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Daily reports from UUA General Assembly

Follow the UUA's annual meeting with uuworld.org's GA blog, June 21-25.
By Christopher L. Walton

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Delegates vote at last year's General Assembly.

Delegates vote at last year's General Assembly. (Nancy Pierce/UUA)

Follow major developments at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, June 21-25 in St. Louis, right here at uuworld.org.

I'll be filing daily reports to the magazine’s General Assembly Blog; you can also keep up by using the GA blog’s feed. For extended coverage of GA events and workshops, including audio and video of major programs, please see the General Assembly section at UUA.org.

What’s new at this year’s General Assembly? Don Skinner’s report highlights the new Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule, the introduction of a voluntary environmental impact fee, the first-ever “UU University” mini-conference for congregational leaders (June 20-21), and proposed changes to the Assembly’s resolutions process. (Learn more about the $6 carbon offset fee and other aspects of the greening of GA at UUA.org.)

The business agenda contains most of the items delegates will be voting on—including a proposal to extend the duration of the "study/action issue" process and to require more congregational buy-in for denominational Statements of Conscience. (The current process involves two years of congregational input, but very few congregations have participated in recent years.)

This year the Assembly will vote on three resolutions in the study/action process. A resolution on global warming (page 12 in the Final Agenda) comes to the end of the two-year study/action process and will be presented as a Statement of Conscience. A study/action issue introduced last year on moral values in a pluralistic society comes up for renewal this year. And, somewhat surprisingly, only one new proposed study/action issue made it onto the agenda for consideration this year (page 10 in the Final Agenda.) It asks:

Should the Unitarian Universalist Association reject the use of any and all kinds of violence and war to resolve disputes between peoples and nations and adopt a principle of seeking just peace through nonviolent means?

That promises to generate some lively conversation.

Another innovation this year will be open discussions during plenary sessions of major issues selected by congregations. These aren’t business or action items, but an opportunity for congregational representatives to discuss issues facing their communities. UUA moderator Gini Courter asked congregations for input about this new initiative earlier this year, and she has set aside time in three plenary sessions to discuss these questions:

  • What are the common traits of our growing congregations? What are the common traits of those with stagnant or declining membership?
  • What do we need to teach—as best we can—to children and youth and new members?
  • Why are many of us unable to tell others about the importance of church in our lives?
Finally, there are many intriguing workshops on the schedule, but one is sure to draw a crowd: the Commission on Appraisal’s session asking for input on its review of the UUA’s Principles, Sources, and Purposes. The Commission announced in April that it will lead a denomination-wide review of the UUA’s governing covenant, which the UUA’s bylaws require at least every 15 years.

If you have a General Assembly news tip, send it to cwalton@uuworld.org

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