General Session V, General Assembly 2016

General Session V and Closing Celebration. Captions (txt) were created during the live event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.

General Assembly (GA) 2016 Event 505

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.


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

Debate and Vote on Actions of Immediate Witness

Moderator: Yesterday you voted to place three actions of immediate witness on today’s agenda. Today, we will take up each of the three items. According to the Rules we adopted on Thursday, we will have up to 20 minutes of debate for each AIW. The mini-assembly to offer amendments was held yesterday. So let me once again turn to Susan Goekler.

[The CSW Alert for Sunday, June 26 (PDF) includes text of the proposed AIWs, which were amended before adoption during the session.]

Susan Goekler: Moderator Key, the Commission on Social Witness moves to adopt Item 1 found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness that expresses the intent of the delegates at this General Assembly.

Moderator: It has been moved and seconded to adopt CSW 1 as found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness.

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. And no amendments can be offered until 12 minutes of debate. The AIW requires 2/3 favorable vote to be adopted.

There must be 12 minutes of debate before a delegate may move the previous question to call for a vote on the main motion. The motion to move the previous question requires a 2/3 majority to require an immediate vote on the main 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.

The delegates have two possible outcomes on this business resolution:

  • Approve with 2/3 favorable vote
  • Defeat with more than 1/3 unfavorable vote

The chair recognizes the delegate and AIW proposer at the Pro mike.

AIW Proposer: To be live-captioned.

(Debate ensues—amendments out of order for the first 12 minutes, Passage requires 2/3 vote)

Moderator: The motion to adopt CSW 1 as found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness is carried/lost.

Susan Goekler: Moderator Key, the Commission on Social Witness moves to adopt Item 2 found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness that expresses the intent of the delegates at this General Assembly.

Moderator: The chair recognizes the delegate and AIW proposer at the Pro mike.

(Debate ensues—amendments out of order for the first 12 minutes, Passage requires 2/3 vote)

Moderator: The motion to adopt CSW 2 as found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness is carried/lost.

Susan Goekler: Moderator Key, the Commission on Social Witness moves to adopt Item 3 found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness that expresses the intent of the delegates at this General Assembly.

Moderator: The chair recognizes the delegate and AIW proposer at the Pro mike.

(Debate ensues—amendments out of order for the first 12 minutes, Passage requires 2/3 vote)

The motion to adopt CSW 3 as found in the CSW Alert as an Action of Immediate Witness is carried/lost.


Led by Leon Burke, Susan Peck, and Sarah Dan Jones, congregation may sing one or more of the following:

  • "Now Let Us Sing/Cantemos ¡sí!" Words & Music: Anonymous. Public domain. Translation: Lilia Cuerva.
  • "Comfort Me" Words & Music: Mimi Bornstein, © 1995.
  • "Calypso Alleluia" Words & Music: Thomas Benjamin.
  • "Meditation on Breathing" Words and Music: Sarah Dan Jones, © 2001

Be A Friend Winner Selection

Moderator: Thank you musicians. Let me bring back Mary Katherine Morn, Director of Stewardship and Development.

Mary Katherine Morn: We are so grateful to the hundreds of you who entered the Be a Friend drawing and made a gift to Friends of the UUA and to our matching donors who committed $20,000 to Be A Friend! Thank you for your support during this GA, and throughout the year for our Association.

We would like to select the winners of the Be a Friend drawing now! If our winners are here, please come up to the stage when your name is announced. If winners are not present, we will contact them after this presentation.

Our third-prize winner will receive registration to General Assembly 2017 and a lovely New Orleans gift basket at GA. Jim, will you help me select a winning ticket?

Mary Katherine: Congratulations [TBD]! Now our second-prize winner will receive two registrations to GA 2017 and a gift basket.

Mary Katherine: Congratulations [TBD]! And finally our Grand Prize winner will receive two registrations to GA 2017, hotel accommodations for 4 nights in New Orleans, and a fabulous gift basket.

Mary Katherine: Congratulations to our three winners, and many thanks to all of you who participated!

Thank you for being a Friend of the UUA!

Moderator: Thank you Mary Katherine.

College of Social Justice Report

Moderator: The UU College of Social Justice was jointly launched by the UUA and UUSC at Justice GA in Phoenix in 2012, as a new way to inspire and sustain effective, faith-based action for justice. Its experiential learning programs include immersion journeys, high school justice programs, young adult trainings and internships, and skilled volunteer placements. Please welcome Rev. Kathleen McTigu, the Director of UUCSJ to tell us more.

Kathleen McTigue: The big idea at the heart of the College of Social Justice is experiential learning. When we step out of our usual comfort zones, we can be startled into new insight and understanding. We connect in alliance and solidarity with people whose lives may be very different from our own, but who we suddenly recognize as family. And when it’s family whose lives are at stake, we become more bold and creative in our action for justice than we might ever have dreamed possible.

UUCSJ has developed four program arenas. First, our version of service-learning programs is built on the assumption that the most important service we render happens once we return home, in newly inspired and informed action for justice. We ran nine such pilgrimages this year, to Haiti, Nicaragua, Arizona, and the Lummi Nation in Washington State.

Second, our one-week high school youth program, Activate! offers youth an intensive introduction to organizing skills and change theory, and a chance to anchor this learning in a particular struggle. Starting next month, Activate will be in Boston, focused on climate justice; Tucson, on immigration justice; and New Orleans, on racial justice.

Third, we have some amazing programs for young adults, college age and older. In collaboration with the Youth and Young Adult Office of the UUA, Grow Racial Justice will bring thirty young adults together next month in New Orleans—half of them white and half of them people of color—to do intensive racial identity work as separate cadres and then come together for a day of organizing skills and strategizing.

Fifteen other young adults will join us in summer-long internships with grassroots organizations all over the United States and in India. These interns spend their summer in a deep immersion, learning about social change in a particular context. This is a tremendous opportunity for young adults who are just beginning to imagine themselves into the vocations that are calling to them.

The fourth arena we’ve built out this year are skilled volunteer placements with partner organizations in the US and abroad. For example, a group called Raices in San Antonio, Texas, offers legal help to refugee women and children fleeing violence in Central America. This is a human rights catastrophe unfolding on our border, largely invisibly. For the second year, we’ve organized groups of volunteers who speak Spanish or have legal training, to partner with Raices for a week or longer in this life-saving work. Last year, 18 people answered this call; this year, we organized 24 volunteers, who came from all over the US to put their skills to work for justice on our border. And here I want to give a huge shout-out to the First UU Church of San Antonio, whose members opened their homes to offer housing for all 24 volunteers!

All of the programs I’ve described are supported by deep learning before, during and after the experience, and by spiritual reflection and grounding. Most important, they all point us toward powerful, sustained action at home. We hope you’ll join us!

Moderator: Thanks Kathleen.

GA Talk: YA@GA

Moderator: Last year the YA@GA talks were very popular and today we have Elizabeth Mount to give us a taste of this year’s offerings.

Elizabeth Mount: Hi, my name is Elizabeth Mount, and I’m a member of the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, and the Commit2Respond campaign.

About this time last year, I became part of a Greenpeace team, hanging off the St. John’s bridge in Portland to stop arctic drilling. We were a part of a larger campaign called #ShellNo, working collaboratively with local and indigenous groups and grassroots campaigns. Many of you may also be involved or considering collaboration in your own communities. If you are, thank you.

Raised as a Unitarian Universalist, I am part of a faith that calls me to affirm and promote our values, and to live out our belief in the interconnected web of all existence by defending the integrity of our planet. This has never been more present to me than when I swung out over the edge of that bridge in the night and saw the stars in the sky reflected in the headlamps of kayakers below me on the water. Every individual light in the water showed me the power of people and the vast interconnectedness of the universe entwined in that place.

Young Adults are keenly aware that we have reached a point where the hope of avoiding climate chaos is gone. Whatever chance we had to keep things on this planet the way that they were is over. There can no longer be a steady growth economy. We have run out of planet, and changes must be made.

But take courage, for now is a time of action and creativity. If we know that the only option is change, then we are free to try many new and creative things. Now is the time for liberation, a time for building communities that are resilient and able to adapt to shifts in global weather. Now is a the time for dreams of interdependence and resetting our expectations from the greed of global capitalism to new sharing economies, encouraged by mutuality and generosity.

Young Adults know that the systems we grew up in won’t create a sustainable world. We need action, bodies on the line, financial and material supporters of all kinds. Even if you don’t see the crisis yet, but know that affected communities are calling for your solidarity. Divestment was a start, but we can do more. Let us be people of faith, anchored in our values, ready to take action. The time is now, let us be brave together.

Responsive Resolutions

Moderator: This is the time in our agenda when we entertain responsive resolutions, if there are any. Could we open up the amendment microphone, please?

Right Relations Team Final Report

Steven Ballesteros: To be live-captioned.

Invitation to New Orleans

Moderator: We are going to New Orleans next June, so welcome Jolanda Walter to tell us why we should plan on going.

Jolanda Walter: Hello, I'm Jolanda Walter, Local Arrangements Chair for General Assembly 2017 and I invite you all to the UUA's Southern Region, to a quiet little place, in the Mississippi Delta called New Orleans.

New Orleanian writer and journalist Chris Rose says “You can live in any city in America...BUT...New Orleans is the only city that lives in you.”

I invite you to come to one of the most unique cities in the world and experience how our city can live in you:

Breathe in...the smell of fresh brewed cafe au lait in the morning, the sounds of the brass bands calling your spirit to rejoice, the roots of ancient live oak trees uplifting the sidewalks, the power & force of the mighty Mississippi shaping our beloved Crescent City and sculpting the high ground where our convention center resides.

Breathe in...our joyful hospitality and affection for simple things, challenge your palettes with world renowned cuisine prepared in a roux of history, ghosts and tradition.

Discover the many flavors of New Orleans. The food, the music, the architecture, the artistry, the history, the all ages FUN.

It’s Spicy. Sweet. Earthy. Rich. Warm and Intoxicating.

New Orleans will leave its mark on you. You will be affected, inspired and transformed.

That which unites UUs and calls us to serve and fight for justice ALSO unites New Orleanians in community and solidarity. Come stand with us, walk with us, dance with us, and make history together.

I can't wait to see all of y'all in New Orleans June 21st-25th next year. Don't forget your taste buds, your dancing shoes and your water bottle.

Final Credentials Report

Moderator: I call on the Secretary of the Association, Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs, for a final credentials report and any announcements.

Rob Eller-Isaacs: To be live-captioned.

Ritual Closing

Thank You’s

Moderator: There are many people to thank for bringing you this General Assembly. I want to name a few and ask them to make their way to the stage as they are willing, able, available.

  • Chaplains (Rev. Jennifer Brooks)
  • Right Relations Team (Steven Ballesteros & Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper)
  • General Assembly Planning Committee (Rev. Chip Roush) (ditto)
  • GACS Staff: Jan Sneegas, Don Plante, Stacey Dixon and Steve Ransom
  • UU Musicians Network (Susan Peck and the many musicians that have brought so much energy and reflection to this gathering)
  • MeetGreen Aaron Elliott
  • District Coordinator (Laura Howe and 180 other volunteers!)
  • CMI (Greg Bates and Team)
  • Worship Arts Team (Rev. Carolyn Patierno, chair)
  • Program Development Group (Gail Forsyth Vail and Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, co-chairs)
  • Commission on Social Witness (Susan Goekler)
  • Our Seminary Presidents (Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt of Starr King and Rev. Lee Barker of Meadville Lombard) and seminarians…
  • Vice Moderator Denise Rimes and the board of trustees
  • And the hundreds of UUA staff from across the country that have lead workshops
  • And finally, and certainly not least, President Peter Morales whose interfaith initiatives led to this first interfaith GA.


Moderator: I now call for the official adjournment of the Assembly. Is there a motion from the Board?

Denise Rimes: Moved: That this General Assembly is now adjourned.

Moderator: It has been moved and seconded that this general assembly is now adjourned. All those in favor of adjournment please so signify by raising your voting cards. (Pause for response.) All those opposed. (pause for response.)

What say our online delegates?

The motion to adjourn is carried. I declare that the 2016 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association now stands finally adjourned. Have a wonderful summer and I’ll look forward to seeing all y’all in New Orleans, LA, next June.