Saturday Closing Ceremony: Saying Yes to the Power of We, General Assembly 2019
General Assembly 2019 Event #443
Unedited live captions of the Closing Ceremony (TXT) were created during the event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.
In joyful word and song, we will celebrate those who have said Yes, affirm our commitment to the life-saving work of our faith, and consider how to bring the Power of We home to our communities. We will recognize the winners of the Distinguished Service, Volunteer Service and Angus MacLean awards. We will honor the completion of the Promise and the Practice campaign to support the UUA’s $5.3 million commitment to Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. And we will invite all Unitarian Universalists to General Assembly 2020 in Providence, RI.
- Rev. Dawn Fortune
- Katrina Pauling
- Marty Swisher
Order of Service
- Gathered: calling “All of Us” together in celebration (music by CH Johnson)
- Faithful: considering what it means to be “Faithful Over a Few Things” and celebrating those who have given extraordinary service to our denomination (music by J Abbington)
- Committed: focusing on who we are and whose we are and committing to go “Where You Go” in solidarity (music by S Jedwab)
- Charged: affirming what we have experienced together and saying “Yes” to the Power of We (music by R Nowles, MC D’Ubaldo, J Joyce, W Steinberg)
- Invited: concluding our work together, bringing the Power of We to our communities, always remembering that “Life Calls Us On” (music by J Shelton and K Gibbons)
- Chalice Lighting
- Elandria Williams presents the Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism to the Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed
- Gail Forsyth-Vail presents the Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education to CB Beal
- Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray presents the President’s Award for Volunteer Service to Denise Rimes
- Presentation: Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Commitment, Promise & Practice Campaign
- Installation of Elected Volunteers
- Framing Our Time Together
- Invitation: General Assembly 2020 in Providence, RI
- Recognition of All Who Made General Assembly Possible
- Final Credential Report
- Extinguishing the Chalice
This unedited transcript is from live captions created during the event.
>> It is becoming such a joy to welcome you into this space. We have a beautiful service planned for you this evening. Before we begin, i need to acknowledge some harm that i have caused. There are some in our assembly who rely on a document called the accessibility hymnal to at that silly at a time their full participation in worship, and due to an oversight on my part, the lyrics to our gathering song for tonight and tomorrow morning did not make it into the accessibility hymnal. What that mean is that these joyful moments that we will share together are no longer fully accessible to everyone in it our community and for that hurt, i am truly sorry.
>> we welcome to you join us in any of these three songs at the very beginning of the service. We'd love to have your participation, and you will see the lyrics, at least here on these screens. Be the change.
>> how do we begin, asks this song, "all of us", from considering matthew shepard, by craig hella johnson. We began, two days ago, wondering what brought us to this general assembly. Why are we here? Gathered in one place, some of us flying across the country to do that, so why did we? I came here with a purpose. I came to learn what it means to be uu for others. I found a community with so many different beliefs and viewpoints. Some of those fit together like a single string of thread but others were like oil and water, sharing a space but not quite together. Between the dividing political state of our nation and world troubles it is a wonder that we are all here, together as a community. It was the power of the possibility, of a new experience, it was the possibility of personal growth, and the possibility of new connections, a yearning pulling you to reach out to people. It was the power of we. Even with tensions in the us and around the world, we all came because we believed in a community strong enough to help us rise against violence and hatred.
I believe in the power of people, and here we have so many people, beyond that we are people who are united under a common kindness. The power of a community that has helped people get out of bed to face the day and the world that we are in. The power of a community that is here, together, today. It is this power of we that we honor today as we light our chalice.
Blessed solstice to us. The great ocean line of our denominational culture is turning. We can feel a deep foundational shift toward something more expansive, more equitable, more transparent with deeper integrity. Something that expands our understanding of what is meant when we speak of the power of we. We are moving toward a new model of what my friend and colleague, cb beal, calls radical inclusion. With preemptive radical inclusion, we do not work merely to accommodate those who hold marginalized identities when they appear, but we construct our spaces with the presumption that they will be in attendance everyday.
It requires us to assume that everyone is in the room every time we do something. There are people of color in the room. There are disabled people in the room. There are queer and trans and nonbinary and gay and lesbian and bisexual and asexual and kinky and poly amorous people in the room.
There are people with mental illness in the room. There are people living with intimate partner violence in the room. There are trauma survivors in the room, working class people, the poor, the unhoused, and undocumented. Our spaces must be constructed so that all of these people are included in the we that we seeing to create.
Thank you. Changing denominational culture is like changing the course of an ocean liner underway. Turning a large craft is not done by the rudder alone. In a 1972 interview in playboy magazine, buckminster fuller spoke about the importance of trim tabs. Trim tabs are small hydraulic powered flaps on the outside of a ship's hull well below the waterline. They don't look like they do much, only being a foot or two square each, but they are vital to navigation. By adjusting the angle on the trim tabs, by just a single degree, those little flaps generate enough wash in the current to make the work of the rudder possible. Without the trim tabs, the rudder would be unable to steer the ship at speed. The work we do is often the work of the trim tacks.
Sometimes when we are immersed in the work, it is easy to think that what we do has no effects. We barely moved this thing 1 degree from where it was. But over the years, our efforts, cross incremental movements of the trim tabs caused enough wash in the current to permit the enormous shift that is denominational culture, to begin to turn in a direction of those aspirational statements of principle crafted so many years ago, seeking justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. Dignity for all. The search for truth and spiritual growth that enriches our lives.
In order to expand our understanding of what is included in this we, we must ask at every committee or board meeting, who is not represented at this table? Whose view is not included in this conversation? And then we must cultivate the leadership and development of the humans with those voices that are missing, because their viewpoints make us as unitarian universalists smarter and stronger and better. And we must pay attention and heed the insights offered by all at the table. It is not sufficient to simply look around and see that all are represented if the conversation is still dominated by those with institutional power.
The power of we requires that those of us who have privilege use it to center those who have been historically marginalized. The power of we means that those of us who have privilege understand that being asked to listen is not the same as being silenced. On telling the marginalized not to be angry is in pursuit of the yes and in the pursuit of justice is to support the don't witness of that oppression.
And to encourage incremental change is to support the continuance of injustice. These are our core values: that all people have worth and dignity, that we are called to be kind to one another, to seek justice, truth, and peace, to respect other's ideas, to be responsible stewards of the earth, to live together in covenanted communities that operate in ways that are fair and equitable to all. The power of we is interwoven in all our aspirational principles. Like so many aspirational things, our principles call on us to actively engage in the challenging work of learning, growth, and humility. That is our charge. That is our path. That is our future.
now let us join our hearts with the choir as they sing glen burleigh's powerful anthem "faithful over a few things."
>> the rev. Dr. Mark morrison reed has exerted an immense influence on unitarian universalism for more than forty years. With donna morrison reed, his wife and partner in ministry, he served twenty six years as co minister of congregations in rochester, ny, and toronto, canada. He grew up attending the first unitarian society in hyde park, chicago and became only the second african american raised in the uu faith to become a uu minister.
He pioneered the study of the african american presence in unitarian universalism, starting with his masters thesis, which became black pioneers in a white denomination (approaching forty years in print), and with the groundbreaking religious education curriculum how open the door? Over the years, he wrote and edited numerous books and articles on this topic, including darkening the doorways, the selma awakening, and revisiting the empowerment controversy. With jacqui james, he also co edited two volumes of meditations, been in the storm so long and voices from the margins. His memoir, in between: memoir of an integration baby,is now in its fifth printing. Mark's writings have highlighted the african american experience in unitarian universalism not only to unitarian universalists but far beyond our faith community as well.
During the course of his ministry, mark has visited and spoken at more than 225 congregations in the united states and europe. He has delivered the sophia fahs lecture, the berry st. Essay, and the minns lecture, and he has preached the sermon at the service of the living tradition. He was the keynote speaker at the uua conference in alabama to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the selma march. Mark has been vice chair of the commission on appraisal, the vice chair of the ministerial fellowship committee, chair of the department of ministry affirmative action task force, and a member of the committee on urban concerns and ministry, which established the whitney young jr. Fund. He attended the founding meetings of the african american unitarian universalist ministries (aauum) and the diverse and revolutionary unitarian universalist multicultural ministries (druumm). While president of the canadian unitarian council, mark guided the cuc through its separation from the uua. He has served as the uua ambassador to european uu congregations and is the author of a book length study of the origins and history of the international council of unitarians and universalists. At meadville lombard theological school, mark served as an affiliated faculty member and coordinator of the sankofa archives, a collection of materials telling the stories of unitarian universalists of color. Starr king school for the ministry has awarded mark a doctor of sacred theology degree, and meadville has bestowed upon him a doctor of divinity degree.
This list of mark's accomplishments is suggestive rather than exhaustive. He has been a wise mentor to many, clergy and lay, but especially to uus of color. He has been a calm presence in times of crisis. He has powerfully shared his sadness and anger at the marginalization of people of color within our community, at the persistent strains of racism and patriarchy, but he has never given in to despair. Never pretentious, he is accessible, curious, and profoundly kind. His open heart and emotional responsiveness give others the courage to risk vulnerability. His ministry has been a lesson in humility. He has encouraged and inspired and cared for a generation of uu leaders. He has been a steadfast beacon of hope in times of crisis and a joy filled bearer of light and faith in our shared future. Pastor, scholar, teacher, mentor, and friend, mark has enriched the lives of many thousands within our faith community and beyond.
With deep gratitude for the many blessings he has brought to us, we are honored to present the 2019 award for distinguished service to the cause of unitarian universalism to the rev. Dr. Mark morrison reed.without him, i would not be standing here.
>> you guys know about me.
Thank you. Thank you. I'm honored. You know, i wasn't keeping track, so i'm a little bit surprised at the length of the summation which was, you're right, suggest i have of what i've done, but what's amusing about it, since your call, was how it really came to pass.
So the back story, and there is a context. And the context has been embedded in four nurturing congregations, my own congregation for chicago, my internship congregation, and the two congregations. I encourage their rochester and first unitarian. I want you to thank my congregations, our congregations.
Now, the back story. In 1952 when my parents were looking for a religious him ever home, friends of mine's fathers took them to first unitarian society of chicago. They're still there with my sister in the crypt beneath the sanctuary. I have no idea what my family's life or my own would play out. I have no idea without that invitation. So i need you to think about that the next time you pass up the opportunity to invite somebody to church.
Thank you, uncle bud. I'm the eldest of four. The phone would ring in the evening and i would say, hello.
Reed residence. May i help you? May i speak to your father in hospital in, he's at a meeting. Your mother, please in
>> sorry. She's out, too. It was the independent voters of illinois and the pta and the chicago school committee and urban gateways and mother was, of course, chair. Church council and on and on and on. My parents modeled civic engagement. I think it was contagious. Thank you mom and dad.
From the age of eight on, i was a choir boy. I came to the chicago children's choir. Little did i know that my vision air i, exacting director, chris moore, would one day be my colleague, as would the other chorus they are choir members. I was never a soloist. I was just a choir boy. I'm not amanda. I was a choir boy. And i remain one in the sense that in everything she described, i was always, always doing it with others.
When i was a member of the committee on urban concerns of ministry, which i was early in my ministry, probably 79 or 80, we challenged the msd and the uua to permit people of color in particular to hold dual fellowships. That opened the way for mel hoover and others.
As a member of the uua curriculum identity key, with jackie jamie co edited medication, and with jackie and mel and rob eller isaacs, and mindy, i was on the department of ministry affirmative action. We dreamed up aaum, the grant for the aauum, which became druum, and beyond categorical thinking workshops. When i was president of the cuc, we negotiated the separation from the independence of the canadian congregations from the uua. And then being in europe, helping the u uu fellowship of basal. I did mostly coaching and networking for them.
so even my books were not you think of book writing as a solitary work, but reality is my students at meadville lombard did lots of the research. I did lots of interviews. You know, we went through the service. Living tradition. I looked at the colleagues who passed. I had interviewed or quoted at least half of them. At least half of them. I didn't do this on my own. They were there. They were reading what they said. They were with me in this project.
So those, when i collaborated over the characters collaborated over the last 40 years, you know who you are. You have touched my life. You have blessed my life. I want you to thank all of you. Foremost of these is donna, my companion and wife and colleague. I have to tell you, sometimes it felt like i was actually working for the uua, not our congregations, and it only worked because donna, despite her own things that she was doing, she had me covered. She had my back covered with our congregation and most importantly with our two children.
She also did a lot of encouraging and editing and more editing. God knows i needed editing. And she's shaking her head yes. And she was usually fairly tolerant when one of my projects kind of took over. Thank you, donna.
In 1966 when i was 17, serving as the lyr president at first unitarian church of chicago, redford gains was one of our advisors. He was a role model for me. He was also one of only four african american seminary students in the uua at that point and at a point when there were only two african americans in pulpits, both part time. We've come a long, long, long way since then and along the way, there were battles and there were disappointments. Some were dramatic. There was real pain. But our understanding evolved as our vocabulary did as well, but we kept falling short of our hopes. It's built into it. You have to. And we were never as progressive, never as progressive as we claimed to be.
Nonetheless, nonetheless, we did change. We did change. It was messy. God knows it was messy, and it was incremental and it was cumulative and we tried different things and we made mistakes, lots of them, and then we'd adjust. Collaboration takes time. It takes time and it takes patience. And lack of it and then more time, and in the process i cried a lot. And occasionally, i raged and i tried to be a truth teller, but i want you to tell you, i also enjoyed figuring out what had actually happened before and it was what needed to happen at that moment and how to leverage the system to make it more inclusive and just.
For me, it was also a form of creative expression. And in hindsight, i can see that over time i and the many with whom i worked, we made a difference. We were the trim tabs. We were the trim tabs. It just required showing up again and again and again. Just staying in the conversation and engaging respectfully, openheartedly, lovingly with people of good intent to shape a future none of us alone could imagine or create.
Thank you, thank you all.
Well done, good and faithful servant,
And god will give
And god will give you a crown of life.
The unitarian universalist association presents an award each year to someone who has made outstanding contributions to religious education. This award was established in 1972 by the st. Lawrence university theological school alumni association and the religious education department of the uua. This year's recipient of the angus h. M. Ever maclean award is cb beal.
Angus h. Maclean was a visionary and a beloved role model to those who create and lead experiences to help our people grow in their unitarian universalist faith. In 1951, maclean, then professor of religious education at st. Lawrence theological school, said love exists only when someone is loved. Freedom exists when relations worthy of that name govern communication and action between persons. Such values are communicated only when "live," if i may borrow and somewhat distort a tv term. This is why i have so often said that a faith which is so largely a faith of dynamic ethical and intellectual values, should make method the heart of its curriculum.
Making method the heart of the curriculum means that how we teach, how we engage with our people, matters at least as much as what we teach. We invite a group of 8 year olds to use drama, or art, or games to make meaning together. We speak of the "music" in our whole lives comprehensive sexuality education, knowing that our people, young and old, will remember the approach, the activities, the values, and the openness to questions even when content details have faded. Trainings for new religious educators invite participants to bring their experiences, questions, and playfulness and build a learning community together. The ministries of religious professionals are strengthened by the compassion offered to them by a good officer in a time of need, or by a facilitator trying to help them grow in wisdom and understanding. Facilitators, lay leaders, religious educators, and ministers who pose a thorny question to a social media group find peers and guides who go beyond answers to engage questions. The intentional act of welcoming and including people of all identities and abilities in our designed learning experiences, and in all of congregational life, is a powerful way to embody our faith.
Cb beal is a religious educator who has done all of these things, and much more.
And i'm going quote the text of the award: cb beal has served unitarian universalism and their profession with wisdom, creativity, and integrity, in angus h. Maclean's spirit of inclusivity, justice, compassion, and love. It is my great pleasure today to honor cb's work and express our grateful appreciation with the 2019 angus h. Maclean award.
As a teacher, program leader and facilitator, cb has pointed many congregations, lay leaders, and religious professionals toward just and equitable ways to embody being beloved community together. Cb has raised their prophetic voice to challenge unitarian universalists to center people who are marginalized by trans and non binary gender identity
Cb has attended, with wisdom and grace, to the nurture and professional development of religious education colleagues as both a good officer and a renaissance module leader. Cb enthusiastically embraces and teaches the values and vision of our whole lives. They have evangelized for holistic, comprehensive sexuality education as a trainer for the elementary and adult programs and a trainer of trainers for the elementary level. Cb led a thriving religious education program for children, youth, and families at the unitarian universalist society of northampton and florence in massachusetts for sixteen years. Conducting an impactful ministry via social media, cb brings insight, integrity, and knowledge to interactions among religious professionals, our whole lives facilitators, and lay leaders through justice and peace consulting, cb takes unitarian universalist values into the wider world. They teach and demonstrate the powerful concept of preemptive radical inclusion in the spirit of angus maclean's understanding that "the method is the message."
Teacher, facilitator, writer, theologian, mentor, and guide, cb lives their unitarian universalist faith, calling us all to justice, equity, and compassion in our relationships one to another, and in the world. Their work is a blessing to our faith.
Congratulations to you, cb. I invite you to receive this award not only as a capstone, but also as a charge to continue your faithful work. May you continue to challenge our unitarian universalist faith movement, to engage us, and to lead us.
>> i didn't bring tissues.
Hello, good people.
>> excuse me one second. Thank you so much. This is really amazing. It was unexpected and amazing. Saying yes to the power of we means grappling with being beloved community in aspirational and practical ways. Leaning into the complexity of two things being true at one time, like how to do democracy both with and without roberts rules of order.
Like seriously, good job, y'all. That was amazing.
We here are working to unveil and unravel the click constellation of power and authority, privilege, marginalization and oppression within an organizational structure not of our individual invention. We are reinventing ourselves collectively. We are moving away from structures of inherited hierarchy and towards something new that centers the marginalized and infuses our interactions with love, hope, and connection.
People who get awards are often people with big opinions.
At our worst, we are teachers who mistake ourselves for profits. At our best, those opinions are faithful reflections of what we have learned by noticing, bearing witness, and accepting feedback and invitations to repentance and repair.
Developing a faithful people is hard work. It requires more humility than i anticipated and less talking and more listening than may be my natural inclination. We are required by our aspirational of beloved community to gain new knowledge, learn new skills, and more finely hone skills we already are learning.
I share this award with the 13 angus h. Maclean award winners before me who have personally taught me. I share it with those who have called me in when i desperately needed to be corrected and with those who have borne witness when i was in pain. I share it with those who helped me grapple with the complexity of all the different identities and social locations that i hold. I share this award with these people right here on this stage, like actual them.
With my queer and trans kin, with my black, indigenous, and people of color siblings, particularly i want you to particularly lift up the transgender religious professional unitarian universalist together
Black lives of uu
And diverse revolutionary unitarian universalist multicultural ministries.
I share this with my colleagues and i share it with all of you. The power of we is this: all of us means all of us. So i accept this award in gratitude for all who have taught me and i pledge to do my best to pass it forward. Thank you.
Well done, good and faithful servant,
And god will give
You a crown of life.
>> it is my enormous pleasure to award the 2019 president's award for volunteer service to the association to denise rimes.
The uua's outgoing vice moderator. The
>> the annual president's award is given to the person or organization designated by the president as having given extraordinary and vital service to the uua as a volunteer. Denise, i can think of no one more deserving of this award. I'd like to read from the citation:
Denise rimes has served unitarian universalism and the uua with unfailing dedication and generosity. She has served with distinction on the congregational, district, regional and national level. Serving as president of the first unitarian universalist church of richmond, she helped create practices that led to more effective focus on mission. As president of the southeast district, she was pivotal in leaving behind the painful, historic district name and recommitting to the work of anti racism. As president of the district president's association, she helped negotiate the move from districts to regions.
Her resume for the association also includes more than eleven years serving in various roles to support general assembly (ga), most recently as the board of trustee liaison to the ga planning committee.
And more than eight years serving congregations directly as a ministerial settlement representative. Denise has been a dedicated leader on the uua board of trustees. In the midst of real disruption and the untimely death of the uua's moderator, jim key, denise skillfully took on the role of moderator and brought both a deep care for her fellow board members and an abiding commitment to address structures and practices that reinforce a culture of white supremacy and inhibit the uua's ability to live into beloved community. Denise rimes exemplifies what is means to lead with grace and care through challenge and change.
As one who always goes above and beyond, denise models collaboration and delegation. Everyone who has worked with denise knows that she makes those around her look good and she never forgets to say thank you for making me and others look good. And denise never forgets to say 'thank you.
Denise, your leadership, devotion, humor and grace have and will continue to leave an indelible mark on the association.
>> you all, i forgot my notes, but that doesn't mean there can be any amendments or procedural questions.
When i became a unitarian universalist, it was a result of, believe it or not, september 11th. My children were small and i felt a real need for community. It didn't occur to me then, but it happened very quickly that the whole definition of community took on a brand new meaning for me. Can art of what i've learned and what i've been able to do with the huge as a unitarian universalist, this is not my award alone. This award represents the power of we. If there is anybody out there tonight who doesn't believe that our congregations and our association don't represent the best of what we can be, then i am sorry that we have failed you, because that is what it has meant to me.
I have some notes on my hand.
So in terms of the community that has helped earn this award and shares this award, first i want you to thank my beautiful board members, past and present, for everything that you have done and enabled for our association. I am not a lifesaver. I am not bluu or lrada, who have received this award in the two years prior. I am not christine resat an or asia hauser, who save lives and bring people new meanings to unitarian universalism.
With this board of trustees and me as an old ish white woman, i don't have any real special skills. I love my charts. I like to put things in charts. I love to write things down and make sure that people know them. Those are my gifts. But as a member of this board of trustees, we have been able to bring our collective gifts together under some fabulous leadership in order to turn that large ship that we call unitarian universalism.
My congregation, first uu of richmond, virginia, i love you so much. You have taught me how to be a unitarian universalist. You have given me the opportunity to grow and to learn and to lead and to make mistakes and to get things right. So this award is partly yours as well.
To my amazing mentors, reverend jean pupke, annette marquee, and my dear jim key, thank you so much for believing in me. You share this award with me, because part of you is right here with me.
And finally, to my beloved family. I love all of my babies. My children, my husband, my grandchildren. Thank you so much. This is partly for you. I know i wasn't at the dinner table a lot of times. I know you got sick and tired of me bitching and moaning about meetings and committees.
My poor husband had to get hearing aids as a result of all of that.
But this is for you, for loving me unconditionally, and allowing me and all of us to grow as faithful people. Thank you all so very much, and this is for you.
Well done, good and faithful servant, well done.
And god will give you a crown of life.
>> almost three years ago, our board of trustees voted to raise $5 million to support black lives of unitarian universalism.
More commonly known as bluu. It was a bold pledge, and it launched many of us on an amazing, challenging journey. Today, we celebrate the successful completion of the promise and practice campaign.
>> collaboration is something we talk about often, but this campaign truly embodied it! From the collaborative meetings with members of bluu's organizing collective, to the collaboration of lay leaders and religious professionals of color in the creation of the beautiful worship materials for the campaign, to our collaboration with ministers and lay leaders to lead a bluu sunday and collections in over 600 uu congregations and faith communities.
Together, we have learned so much about black lives of unitarian universalism, our history as a faith movement, and our yearnings to live fully into our principles.
>> it seems like yesterday when julie and brad bradburd delivered their promise to match congregational gifts to bluu up to $1 million!
This was a beautiful ending for our new orleans general assembly that offered up a challenge to our ministers, members of congregations and uua staff. Thank you, brad and julie.
>> today, we are grateful for the many unitarian universalist congregations and entities that answered our call for support the uu women's federation, the uu funding panel, the northern new england district, lreda, and congregations like theodore parker uu church, mission peak uu congregation, first unitarian church of portland, unity unitarian church of st. Paul, jefferson unitarian church, the unitarian church of summit, and georgia mountains uu church, and so many others. You gave generously, we'll if you later more fully. You gave generously, with enthusiasm and grace.
>> we are so thankful for your generosity, dedication, and creativity. We are grateful for your trust in the board's decision to support bluu and, even more, for your faith in the possibilities of bluu's leadership and work as an organization.
>> this campaign is only the beginning though! This campaign has taught us a lot about ourselves. There is still a lot of work to do. Our partnership with bluu and supporting their work and mission will continue.
>> at this time, i'd like to welcome reverend mykal slack and dr. Takiyah amin of the bluu organizing collective to share a few words about how this campaign has impacted their work and some words on their vision as a new organization.
>> black lives of unitarian universalism was a possibility imagined by seven on people in 2015 out of a dream for spiritual connection and commitment to create a more just and loving world for black people. Although my final day as chair of the bluu organizing collective board was last week, i am thrilled and so grateful for this opportunity to thank my fellow former founding organizing collective board members:
Reverend carlton elliott smith
And dr. Royce w. James
We didn't know at the time that we'd be starting a new organization or a new faith community, but somehow we ended up doing both.
>> since the bold and courageous decision of the uua board of trustees in 2016, bluu has worked to advance our 3 part mission: expanding the power and capacity of black uus within our faith; providing support, information, and resources for black unitarian universalists; and justice making and liberation through our faith.
>> we've also taken on the very difficult task of building a plane while flying it. So while we held a convening in 2017, were viable in 2018, and expanded our ground organizing supporting efforts against deportations in california and pushing with our partners to end cash bail, we've also incorporated as independent entity, established our bylaws, and governance structure as we prepared for the fulfillment of the promise and practice campaign. We could not have done that without the support of the uua staff and leadership of past and present with special thanks to:
The revered rob eller isaacs.
Reverend mary catherine morn
Rev. Dr. Sophia bettencourt
Jaque in ta boston
And our uua president, susan frederick gray.
>> bluu stands on the shoulders of our black uu ancestors and every day we learn from the examples set in our faith by the black affairs council and the black unitarian universalist caucus of the 1960s. We thank the elders in it community with us for their support, guidance, and consistent prayers with eternal thanks to:
Reverend bill sinkford
Dr. Leon spencer
Dr. Anton belizi sanyika
Paula cole jones
Carmalita carter sikes
And carroll carter sikes
>> today bluu's structure is financial transparency group. A cohort of flag uus organizing to change the material conditions of black people all over this country. Our ministerial network, providing pastoral and spiritual support and care. And most notably, the current bluu organizing collective board:
Reverend michael slack.
Dr. Taquia amine
Reverend kimberly quinn johnson
And our incredible executive director and soon to be new mom, lena catherine
One way to join us in living out this vision is by joining us this fall as we complete a year of theological exploration into an unapologetically black unitarian universalism in st. Paul, minnesota, october 30th through november 2nd for the harper jordan memorial symposium. All are welcome to this historic gathering. And yes, white folks, i mean you, too. Please visit black lives uu.com/symposium for full information and to register to attend.
>> finally, we would be remiss if we did not specifically thank outgoing uuacfo and treasurer tim brennan
>> Tim has been a blessing to bluu in so many ways, coming to our team meetings when asked to help us navigate the complicated process of becoming an independent entity, advising us around budget, processes, and leading his own team with such clear vision around fulfilling the material and spiritual promise the board made to bluu in 2016.
>> we're grateful to jakaren, ian hill, matthew p. Taylor.
>> it seemed fitting to close with yesterday's affirmation. It says the following: we are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the love that we seeing. We are the seeds we are sewing. We are the harvest we reap. We are that we are. Thank you. And ashey.
>> today, we extend our appreciation and our love to you. We offer you our thanks and our blessings. This chalice was designed by longtime bluu supporter oshara meesha, a black uu artist based out of kansas. Please accept it as a small token of our appreciation and our faith in your vision and leadership.
Well done, good and faithful servant,
And god will give you the crown of life.
There are so many who serve us. We are grateful. Tonight, we have people who are stepping up to serve us. We harness the power of we through the many ways that you can serve our denomination, including elected positions on the board of trustees and various commissions and committees. The following people selected to serve on the following board or commission or committee
Patrick, board of trustees
Rev. Suzanne fast
Rev. Sherman logan
Commission on appraisal
Rev. Madelyn campbell
Rev. Rodney lemery
Commission on social witness
Rev. Jessica star rockers
Dr. Pippin whitaker
General assembly planning committee
Rev. María mccabe
Dr. Randy burnham
Rev. Amanda weatherspoon
Rev. Xolani kacela
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. 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.
>> i covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
>> as you signify unitarian universalism in the wider world, may you serve as an instrument of reconciliation, hope, and welcome.
>> i covenant to affirm and promote a goal of community of peace, justice, and liberty for all.
>> 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.
>> i covenant to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.
>> in the spirit of hospitality and understanding among people may all who cross your path feel they have been heard and seriously considered
>> i covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all.
>> 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.
>> with gratitude i acknowledge and accept the trust that you have placed in me.
Let us pray.
>> creator, waymaker, loving presence, spirit of life.
>> we are grateful for the examples of commitment and dedication and ask that all who take up the great work of our faith be blessed.
>> we acknowledge in ourselves those times when we have shied away from the power of we, shied away from the call of our hurting world. We confess we have not been able to do all that we know we can. For those times, we ask forgiveness.
>> let those who have modeled commitment and dedication here today, and those from our many pasts make the way clear for us.
>> fill our hearts with devotion for the love that draws the circle ever wider. We know that our prayers must lied us to action and this moment is calling us to bolder action, deeper risk, and deeper sacrifice. This assembly just passed an action of immediate witness on immigration justice and it is time to make that real. We not only resent, but we will resist the fear that the trump administration continues to evoke, to perpetuate more danger and distress to our people and families across this country. New threats have just been issued in the past few days of ice raids rounding up families for deportation and targeting sanctuary cities. People have already started organizing here in spokane and elsewhere. I know some of you who have people in sanctuary in your own congregations, are trying to rush home to organize to protect them. Incrementalism is insufficient in this moment of growing totalitarianism. And staged violence. We must show up not just with activism and risk, although we must show up with activism and risk, but also with love. Because the practice of love and the theology of love is the way to dismantle the narratives of hate that fuel state violence and totalitarianism. Loving one another. Risking to protect win another. That is the leadership that is needed, because it is life and death right now. For trans people, for people with disabilities, for people of color, there have been moments when our faith has rested in the belief that change will just come and will be incremental. We don't know what's going to happen, but we must fight and we must love one another. If you have people in sanctuary in your congregation, i invite you to rise in body or spirit. If you are organizing out there for immigrant rights, i invite you to rise in body or spirit. If you're thinking about putting your body on the line to put yourself in front of ice so that they can't get to our communities, i invite you to rise in body or spirit. Let us keep praying, my friends. We pray for you. We pray for one another, we pray for our neighbors. We pray for more courage, more faithfulness, more justice, more peace. We pray that all people may be safe and free and whole and loved. May we be willing to risk ourselves, to sacrifice for those who are lead examining fighting for one another. May we hold each other and those we don't even know tenderly, tenderly in our hearts and in our prayers. Spirit of life and spirit of justice that holds us all, lead us. Lead us to show up each day with greater justice and courage and love. Help us to nurture one another and build more expansive communities to protect and care for one another in the midst. Hardship and pain in our lives. Side with love, our yellow shirts, love resists, our joint campaign to resist criminalization, all of these are going to be sharing information about how you can support organizers, how you can support one another, how you can be actively engaged in fighting this brand new announcement of ice just rounding people up. We must be braver and bolder and more loving. May we hold one another more tightly in this time. May we move more powerfully together, ever expanding the we, because it is every single one of us. All of us is the we that we fight for. Hope is found in the struggle. We don't know what the outcome is. The question is where will we side and where will we show up? May we side with love and side with one another? Amen. And blessed be. Courage be with you, my friends.
>> in the book of ruth in the hebrew bible, a commitment is made, a connection is formed, a family is created. And the power of we begins as ruth says to naomi, where you go, i will go. Your people are my people, your god my god.' this powerful sentiment as set to music by shoshana jedwab, has become deeply important to many different faith communities, including our annual gathering of religious professionals of color, finding our way home. I'm going to sing it through one time, and then please join me to sing it with myself and the choir twice more.
>> so it's been a week, y'all. It's been a week. It's always a week of ups and downs, the most beautiful things in the universe and some of the most painful and you're like, what? And it's been like that since i was a child. We have been invited in to a conversation by the commission on institutional change and by the board, the administration, the youth movement. Folks trying to go, what are the questions we have to wrestle with in our faith? How do the questions live in you? Not just in your head, but in our relationships, in our congregations, in our covenant communities, and every we are?
>> we've been remind that had how we engage in our governance and how we use the tools available to us is thought as much about procedure as it is about our willingness to trust or not trust one another and our leadership.
We are all in this together. And we can only transform the way our business is done if we get better at holding one another accountable to how we use the tools to reinforce or dismantle white supremacy and domination.
Now is the time to dedicate ourselves to more faithfully living our values, including doing the in between work of preparing for next year's general conference. If we are going to be able to articulate our faith and values next year, we need each and every one of you to help bring the questions from the commission on institutional change as yesterday's program and today's questions from the board home to your congregations and communities. We need each one of you to live our faith daily. Our dream is that beginning next week and continuing on a regular basis, you pull those questions out. Think about your answers. Journal your thoughts. And discuss them with ever expanding and changing circles in your lives.
>> we're in this work together. Right? All of us. All of us. The power of we is for all of us to move, all of us to fight for justice, all of us to craft the faith that we know we want it to be and that we dream and imagine it to be. It's around dismantling that hypocrisy that lies at the heart of some of our institutions and ways of doing change. So i have to just say a little thing, because it's been on my soul a lot. So i do a lot of work in home stead, florida, and we talked about homestead a lot. Homestead has one of the best immigrant rights organizations in the country, and they could not get out of the way because a white man refuses to step down.
That is the problem we have in this work. So as we are moving and doing the work in the world, sometimes it's hard for people to move out the way and let the people directly impacted leads. It is happening in our immigrants right movement. It's happening in every movement in this country and in the world.
So i am imploring you, when you go home to do this work, am i directly impacted? Maybe not. I have started immigrant rights networks. I'm not an immigrant, so i'm not in charge anymore. And i am black. So that means we all have to do the same thing. Know when it's time to be in front and when it's time to say thank you, i'm talking some directions. So i want you to give some direction for a minute, because i want you to chant really differently. So please rise in body and spirit and we're going to do this chant the actual correct way.
All right. Here we go. It is actually like this. Watch me.
>> the people united will never be defeat.
The people united will never be defeated
And if folks don't know who does that chant together, it's not just latina folks that look a certain way. It's all people. Right? And so the word isn't just about immigration. It's not just about climate change. The very people who were impacted by migration are the same ones who would blow out the mountains in columbia. Right is this so this is all together. Please do the work back home. Carry it in your heart and soul and love each other up. Because the work destroys us as well as it lifts us up. And so if we don't love on each other, through the trials and tribulations we, lord knows, go through our own trials and tribulations, and what i have heard the most this year is what it means to be with people through the thick and the thin and to admit your mistakes and to say thank you and i love you and i will do better. Because if we can't do that, then we won't go forward.
>> in one year, we will gather again the annual gathering of unitarian universalists in providence, rhode island. 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the mayflower on the shores of new england just a few let me say that again. 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the mayflower on the on these indigenous oakland
Just a few miles from what is now providence. I feed you to know that we are going to be arriving there in the midst of major celebrations honoring this history of colonialism, celebrating this lift of colonialism, a history directly connected do parts of our own history as unitarian universalists. The puritans, the pilgrims, they are one piece of our history as unitarian universalists.
As we prepare for general assembly in providence, we acknowledge the legacy of conquest and colonialism in our tradition. The general assembly planning committee and board of trustees chose the location of providence because it would invite us confront and wrestle with our history of colonialism.
That it would invite us in to truth telling. As well as take this as an opportunity to tell a different story, to share a different story about this history, a story that centers indigenous people and their continued struggle for sovereignty, land rights and their spiritual traditions.
The people who came to this continue ment in 1620 with the values of religious freedom and covenant, values that we still celebrate and affirm today did not acknowledge how their vision of religious freedom depended on denying religious freedom to indigenous communities; and their understanding of covenant did not include a covenant with the people or the land they came to occupy.
Next year's general assembly will be an opportunity to understand our history more deeply but also to continue the work the spiritual, social and practical work of putting a liberating theology and practice at the center of who we are.at the power of we, at the center of who we seeing to be. I invite you to general assembly and for this work which is a part of the larger work that we are doing.
>> there are so many people to thank this year. As we call your names and groups, would you please rise as you're able in body and spirit and be acknowledged.
Our tellers and ushers
Our safety team
Our right relationship team
Our young adults
Our accessibility team
Black lives of uu
Liberal religious educators
Transgender unitarian universalists together, truut.
The liberal religious educators association.
Association of uu administrators
Uu ministers association
Association of uu music ministries and all of our wonderful musicians and singers
Ga planning committee
The worship arts team.
Our board of trustees
Everyone who facilitated and/or took notes during the breakout groups
The uua staff
Special shout out to foreign liaison and magic maker terry mernan.
Our remarkable president
Our executive vice president, carey hack donald.
The absolutely amazing tech deck
And everyone who attended, both here on site and out there online.
Let's give ourselves a big round of applause!
Thanks to all of you who discern, learn, and continue to grow on this faith journey we call unitarian universalism!
>> we're he not there yet.
>> the script says since.
>> i know, emily. I know. But if nothing else by now, you've learned we don't necessarily keep to the script. As other ab aid, sometimes the script needs help and she's going to help us out.
>> i want you to take a very special moment to thank someone, and i don't each know that they're in the room. Jan sneegas, are you in the hall? You know, yeah, she's working on stuff, but i don't want to let this moment pass without honoring january sneegas, who has been making ga happen so powerfully for the last 17 years.
>> we love you, january. We hope you can we love you, jan. We hope you can feel it. As director, as director of the general assembly and conference planning office. Uua and the staff liaison to the general assembly planning committee, jan has helped the uua be a leader in reducing an offsetting our environmental footprint whenever we gather for general assembly. She's become an industry leader in this area and her leadership has meant that in every city we go, we leave a lasting legacy and learning for the convention centers to come about how they can reduce the environmental impact of conventions. Through 17 years, jan has said yes. From new ideas, new formats, to people rappeling off buildings and protesting in 120 degree heat. Jan has worked tirelessly to make almost all these things possible. To make them increasingly accessible and always in line with our mission, and we thank jan sneegas as tonight for her service and leadership.
And we are very excited to welcome our new general assembly conference planning director, latonya richard son to the uua and to the general assembly.
Conference and planning services.
>> we've got one more edition.
>> so some of us need to introduce to bathrooms and some of us need scooters and so jan also did that, too. Environmental things are all lovely. And there's also other big data done that we feel like we really showed up, even if sometimes the bathrooms, we can't find them. Thank you.
Now you're up.
>> now it's my turn. It's all of our turn. I'd like to invite you to rise in bod or "spirit and join us in singing life calls us on. It does, doesn't it?
>> so sometimes the power of we gets us so excited that we forget things. And we forgot to give thanks to the commission on social witness who helps us through all of our resolutions and actions and statements.
And medical people, thank you.
And just to cover the bases, thank you to the band.
And to everybody else who made this magic happen that we did not name.
>> i call on the secretary of the association, patrick mclaughlin, for a final credentials report.
>> oh you may have noticed there were a few of us here this week. Total attendees, 2,740.
107 youth and 226 people off site.
Y'all represent 507 congregations in all 50 states, washington, d.c., two canadian provinces, and mexico and more.
If it looked like it took a while to count some votes, it's because there were 1,417 delegates and 198 of them were off site. 291 ministers among them. 48 religious educators. And associate member organizations were part of our community.
>> i now call for the official adjournment of the assembly. Is there a motion from the board?
This is how we do things.
Moved: that this general assembly is now adjourned.
>> all those in favor of adjournment please signify by raising your voting cards or your hands. All those opposed. What say our online delegates you saw a couple? What say online delegates? I'm going to call it. The motion to adjourn is carried.
I declare that the 2019 general assembly of the unitarian universalist association now stands finally adjourned. Have a wonderful summer. We'll look forward to seeing you in rhode island. Please remember to bring the questions home with you for conversations everywhere.
>> we look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the service.
>> and as a lifelong new englander, i look forward to seeing you in providence next june where we can counter the narrative.
>> we stand adjourned.