In late June, UCS delegates – both onsite and offsite – gathered for the business of our larger movement. UUs from all over the country and around the world gathered in Portland, Oregon. With new technology, UUs like our offsite delegates attended General Assembly from their own homes and congregations.
We asked our GA delegates and participants to share their reflections. One highlight for our onsite group was reconnecting with former UCS folks: Lois & Wally Pereira and Pat & Tony Obst.
What was the GA event that inspired you? Colette Parsons: Rev. Kathleen McTigue spoke about the the UU College of Social Justice with interesting insights about service-learning which apply to our work both close to home and abroad. Being together with so many UU’s is amazing – especially after the marriage equality win – it was fabulous to see all of the same sex couples walk up onto the big stage to celebrate! When Obama spoke after the tragedy in Charleston, SC a large group of UU’s stood outside the convention center to watch. Simultaneously, everyone sang together with Obama, “Amazing Grace.” Lorraine Wearley: Seeing all the happy gay couples come to the stage to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage. I was so moved by the number of gay women couples who appeared to be over 50! Claudia Cohen: The session “Community Activism in a Time of #BlackLivesMatter.” Participants were passionate and committed, ranging from Elissa Goss, a young activist, to Chris Crass, a fiery anti-racist white man.
Which GA worship service do you think every UCS person should watch online? (Service of the Living Tradition, Ware Lecture, Sunday Morning Service, etc.) Colette Parsons: Rev. Allison Miller from the Morristown (NJ) UU Fellowship gave a passionate sermon called, “Re-Storying Hope”. It’s worth watching online, but you may need to have tissues nearby. And, our new DRE Laura Beth Brown did a fabulous job with “Wisdom from Sacred Stories.” Of course, watch Ware lecturer Cornell West just because…. Lorraine Wearley: The Ware Lecture. Claudia Cohen: The Service of the Living Tradition was beautiful and spiritual, with brave, inspiring speakers.
Name one thing did you learned about Unitarian Universalism? about Portland? Colette Parsons: That democracy is messy and a really good moderator is vital. We were able to visit old friends in Portland. It’s a “Foodie Town.” Lorraine Wearley: We are definitely a democratic organization, e.g., hammering out the wording of resolutions. Virtually everyone with an opinion was heard. Claudia Cohen: The Church of the Larger Fellowship is an interesting Resource. Portland has great food and coffee, and many young street people.
What do you hope to bring back to UCS? Colette Parsons: Some info and support that I learned from The Conversations project.org. It’s such a privilege to take part in GA, and I hope more folks will be able to connect in other ways going forward. Lorraine Wearley: Good ideas for the Congregational Action Study Issue being planned for the Fall. Claudia Cohen: Enthusiasm and knowledge about some UUA social justice and other resources.
From UCS off-site delegate, Jamaine Cripe:
What was the GA event that inspired you? I loved the Ware Lecture by Dr. Cornell West. He was so engaging, uplifting, and funny. The topic of race can be a very touchy one but he came with the intention to educate and share his experience as a man of color, a scholar, and a minister. All three can be held in the same hand to work for changes we desperately need in our communities.
Which GA worship service do you think every UCS person should watch online? The entire GA experience is moving. Yes, the Ware Lecture is probably my favorite since I love hearing messages from leaders of other faiths/social movements’ points-of-view. But worshipping with UUs from around the globe on a Sunday morning can be uplifting and life-changing. I felt a real connection with the participants, both online and in Portland.
Name one thing did you learned about Unitarian Universalism? about Portland? That UUs will debate the hell out of an issue! We are so focused on bringing our best to the table that we nitpick even the tiniest details in our words. We on-site delegates bantered around the table and listened in on the debate coming from the floor of GA in regards to the Action of Immediate Witness regarding the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I thought the document was “good enough” as it was printed in the program guide. But as I listened to the debate, I was proud of my fellow UUs for not settling for “good enough” but struggling line by line to create a document that represented the best we had to offer.
What do you hope to bring back to UCS? I hope everyone at UCS seeks ways to get involved in the work that matters most to them.
General Assembly 2016: Columbus, Ohio: June 22-26