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

General Session V, General Assembly 2015

Captions were created during the live event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.

General Assembly 2015 Event 506

Program Description

Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Moderator Jim Key presides over the general sessions in which the business of the Association is conducted. Please refer to the Agenda (PDF, 30 pages) for details on specific items addressed. Presenters have been asked to demonstrate how their work relates to our Global Ends also known as our Shared Vision, and to raise important questions for delegates to consider going forward.


Approximate start times noted in parentheses.

  • Call to Order (17:30)
  • Right Relations Report (19:00)
  • Presentation: Presidential Award for Volunteer Service (23:00)
  • Presentation: Angus McLean Award (31:00)
  • Debate and Vote on Bylaws that are Neutral on Governance Structures of Districts and Regions: Proposed Amendments (PDF) (37:30)
  • Announcements (1:19:00)
  • Recess (1:19:30)

The following final draft script was completed before this event took place; actual words spoken may vary.

Call to Order

Moderator: I now call to Order the Fifth General Session of the Fifty-Fourth General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Right Relations Report

Moderator: Does the Right Relationship Team have anything to report? Welcome back Mr. Barb Greve.

Mr. Barb Greve: (live caption)

Presentation: Presidential Award for Volunteer Service

Moderator: We are going to reprise President Peter Morales for an important presentation.

Peter Morales: I am delighted to present this year’s President’s Award for Volunteer Service to Gordon Gibson. This past year we have witnessed the juxtaposition of the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery with the repeated killings of unarmed black men and the demands for justice expressed in the Black Lives Matter movement.

For Unitarian Universalists, the Selma anniversary became an occasion to re-examine our history and a pilgrimage to rededicate ourselves to our commitment to racial justice.

On a personal note, I was not prepared for the palpable sense of connection to our history as I sat in Brown Chapel in Selma and crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Gordon’s fifty years as a Unitarian Universalist minister began with jail time in Selma, one month before the violence erupted in 1965 that shook our nation. Ordained that same year in January, Gordon was arrested in a February demonstration for voting rights. (SLIDE 1) He was given a five-day sentence—though he spent a full week in jail—and this led to decades of a ministry that held racial justice at its core. (SLIDE) His work over the years to lift up our involvement in the Civil Rights era through leading tours, helping to form the Living Legacy Project, and authoring a recent Skinner House book Southern Witness, has kept our heritage alive and relevant. He has done his work in a manner that embodies humility. He leads by example.

In your honor, the UUA will donate one thousand dollars to an organization of your choice. The Living Legacy Project is the recipient you identified. You have made this jewel of Unitarian Universalism even stronger with this gift.

Gordon, we are all in your debt. You have helped our movement to know itself more deeply and to maintain its commitment. Our legacy is alive and well because of your tireless and loving work.

On behalf of our entire Association, thank you.

Gordon Gibson: Peter, many thanks for this recognition and for your kind words about me.

This was not one of those instances in which an honoree had to think, “I wonder who he’s talking about.” And yet this award cannot be all about me. I am an incredibly fortunate person in the situations I have found myself in and the people, historic and contemporary, whose paths I have crossed. As a young minister I stood each week in Theodore Parker’s former pulpit. Later I located the personal papers of 18th century Universalist and women’s advocate Judith Sargent Murray. I heard William Sloane Coffin, Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr., and Malcolm X. Good mentors and friends have been a constant.

Beyond my wonderfully supportive family and the congregations I’ve served, I especially need to lift up my teammates in the Living Legacy Project. This is a circle of people who saw value in an idea my wife, Judy, and I began developing and implementing as I neared retirement. The Living Legacy Project has improved and extended what we had begun, and I have seen our civil rights pilgrimages and the recent Selma conference challenge, change, and empower people. There is something in the process of coming face-to-face with the people, places, and stories of the civil rights Movement that has changed more lives than all 50 years of my sermons.

This is truly the work of sankofa, of looking back in order to move forward with greater wisdom, of remembering the past in order to creatively shape the future to be more just.

I have been privileged to live in interesting times, with engaged and interesting people, including some in this room right now. Together we have done this work.

Moderator: Congratulations Gordon, a most welcome recognition. I had the distinct honor and privilege to travel with Gordon and Judy and the Living Legacy team and experienced that sankofa moment that Gordon spoke about.

Liz and I made our pilgrimage in 2009 and it was an event that informed my life in a way that led me to this place standing before you as Moderator.

Presentation: Angus McLean Award

Moderator: Welcome Jessica York, Faith Development Director, for the presentation of the Angus McLean Award.

Jessica York: Good morning. I am Jessica York, your Faith Development Director at the Unitarian Universalist Association. Many of the resources we create in Faith Development help UUs examine and articulate their lived faith. There is one easy way some people explain it to children. Say it along with me if you know it.

We are Unitarian Universalists, with minds that think, hearts that love, and hands that are ready to serve. That description sounds a lot like the work of Rev. Ginger Luke. Rev. Luke’s gifts of the mind, hands, and especially heart are the reasons why she is this year’s Angus H. MacLean award recipient.

The Angus H. MacLean award was established in 1972 by the St. Lawrence University Theological School Alumni Association and the Religious Education Department of the UUA. It is awarded each year to someone who has made outstanding contributions to religious education. MacLean is one of our religious ancestors, best known, perhaps, for his address “The Method is the Message”. Ginger, like MacLean, is a minister and a teacher, but like MacLean is perhaps most treasured because of the heart she brings to this work.

There is no doubt that Rev. Luke is woman who applies her mind to the theological questions that our religion faces. It led her to obtain her Masters of Divinity degree in 2001 from Meadville Lombard Theological School, where she received the Roberta Nelson Award for Excellence in Religious Education. She was ordained the following year by River Road Unitarian Church. Ginger wrote an essay for the groundbreaking book, Essex Conversations: Visions for Lifespan Religious Education, a work that has played a formative in part in Unitarian Universalist religious education since it was published in 2001. She currently serves on the Panel on Theological Education.

And Ginger’s hands seem to always be open and ready to give service to our faith. She served as the director of religious education or Minister of Religious Education for over 20 years, to congregations in Lincoln, Nebraska, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ann Arbor and River Road Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, which she has served as minister emerita since her retirement. She is a teaching and a preaching elder, receiving the Skinner Sermon Award in 2000. Other credits of her prolific service include serving on the board of the Liberal Religious Educators Association or LREDA, and her current service on the LREDA Endowment Committee and the President’s Council. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Meadville Lombard Theological School Alumni/ae Service Award for her exemplary service to the school.

But what most people will tell you is special about Ginger is her heart. Throughout her 22 years of serving as a LREDA Good Officer she has offered support, guidance and nurturance to a generation of religious educators. Her work within the River Road congregation was marked by how she brings people together to create beloved community and a devotion to family ministry. She exhibits a depth of not just understanding how our little religion can make a difference in the world, but the sensitivity to see the places where extra care must be applied to help us be as one.

With her thinking mind, serving hands and loving heart Ginger Luke is a Unitarian Universalist and the 2015 recipient of the Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education.

Ginger Luke: Thank you. I am humbled with this award which should be shared by the hundreds of children, youth, volunteers, staff and colleagues who have helped me and guided me in religious education.

I encourage all of you in your various roles as Unitarian Universalists to ask everyday, "How is it with the children?"

Listen to the answers in your head and from the mouths of others and then ACT.

“How is it with the children?".

Thank you and blessings to you all.

Moderator: Ginger, congratulations; a well-deserved recognition.

Debate and Vote on Bylaws that are Neutral on Governance Structures of Districts and Regions

Moderator: Our next item of business today is to consider and vote on the proposed amendments to make the bylaws neutral regarding the governance structure of districts and regions. These are found on pages 102 thru 110 of the Final Agenda. The mini-assembly concerning these amendments was held Friday.

Will the Vice-Moderator make the appropriate motion?

Donna Harrison: Moved: That the proposed amendments to make the bylaws neutral regarding the governance structure of districts and regions found on pages 102 thru 110 of the Final Agenda, be adopted by this Assembly.

Moderator: I call upon Christina Rivera to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

Christina Rivera: (live caption)

Moderator: We have up to 30 minutes of debate for this bylaw amendment. As before we will take the pro positions from the microphone on your right, the con positions from the microphone on your left and the procedural microphone is in front of me.

(30 minutes of debate, 20 before amendments, 10 before calling the question.)


Moderator: Now its time to call on the Secretary of our Association, Susan Ritchie, for any announcements.

Susan Ritchie: (live caption)

Moderator: Thanks Susan.


Moderator: There being no further business to come before us and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this General Session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

The Rev. Peter Morales, the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, Judy Gibson, the Rev. Gordon Gibson

The Presidential Award for Volunteer Service was awarded to the Rev. Gordon Gibson (right). Also pictured: The Rev. Peter Morales, the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, and Judy Gibson.

Ginger Luke and Jessica York

Ginger Luke (left) received the Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education. Pictured with Jessica York, UUA Faith Development Director.

Logo for General Assembly 2015 in Portland Oregon.

The theme of General Assembly 2015 in Portland, OR, wasBuilding a New Way.

Jessica York awarding the Angus McLean Award to Rev. Ginger Luke.

Rev. Peter Morales presents the President's Award for Volunteer Service to Rev. Gordon Gibson.