General Session II (Business Meeting), General Assembly 2019

General Assembly 2019 Event #442

Unedited live captions of General Session II (TXT) were created during the event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.

Program Description

UUA Co-Moderators Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams preside over the general sessions in which the business of the Association is being conducted.



This unedited transcript is from live captions created during the event.

>> Hello, everybody. So we're about to get started soon. Again, if you have not figured that out yet, i'm elandria williams. Your co moderator. There are only about 3200 paper copies of the aiws, so what we're going to ask you to do is to share, be kind and generous. They will also be available on the app really shortly and we're going to put the text up on the screens so people can see it there, too. We wanted you to know. They already are on the app and there's 200 paper copies. If you need one you can raise your hand and people will bring them to you, but please share. Thank you.

>> and while we're on announcements but before we get officially started, i just want to invite you to take a view of our on site ushers. They're the ones in that fantastic striped vest. I know that some of i just can't wait until next year's general assembly to wear the vest yourself. You can always do that by volunteering. I point them out for two reasons. One, they're doing a fantastic job, so we're going to give them a round of applause.


>> and two, particularly when we get into our business of discussion and discernment, we have ushers at each of the microphone, and i'd ask that if you come down to the microphone, you check in with them just briefly so they can help, as denise asked us to use our best manners in ordering ourselves up in line of the ushers will help us do that. And know we are putting prioritization to our off site delegates at the procedural mic in recognition that they're not this will i here with us. We want to make sure that their opinions and experiences don't get lost in our conversations.

>> and so the kaplan for the relationship team, if you could make your way up front, that would be really lovely.

>> i now call to order the third general session of the fifty eighth general assembly of the unitarian universalist association. We've got neal anderson to do a report from the chaplains.

>> it's hard for me to at that them it was just three short days ago that i was on this platform to introduce the which lynn team for this 2019 general assembly. I am reverend neal anderson, soon to be senior minister of the unitarian universalist church of greater lansing.


Can one of the co leads of this year's chaplain team, with reverend katie romano griffin, who served from her home off site in bethesda, maryland. Thank you to the rest. Chaplain team, kay landis, rebecca savage, and michelle walsh, who faithfully and with grace and love served this gathered community when you were in need of pastoral and spiritual care. I don't know about you, but for me, general assembly can be an intense time. It is an opportunity to meet new people, form new bonds of friendship, and renew old ones across boundaries from congregations, states, and nations. It is a time to see and be seen. It is a time for learning, growth, and maybe even transformation. One can experience the intensity of joy here, the intensity of exhaustion, the intensity of new learning. And yes, the intensity of pain and harm as well. In our heart and mind, may we take a moment in silence together for all that was and is this general assembly as we prepare to depart to faithfully live this faith that has brought us together and with which we love.

Blessed be and amen.

>> we're going to take a quick change in the program agenda for just a moment. We, as you hopefully remember, were not able to do the full reports of the uu women's federation and the uu service committee. And so we want to give a shout out and i'm going to invite elandria to come join me and do the shout out, because she does them better.

>> so we just want to say thank you. These people we've all known a long time.

>> i'm claire sexton, member of the church of the larger fellowship and the uu fellowship of waco. I'm the president of the unitarian universalist women's association.


>> and the reverend meg white from the unitarian universalist congregation at shelter rock and the incoming president of the uusc board.


>> we couldn't do moving unitarian universalism and living our values out into the world without the partnership of these two organizations, so one more time. Give it up for the uu service committee and the uu women's association.


>> while we're waiting on the right relationship and safety team chairs and representatives to come on up to the front, we're going to do elections. So i bring to the front board secretary and association secretary patrick mclaughlin.

>> we are a flexible people. We harness the power through avenues of service to our dough nomination, including elected positions on the board of trustees and various commissions and committees. The following individuals have been elected by this general assembly to serve on the following board, commission, and committees.

To the board of trustees, reverend suzanne fast

The reverend sherman logan

Leslie macfadden

Reverend tom shade

On the commission on appraisal

Victor ashire

Reverend madelyn campbell

Reverend rodney limmery

For the commission on social witness

Reverend jessica star rockers

Dr. Pippin whittaker

For the general assembly planning committee, people for whom we are all so grateful. Right? These people:

Thomas earthman

India harris

Reverend maria mccabe

And the nominating committee

Dr. Randy burnham

Amanda weatherspoon

And reverend shilani desela


>> so we're letting people know who the candidates are. We will do the installations later on today. Thank you.

>> when we jump ahead, some of us jump far ahead. You elected these people because our bylaws, section 9.10. Affirm that when there is no contested election, people are elected without the work of ballots.


>> all right. We're still waiting on the safety team and the right relationship team. I trust they are doing what we've asked them to do, i'm a sure you do as well. So we're just going to keep going ahead until they can join us. I want you to take a minute and remind us. Rules of debate for actions of immediate witness. Before debate begins, time will be provided for you to informally discuss the agenda item with others sitting around you, as we have been doing throughout the today. This informal discussion time will not count towards the thirty minute limit. For actions of immediate witness, we'll have seven minutes of debate time devoted to discussing them as a full assembly. As a reminder, only delegates can speak at the microphone at the front and one can speak for more than two minutes. There's a lot of rules.

Once the time has expired or when one is at the pro or con mic, we can take our vote. And time taken at the procedural mic does not necessarily count against discussion time. That all said, i want you to read to you a statement that the board put together last year in response to actions of immediate witness, that we cannot allow all actions to come before the assembly.

Whereas we had a very close vote on the action of immediate witness that were admitted to general assembly for placement on the 2018 agenda, and whereas all of these issues are important as we work to build the beloved community and better world that we envision; and where where's there are numerous groups, both faith based and secular, working on these issues and other issues of importance, be they local, national, or global, therefore the ga affirms the relevant and immediacy of each of these issues and encourages uus to read and consider taking action on any of the proposed aiws, even it the uua does not have the resources specific to those topics.

We encourage you to take the work back home to use the collective power of we. It is a subset of the theme for the work.

>> we will now consider the actions of immediate witness that we are adding to the agenda today. You may adopt one, two, or all three. They are not in competition with one another. Adoption requires a two thirds vote. A had he been of the commission on social witness will make a separate motion for each issue. Then there will be an opportunity for debate and amendments on that issue before a vote. If you wish to speak to an adoption of the proposed action of immediate witness, go to the pro mic. If you wish to speak against, go to the concern microphone. Up to seven minutes, again, will be allowed to debate if each is needed on the action of immediate witness and makes it to the final agenda. A motion to call the previous question on the main motion shall not be in order if there are potential speakers that are pro at the mic, either on site or off site, and seven minutes of discussion has not expired. So i just got it twice.

Now, it's in the rules. I recognize the delegate at the amendment mic.

>> [indiscernible] congregation in white plains, new york, and commissioner at the commission on social witness. The commission of social witness moves to amend the agenda to add the three top actions of immediate witness vote getters with the titles immigration and asylum, builds the movement for a green new deal, and support our first amendment rights to boycott.

>> do we have a second?

>> second.

>> all right. So i recognize the delegate at the procedural mic.

>> i just wanted to clarify. I think there needs to be first a vote to put it on the agenda.

>> about to do that right now. We had to second the motion. We have to do eve one separately. We have to do each one separately. All right.

So stay right there. Come back, meredith. We need you to put the first one on the agenda.

>> okay. I move the commission on social witness moves to place on the agenda the first action of immediate witness: titled immigration and asylum.

>> do we have a second?

>> second.

>> all righty. We're going to vote now to place this on the agenda. If you are ready to put this on the agenda, please raise your voting card. Thank you. All those opposed? Any abstentions? We're going to wait on/off site. Fantastic. Can we please have a proposer come to the pro mic.

>> i thought there was supposed to be a 2 minute speech.

>> i recognize the delegate at the pro mic.

>> good afternoon. My name is bob doupe and i represent the uu fellowship of san miguel day in the state of guanawato, mexico.


Members of the san miguel uu fellowship are working tirelessly to support immigrants coming through mexico from central america, seeking asylum in the united states. The migrants take unimaginable risks. They are fleeing violence and lawlessness in their home countries. They face hunger, bandits, kidnapping, severe physical harm, and sexual violence. Rather than a safe haven at the border, they face the tyranny of the current trump administration. When migrants are prevented from crossing legally, many face death trying to cross the desert at the same time humanitarians, including uu ers in border states, who reach out to help are jailed and prosecuted for their efforts. Also, families in the u.s. are torn apart as parents are arrested and deport.

Our uu volunteers in mexico work in a safe house that provides meals, medical care, shoes, and clothing, a place to sleep and to shower, and legal advice to both migrants and deportees traveling in mexico. This is our fellowship's passion. This resolution condemns the historic policies of the current administration. As unitarians, we support migrants who risk everything to find safe haven and opportunity in the united states. We ask that you support this effort to denounce the trump administration's cruel and immoral immigration policies. Thank you.

>> thank you.


>> so we have guiding word that the clock is not showing. Are you all keeping track? They're keeping track of the time. And there it is. So we need to remove a couple minutes. We can't remove a couple minutes? Well i recognize the delegate at the procedural mic.

>> erin [indiscernible] society, state of new york. Personal privilege, i guess. Could we please wait to debate these until the text of them is available? I know some folks are having trouble voting on their apps and i know that people are working on getting paper copies, but until people have a chance to actually look at them, it just seems premature to be debating them.

>> the text is available in the house right now. People are looking at it on their apps right now. If you need a paper copy, raise your hand, please. Okay.

>> we recognize there is a challenge with the app. We've got it on the screen. There are some paper copies floating around. We ask that if you have a paper copy, you share with many of your neighbors.

>> all right. Kathy burock, in case you don't remember me from this morning. If i didn't have the name tag, i might have to remind myself. Take a minute and talk about this resolution, what you like about it, any concerns you might have. One minute, please. And remember if you need a copy, please raise your hand.

>> can we've just been informed that they should be downloadable on the app now. All right. Any discussion of the motion on the floor? Seeing one at the pro or con mics, we're ready to vote. All this takes, this needs a two thirds majority to pass. All in favor of the resolution regarding immigration and asylum, please raise your voting cards or vote online. In the hall, you can put your cards down. Those opposed? And in the hall, you can put those cards down. Anyone abstaining? Go ahead and put those cards down. The motion passes.


All right. Again, my name is greg. I'm part of your moderation team. We went a little bit out of order the last time, so we're actually supposed to hear from the person who supports the action of immediate witness, that proposed action of immediate witness and then have the commissioner make the appropriate motion.

I recognize the delegate at the procedural mic.

>> my name is [inaudible] can i'll a had he been of the chalice unitarian fellowship of [indiscernible] valley, and i want you to give thanks for the passing of that immigration and asylum. I'm a dreamer, and i am ready to stand in the middle of the fire and not shrink back. And i appreciate all of you.


>> it is right and it is good to give thanks, and these actions, they bind only you in these seats to go do something. So if you are committed to this thing and you said almost to a person that each one of you want to do this, you need to show up in the ways that i just committed to. Is that understood?


>> i recognize the delegate at the pro mic to give the statement to support our first amendment right to boycott.

>> this is dick burkhart, saltwater uu congregation in des moines, washington. This is called build the movement toward a green new deal.

>> we need to support our first amendment right to boycott.

>> that's the other one.

>> come on up. It's all good. It's all good. This is intro. It doesn't take time away from anything but your dinner. I recognize the delegate at the pro mic.

>> thank you. My name is curtis bell. I'm a member. First unitarian church in [indiscernible] and i'm president of the unitarian universalist for justice in the middle east, and i'm speaking in support of this aiw to support our right to boycott. Boycott and divestment are time honored means to achieve justice. When we recall the montgomery bus boycott and the boycott campaign against apartheid south africa. Your right to use boycott for justice is under serious threat and that's what this aiw is about. The recent growth of the boycott and divestment movement in support of palestinians has led to a massive backlash by people who are threatened by criticism of israel. Laws have been introduced into the u.s. congress in past or introduced in 41 different states. The bills are aimed at intimidating, even criminalizing those who would use boycotts in support of palestinians.

One of the worst of the federal bills required offenders to pay fines as large as a million dollars and severe prison terms as long as 20 years. All this anti boycott legislation is surprising and disturbing, given that the u.s. supreme court unanimously, in 1982, voted that boycotts are a form of speech protected by the first amendment and district courts, federal courts have declared that three state laws are unconstitutional. The american civil liberties union has come on strongly against all of these anti boycott acts, their opposition being based on constitutional grounds. We ask you to join the aclu in support of the nonviolent time honored and constitutional use of boycotts. Unitarian universalists have long supported boycotts. Now is the time for us to stand up. Thank you.


>> while the commissioner makes the appropriate motion he is getting there i recognize the commissioner at the amendment mic.

>> reverend meredith garman of the commission on social justice. Sorry. Commission for social witnesses. The commission on social witness moves to place the action of immediate witness titled support our first amendment right to boycott on the amend an.

>> the motion is not debatable. It requires a two thirds majority of support. On those we have second and all those in favor of adding this to the agenda, support our first amendment right to boycott, raise your orange voting cards. You've already done it. You knew that i was going to say. Go ahead. Put those down. Any opposed? Take those abstentions. We will be discussing that. We're going to start with one minute of discussion amongst yourselves.


>> any discussions? Okay. Seeing none, are we ready to vote? All righty. So if you are ready to vote, please raise your voting cards. You're voting to go ahead and vote now. So we're trying to make the motion. Please take your voting cards down if you are not ready to vote. Any abstentions? We're waiting for off site. Fantastic. 91%.

If you are in favor of this motion around boycotting, please raise your orange cards. Thank you. If you are opposed? Any abstentions? We're going to wait for the off site. It overwhelmingly passes.


>> now we are ready for build a movement for a new green deal. I recognize the delegate at the pro mic.

>> dick burkhart, saltwater unitarian in washington. Build a movement toward the green new deal. Climate catastrophes are hitting ever harder and closer to home while two thirds of the u.s. population has fallen behind economically over the last two generations. Despite a doubling of the economy. It's the old story, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. That's why our working class has lost trust in the leadership of our society. Ma includes many of us and the science informs us. The green new deal is on both counts. The carbon neutral infrastructure you will create is exactly what we need to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, we'll be investing in working people with rewarding jobs and universal benefits, regaining their trust, building a more equal society. Demagoguery and scapegoating will lose their force. We'll live a more hospitable world to our youth and future generation. The green new deal is a vision, not a blueprint. We know we need a rapid transition to clean renewable energy, leaving the fossil fuels in the ground, but politics is not yet there to pass detailed programs and that's the point. Spread the knowledge about the climate emergency, yes, but also to rebuild trust and political will by sustaining a helping hand to the many who have been left behind.

Instead of spending the resources on the fancy lifestyles and projects of the rich, military, and persuasive consumerism, think about a lot fewer mansions and extravagant parties and vacations, a lot more solar panels, wind mills [indiscernible] walkable communities, affordable energy efficient housing, healthcare, and education. Thank you very much.


>> thank you. All in favor of putting this aiw i recognize the commissioner at the amendment mic.

>> reverend meredith garman, white plains, new york. The commission on social witness moves to place on the agenda the action of immediate witness titled build the movement for a green new deal.

>> there a second?

>> second.

>> okay. All in favor of putting this on the agenda, raise your voting cards. Okay. You can lower them down. Any opposed? Thank you. You can put your cards down. Any abstentions? The item is added to the agenda.

I recognize the delegate at the pro mic. You have a minute to discuss. Sorry. We're moving pretty quickly. You have to keep up.


>> okay. I think we're ready to start the debate. I recognize the delegate at the pro mic. The delegate at the pro mic.

>> okay. Ally [indiscernible] wild flower uu church and program director for the ministry for earth. Thank you. I really just want to say that you might have seen the ipcc, the international panel on climate change report that we have 12 years to transform our society, starting november of last year. And we're just going to keep going up in emissions. So basically, we have 11 years to radically transform our society. We don't have 11 years to begin that work. We have 11 years to transform our society completely. And the green new deal is something that evokes the imagination of the american people. It's something that can provide a framework to have a just transition, a transition that honors working, poor communities, people suffering across our country, and therefore, i think to work for a green new deal, particularly in solidarity with those most impacted communities, is something that unitarian universalists are called to do. We are called to create climate justice and to rise to the occasion of this massive catastrophe that we have with our ecological imbalance and climate change affecting our people. So i didn't want to spend my life addressing this issue, but i have no choice. And i hope you will support this move for a green new deal, because it's desperately needed in order to have a future for our children, for me, and all future generations of people and also nonhuman species alike.

>> thank you.


>> i recognize the delegate at the con mic.

>> my name is patty potter. I'm a member of the unitarian universalist church of fresno that is in fresno, california. And it's more of a concern than a con. Number 2, prepare our youth to confront the future through religious education and other programs grounded in science that inspire hope, courage, and practical collective action. My concern is prepare our youth. I think it's disrespectful to the youth to assume that they need to be prepared. Not everyone needs to be prepared. And that it's ageist. I'm not saying don't vote for it. I just need to put it the on the table that i think it's disrespectful to our youth.

>> thank you. I recognize the off site delegate at the procedural mic.

>> thank you. Speaking for ami ume, west shore uu church in cleveland, ohio. I just want to express gratitude to having the minute to discuss since it also allows us off site ers to have a minute to type in our comments in the speak box. Thank you beloveds.

>> thank you, ami.

Seeing one at the con mic, are you ready to vote? Okay. All in favor of aiw number 3, building the movement for a green new deal, please raise your voting cards. Okay. Please put your cards down. All opposed? Are there any abstentions? Okay. The motion passes.


>> we didn't vote to call the question.

>> while we're figuring out what's happening at the procedural mic, i want you to let you know that the right relationship team and the safety team, neither have reports for us, so i'd encourage us all to continue our best practices around right relationship and safety.


>> our own beacon press has had yet another record here, both in terms of sales and impact. You can see all their recent and classic books in the uua bookstore in the exhibit hall. Here's a video to tell you a bit more about this past year, narrated by the press's director, helene atwan.

>> as we celebrate our 165th anniversary, beacon press's impact on society continues to grow. Our books are part of the national dialogue on a wide range of topics, including lgbtq rights, women's rights, and environmental justice.

Beacon books continued to be at the forefront of the conversation around dismantling white supremacy. Howard bryant, carol fulp, deborah plummer, and crystal fleming have all approached the topic from unique angles. Robin diangelo's white fragility is a national bestseller, showing all of us why and how we need to address our racial biases.

Beacon continues to work on centering the margins in all the work we do. We have always worked to lift up the voices of black women in particular, and we continue to bring strong new voices into the conversation, like andrea ritchie, feminista jones, leah vernon, and imani perry.

We are reinvigorating our celebrating black women writers series to highlight the role these women have had in changing america's social and literary landscape.

Beacon is so proud to publish stories and perspectives that are hard to find elsewhere. We've had great success with works by and about indigenous people.

In the last year, our authors have been featured on all the major media outlets: in newspapers, on radio, and television. Our website has hosted 316,000 visits and 188,000 blog visits. Beacon has had 523,000 views of our videos on youtube.

We're expanding our audience to include young adult readers with our ya adaptations of revisionist history titles as well as books by martin luther king, jr. And victor frankl.

Now, more than ever, books that help us talk about social justice matter. We'll leave the final word with this year's ware lecturer, our author, richard blanco, reading from his new book, how to love a country.

We hold these truths to be self evident. We're the cure for hatred caused by despair. We're the good morning of a bus driver who remembers our name, the tattooed man who gives up his seat on the subway. We're every door held open with a smile when we look into each other's eyes the way we behold the moon. We're the moon. We're the promise of one people, one breath declaring to one another: "i see you. I need you. I am you."

This is helene atwan. We want to thank you for all your support for beacon. We could not do this important work without your encouragement.


>> thank you, beacon press. So it's time for our responsive resolutions. These responsive resolutions are those resolutions that are brought to us by delegates that are responding to a report made in general session. This year we have zero submitted resolutions that met the criteria. I do want to lift up that we have two submissions that, while not meeting our qualifications for what counts as a responsive resolution, bring us some good insight. So we had a comment, a proposal around captioning, particularly around the captioning of lyrics when we're doing singing in the large room and around mini assemblies and how we can better integrate and include our off site delegates. So i offer up that we, the board, and the general assembly planning committee will continue to work to get better and we have no responsive resolutions.

Given that, i welcome to the podium outgoing board of trustee member latifa woodhouse to offer closing words. Latifa wood house, member of the congregation of shelter rock and a few more hours on the board of trustees.

This is a prayer for peace and healing. Spirit of life all around us, you have gathered us together in a swirl of healing wind. Take this newfound apprehension in unwelcome shawls, heavy upon our shoulders and make of it a comforter, soft and warm and trusting in which we might rest our weary souls. Each day, we awaken. May our first thought and vision be the peace in the eyes of our sisters, our brothers, our cousins who also see the peace in mind, and from this gaze into each other, may the peace of our hearts heal one another. Thank you.


>> 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 7:00 pm tonight. Have a great dinner.