We have a big experiment coming up for the Unitarian Universalist Association and that is our first ever Virtual General Assembly (GA) – our annual gathering of UUs from across our congregations and across the world – happening June 24-28! I invite you, as leaders in your congregation, to register for virtual GA and to share the invitation with your congregation.
Two weeks ago, I got a taste of some of the powerful content that will be a part of virtual GA when I participated in the UU the Vote: How We Thrive online event. It began with a rendition of “We Shall Be Known” by MaMuse performed by the UU the Vote choir and conducted by the incredible Jen Hayman, Music Director at All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C.
As the music began, my eyes filled with tears. To hear Unitarian Universalists from all over the country, many of whom I know and love, singing in a virtual space and being able to sing along with them – it moved my heart and spirit in a way that only music can. I needed it.
There are so many things I miss in this time of physical distance. There have also been beautiful, unexpected gifts. It is my hope that we will continue with some of the new ways we’ve found to gather even after this pandemic, because we’ve found them to be inclusive and meaningful. This includes opportunities created by a 100% virtual General Assembly.
For example, I invite your congregation to make the Sunday morning GA service your service on June 28. The Rev. Joan Javier Duval, Minister of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Vermont, is leading the service, along with the Rev. Mykal Slack, Community Minister for Worship and Spiritual Care for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU), and Benjie Messer, Music Director at the UU Congregation of Phoenix who will lead the over 140 member virtual choir! I’ve also been told that Ysaÿe Barnwell and Emma’s Revolution will perform during the service.
The service will stream live two times on Sunday, at 10 a.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Central and again at 10 a.m. Pacific/11 a.m. Mountain. Imagine having 1,000 congregations and 100,000 UUs sharing worship that reaches across the globe!
I am excited to experience and learn from our virtual business sessions. This year, the reduced costs may make it possible for every congregation to send a delegate to GA. What will we learn from this experience that we can carry forward to continue to have the governance of the Association be more widely participatory and inclusive?
As always, GA will feature prominent leaders from within and beyond our tradition. I am looking forward to the Ware Lecture by Naomi Klein, as well as our Featured Speaker Series that includes authors such as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Howard Bryant, and Unitarian Universalists Rosemary Bray McNatt and Elías Ortega (Presidents of Starr King School for the Ministry and Meadville Lombard Theological School, respectively), and former UUA President John Buehrens.
While I will dearly miss being in person with thousands of Unitarian Universalists, I am excited about the opportunity virtual GA offers for more people to be a part of the conversations, inspiration, and connection of GA. We are definitely learning as we go. Trying to pull off a large-scale virtual event in such a short time, in the midst of a global pandemic, is an enormous lift. So, I remember my own words: “Perfection is not the goal.” Connection, community, spiritual growth, love, and justice – these are the values that guide us and bring us together.
Thank you for amplifying the information for GA with your congregation. I hope you and your congregation will participate in new ways through the new opportunities available at this year’s virtual General Assembly.
Yours in community,
P.S. The UUA Board of Trustees is hosting webinars on What to Expect at GA 2020.
P.S.S. The Sunday morning GA worship will include a Community COVID Memorial. If you have lost someone to COVID-19, and would like to have their name honored during this service, please send your loved one’s name, UU congregation (if any) and age (if known), no later than June 20th to firstname.lastname@example.org.