General Session IV, General Assembly 2016
General Session IV, General Assembly 2016
General Assembly, Online GA

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General Assembly (GA) 2016 Event 502

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 for details on the specific items to be addressed. General sessions are shorter than previous years in response to delegates’ suggestions. Presenters have been asked to be as brief as possible, 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.

Agenda

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 Fourth General Session of the Fifty-Fifth General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

How is everybody doing on this fifth and last day of our general assembly?

Chalice Lighting

Moderator: I have invited a special guest to light our chalice this morning and she needs no introduction, but I am going to do so anyway.

Gini von Courter served as Moderator of this Association from 2003 to 2013 and whose metaphorically big shoes I was elected to fill. Please welcome back Gini von Courter.

Gini von Courter: To be live-captioned.

Right Relations Report

Moderator: Does the Right Relationship Team have a report? Welcome back Steven Ballesteros.

Steven Ballesteros: To be live-captioned.

Debate and Vote on Proposed Bylaw Amendment

Moderator: Let me introduce Justine Sullivan who facilitated the mini-assembly yesterday that considered the Proposed Bylaw Amendment to suspend actions of immediate witness at GA 2017 in New Orleans.

I have asked Justine to give the delegate body the sense of the mini-assembly before we debate and vote.

Justine Sullivan: To be live-captioned.

Moderator: Thanks Justine. Our next order of business is to debate and vote on the Proposed Bylaw Amendment to suspend actions of immediate witness at GA 2017 in New Orleans. I call on our Vice Moderator Denise Rimes to make the motion.

Denise Rimes: Moved, that the Proposed Bylaw Amendment to suspend actions of immediate witness at GA 2017 in New Orleans detailed on page 97 of the final agenda and as amended in the mini-assembly be adopted by this assembly.

Moderator: The motion to adopt the Proposed Bylaw Amendment to suspend actions of immediate witness at GA 2017 in New Orleans has been made and seconded.

The chair calls on Greg Boyd, Trustee at Large, to make the board’s statement in support of the bylaw amendment.

Greg Boyd: need text

Moderator: Under the rules you approved Thursday morning, we have 30 minutes to debate this motion before voting. The motion can only be amended by introducing amendments offered in the mini-assembly but which were not incorporated. In other words, no new amendments can be made by this assembly. The business resolution requires 2/3 vote in the affirmative to be adopted.

There must be 20 minutes of debate before a delegate may call the question. The motion to call the question must then be voted with a majority voting in favor to require an immediate vote on the motion.

The chair reminds those who wish to speak in favor or against the business resolution, that debate must be confined to the merits of the business resolution. Avoid injecting a personal note into the debate; do not attack or make any allusion to the motives of others or the chair will rule the comments out of order.

Each speaker is limited to 2 minutes and may only speak once. Subsequent speakers should make new points rather than repeat what others have said.

Their are four possible outcomes on this business resolution:

  • Approve with 2/3 favorable vote,
  • Defeat with more than 1/3 unfavorable vote,
  • Move to postpone indefinitely which in effect kills the motion for this general assembly, and requires a majority vote,
  • Move to assign the resolution to a committee to report their recommendations at GA 2017 and that also requires a majority vote.

Are we set to debate this? We will start with the con mike.

The chair recognizes the delegate at the con mike.

To be live-captioned.

The motion to adopt the Proposed Bylaw Amendment to suspend actions of immediate witness at GA 2017 in New Orleans (is approved or fails)

Debate and Vote: Thanksgiving Resolution

Moderator: Let me introduce Donna Harrison who facilitated the mini-assembly yesterday that discussed the Business Resolution on Thanksgiving Reconsidered. I have asked Donna to give the delegate body the sense of the mini-assembly before we debate and vote.

Donna Harrison: To be live-captioned.

Moderator: Thanks Donna. Our next order of business is to debate and vote on the Business Resolution on Thanksgiving Reconsidered. I call on our Vice Moderator Denise Rimes to make the motion.

Denise Rimes: Moved, that the Business Resolution on Thanksgiving Reconsidered detailed on page 98 of the final agenda and as amended in the mini-assembly be adopted by this assembly.

Moderator: The motion to adopt the Business Resolution on Thanksgiving Reconsidered has been made and seconded.

The chair calls on [TBD] of the Ballou Channing District, the maker of this business resolution for their statement on the subject.

To be live-captioned.

Under the rules you approved Thursday morning, we have 30 minutes to debate this motion before voting. The motion can only be amended by introducing amendments offered in the mini-assembly but which were not incorporated. In other words, no new amendments can be made by this assembly. The business resolution requires 2/3 vote in the affirmative to be adopted.

There must be 20 minutes of debate before a delegate may call the question. The motion to call the question must then be voted with a majority voting in favor to require an immediate vote on the motion.

The chair reminds those who wish to speak in favor or against the business resolution, that debate must be confined to the merits of the business resolution. Avoid injecting a personal note into the debate; do not attack or make any allusion to the motives of others or the chair will rule the comments out of order.

Each speaker is limited to 2 minutes and may only speak once. Subsequent speakers should make new points rather than repeat what others have said.

Their are four possible outcomes on this business resolution:

  • Approve with 2/3 favorable vote,
  • Defeat with more than 1/3 unfavorable vote,
  • Move to postpone indefinitely which in effect kills the motion for this general assembly, and requires a majority vote,
  • Move to assign the resolution to a committee to report their recommendations at GA 2017 and that also requires a majority vote.

Are we set to debate this? We will start with the con mike.

The chair recognizes the delegate at the con mike.

To be live-captioned.

Moderator: The motion to adopt the Business Resolution on Thanksgiving Reconsidered (is adopted or fails).

Covenanting Communities

Moderator: Covenanting Communities are a new way for groups to be in official relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Association

The status began in 2015 when the UUA Board and administration started working with a number of small and innovative groups who were not official congregations, but were clearly UU—how could we offer a flexible, authentic way for them to stay connected?

Focusing on the covenantal nature of the faith relationships in these groups frees us up to imagine new ways of creating faith community

Today we have ten covenanting communities, we’re adding more every year, and there are dozens of other diverse groups that the UUA is in contact with, as we build up the support system for these emerging and enterprising ministries. In addition to formal recognition, covenanting communities get access to leadership development from UUA staff, the opportunity to apply for the UUA’s staff-benefit programs like health insurance, and more.

If you think you might be interested in becoming a covenanting community, talk to your regional UUA staff person to get started!

Please enjoy and share this video about covenanting communities, their groundbreaking work is an inspiration to us all.

Presentation: Presidential Award for Volunteer Service

Moderator: We get to hear from President Morales about one of his favorite things.

Peter Morales: One of my favorite privileges as president is giving the annual President’s Award for Volunteer Service. I am delighted give this year’s award to Barbara and Charles Du Mond.

Their service spans work at their home congregation in San Mateo, California, where they have been members for 26 years, to our international work. Let me list just a few high points.

In her congregation Barbara has served on three search committees and has taught OWL. She also serves on the board of the UU Justice Ministry of California. She is known as someone who always says yes when asked to volunteer.

Charles has led multiple pledge drives in San Mateo. He has taught OWL at every level from Kindergarten through high school. I thought I had served on many boards of trustees, but compared to Charles I am a beginner. He has been an officer on his congregation’s board for a decade. He also serves on the boards of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the Pacific Central District, and the advisory board of our UU United Nations Office.

They share a passion for international work. I have fond memories of traveling with them on a UU United Nations Office trip to Ghana in support of a program that supports AIDS orphans. They have also supported the Partner Church program, supporting their congregation’s partner in the Philippines.

Barbara and Charles have also shown commitment to justice work at many levels. I remember their coming to Arizona and marching in the heat to protest anti-immigrant legislation.

Besides this, they are just delightful people.

Thank you both for your unwavering commitment. With this award comes a $1,000 contribution to the charity of your choice. Please join me in honoring Barbara and Charles Du Mond.

Charles and Barbara: Thank you, Peter, for your kind words and for this recognition. Charles and I are honored by this. And we are certain there are others who are more deserving of this award.

Let’s be honest about our privilege in this society. A couple of white people with time and money have lots of opportunities to volunteer. Basically, when asked, all we had to do was say, “yes.” So we would like to lift up awareness of those who don’t get asked and can’t respond.

There are over 700 members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship who are imprisoned and at least 30 are imprisoned in Angola prison in Louisiana, the largest maximum-security prison in the U.S.

The Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal and the Prison Ministry of the Church of the Larger Fellowship are developing a plan for General Assembly, next year, to create greater connection between UUs and those who are in prison. We have asked that the donation associated with this award be split between the Prison Ministry of CLF and the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal to facilitate the creation of this plan.

Friends, there is much justice work to do. We're reminded of the hymn, "Just as Long as I Have Breath." If they ask what I did well, tell them I said yes to life, to truth, and to love.

Peter, thank you again, for this award.

Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee Report

Moderator: In a moment, I'll invite the co-chairs of the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee forward. This is the group charged with monitoring and assessing our progress on the journey toward becoming the anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural association we say we want to be. The group generally focuses on a specific area of Unitarian Universalism. Past reports have included a look at how we credential ministers and how we select and support our volunteer leaders as well. Last year the group produced a short video that reflected the gap between how the majority of us might think we are doing on the journey, and the reality experienced by our siblings most familiar with systemic marginalization.

As we invite our co chairs, Ben Gabel and Wendy von Courter to offer this year's report, I remind us all that the work of this committee belongs in each of our settings: our congregations, our regions, our association, in everything we do.

Ben Gabel: Thank you, Jim. We’d like to report on three things.

First, the video Jim referenced, Amazing Transformation, is now available with a study guide. We encourage you to visit the JTWTC page on Facebook or the UUA site to access the video and guide. It’s an easy way to engage the question “how are we doing on the journey?” in your setting and, importantly, be sure that everyone is able to offer and receive the truths.

Second, we want you to know your JTWTC is working to deepen our relationships with important stakeholders. This past year has included conversations with DRUUMM leadership and OPEN ACCESS and we were able to meet with EQUUAL ACCESS and DRUUMM at this GA. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the GA resolution that created the JTWTC, we believe it’s important to be in conversation with the leaders of groups most impacted by the journey.

Wendy von Courter: Finally, we want to share our response to the 2013 Responsive Resolution named “Deepen our Commitment to an Anti-Oppressive, Multicultural Unitarian Universalist Association.” In that resolution the JTWTC was charged with assessing the financial and staff resources devoted to the work of anti-oppression and multiculturalism. The resolution requested our analysis include supporting organizations that empower marginalized populations, and that the analysis be relative to other allocations." The request was clear. The pathway toward fulfilling it less so.

In January 2014, in a UUA Board report, the administration shared a vision of shifting from a program model to an ethos model for the work of anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism. An ethos model recognizes that the work of countering oppression best resides in all aspects of an organization rather than in a unit or division of staff. The JTWTC agrees that when all aspects of associational work is grounded in the principles of anti-oppression and multiculturalism we move forward on the journey. Yet, this response presented two challenges.

First, it was difficult to do the analysis. We were asked to assess the level of resources devoted to antiracism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism. But if these goals are part of the ethos of the entire Association, then counting what resources becomes murky and subjective.

Second, a question emerged about whether this shift itself played a role? Had the shift itself caused changes in the lived experience of Unitarian Universalists most impacted by resulting progress, or delays or losses on the journey?

Yet, we were asked to follow the money. With as much specificity as possible a goal, we asked the staff to provide best estimates of how much staff and financial resources were devoted to this important work in the year 2014-2015. The result indicated that perhaps 42% of UUA resources were generally devoted to anti-oppression and multicultural work.

So, out of a total budget of $24,989,000, $10,496,000 (42%) was generally or at least arguably devoted to antiracism and anti-oppression work. In arriving at that number, we should share that some units estimated that 100% of their resources were going generally to this principle. It is natural to say that 100% of the work of a unit like Multicultural Growth and Witness did. But Beacon Press also estimated that 100% of their efforts came under this category as well. That was a bit of a surprise until committee members noted that every Beacon publication is devoted to building the Beloved Community, to bridging the gaps between races and classes or between cultures, and to emphasizing the unity and interconnectedness of our world.

Something to celebrate and yet, another piece of challenge in a response to a resolution that was asking for more clarity.

The calculation, regardless of interpretation, is neither exact nor reflective of the results. Our analysis took place in the midst of our own assessment of where we were on the journey. Through a series of interviews and surveys we had other data impacting our analysis. These other findings show that there has been an impact, some hopeful, some troubling and some not yet realized. We know of congregations that have resisted the topic of antiracism from the pulpit or in adult religious education classes, congregations that have shied away from events in and around their communities that might have given them an opportunity to show their support. We know that there are UU leaders, both lay and ordained, who have not been particularly involved in any of the justice-related causes labeled antiracism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism.

Our committee is especially concerned about the impact of the move from program to ethos on those in our faith community who experience systemic marginalization. We continue to hear the voices of UUs who tell their stories of disappointment or of invisibility.

The data from the administration, coupled with these stories and the most recent work of the JTWTC led us to conclude the Association is doing the right thing by striving to move to an ethos of counter-oppression in all its work, and, that the changes resulting from the shift, as realized to date, have not been effective in serving the needs of marginalized people.

The administration made clear their work was not done. Neither is ours. While the JTWTC has delivered our report to the UUA Board and made it available to stakeholders, our work in addressing the lived experiences leading to the 2013 Responsive Resolution does not end with this report. The committee’s next area of focus will be on this shift from program to ethos in the context of impact on our siblings who have and continue to experience systemic marginalization.

This is some of the hardest work of Beloved Community. And it’s clear from the stories shared with the JTWTC and the fact of the Responsive Resolution of 2013, it’s made far harder for some, by others. While we continue to study this, we also call on us all as people of faith to be open to hearing hard truths about the reality of who we are, even as we believe ourselves to moving forward. And believing they are true.

Moderator: Thank you Ben and Wendy; indeed there is more that all of us can and must do to move closer to Beloved Community.

Report on Renewing Covenant

Moderator: Our next report is from the Convener of the Renewing the Covenant Task Force, Susan Ritchie.

Susan Ritchie: To be live-captioned.

Installation of Elected Leaders

Moderator: We have some trustees and committee members who stood for election at this year’s general assembly. Since they were not opposed by anyone wanting to run by petition, they are elected by declaration.

Please welcome to the stage:

  • Dorothy Holmes, Trustee at large from our Savannah, GA congregation. Dorothy has been serving since last June when she was appointed to fill a vacated position and is now being elected for a full term.
  • Dick Jacke, trustee at large from Bellevue, WA congregation.
  • Denise Rimes, trustee and Vice-Moderator from our Richmond, VA congregation who was been serving since appointed to the board in February to fill a vacated position.
  • Elandria Williams, trustee at large from our Knoxville,TN congregation
  • Lucia Santini Field, financial advisor from our congregation.
  • Randy Burnham, Nominating Committee from our Westport, CT congregation.
  • Ken Wagner, Nominating Committee from Marlborough MA
  • Amanda Weatherspoon, Nominating Committee and a seminarian at Starr King.

Profiles of each of these candidates can be found on page 102 in your program book.

I would also like to invite Sarah Dan Jones to join us. Sarah Dan has been appointed as a trustee at large and will stand for election at next year’s GA. Sarah Dan hails from Plymouth,

Here to install them is the Secretary of the Board, Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: Guided by love for this tradition and hope for the future, this General Assembly has duly elected members of the Board of Trustees and committees of the Association. We welcome their gifts, skills, time, sacrifice and voice to be shared in love, trust and dedication in the years to come.

Please join with me as we covenant together to install these leaders to the offices to which we have elected them.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: May our Unitarian Universalist faith and heritage inform your work and deeds as you serve with our leadership, our congregations and our staff. May your efforts and work inspire good will among all.

Newly Elected Leaders: I covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: As you signify Unitarian Universalism in the wider world, may you serve as an instrument of reconciliation, hope, and welcome.

Newly Elected Leaders: I covenant to affirm and promote a goal of community of peace, justice, and liberty for all.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: May you deal forthrightly and honestly with us, keeping foremost in your heart the health and well being of our movement, speaking your truth without fear of repercussion and encouraging others to do the same.

Newly Elected Leaders: I covenant to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: In the spirit of hospitality and understanding among people may all who cross your path feel they have been heard and seriously considered

Newly Elected Leaders: I covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all.

General Assembly: We covenant to encourage you and support you as you serve our movement. May our trust carry you through both difficulty and triumph. In gratitude, we thank you for your willingness to serve.

Newly Elected Leaders: With gratitude I acknowledge and accept the trust that you have placed in me.

Announcements

Moderator: Now its time to call on the Secretary of our Association, Rob Eller-Isaacs, for any announcements.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: To be live-captioned.

Moderator: Thanks Rob.

Recess

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 1:15 p.m. this afternoon.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

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