Debrief on UUA General Assembly

Northwest members who attended the annual General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association provided everyone a debrief of their experiences from the Spokane, Washington assembly (June 19 – 23, 2019) after Sunday service.

The General Assembly encompasses many, many workshops, business meetings, general meetings, Sunday service as well as assembly highlights such as the Ware Lecture and the Sunday service.

In 1920, Harriet E. Ware of Milton, MA, bequeathed $5,000 to the American Unitarian Association (AUA) for its unrestricted use. Two years later, on the evening of May 24, 1922, the first Ware Lecture was given by the Rev. Frederick W. Norwood, pastor of the City Temple in London, England.  This year’s lecturer was Richard Blanco who was selected in 2013 by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history.

Here is a bulleted list of the assembly debrief:

  • Participated in the forum regarding the UUA Statement of Conscience (SOC) – Our Democracy Uncorrupted.  Prior to the assembly, Northwest held a town hall meeting to discuss the SOC and submitted proposed changes to be considered at the General Assembly.  Northwest was proud to be among the 50 congregations of the over 1,000 UU congregations that engaged in this process.
  • Participated in workshop run by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, Disrupting White Fragility in UU Spaces.
  • Northwest also received a “shout out” from the Meadville-Lombard archival project for submitting scanned congregation documents for digital storage.
  • Attended a workshop: “The Power of Teen Leadership” delivered by a Youth Group that outlined their experiences over the past few years leading RE classes. 9 youth members served as the lead teachers for the RE program and presented the fresh ideas and new approaches they brought to RE. This effort also revitalized the Youth Group at a congregation about the same size as NWUUC. 
  • Participated in a workshop related to the ways classism exists and can be felt in UU congregations.
  • Delegates (Hannah Cowart, Allen Rider and Lil Woolf) actively participated in the multiple business meetings throughout GA. Various UUA bylaw changes and the Statement of Conscience were ratified after vibrant conversations amongst the entire group of delegates.
Rev. Misha Sanders with Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, current president of the UUA

Our new minister, Rev. Misha Sanders also got a “snap” with UUA president, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray.

There was also a brief conversation about an incident that occurred regarding the minister of the host congregation in Spokane that involved their senior minister and the distribution of his self-published book called the Gadfly Papers. Northwest agreed that we would like to discern this situation more deeply in the coming year by perhaps conducting a book study paired with Dr. DiAngelo’s book: White Fragility. 

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the yearly General Assembly.  The 2020 General Assembly will be held in Providence, Rhode Island. Additionally, UUA continues to finesse the participation opportunities for off-site delegates. Many of the meetings and workshops are available online via “live-stream” and off-site participation in voting and delegate conversation is gaining popularity. Northwest discussed creating opportunities for group “watch parties” next year for those that are not able to attend in person.