General Session V, General Assembly 2014
General Assembly 2014 Event 402
Call To Order
JIM KEY: I now call to the order the fifth general session of the 53rd General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I hope you all got to walk outside on the way to the dunk this morning and didn't come through all the overhead passageways. Is it not the most perfect day in the world out there? And how you feeling on this fourth day of General Assembly? Energy level still high?
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
First of all, I want to acknowledge your frustrations with our ongoing schedule problems of yesterday. You've been very attentive to that and appreciative for the most part. The young adults took the hit on that with their GA talk coming so late that most of you were out of the hall. And I apologize for that. But they will be back with another GA talk tomorrow. Morning. So I hope you'll listen closely to that.
Do you remember the conversation, I believe it was yesterday, I'm losing track of days, that Faithify was mentioned as a crowd-funding site where passionate folk follow, share, and fund innovative ministries? One of the perks of being a moderator is you get all sorts of swag.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
And what I want to report is that as of I think it was 7:00 PM last night, Faithify had raised $16,600. So I think that's really cool. I'm glad you're all here this morning. But I believe the Right Relations Team—I bet they do have a report because they're standing right to my right. Come on up.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
Right Relations Team Report
PHOEBE MASTERSON-ECKHART: Good morning. We are your Right Relationship Team. This is our morning report. My name is Phoebe Masterson-Eckhart.
HALCYON WESTALL: And my name is Halcyon Westall.
PHOEBE MASTERSON-ECKHART: We all came here with different expectations, and we all bring our past experiences, both the joys and the pains with us. We are still learning how to live in Beloved Community together. Our relationships with our faith are beautiful, but can also be complicated. We don't leave our past and those relationships at the door.
We've been here a few days now, and in our growing comfort we may be tempted to make assumptions about our similarities. How we communicate with each other is important. Language has the power to harm and the power to heal. It takes mindfulness to live in Beloved Community. Mindfulness about sharing space and about making room for each other. Let us endeavor to take the time to be gentle with one another.
Despite the accessibility challenges of Providence and these facilities, we want to lift up with appreciation those who are practicing new ways of being in right relationship. We give thanks to those who are mindfully making space for those among us who use assistive devices such as scooters and walkers to move through the narrow halls and crowded rooms.
HALCYON WESTALL: We are thankful for the ushers and volunteers who work tirelessly to make sure that General Assembly runs as smoothly as possible. We have noticed as we have become more comfortable in this space that we seem to be forgetting that we are guests. We ask that you take extra care to check around your seat whenever you leave a room, and make sure you are taking your trash, compost, and recyclables to their proper bins.
While we're talking about seats, we want to lift up with appreciation three women who mistakenly sat in the young adult section yesterday morning. These three were wonderfully gracious when asked to move in order that our young adults could sit together en masse. This is just one reminder that while we may sometimes make mistakes, we can always return to right relationship.
We've got to tell you that our phone was ringing off the hook all day yesterday. Many of these calls were reports of a successful return to right relationship. We love to hear these stories. These are the stories that assure us that you are taking the initiative to repair relationships on your own, coming to the right relationships team when you are unsure of how to approach someone or need a companion in the conversation.
And we want to say thank you to the people who are simply stopping us to say thank you for our service. We really appreciate it. Knowing that you are engaging in the work of keeping the love alive in our Beloved Community warms our heart and gives us hope. Thank you.
Voting to Admit Potential Actions of Immediate Witness to the Agenda
JIM KEY: Thank you for that report. Now's the time in our agenda where we vote to admit potential actions of immediate witness to the agenda for voting tomorrow. We're going to do some more of that this morning. So I call on Susan Geckler, once again, to give us a report on potential actions of immediate witness and a little overview of the process for this.
SUSAN GECKLER: Thank you. Before I start, I just want to ask you to join me in thanking all those who have proposed actions of immediate witness. They worked hard. They are passionate. They were committed. And whether their issue was selected or will be selected or not, they have raised our awareness of important issues. So please join me in thanking them for all their hard work and their commitment.
Presentation of Potential Actions of Immediate Witness
We had nine possible actions of immediate witness that were submitted to the CSW by the deadline on Thursday. All of them gathered the required number of signatures. The UUA bylaws state in section 4.16c3 on page 108—I did that for you, Jim—that if more than six petitions are submitted, the CSW shall select six that meet the criteria for a General Assembly action of immediate witness.
The criteria that the CSW considered were immediacy, is that something that needs action right away? Specificity. So it's too narrow a topic to be a possible congregational study action issue. The grounding in UU theology and practice. Whether congregations could take meaningful action on this issue. And whether there was opportunity for Unitarian Universalists to become respected participants in the public dialogue.
Based on that and the need to limit it to six, the ones that we selected are in your program today on the blue sheet. So Moderator Key, the Commission on Social Witness submits to the delegates for a vote to select three proposed actions of immediate witness to add to the final agenda for a vote for adoption on Sunday the following six issues. A, support the faith summit on stopping deportations. B, support a fair, ambitious, and binding 2015 Global Climate Treaty. C, affirming congregational commitment to gun violence prevention. D, stop arresting victims of human trafficking. E, calling for humanitarian aid to victims of violence in Syria. And F, Unitarian Universalist Association support for Uganda new Underground Railway to safely extract LGBT people from persecution in Uganda.
JIM KEY: So are we clear on that? We're going to now take the first step of the process for adopting actions of immediate witness. Bylaw section 4-16 on page 108 of your program book provides that not more than three actions of immediate witness may be admitted to the agenda for possible final action. And that 2/3 of the delegates must support the admission of each one to the agenda.
Delegates have had an opportunity to pick up a copy of the blue sheet, the proposed actions of immediate witness. And if there's any delegate without a copy, raise your voting card, and tellers will make sure that each delegate receives one of these. So you've gotten the summaries. You've heard what the six in front of you are.
And I want to call attention that you've got on your ballot attached to your delegate card a voting stub with letters A through F on it. And you're going to check—listen clearly—three of those blocks before we're through here this morning. But don't vote yet. We have six groups that have decided that there are some issues that the delegates need to consider. It will be up to you this morning based on the rules found in the bylaws 4.16 on page 108 to narrow these six down to three.
Tomorrow, you'll vote on the actual language of those. This is important. Today, you are voting on the three topics that you feel are worthy and important enough that you want to spend some time on this morning in mini assemblies and tomorrow in general session to see about actually making a statement as a body of delegates.
So here's the process. You get this alert, and you look at the summaries that are printed there. They're random in order. They're not in any prioritized order. The letters that are there correspond to the letters on your ballot card at the bottom stub. A is the support for the faith summit on stopping deportations, and so on down the sheet.
At the mini assemblies this morning in rooms 552, 553, and Ballroom E, you'll have an opportunity to look at the full statements and then make decisions about whether you want to revise the wording on those. But don't vote yet. We're going to hear statements from the proponents of each of these issues. Each one has two minutes to tell you about their issue.
But before recognize, I see no delegates at the pro mic yet, but I do see folks at the procedures mic. Yes, I recognize the delegate at the procedures mic.
DAVID ANDERSON: Thank you. David Anderson, University Unitarian Church in Seattle. You said vote on three. I'm just making clear that we can vote for fewer than three.
JIM KEY: Absolutely. A very good question. You could go on one. You can vote on two. You can vote on three. If you vote on four, the ballot is discarded. If you vote the same one—A, A, A—that gets thrown out as well. So A, A,B, A,B, C, some combination. Thanks.
I recognize the delegate at the procedures mic.
RICHARD BOCK: Richard Bock, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. Jim, you are referring to ABC, et cetera. The blue sheet has one, two, three. Would you give us instructions?
JIM KEY: You noticed. You noticed that. Very good.
RICHARD BOCK: I certainly did.
JIM KEY: See, we do these things. As your moderator, I do these things just to see if you're paying attention. I see that you are. Thank you for that. So let's go through that. Thank you.
RICHARD BOCK: Thank you.
JIM KEY: The one called one on your blue sheet. You really need the blue sheet. You could take a pen and mark that A as I have done. And then I want to step you through this. This is proposed AIW two would be B. And C and D and E and F. We good with that? Excellent.
So I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
MELISSA CARVILL-ZIEMER: My name is Melissa Carvill-Ziemer. I serve as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Kent in Ohio. Like many people, I have been heartbroken to see the photos and read the stories of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing into our country on a quest to save their lives. Border Patrol has already picked up almost 50,000 children this year. And even more are expected next year.
The United Nations reports that more than half of the children would likely qualify for refugee status. But without adequate access to attorneys, I fear that many will face deportation instead. President Obama has called the situation a humanitarian crisis. However, it cannot be understood apart from the larger crisis caused by ongoing deportations. Over 1,000 deportations each day, over two million in the last five years. The epidemic of deportations is separating families, traumatizing children, and fracturing communities.
There is widespread and growing chorus of voices calling on President Obama to take executive action to respond to this crisis too. Immigration activists, faith leaders, even members of Congress have called upon Obama to halt the deportations until Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform. We had been invited to add our voices to this urgent call.
From July 31 to August 1, our interfaith and immigrant justice partners will host a faith summit on stopping deportations in Washington, DC. They need us to turn out and to consider participating in planned civil disobedience as a faithful response to this crisis. This action of immediate witness is a call to support the faith summit—to go yourself or send a delegation from your congregation to DC if you can.
And if you can't, to find a way to add your voice to the chorus of people calling for another way. We may be heartbroken, but we are not helpless and we are not hopeless.
JIM KEY: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
DORIS MARLIN: Good morning, GA. I'm Doris Marlin from All Souls Church in Washington, DC.
STEVE BUCKINGHAM: And I'm Steve Buckingham from the Goodlow Memorial Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bowie, Maryland, and co-chair of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland. UUs understand that climate change is real. And we can and we accept the human role in creating greenhouse gases that are the root cause. We know the tragic consequences that are already affecting our planet. And we know that the window to take remedial action is closing and time is short.
This is the time to act. This is a simple proposal. All individual UUs and congregations can and have acted to take remedial action to mitigate climate change. We also know that they have acted at the state and local level to take action as well. But we need the world to agree to a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty in Paris next year. This is the time. Only such a treaty will hold nations accountable.
And since the US is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, one of the largest, active American participation and support is essential. Why should other nations participate if we don't agree to do our part?
As people of faith this, is the time for us to speak out and call on our government to make a global agreement happen. This is a moral stand that we're asking you and your denomination to take. And worldwide action is needed now. This is the time.
Keep in mind that voting for this AIW must only be the first step that you take. It's imperative that we pledge each of us to act. If you vote for this AIW, we expect you to contact lawmakers and become a personal advocate for the cause. You've never done this before. There are plenty in UUs circles who are willing to help. But this is the time. This is the time to take a stand to bear witness to the immorality of future inaction.
JIM KEY: Thank you very much.
JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone. The tall delegate at the pro microphone.
BOB HATFIELD: And the helpful person next to me.
JIM KEY: Takes a village, doesn't it?
BOB HATFIELD: Mr. Moderator, my fellow delegates, I am Bob Hatfield from the UU congregation of Fairfax, Virginia. I feel honored and humbled to give voice to the thousands who sadly never had, never will have the opportunity. AIW three or C is titled Affirming Congregational Commitment to Gun Violence Prevention.
Once you get past the several because and whereas statements, you see that it has one clear and definitive purpose—to motivate and inspire our 1,028 congregations to each adopt their own resolution or statement of conscience to work for gun violence prevention taking ownership for the critical resource that can make a difference, a broad, faith-based coalition of committed advocates.
I won't take your time telling you what you already know, the devastating carnage of gun homicides, the powerful industry-funded opposition of the NRA, the cowering legislators more dedicated to protecting their seat than the public. When my Northern Virginia advocacy group was founded a month after the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook School tragedy, we adopted the mantra of our partner, Newtown Action Alliance, to honor with action.
A more recent tragedy at UC Santa Barbara has sadly provided another mantra from Richard Martinez the father of a 20-year-old son killed there. At the end of his impassioned plea for sensible gun legislation Richard cried, not one more. Please say it with me. Not one more. Not one more.
We could do this. It is in your hands to make a difference. You won't be alone. The three Northern Virginia congregations have passed resolutions standing ready would guidance as needed.
JIM KEY: Thank you.
JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
Thank you. I am the Reverend Amy Zucker Morgenstern of the UU Church of Palo Alto and the UU Abolitionists. And I woke up this morning with my mind-state on freedom. 20 to 30 million people worldwide are enslaved, held against their will, and compelled by threat of violence to work without pay. This most appalling violation of human rights occurs in every country, including the US.
To add trauma to trauma, when the police act against trafficking situations, they often treat trafficked people not as the victims of a crime, but as criminals. Right now sex trafficked children are being handcuffed and thrown into juvenile hall. Adults are being transferred from sweatshops to prisons. Immigrants of all ages who thought they were being rescued from their traffickers are instead languishing in detention camps or being deported. This must stop! We can stop it.
Legislation is pending in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Congress that would prohibit the arrest and detention of human trafficking victims, and in many cases, offer help instead. Our UU values and history exhort us to pass these laws and support the survivors of modern slavery in securing justice and rebuilding their lives.
The words of our four mother Frances Ellen Watkins-Harper, the 19th century Unitarian abolitionist in her poem, "Bury Me in a Free Land" ring in our ears this morning. All that my yearning spirit craves is bury me not in a land of slaves. She saw her people liberated, and yet this land is tainted by the suffering of 21st century slaves. Will we heed her prophetic cry? Will we hear theirs?
The need is urgent. The opportunity for action is immediate. And the cause is ours—the cause of justice, dignity, and freedom. Thank you.
JIM KEY: Thank you.
JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
ANN JOHNSON-LUNDBERG: I'm Ann Johnson-Lundberg from Westport, Connecticut, the Westport Unitarian Church in Connecticut. Syria, 10 million people driven from their homes. We may have a wrong impression from the websites of World Food Program or UNICEF showing aid to Syria. They are not reaching the warzone.
That's because sovereign governments pay for the UN and Assad forbids aid to the rebel-held territories. And that's where the bombing is. The chlorine gas, the starvation, that makes Syria hugely different from homelessness in other places like Iraq. In Syria, the government blocks aid.
The second misimpression comes from TV that a family reaching Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey gets one of those huge fluffy tents and stands in food lines that are serviced by CARE, for example. Instead, 80% of the Syrian refugees are turned away from bursting camps. They live on the streets. And that's terrible for the fragile countries receiving the refugees, 9,400 of them a day.
And yet, Syrian immigrants are not welcome in the EU or in the United States. 5,000 in Germany. 31 in the United States. Pope Francis says there is a globalization of indifference to the Syrians.
UUs believe in the inherent dignity of every person. We need to publicize in the media the unknown story of how UN organizations cannot reach the warzones, that neighboring countries take in only 20% of the refugees into camps, and that the United States needs to increase the number of vetted immigrants. Above all, we need to make humanitarian programs a priority, for example, the UUSC trauma program for Syrians in Lebanon, and to partner with our community Muslim friends whose refugee organizations are effective in getting help into Syria.
JIM KEY: Thank you. The moderator recognizes the delegate at the Pro microphone.
SARA HUISJEN: My name is Sara Huisjen. I'm honored to serve the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth, Maine. If ever there was a crisis that deserved being named an action of immediate witness, it is this. Even as we speak, gays, lesbians, transgender, and bisexual people and their allies are being hunted down and killed in Uganda.
In February, 2014, the Ugandan Parliament approved and President Museveni signed a new law criminalizing homosexuality with sentences up to and including life imprisonment. The law makes aiding and abetting homosexuality a criminal offense carrying a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Since the law passed, a tax on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people have increased. In fact, in the last two weeks, LGBT people and their supporters are being rounded up and killed at an escalating pace. A Quaker group has formed Friends New Underground Railway. In the past week, the group reports in two different incidents in two different locations they've had 58 LGBT people evicted from their safe houses and running for their lives.
This follows on the heels of suicides by two people who lost hope of getting out. And also with the names of LGBT folk who are being hunted read over the radio. Due to some extraordinary acts of heroism on the part of several of their conductors, the 58 are now in two separate locations and temporarily out of harm's way. The group has been successful in moving people to Kenya and then to shelter in several countries in Europe.
The UUA and the UU Service Committee have proud histories working to rescue persecuted people in harm's way. This action of immediate witness calls on us to speak out and to act again. What could be a better symbol of love reaching out than to stand with the Quakers in support of the new underground railway?
JIM KEY: Thank you.
JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.
SPEAKER 1: Yes, Mr. Moderator. I believe you indicated that the votes were more than one, a duplicate selection is made, would be discarded? I would move to amend that, that ballots on which is more than one mark is by one selection should be counted simply as one vote for that selection and that the ballot not be discarded.
JIM KEY: That would be out of order, but let me make a suggestion. If you put the wrong letter in and you want to change it, just cross it out very carefully. And put the letter that you really wanted beside it. And we'll count those votes.
SPEAKER 1: I'm just concerned that those who do it out of emphasis rather than selection would then be disenfranchised.
JIM KEY: We'll be fine as long as people aren't voting for four or three for the same one. But we'll be fine when we count them. I'm pretty sure. Thanks.
We don't have time for any more comments at the pro microphone. I'm sorry. We've heard from the six proponents, passionate and persuasive proponents of these AIWs. And so you've got an overview of these six.
So now's the time to vote. Take out a pencil, a pen, a crayon, something you can write with and select up to three that you would like to see move forward. As I said earlier, if you do more than three, your ballot will be invalid. These are our rules. If you select one three times, that will be invalid. You can check just one or just two, but no more than three.
Then you're going to tear this stub off ever so gently. And this is going to be passed down the aisle to the ushers. And they're going to collect them. And we're going to continue doing that quietly. You don't need to raise your card. Just pass your votes to the ushers. They'll be up and down the aisles with their baskets. So are we good? We good? OK.
I get to welcome Eric Cherry. And I would suggest he might start moving to the podium. Eric is the Director of International Office. And he gets to go to all this cool places around the world. Welcome Eric Cherry to make some important introductions to us. Eric?
Introduction: Rev. Miyake of International Association for Religious Freedom
ERIC CHERRY: Unitarians and Universalists and Unitarian Universalists have had unique and important relationships with Japanese religious partners since the end of the 19th century. But in the 1970s, new relationships began to form through the International Association for Religious Freedom. One of those relationships is with Konkokyo, a Japanese Shinto sect which shares many values with Unitarian Universalism. And especially with the Konko Church of Izuo in Osaka, Japan.
The founder of that church, Reverend Toshio Miyake, was a close colleague of many UUA leaders in the interfaith struggle for world peace. And today, the leader of that church and the current president of the International Association for Religious Freedom is here to share a word with all of us. Please welcome the most Reverend Mitsuo Miyake.
REVEREND MITSUO MIYAKE: Good morning. [SPEAKING JAPANESE] Thank you very much.
Introduction: Coalition of UU International Organizations
ERIC CHERRY: The global Unitarian Universalist story has a long history with many peaks and valleys that occurred in many historical eras. And it's been terrific to have leaders of Unitarian and Unitarian Universalists communities from around the world with us at General Assembly this year from places where the global UU story has roots and wings.
Representatives from our global partners have good news to share this morning.
DEREK MCAULEY: Building a better world is surely what we're all about. And I'm pleased to report that British Unitarians and free Christians were at the forefront of the campaign same sex marriage which was introduced in March this year in England and Wales. We built a coalition. [END PLAYBACK]
DEREK MCAULEY: We built a coalition of liberal faith groups that had a real impact in breaking down barriers and promoting a more inclusive and tolerant society.
LARA FUCHS: Liberal religion is alive, well, and growing in Switzerland. Unitarian Universalist congregations in Geneva and Basel are healthy and active. We've been blessed with a steady stream of gifted visiting ministers and traveling UUs whose visits enrich our worship and enhance our developing community. Keep coming. We welcome you.
GIZI NAGY: We come from Unitarian Churches in Transylvania. In [INAUDIBLE], we established a special program for families with children younger than 14 and young couples as a direct result of the Second International Convocation of Unitarian and Universalist Women in [INAUDIBLE] 2012. The meetings, until now, involved over 200 participants.
SPEAKER 2: Standing in for Vyda Ng, the Canadian Unitarian Council Executive Director. We have new priorities to guide our work, including fostering innovation in the growth and development of UU communities in Canada. The Canadian Unitarian Council Board is also undertaking a process to revisit our vision and mission.
DARIHUN KHRIAM: In the northeast of India, we have a special event each year which is called the Anniversary Day, which is the founding day of the Unitarians in the northeast. And it is on the 18th of September. Recently, the government declared a local holiday where every Unitarian would go to church, worship, have feasts, and have fun dancing through the night.
Guests, like everybody, is having fun because it's a holiday. But Unitarians are having the greatest fun. And we have just closed our special closing ceremony for 125th anniversary which was last year. Thank you.
DORCY ERLANDSON: Three years ago, for the second time in our history, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Paris was asked to leave a rental space in a French Protestant Church because a few members of the church council did not find us appropriately Christian. Luckily, after a long search, we found a Protestant neighborhood center that is dedicated to welcoming all and whose leaders agreed to rent us space for our worship. In addition to having a home, we now have a place where we can participate in local social justice activities.
SPEAKER 3: Good morning. We European Unitarian Universalists are best known for our two annual retreats, one in the spring and one in the fall. These weekend retreats offer deep intellectual and spiritual community that we experience in many ways. Participation in our retreats is growing. And we are looking forward to celebrating our first European GA in June of 2017.
Thank you. And we would be very happy to welcome any of you at any of our retreats.
JIM KEY: In Kenya, the Unitarian Universalist Church is developing congregations and outreach efforts. We got also adapting to their problem of the climate change, which has caused the food production to decrease. This has made people to shift from maize farming to [INAUDIBLE] farming to meet their food and financial needs.
JIM KEY: In Prague, the Unitarians overcame the occupation by the Nazis, then by the communists. After some time of looking around and preparing our grounds, we firmly hold the chalice, share the song of hope, and welcome anyone who will share the light with the new generations of Unitarians.
JIM KEY: The UU Church of the Philippines, founded in 1954, is an association of 27 congregations. With the exception of one congregation in Manila, all are located in the rural parts of Negros, many of whom are led by Christian faith healers, animists. In metro Manila is the UU congregation of Bicutan, founded in 2005, a theist congregation of about 70 members comprised of about 70% youth located in the shanties of Taguig City.
ERIC CHERRY: The global UU story may have had its beginnings many centuries ago, but as you can see, it continues to be written today. Its chapters include worship and theological exploration, organizing and social action, and all the varieties of church work and outreach work that all of us do.
JIM KEY: The future of the global UU story will also be shaped by our engagement with many interfaith and social justice partners around the world. We are so grateful that representatives of three of our global interfaith and social justice partners are with us this year at General Assembly, including Reverend Mitsuo Miyake, who spoke to us a few minutes ago. He is joined by his two daughters.
JIM KEY: Also from Tokyo, Japan, please welcome Reverend Waichi Hishina, Ms. Hiroyo Murayama, and Ms. Ikuye Ikase representing our historic interfaith partner, Rissho Kosei-kai.
CATHY CORDES: The coalition of UU international organizations can help you find yourself in the global UU story. And help you shape the story's future. The UU International coalition is a low-overhead network of UU organizations with UUA constituents involved in various kinds of international engagement.
SPEAKER 4: Is this thing on? Hello. I'm a critic, and I have something to say. While I'm sure that's all well and good, but I remember a powerful Ware Lecture a few years ago about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Was I the only one listening?
PETER SMITH: That was a very powerful speech. In response, we formed the UU Global AIDS coalition. And have been working every since to engage UUs in addressing the devastation caused by AIDS. And supporting the work of UU Red Ribbon congregations on the ground. Find out about us at www.UUGlobalAIDS.org.
SPEAKER 5: Well, I'm very concerned about the human right to water and workers' rights and humanitarian crises after natural disasters happen. Don't you understand that these things matter?
BROCK LEACH: Well, as a matter of fact, we do. And that's why the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee works with partners around the globe to make sure that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual identity, has access to the fundamentals of clean, safe, affordable water, healthy food, a fair wage, and essential protection from harm and exploitation.
For almost 75 years, UUSC has put UU values into action so that no one is left out. And together, we can realize the full potential of our humanity.
SPEAKER 6: Why aren't we doing anything at the United Nations?
BRUCE KNOTTS: Are you kidding?
BRUCE KNOTTS: We have been part of the United Nations from the very beginning. And in fact, it was a Unitarian who drafted the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian. We have been at the forefront of leading the faith-based caucus for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. We have overcome apathy at the United Nations with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, human rights. Often we are the only voice there, but we are growing in numbers.
We take care of all aspects of human rights and lead on this issue. We also lead on the issue of climate change and sustainable development at the United Nations.
SPEAKER 7: Why do we need all this international stuff? Aren't UUs UUs around the world? Aren't we all just the same?
STEVE DICK: Well Jill McAllister, we need to stick together. There are less than half a million of us in the world at the moment.
Actually, Unitarian Universalists, Unitarians, and some of the don't even share that name differ greatly in practice, story, and culture in the more than 35 countries around the world where we are.
The UUA is one member, just one member, of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, the global network of liberal faith encouraging collaboration between UU national organizations and fostering emerging progressive faith communities in new places. And its conferences and gatherings are open to individual Unitarian Universalists as well. So come along and join us.
SPEAKER 8: So didn't Unitarians form some kind of international interfaith group a long time, 1900 or something like that? Whatever happened to that?
HAL FRENCH: Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom! The International Association for Religious Freedom works globally for religious freedom, the key to all other freedoms. And it's a big problem today. Come to Birmingham, England this August and help us overcome limits on religious freedom.
SPEAKER 9: And one more thing, there was a big gathering of Unitarian Universalist women, an international gathering in Houston, Texas in 2009, what happened after that?
TINA HUESING: I'm glad you asked. A new international women's organization called the Women's International Convocation was founded after that huge meeting. And it is planning a small gathering in Bolivia in 2015 and another large in California in 2017. IWC also works with international women's projects, including A leadership school in Transylvania and microfinance in Uganda.
SPEAKER 10: Are there really still churches in other parts of the world that are looking for partners? I thought everybody had one already.
CATHY CORDES: The Partner Church Council is here to help you find a partner. There are Unitarian and Unitarian Universalists churches in England, Hungary, Transylvania, India, and the Philippines that are looking for US and Canadian partners right now. Maybe they're waiting for your church.
SPEAKER 4: Hi, me again, one more question. Why doesn't the UUA help any of you do this stuff?
ERIC CHERRY: Thank you [INAUDIBLE] from the international office at the UUA. The UUA is deeply supportive of all of these organizations, and especially the work that all of these organizations do collaboratively. Most important of all, we want to help your congregation know how it is a part of the global UU story.
But you don't have to remember each organization, we'll do that for you. All you have to do is visit all of us online at UUinternational.org. That's it. There you'll find invitations, inspirations, guides, tools, and resources for just about any kind of UU international engagement. Thank you very much. And please visit our coalition online.
Presentation: Distinguished Service Award
JIM KEY: Thank you. Let me put you at ease. Yes, we're over our schedule, but we're going to change the schedule. So I'm going to ask you to stay. We're going to run a little late.
We're going to hear from Susan Ritchie about our Distinguished Service Award. And then we're going to hear about the AIWs. And we have no announcements. And then we're going to adjourn. So stick with this. You will not be late for your 10-15 workshops. OK? Let's hear Susan.
SUSAN RITCHIE: It's my pleasure this morning to welcome you to the presentation of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism. This award is the highest honor that this association can bestow. It's given annually to the lay or professional leader who over a considerable period of time is deemed by the UUA Board of Trustees to have made extraordinary contributions to the strength of this association. It is to go to someone who exemplifies the highest values of our shared faith.
This year, my fellow trustees is Lew Phinney and Rob Eller-Issacs have served on this committee. It has been my privilege to chair this group. And this year, we are delighted to bestow this award upon the Reverend Kenneth MacLean
The Reverend Marlin Lavanhar will offer the citation. We will hear a few words from Reverend MacLean, and then we will officially bestow the award.
REVEREND MARLIN LAVANHAR: Kenneth Torquil MacLean, preacher, teacher, pastor, prophet, husband, father, partner, organizer, advocate, and institution builder. Over the course of your extraordinary 54 year career, you have ministered to your colleagues, congregations, and the wider community and have been outstanding in your efforts to establish and strengthen the organizations and associations that will sustain Unitarianism and Universalism in America and around the world for generations to come.
A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Divinity School, you were introduced to this faith by your wife, Harriet, who encouraged and supported you to become a minister. Ordained and fellowshipped in 1960, you were called to the Rosalind and West Roxbury Churches. And during your tenure, you reunited these two historic churches.
In 1964, you were called to the Tennessee Valley Church in Knoxville where you helped to establish the first chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in that state. In 1972, you were called to Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, one of our largest churches. And you served for 20 years before becoming their Minister Emeritus.
In 1999, you began what grew to become an 11-year ministry to the Church of the Desert in Rancho Mirage, California, and led them to build a beautiful new church home. You also spent many memorable summers as a visiting preacher for our church in North Hatley, Quebec,
While you are renowned for your long and successful parish ministries, your unfaltering devotion to establish and support institutions that sustain and uphold our faith, nationally and internationally, makes you stand out as one who is fostered our faith for the future. You were the founder and organizer of the Senior Ministers of Large Unitarian Universalist Congregations, which to this day serves to support the ministers and ministries of our association's largest churches.
You have served as the president of the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Association. And in that role, were instrumental in helping establish the Office of Church Staff Finances to help churches and ministers address questions of salary, health care, pensions, and equitable compensation. And also established a foundation grant to supplement the income of retired ministers and their widows who are living on less than $10,000 a year.
As the Minister's Association president, you also worked with the Reverend David Weisbard and leaders of the Liberal Religious Educators Association to support the ordination of ministers of religious education. You served two terms on the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Association, during which time you established the UUA's Task Force on AIDS.
You also served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. And for five years, you worked as the special assistant to the president of our Association for International and Interfaith Affairs under President John Buehrens. In this role, you worked tirelessly to strengthen our heritage worldwide and helped organize the founding meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.
The International Council has since played an essential role in connecting, supporting, and training UU communities in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. On behalf of our association, you traveled to and lent your support to our churches and partners in the Philippines, India, Japan, New Zealand, Hungary, Romania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and beyond.
You've helped our coreligionists and others in far-off and sometimes remote places who were battling discrimination or deprivation or dictatorship. In Prague, you worked for many years, even when others were convinced the cause was futile. And you ultimately prevailed to rescue the Church of Norbert Capek from people who had seized illegal control of it.
Even as you have worked on a world stage for the betterment of the human condition, you are also well-known among your colleagues as a pastor to pastors. Colleague after colleague, as well as congregant after congregant, tell stories of times you ministered to them as they were bearing burdens too hard and too heavy to bear alone. For decades, you have also mentored young ministers who've gone on to serve our faith well, here and in other countries.