Report on the General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, 19-23 June 2013

by Sandra Engelhardt, Chair of the Denominational Affairs Committee

The 52nd General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations held June 19-23, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. The UUFP was represented by four delegates: Judy and Ellis Remsberg, Joanne Dingus and Sandra Engelhardt. Rev. Andrew Millard, Jaimie Dingus and Ada Van Tine also attended. Jaimie was a leader in the Youth Caucus and is now considered a young adult.

In total 611 congregations were represented. There were 332 youth, 1232 delegates, 112 offsite delegates, with a total of 3,326 people attending from all five states and one Canadian province.

This GA was characterized by two themes in my mind, the election of the next Moderator and the need to catch up on so many items that were either left out or needed to be acted upon from the Justice GA last year in Arizona. Our former district president, Jim Key, was elected moderator by just 40 votes with 51.1% of the 1861 delegates that voted. His platform was based on the theme of “Vision and Experience”. One example of the items we completed were the Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW)s. We passed three.

AIW-1 Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech http://www.uua.org/statements/statements/288862.shtml

AIW-2 Condemn the Racist Mistreatment of Young People of Color by Police
http://www.uua.org/statements/statements/288864.shtml

AIW-3 Consider Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry
http://www.uua.org/statements/statements/288863.shtml

When the Legislative Ministries Ministries were asked to come up on the stage, I represented Virginia with two others from Northern Virginia. Everyone was encourage to become involved with their state legislative ministries. At this time, about 26 states have legislative ministries. (See photo)

Photo of UU State Networks from GA 2013 in Louisville, by Robb Smith, NY State Interfaith Impact

Photo of UU State Networks from GA 2013 in Louisville, by Robb Smith, NY State Interfaith Impact

I attended workshops on: Roe vs Wade at 40 and What’s Next; Covenanted Community: Growing Our Faith Beyond Congregations; Climate Change; Civil Rights for All Ages; Reproductive Justice in Our Congregations and Communities; Carry the Flame: Congregations and Beyond; and Beyond Congregations: The Humanist Community Project at Harvard with Humanist Chaplain Gregory Epstein.

In the Reproductive Justice Workshop, the Commission on Social Witness provided a panel of congregation-based speakers to offer their thoughts on working for reproductive justice. Two comments impacted on me. One point was the rephrasing of the Goals of the Reproductive Movement:

1. People have the right to have the children they want to have.
2. People have the right to not have children they don’t want to have.
3. People have the right to have children in a healthy environment.
4. People have the right to express themselves sexually without oppression.

The second point was about helping the less fortunate: “Make the fight their fight; don’t just do something and get out.”

We also included in the schedule reflective listening groups which were an hour a day after lunch. They were interesting as each of the six to eight attendees had different backgrounds and we had different reactions to what was happening and to the reading that we were given.

The final Moderator’s Report by Gini Courter was the highlight of this GA for me. She shared with the entire plenary her thoughts from the ten years she has been moderator and explained what is going on now and what needs to happen in the future for us to continue to GROW. Her stress was on the need for congregations to become more involved in developing the vision for our faith. I encourage anyone interested in the future of our faith to read or listen to her report at: http://blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2013/06/23/courter-urges-assembly-to-set-the-uuas-vision/

If anyone is interested in hearing the entire recordings of any of the above programs, please let me know and I can order it for free. This is the first year that GA attendees are being allowed to request program recordings for free!

Contact me at:  denominational.affairs@uufp.org

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