any juice so I'll need a candle.

Our worship leaders will signal us when it's time to get your apps on. This is not that time. For now, please silence your phone, put it on an airplane mode and come with me and Brother Sun as we move into a time of celebration and reverence.



REVEREND PETER MORALES: Out of cosmic dust and by ancient waters, the people gather. Across land and sea we have traveled to this space, forming for a time in Providence a community of leadership and learning.

JIM KEY: We are assembled as one body to grow our religion, cross the borders of our imagination and reach out in love.

REVEREND PETER MORALES: May this celebration be a blessing from hand to hand and heart to heart. May our being together matter to the world as we embrace our lamentations and our deepest blackness.

JIM KEY: Whether you are gathered with us here in Providence or beyond this arena's walls, by virtue and virtual live stream, please rise in body or spirit to reach out in love and our common call to worship. Please briefly greet your closest neighbor.



REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Jubilate. Sing it with me?


It means rejoice in Latin, the liturgical language of the religious tradition from which Universalism and Unitarianism arose. When you see it on the screen it won't look like jubilate so let's say it again.

[ALL] Jubilate.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: And even better, let's repeat the singing after our singers.


REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Ours is a hymn of the evening. It's words were written in the 1800s by Unitarian minister Samuel Longfellow. While we are gathered, this refulgent summer day is slipping toward twilight. As we worship, the sky will turn from blue to indigo, pulling a cloak of darkness and stars over us. Those stars will stand guard all night while our excited hearts try to find sleep. Let us rise in body or in spirit and sing the night toward us.



REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: Around the time when I was born, my dad was serving in the Navy on a ship out of Quonset Point at the port of Davisville about 20 miles away from here down the Old Post Road. As a child I found my most important spiritual practice in watching the stars that guide sailors, ritualizing my wishes, my prayers for good things and niceties by the first of the distant lights shining in the spirit's skies. I grew up paying attention to the motions and cycles of the cosmic forces that I could see and feel beneath the great bowl of stars, knowing, as children did in those days, that walking on the moon was a holy and wholly reasonable dream.

Now I live by the San Francisco Bay, some 3,500 miles from here. And when I look up into the sky each night I see fog. This is not a metaphor for adults faith development, it is the climate. Yet, growing up under these vast New England summer skies, I learned this faith of Ralph Waldo Emerson, that there is in the heavenly bodies the perpetual presence of the sublime.

This evening together we begin another chapter in the story of our ever changing, ever moving tradition. And such sublime courage is contained in this moment. Jubilate. What reasonable and unreasonable dreams are contained in our hearts. Jubilate. We who have traveled from across the post road or across the globe to be at this historic gathering of Unitarian Universalist Association are practicing courage and taking risks. Jubilate.

And know this. Our being together does matter. It matters that we are here practicing deep theology. And the work of packing and traveling to new places, of logging in and logging on and connecting, #UUAGA, because we are risking faithfully, living these theologies and doing the work of showing up, of voting and of staying in the conversations that make us uncomfortable. Through the days ahead, we will be called upon to do something that matters, to reach out in love, to cross those borders of our imagination and scale walls, repelling over edges, literal and metaphoric.

In worship, in workshops and all manners of learning and community, we will face the challenge to grow this religion from the inside out. Risking faithfully is this transformative calling to cross the borders that we have known, to truly serve as religious persons reaching out in love.

In this sacred time, on this land, I know that I am striving to express the deepest gratitude and continue to learn from the many persons who have already risked faithfully. To nurture and sustain this face through generations of challenge and change. For my ancestors and elders thank you.

Our tradition of scholarship reminds us of the vision of our courageous leaders to continually reach out in love while learning and traversing borders. One such contemporary scholar, the Reverend Dr. Susan Ritchie, reminds us we have acted as if such boundary lines could only be crossed one at a time by a few spectacular individuals or ideas. Yet, borders are often more impenetrable in theory and on maps than they are in the lives of actual people.

Such borders and boundaries of who we are and what we can be as Unitarian Universalists will no longer be the same by the time we adjourn on Sunday. Between then and now, we will be offered possibilities as far fetched as walking on the moon once was. Jubilate.

AUDIENCE: Jubilate.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: Now, as the eternal stars arise, we come to our story. It's a cosmic tale we tell and it is considered to be the source of the teaching tikkun olam. Tikkun olam is a key understanding from Judaism reminding human beings of the imperative to repair the world, mindful of creation's great calling to social and environmental action and healing harms.

Through our study of the text, we've learned many perspectives of a cosmological myth created in the 16th century by the great Jewish mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria Safed, known as the Ha'ARI. Our dynamic and beautiful tradition of Unitarian Universalism is informed by the prophetic words and deeds of so many who have come before and live among us, and it is with humility that we engage this text. For this story we tell is so big, so cosmic, so enduring that it keeps changing. Jubilate.

AUDIENCE: Jubilate.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: And still, entering into story across time and culture is complex. Still, we risk faithfully, striving to pay attention as we grow in wisdom and give new shape to our spiritual and ethical lives. The Reverend Leah Hart-Landsberg president of Unitarian Universalist for Jewish Awareness, assures us that to be a religious person is to know this story. For it is a narrative about how we learn to know the perpetual presence of the divine, and telling this story is a mitzvah.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: We center ourselves in story, as humans have done for as long as we've been alive and equipped with the language to make sense out of mystery. Our stories remind us who we are and who's we are, who we've been and who we strive to be. This one takes us all the way back to the beginning. In our human family, there are many stories about how our world came into being. All of them true in some way and none of them more important than the others. This story, however, is about how we learned to reach out in love.

SPEAKER 6: There was nothing. There was emptiness. It was before the beginning and before that, before all memories begin.

SPEAKER 7: The creator brought the world out of the inky void. It took a simple flourish, a murmured incantation. And voila, the planet was born. Slowly, suspended delicately in space, this cloud of dust and minerals began spinning around its rocky core.

SPEAKER 8: This new world began to circle around a blazing, powerful star joined by other planets circling their orbits.

SPEAKER 7: The creator wasn't done. The new planet needed beauty, texture, color, elements, forces beyond our understanding, set in motion all the forces and sources of life that would help this new planet thrive.

SPEAKER 9: Cloud cover and oceans, mountains and deserts, creatures with fins, fur and feathers. All of this and more emerged and evolved across the surface of this new world.

SPEAKER 6: It was done.

SPEAKER 7: It was finished.

SPEAKER 8: It took a very long time, a little under 14 billion years.

SPEAKER 9: But it was beautiful.

SPEAKER 7: The new world glowed with a green blue light in the inky darkness of its galaxy. Still, the creator wanted to add a final element.

ALL: Light. Light. Light. Light.

SPEAKER 7: Not just any light, a special light.

SPEAKER 6: A sacred light. So that this new world would shine with goodness.

SPEAKER 9: A powerful light that would prevent all suffering.

SPEAKER 8: A healing light to prevent all sadness and evil.

SPEAKER 9: The light was too powerful to move freely throughout the planet. So it lay hidden, tucked away in sacred vessels.

SPEAKER 6: But when the creator tried to open the vessels of light--


--they shattered.


SPEAKER 9: Released from their vessels, the light blazed and then scattered.

SPEAKER 8: Sparks of lights were flung everywhere. Lost.

SPEAKER 6: Lost.

SPEAKER 7: Lost.

SPEAKER 6: Lost.

SPEAKER 9: Lost.

SPEAKER 8: And then gone.

SPEAKER 7: All of that precious goodness lost.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Everyone here has been visited by pain. It too is part of our world. Life is fragile. There's brokenness all around us. Our pale blue earth, home of all life, cries out to us in her own language that her delicate balance has tipped beyond help into great harm.

Life is fragile, torn by violence and anger. Around the world our human family cries out in loss and despair in the fear that hope is beyond reach. Life is fragile. There is brokenness within us. We make mistakes, we betray one another, we lose hope. Our own hearts break or are broken open or they simply shut.

In this quiet time of devotion, we offer our wants and burdens to the care that cares for all. We acknowledge our hunger for hope. We reclaim our capacity for healing, for opening. May we honor the secret struggle of every person and discover new ways to reach out in love.

We reach out in love when we turn away from numbness and feel what needs to be felt. We choose love when rather than stumbling headlong into judgment, we make room for what is, practice curiosity in the midst of disappointment and steadfastly refuse to shame one another. We reach out in love when we risk faithfully, choose to be brave, and move into vulnerability.

Nearly a century ago, our Unitarian siblings collected themselves in words of prayer from hymns of the spirit, humbling themselves to that which is larger than us. I invite you to breathe our breath into those same words. Will you pray with me?

ALL: Oh, unseen source of peace and holiness, we come into your secret place to be filled with your pure and solemn light. As we come here to seek that which is just and to find that which is good, we remember that we have not walked lovingly with each other. That we have feared what is not terrible and wished for what is not holy. We have made but feeble effort to understand the peoples of the world and to foster peace among the nations.

In our weakness be the quickening power of life. Arise in our hearts as healing, strength and joy. Day by day may we grow in faith, in generosity of spirit and in the larger life to love to which you call us. Amen.



SPEAKER 9: The creator was upset. The sacred light had been lost to the far corners of this new blue green world.

SPEAKER 6: The world could not be complete.

SPEAKER 8: Could not be whole.

SPEAKER 7: Until all of the sparks of goodness were gathered again, united into their powerful oneness.

SPEAKER 9: Would it be possible to retrieve the light and tuck it back into the sacred vessels?

SPEAKER 6: No. Gathering those million shards of light was too much even for the creator.

SPEAKER 7: Though the creator couldn't search out and find each spark, there was still one more possibility. To ask for help for this enormous, important task.

SPEAKER 8: The creator could create beings to find the lost light, to gather the sparks, to make the world whole again.

SPEAKER 9: And so, once more, the creator, god of life, summoned the power of changeless love, bringing the human family into being.

SPEAKER 7: Birth after birth, generation upon generation, the creator's everlasting arms cradled each new baby whispering--

SPEAKER 8: Remember that you came from love. Remember that love is at your center. Always reach out in love.

SPEAKER 9: Reach out.

SPEAKER 7: Reach out.

SPEAKER 6: Reach out.

SPEAKER 9: Reach out.

SPEAKER 7: Reach out.

SPEAKER 6: Reach out.

SPEAKER 8: As you grow, go out and seek the light. Bring it back to one another. You were made to reach out and bring back the light.

ALL: Bring back the light. Bring back the light. Bring back the light.

SPEAKER 6: This, some say, is why the human family exists. To search out goodness and to find what has been broken.

SPEAKER 9: To know one another in our differences as bearers of light, seeking itself, remembering its source.

SPEAKER 7: To gather up love where we find it and to use it to heal one another and our earth home.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: This is why we're here. This is why we are here to reach out in love.

Take a look behind you some of you.

Will you help bring back the light by using your flame candle or chalice app to light up the darkness?

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: Love knows no single language, love speaks them all. Love knows no borders, it moves across them all. Love is our finding one another.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: We asked, what does love look like in your community?

SPEAKER 9: And Filipino, love is defiant. In the face of devastation we find the fire of laughter. In the face of powerlessness we find the ferocity to give more. And our word for it is [FILIPINO]. Please say it with me. [FILIPINO]


SPEAKER 10: In our community, love looks like a family from all around the world gathered at the table to learn and grow and to share stories, faith and food for the soul. In Farsi, the word for love is [FARSI]. Say it with me.


SPEAKER 11: In Spanish, the word for love is [SPANISH]. Please say [SPANISH].


SPEAKER 12: In [INAUDIBLE] we firmly hold the choice, share the song of hope and laugh and welcome anyone of goodwill to share the light with the new generations of Unitarians. Our word for love is [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].





SPEAKER 14: In the Khasi Hills, love is binding. It binds our families, our neighbors, our friends in spite of the many challenges we face in life. Life moves on because of love. The Khasi word for love is [KHASI].




SPEAKER 16: In Transylvania, love means to be faithful to one's values and tradition and people and calling. In this love we nurture our good selves and each other and those around us and like us. And we welcome those who are different. Our Hungarian word for love is [HUNGARIAN].


SPEAKER 17: In my [INAUDIBLE] community, love reaches out across all generations to bring peaceful hope to all. The word for love is [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]. Say it with me. [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: From hand to hand the greeting flows, from eye to eye the signals run, from heart to heart the bright hope glows.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: Love is our finding one another across difference, across language.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Love is recognizing our common source and end. Love is our remembering that, in the words of Samuel Longfellow, the seekers of the light are one.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: And so we offer this blessing, this bright hope.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Blessed be the sparks in me that recognize the spark in you.

SPEAKER 9: Blessed be these eyes that see you as my kindred.

SPEAKER 12: Blessed be your heart which has known pain.

SPEAKER 16: Blessed be your shoulders that have shared the burden carried by someone else, easing their struggle.

SPEAKER 14: Blessed be your arms that have always cared with compassion.

REVEREND PETER MORALES: Blessed be your voices that have spoken truth to power.

SPEAKER 10: Blessed be these minds which imagine a world and her people made whole.

SPEAKER 17: Blessed be our hands for they hold the [INAUDIBLE] of the world.

GREG GREENWAY: Blessed be the feet that keep the rhythm and the hands that do what must be done.



REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: We. We aren't actors in an ancient story, we aren't bystanders, we don't turn out or look away.

JIM KEY: We see the contours of life beyond the horizon, dream our way forward and take action.

REVEREND PETER MORALES: All of us are vibrant participants in our living tradition, making a covenant with each other and with our future generations and with the whole of our human family.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: We are, all of us, held in divine love that will never let us go. And we're held by this flawed, loving, vibrant human community.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: In a moment we're going to have our final hymn. And before that I want to ask that you all stay for a very singable postlude. And let our folks who are in scooters out at the end of that postlude. This closing hymn that we're sharing is one of solace intersecting with faith. In the late 1880s, hearing news of two grieving friends, Anthony Showalter turned to ancient scripture and was comforted by these words. The eternal is your refuge and underneath our everlasting arms. Together with a Elisha Hoffman, our hymn was born.

REVEREND PETER MORALES: Let us sing together as you stand in body or spirit. Let us sing of our fellowship, sing of our journey together and the love that holds us all.




REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: And so it has begun.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: As General Assembly carries us forward, may your voices remain strong.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: May your hearts remain open.

REVEREND MICHELLE FAVREAULT: And may your arms reach out in love.

REVEREND ERIKA HEWITT: Go in peace and in joy.

JOE JENCKS: One, two, one, two, three, four.





Friends, are you as excited as I am?


What a community we are part of. Amen? We're allowed to say that, by the way. Amen?

ALL: Amen.

DAVID GLASGOW: And as part of this community, you may have noticed that the aisles in this space are a little bit narrow. And I think it would be wise for those of us who have less trouble navigating those aisles to sing a little bit so that those who have difficulty with those aisles have a head start at getting on with the rest of their evening. We're going to throw some more lyrics up on the screens, and as soon as I remember what song I asked us to throw up there, "Come and Go With Me." Let's sing a little, shall we?



DAVID GLASGOW: Goodnight, y'all. We've got a great week ahead of us.

More Information