General Assembly passes reproductive justice Statement of Conscience
In Friday's General Session, delegates resoundingly supported passage of a UUA Statement of Conscience affirming UU commitment to reproductive justice. "As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the reproductive justice framework, which espouses the human right to have children, not to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments and to safeguard bodily autonomy and to express one's sexuality freely."
The statement honors the women of color who developed the concept of "reproductive justice" to "center the experience of the most vulnerable, and to bridge the gap between reproductive rights and other social justice movements."
The text came to General Session with many amendments already incorporated from a lively mini-assembly on Thursday. The finalized text is not yet online. Delegates debated five unincorporated amendments, described below; the line numbers in parentheses refer to line numbers in this version of the CSW Alert, not to the printed CSW Alertgiven to delegates in the hall:
- They rejected Unincorporated Amendment A, which would have added a line: "Work to eliminate legal barriers preventing adoptees from getting information about their biological parents" (line 108).
- They approved Unincorporated Amendment B, which deleted the sentence: "We do not agree on many issues, including when life begins and the rights of the unborn" (lines 72-73).
- They approved Unincorporated Amendment D, which added the sentence: "Believe the survivors who share their experience of sexual and/or interpersonal violence. Listen with compassion, offer support, and avoid victim-blaming language" (to section on congregational action).
- They rejected Unincorporated Amendment K, which would have added the sentence: "True religious freedom benefits Unitarian Universalism and our greater culture, and must be respected by governments and civil society" (to section starting at line 56).
- They rejected Unincorporated Amendment P, which would have replaced "Work to eliminate legal restrictions on adoption and foster care for LGBTIQ families" with "Work to ensure equity and respect and eliminate discrimination and coercion for all participants in the adoption and foster care system" (line 107).
Delegates also approved Unincorporated Amendment F without debate, changing line 147 to "Publicly witness and advocate for sexual and reproductive justice in the U.S. and around the world."
We will add a link to the final document when we receive it. (C.W.)
Six leading UU organizations launch collaborative campaign
The leaders of six major UU organizations shared the General Session stage Friday morning to unveil a new joint venture, “Wake Now Our Vision: The Unitarian Universalist Collaborative Campaign.”
The Rev. Meg Riley, senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship; the Rev. Don Southworth, executive director of the UU Ministers Association; the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, president of Starr King School for the Ministry; the Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, president of Meadville Lombard Theological School; the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, president and chief executive officer of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; and the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association spoke on the benefits of collaboration.
“For many years our institutions have pursued our individual missions with only occasional efforts to work together and coordinate our programs,” Morales said. “Sometimes we have even acted as if we were in competition with one another, especially for financial support from our donors and congregations. This has not been healthy for our movement or a smart way to raise money.”
Riley said, “Our six organizations have made a commitment to the success of our shared faith. We will be working together to plan a fundraising campaign that will include both cash and planned gifts to support congregations and our national Unitarian Universalist institutions.” (S.C.)
GA Talk: Environmental justice and Commit2Respond
General Assembly attendees heard a GA Talk on environmental justice and the Commit2Respond coalition, presented by the Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, program and strategy officer for the UUA, and Jennifer Nordstrom, a member of UU Young Adults for Climate Justice.
The presenters, who were involved in the creation and launch of Commit2Respond, described its goals, which they classified as calling UUs “to a deeper level of accountability.” Nordstrom said Commit2Respond “is asking us to make bigger commitments than changing our light bulbs or even bicycling to work. It is asking us how we can join a movement to prevent climate catastrophe and build resilient and resistant communities for climate justice.”
Nordstrom stressed the importance of encouragement, accountability, and forgiveness. “Sometimes we lean so hard into accountability that it leaves no room for forgiveness,” she said. “Sometimes we lean so far into encouragement that it leaves no room for accountability.” She said that environmental justice work will require us to develop a practice of loving accountability and concrete relationships with those communities most affected by climate change.
They also addressed the UUA’s sale of its interest in mineral rights last year, which became a “flashpoint of concern” that Cooley said reminded the Association that “we need to analyze all such decisions more thoroughly through the lens of our climate justice commitments and be much more transparent about them.”
Cooley encouraged the audience to learn more about Commit2Respond and other environmental justice work. (S.C.)
Commission on Appraisal report
Members of the Commission on Appraisal presented their preliminary report on class in our congregations and Association and urged delegates to vote in favor of proposed bylaw changes that will change the nature of the Commission.
“The challenges of class in our congregations,” they reported, “in our Association, and in society at large demand a strong institutional response and lasting engagement from us. Working class people, poor people, middle class people, and class privileged people all need to be part of this effort.” They stressed the importance of continued study on the impact of class on UU congregations and the Association and said that this work needs to be done in deep engagement with people of color and other historically marginalized communities.
“We hope that this preliminary report is a beginning at applying this conviction to the realm of class and classism,” said Commission member Megan Dowdell, “and we hope that we can inspire others to take up this important work. We call on the Board of Trustees to ensure that our preliminary study of class is carried forward and completed, either by the new COA or by some other body.” (S.C.)