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Impressions of Justice General Assembly

UU World readers share their impressions of this year's General Assembly in Phoenix.
By Sonja L. Cohen
Fall 2012 8.15.12

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Tent City vigil (Nancy Pierce)

UUs gather for a candlelight vigil at the Tent City jail in Phoenix, Ariz., on June 23, 2012. (Nancy Pierce)

The Unitarian Universalist Associ­ation’s “Justice General Assembly” in Phoenix in June focused on immigrant justice and involved more public witness events and more worship than previous General Assemblies. (See sidebar for links to our GA coverage.) UU World asked: What did you find most compelling, inspiring, or provocative about this year’s Justice GA?

“I got to be a first-time attendee of an event with far-reaching impact,” replied Claudia Hanes, of the UU Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky. “The idea of organizing with community organizations to meet social injustice challenges, coupled with the charge to go back to our local communities and do this now, speaks to me as someone who doesn’t want talk but craves action. The firsthand stories added to the urgency of our work for the families earnestly depending on our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Getting two heartfelt original protest songs from emma’s revolution didn’t hurt, either. I’m singing them and planning community-based organizing strategies as I write this.”

Rebecca Keller Scholl, director of religious exploration at First Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts, noticed “more unity and peace during the workshops and plenaries. People came together in ways that were respectful and engaging, and seemed to be able to look past personal agendas for the greater good. Being more mission driven reduced the anger, frustration, and nitpicking that often leave me disappointed at the end of a GA. This time I left feeling positive, hopeful, and inspired.”

Bob Lane, of the Mt. Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, California, wrote: “The first couple of days at GA I was cranky, because it felt like I kept hearing about how difficult the work of justice is, how often we would feel uncomfortable. Yes, some of that’s true, but it’s only part of the story, and it left out something important: the joy, the delight that comes with standing with others to resist injustice, with working to change the ‘way things are’ so people suffer less. Without the joy in justice, we won’t have justice, so I missed hearing about it. I needn’t have worried about missing it, though, because the joy came rolling down like waters on Saturday night at ‘Tent City.’”

Joyce Dowling, of Davies Memorial UU Church in Camp Springs, Maryland, found the experience of being an off-site delegate “very inspiring.” She wrote: “I think this is the wave of the future. I saved a lot of expense and fossil fuel attending GA from home, though it won’t keep me from attending live when it’s closer and more affordable. I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t alone, as there was a lively chat among off-site participants.”

Barton Frost, chair-elect of the GA Planning Committee, was inspired by “the commitment and energy of the volunteers for Saturday morning’s Citizenship Fair. Every person I spoke with spoke of taking the experience home to use in their communities.”

Susan Bennett, of the UU Congregation of Fairfax in Oakton, Virginia, said Justice GA “renewed my hope in the future of Unitarian Universalism. By reaching out beyond ourselves, including youth in meaningful ways, and being willing to give voice to our religious principles that require us to do social justice work, we found new ways of being in community. May future GAs continue this transformative work!”


This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of UU World (page 12). See sidebar for links to related resources.

What did you find most compelling, inspiring, or provocative about this year’s Justice GA? Share your reaction in the comments below. For the next issue: What do you think happens after you die? Send your answer to world@uua.org.

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