Report for EUU about the UUA General Assembly June 21 to June 24, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
by Tina Huesing and Logan Deimler
It has been a few years since we last attended GA. This year’s meeting was smaller and much more focused on the business of the association. Aside from official business and other official elements like the Service of the Living Tradition (celebrating the ministers), a featured speaker, the Ware lecture, and the Sunday service, there were very few other activities. On the agenda, there were only 3 slots for 4 workshops each for a total of 12 workshops where in the past there had been many, many more (see appendix A to compare schedule with previous GAs). The workshops focused on UU social justice priorities.
All business sessions and some of the other events were also available to online participants. In addition, there were 58 “on-demand” offerings, videos that were made available through the conference app. You might find the video Our Global Faith – Building a New Way about the Leadership and Design Team that is envisioning the future after ICUU und UUPCC interesting (see also appendix B).
The group of international representatives welcomed to GA included the bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, a representative of the Unitarian Union of Northeast India (UUNEI), the Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarians, and us. We were welcomed by Alicia Forde and Morgan McLean from the International Office and then by the president of the UUA during the first session of the business meetings that were at the core of GA.
The group of international guests was a lot smaller than in previous years: e.g., there were no representatives from the Philippines or Japan.
We had added a sticker to our badges that showed our affiliation with EUU, and I had prepared handouts with the same text and layout.
We met again for the following two events that were not on the official GA agenda:
On Friday, the International Office had arranged for a small meeting room where we sat around two tables with about another dozen people who were interested in international relations. People were surprised that there are UUs in Europe and asked about our organization, the fellowships, the retreats. I met an expat American minister who is now serving a congregation in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. His congregation seemed to have a lot in common with us.
In the evening, an international worship and reception was held in the adjoining hotel. The worship had parts for all of us with the two ministers from India and Hungary/Transylvania providing longer reflections. Logan and I read the Chalice Lighting text in English and German. It was the ICUU global chalice reading from October 2020 by Rev Diane Rollert (a fond ICUU tradition).
The third business session began with a “Presidential Candidate Forum” and Sofía Betancourt was asked two questions relating to international UUism. I transcribed the questions and answers. You can find them in appendix C.
Topics of the business sessions
Article II revision
Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association Bylaws – “Principles and Purposes” – is the foundation for all of the work of the UUA, and its member congregations and covenanted communities. The bylaws require a periodic review of the article. In addition, the faith is a “living tradition,” and as such, evolving.
The new draft text replaces the 7 principles and 6 sources. “Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love. Inseparable from one another, these shared values are: Interdependence, Equity, Transformation, Pluralism, Generosity, Justice.” The assembly voted to take the draft (with many amendments) into study for the coming year. The delegates voted to advance the recommended changes. At next year’s GA, the new text will need a 2/3 majority to pass.
Before the vote to advance the recommended changes was taken, there were a number of amendments that needed to be discussed and voted on. (The large number of amendments had been reduced in prior mini-assemblies and by a committee.)
Voting took place after the business session; all voting was done online. This worked really well.
Affirming a new President
Since there was only one candidate for president, the votes that were cast were to affirm (not to elect) the new president.
Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW)
This year 3 AIW were brought to GA. (Three are the maximum allowed and had been selected from 6 in an earlier mini-assembly.) All 3 were adopted. The topics are:
- Health Equity (call for equitable programs for paid family and medical care leave)
- Stop the construction of “Cop City” (a Police Training Center in Atlanta, GA)
- Protect the Dreamers, the Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) with a Pathway to Permanent Residence
A business resolution that had received a lot of support from young adults and called for the complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry and subsequent reparations was not supported by the UUA Board and was not passed.
Here are a few numbers relating to participation and voting:
Of possible 4761 delegates, 2593 participated in the voting. They represented 715 congregations in 50 states, Washington DC, Mexico and the Philippines. 1317 delegates attended onsite (full), 827 online, and 447 had registered for the business part of GA only (numbers from Bill Young, UUA secretary).
|Ministers or Emeritus/a
|Religious Educators or Emeritus/a
|Associate Member Org*
* Associate Member Organizations are named in the UUA bylaws. They are limited to the UUSC and the UUWF, two organizations with historic connections to the UUA.
Here are some of the results of the votes:
|Vote to Preliminarily Approve the Article II Proposal
|Business Resolution: Complete Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry and Subsequent Reparations
|Should Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt be the next President of the UUA?
There were other positions for the UUA Board, nominating committee and more; only one was a contested election.
Public videos of the business sessions and more are available at https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2023.
Finally, we also had the pleasure of being invited to other “by invitation only” events of the UUA: there was a celebration for the outgoing president and a reception for the Ware lecturer (see summary in Appendix D). We enjoyed the celebrations and chatting with other participants, but, of course, we were only onlookers here.
The UUA will hold its 2024 GA June 20th to June 23rd; that GA will be all virtual. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be your representatives. If you have any questions about this report, please contact us.