General Assembly 2007 got under way in earnest as Paul Rickter, secretary of the UUA Board of Trustees, announced at the opening of Thursday morning’s plenary session that 5,464 people had registered. Because registration typically grows as the Assembly progresses, this strong start all but guarantees that this year’s GA, in Portland, Oregon, will be the second largest ever.
The attendance record of 7,515 was set in 2003 in Boston, eclipsing the Cleveland Assembly of 2001. The closing day total in Cleveland was 4,582, only 18 more than the opening figure Rickter announced. Speculation is that final registration will be short of 6,000, but will grow substantially by the time this Assembly adjourns Sunday evening.
The Portland Convention Center’s main hall is so cavernous that even with this year’s huge throng of UUs it can easily accommodate several hundred more for plenary sessions. But there are so many people that lots of first-day workshops were standing room only.
Among the 5,464 registered so far, 1,946 are delegates from 574 congregations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two Canadian provinces, and Mexico. And 303 of the registrants are youths.
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Tom Stites was the editor of UU World from 1997 to 2006 and retired as its publisher in 2007. He is a member of the First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts.