I just “returned” from my eighth, and our first ever, all-virtual General Assembly. It was a week of deep engagement with other religious professionals and lay leaders at both my Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) professional days and our annual UU General Assembly (a gathering of congregational delegates who both learn together and do the business of our denomination). If I look tired when you see me, it is the result of long hours on zoom absorbing as much information as I could, combined with deep reflection on what I was learning and discernment on business matters and the use of conscience as I voted as a delegate.
One of the blessings of this year’s virtual space is that they recorded all the workshops so registrants can go back and watch the ones they didn’t get to participate in. I have so much more to learn…I just need time.
I try to make it a practice to share with you some of what I gleaned from any larger event that I attend with professional development funds. After all, your pledges are providing me with the opportunity to participate. This year, it was mostly a feeling I came away with rather than a practical applicable skill. I imagine as I internalize the learning, the teachable skills will gain voice as well.
For the first time in a while I have a lot of hope for Unitarian Universalism as a larger denomination. The movement to decenter whiteness and patriarchy in our organization and to lift up voices that have been oppressed was alive during this week together. The majority of the chats and conversations I engaged in were respectful and inclusive. The moderators led our business sessions without letting us get stuck in the needs of individuals, but staying focused on the business at hand and the will of the majority. When harm was done, most often an apology was made with a promise to do better. We are learning. And sometimes we still miss the mark.
Our Youth and Young Adult GA staff issued a statement about the work environment for them leading up to GA that you can see here. And the Association of UU Music Ministries (AUUMM) withdrew their support for the assembly (see Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout’s statement regarding the relationship between the UUA and GA musicians.) We don’t always get it right, but hopefully we learn and grow and adapt for the better. Holding ourselves accountable is a big step in getting it right–accountable to ourselves and to each other.
Of particular interest to me was the Commission on Institutional Change report, “Widening the Circle of Concern.” If you are interested in reading what the recommendations are to move us forward into becoming a liberatory faith, rather than just a liberal faith, you can download the document at the link above or you can order the publication.
For the month of July, follow this column for more about some of the learnings I brought “back” with me.
For now, I leave you with this hymn from Sunday’s GA worship: Tomorrow
*See* you on Sunday,