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Trustees review resources promoting Justice General Assembly

Blogs, posters, and scholarships encourage attendance at Phoenix GA in June.
By Michelle Bates Deakin

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2012 UUA GA logo

During its February 23 conference call, the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees brainstormed ways to spread the word about the 2012 Justice General Assembly, which will meet in Phoenix, Ariz., June 20–24.

The 2012 GA is a departure from past General Assemblies. Thanks to a resolution adopted by the 2010 General Assembly, this year’s annual convention will focus on immigration and social justice and will conduct a minimum of traditional GA business. Trustees shared a number of resources they can each use to promote the Justice GA. Congregations and individuals can use them to spread the word, too. They include:

  • A new GA brochure and poster, which can be downloaded;
  • A video invitation from UUA President Peter Morales, filmed in Nogales, Mexico, in front of a concrete border fence dividing the United States and Mexico, in which he says this year’s GA is “an opportunity for us to raise our voices together in a powerful public witness against violations of fundamental human rights”;
  • A discussion guide about the Doctrine of Discovery—a principle of law first developed in the 15th and 16th centuries that gives legal and theological justification for the conquest of indigenous people and the appropriation of their land and resources—which the board will ask the General Assembly to repudiate through a responsive resolution;
  • The UUA’s “Cooking Together” blog, which presents immigration justice stories and resources for congregations and individuals; and
  • General information about the Justice GA on the UUA website.

Many of the trustees who represent UUA districts are planning to speak about the Justice GA at district annual meetings this winter and spring.

The Rev. Dr. Walt Wieder, chair of the GA Planning Committee, and the Rev. Leslie Takahashi Morris, co-minister of the Mt. Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a member of the GA 2012 Accountability Group, both participated in the conference call.

Wieder addressed a concern raised by Lew Phinney, trustee from the Mountain Desert District. Phinney said that he has heard some people wonder why civil disobedience events were not scheduled during the upcoming GA.

“Our partners have not asked us to do civil disobedience,” Wieder said. “Strategically, it is not the thing to do.” The focus of public events will instead be on public witness. One event being considered by the GA Planning Committee is a vigil at Tent City, an outdoor jail maintained by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which has been criticized as inhumane and unconstitutional.

Takahashi Morris encouraged board members to make personal appeals to people to attend.

Natalia Averett, trustee from the Joseph Priestley District, inquired about the availability of scholarship money to encourage people to attend even if cost is an issue. Wieder said that more scholarship money is available this year. “We need to encourage people to go who don’t traditionally go because of cost,” he said.

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