I write to you from our first ever all-virtual General Assembly!
Last night’s opening ceremony, rooted in the language and history of the Mashpee Wampanoag people, was deeply moving. It has been a great honor to get to know jessie little doe baird, Vice Chairwoman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, and her incredible work on the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.
A major theme of this General Assembly (GA) is understanding the history and current systems of colonialism and conquest, beginning with some ancestors of our religious tradition arriving in what is now called Plymouth 400 years ago. This is part of a series of GA offerings for the Plymouth/Mayflower 400th Remembrance. I hope you will participate in many of these opportunities that both unpack our UU history and complicity, engage conversations of reparations, and offer opportunities to join in solidarity with Indigenous resistance efforts.
One thing I know for sure about this experiment with virtual GA is that it will be exciting and engaging, yet imperfect. Doing a new thing for the first time always reveals new lessons. However, I also know that the goal of this event is connection, learning, and community care—not perfection. Our ongoing work is to move our tradition forward as a liberating community where all people of all identities can thrive. May we all experience much needed care, inspiration, and grace throughout this week.
I have already experienced moments of deep power and connection and feel blessed by the gifts that lay leaders and worship leaders, including co-Moderators of the UUA Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams, and the Revs. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa and Clyde Grubbs, offered last night. My heart is full with gratitude to all who have and will share their talents, leadership, care, and ministry during GA.
There is so much still ahead! Check out the schedule and program book. You can still register and be a part of this gathering of more than 4,000 Unitarian Universalists!
Still ahead for the week is the Service of the Living Tradition honoring our religious professionals; Synergy, the bridging ceremony for our youth; the critically important presentation from the Commission on Institutional Change about the recommendations in their report Widening the Circle of Concern and their workshops on Friday about how to move institutional change in our congregations.
The writing and research of Naomi Klein, our Ware Lecture presenter, couldn’t be more relevant in a world where disaster capitalists seek to exploit people impacted by COVID-19. And, with UU the Vote, we have the opportunity to call 100,000 voters in advance of upcoming critical elections!
In addition, there are meetups organized by a number of UU groups, a GA FUUN Night with hip-hop yoga and a drag show, and Sunday Morning Worship, which will be livestreamed at both 10 a.m. Eastern and 10 a.m. Pacific and is open to the public.
I am sad not to be with so many of you in person, and I also know this virtual gathering will allow many who have never participated in General Assembly to be a part of it. I am continually inspired by the ways we continue to show up for the bold possibilities of the future we all need and a faith that is ready for this moment.
Yours in spirit,