President’s Corner – April

EUU President Carolyn Burlingame-Goff

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EUU – What’s in a name?

In the short time I have been EUU President, I have realized how misleading our organization’s name is.  I frequently receive emails from all over the world asking me for the “European” viewpoint on myriad issues.  I have had to repeatedly explain that I am not, and most of us, in fact, are not European Unitarian Universalists – we are Unitarian Universalists in Europe.  And despite the French passport in my pocket and the English husband in my bed, I self-identify as American and feel that our organization is still primarily an American one.  I became interested in EUU because it gave me a space, twice a year, to worship using my own language and American cultural traditions. EUU was in the business of organizing these retreats.
Yet over time, and perhaps in no small part because of our misleading moniker, more individuals both within and without our group have wanted EUU to be something that to date has not existed:  a confederation of the like-minded individuals who inhabit both European and Unitarian space. How brave. How amazing. How daunting.
These two paths have recently been seen as competing visions for our beloved organization.  But we do not have to choose. EUU (or perhaps UUiE?) can provide both rewarding worship for American emigrants and still become a part of a larger organization, which I have decided to call, for convenience’s sake, the European Council of Unitarian Universalists or ECUU.
Many of you may not know that the starting point of our work with the German Unitarians was a vision of a European General Assembly on the model of the UUA General Assembly. And while the EUT in Ulm can definitely be seen as a successful joint retreat between the URFG (German Unitarians) and EUU, it needs to become something more than that if it wants to fulfill our original vision.
At the CC meeting in Spa, EUU committed to co-hosting the next two ECUU assemblies in June of 2019 (in Berlin) and June of 2021 with the URFG.  These four years will give us a chance to try to build on the success in Ulm so that future events are both more truly European and more truly assemblies.   EUU and URFG will continue to be the organizational engines for now, but we hope to draw many different European communities into the ECUU tent.
EUU can only become part of something larger if it maintains its original identity.  So we will do both. We will retain what has made us so valuable to our members and use it to create an association with others.