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Plenary III

General Assembly 2002 Event 3003

(Québec City, QUE—June 23, 2002) Saturday's plenary began with Moderator Diane Olson calling the delegates assembled in the Centre des Congres to order for the presentation of Study Action Issues (total of five to be presented).

Presentation of Proposed Study Action Issues

The Rev. David Johnson, Brookline, MA, spoke to a proposed action on Civil Liberties, asking the delegation to consider whether the impingement of their basic liberties is consistent with our Unitarian Universalist understanding of freedom: "If you belong to an organization that has a protest that turns violent, you can be accused [of a crime]…is this liberty, is this what we have talked about? You can be stopped at an airport and turned away without documentation…is this freedom?"

Barney Fraber Dale, Newton, MA, spoke to a proposed action on Modern Slavery, saying, "On September 11 in addition to the loss of life, we all lost a little freedom. But millions of people have no freedom. They are slaves, with no escape, forced to work with no pay. They are in every nation, including the U.S. and Canada, and there are more slaves now than were taken from Africa during all of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries combined. They are raped, mutilated, they are forced to live under the most dangerous conditions… Anti-slavery crusaders have already learned what works…job one is to simply spread the word. Choosing this as our study action issue is so important…"

Rose Edington, UU Fellowship of Athens, OH, spoke to the proposed action on Peace and Terrorism. She said, "Our world is a family made up of all sorts of beings, who should be allowed to live in peace without fear. What can we UUs as members of the world's family do to promote peace for all and eliminate for some this need to promote terror? We can begin, individually, congregationally, and beyond, to imagine everyone practicing peace…Peace requires organizing for social and environmental justice. This study action issue provides a way for us to imagine…and I mean really imagine, ways to seek a peace that both promotes security and democracy."

Jane Shakmeier, Unitarian Church of Mequon, WI, spoke to the proposed action on Prison Reform. She said, "During the past 30 years massive incarceration has disrupted the social fabric of crime ridden communities, breaking up families and isolating offenders…Youth, particularly young men and women of color, suffer disproportionately and grow up with one or both parents behind bars…UUs have an important role to play in prison reform…"

Vicki Waits, UU Fellowship Key West, FL, spoke to the proposed action on U.S. Foreign Aid. She observed, "By funding health, education and food production rather than more powerful weaponry, we may be able to end the hopelessness that breeds terrorism. The relatively small size of this budget makes it more doable…

Moderator Olson then called for one hour of advocacy statements on behalf of the proposed actions.

Bill Thompson of Surprise, AZ, speaking on prison reform, said, "I have served four years on commissions in counties in Arizona on issues of reducing prison population, and on the religious advisory task for the Director of Corrections [of the State of Arizona]. I'm satisfied that the money we are spending in this country to incarcerate people in jails and in prisons is far more than is necessary to control people who have committed crimes… It costs over $50/day to keep people in prison. For less than half of that, they can be put on intensive probation and earn money and be reformed." Manish Mishra of All Souls Church, Washington DC, who spoke representing the Young Adult Caucus and with the support of Youth Caucus said, "The process [for passing a study action issue] is a long one… we noted that prison reform was a potential study action issue last year and not selected…we are concerned that we will lose the opportunity to study something of great importance. Our prisons are disproportionately filled with people of color. Female inmates are raped…people have no way to make their suffering known. We have to speak for the voiceless. Please join with the young adults and youth of our movement in studying prison reform."

A member of the UU church of Ft. Lauderdale, speaking on the proposed foreign aid action, said, "How many people remember the Marshall Plan? For those who are youngsters, the Marshall plan was an extensive U.S. Foreign Aid plan that helped war-ravaged Europe recover from World War 2. I am appalled that over 99% of our foreign aid budget is spent on the military, and less than 1% spent on humanitarian needs…"

Neal McBurnett of Boulder, CO, spoke to the proposed civil liberties action, saying, "We are now establishing the legal framework for the future of ideas. Congress continues to pass unconstitutional laws restricting the freedom of speech and reading, for example, and censorship of internet access and libraries…It is getting to the point where new bills in Congress will try to restrict the ability of people to have computers and digital VCRs work the way they want to… I want people to consider how these massive changes in online freedoms need to be faced and understood, and a two year study period would be an ideal way to examine these and other important civil liberty issues."

Charlene Brotman of Newton, MA, spoke on the subject of modern slavery, saying, "New slavery in Thailand forces prostitution. Slaveholders tend to be successful capitalists or slaveholders. Girls are cheap and expendable. If a girl escapes from the brothel she is tortured…girls are turned out on the streets to starve…girls are forced into prostitution at earlier and earlier ages…we must educate ourselves and others about the existence and reality of forced prostitution and support activists who are fighting it."

The Rev. Barbara Whittaker Johns of Arlington, MA, spoke on peace and terrorism. She said, "Most of us can remember what we were doing on the morning of Sept. 11. This peace and terrorism action issue embodies the hope that this type of deep reflection will continue in this body of faith. As in many of our congregations, much of the justice work that has gone on in our church has focused on achieving social and economic freedom, but we need to focus on the world's suffering and the sacredness of human life itself. This action embodies the confidence that we can offer such hope again on nothing less than a global scale. The Rev. Sydney Morris of Manaqua, WI, said, "This will not be an easy process for us in our congregations. I speak as a mother who on Sept. 11 remembered at 9 a.m. that my son was to have his first job interview at the World Trade towers. He overslept. And when he woke up, the place where he was to work did not exist any more. The process of what the world has been experiencing, coupled with our noble heritage can make a very important moment."

Following additional comments, Olson called for a vote by written ballot on the five proposed study action items, with the results of the vote announced later in the plenary. She then announced the creation of a Moderator's Task Force on how costs of attending General Assemblies can be reduced so that larger groups of people can attend GA. Appointed to the Task Force are: former Planning Committee member Patsy Sherrill Madden, Board of Trustees member the Rev. Burton Carley, former Financial Advisor Arnold Bradburd, Parish Minister the Rev. Kristen Harper, and current Planning Committee member the Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong. Their charge is to report back to UUA Board of Trustees by April 2004 on the issue of affordable General Assemblies.

Moderator's Report and Social Justice Reports

Following her Moderator's Report, Olson called on Meg Riley, Director of the UUA Washington Office, for her report. Riley reviewed legislative activities managed by Rob Cavenaugh, and then reported, "We have been given a green light and some green dollars to move forward with a long held vision of a stronger more vital presence of Unitarian Universalism in the nation's capital. Last month, our offices moved to new headquarters in Washington, DC. These offices hold room for dreams, unlike our old ones. One of our most compelling dreams is to house a social justice internship program for other UUs and community ministers, so that they can spend a year practicing UUism, and answer a resounding yes to the question, 'if you are accused of being a UU, is there enough evidence to convict you?' We began this year with three young adults just out of college, and a community minister advising them.

"After a number of conversation between RESULTS, a community change agency, and the UUA, we realized that a partnership would be possible, and we want to thank Ed and Betty Law for making another internship possible." Riley introduced two of the Washington Office interns, who talked about their internship experiences.

Olson then moved on to ask how many UUs were doing work in their communities and with their congregations to follow up on past statements of conscience. She asked the Rev. David Carl Olson leader of Community Church of Boston, who serves as president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) to speak. Olson reviewed the focus of GBIO on affordable housing, and spoke of the organization's success in promoting affordable housing in the Boston area. Olson said, "We have built a broad-based organization encompassing 80 congregations from every neighborhood of Boston, from Quincy and Cambridge and beyond, from near and distant suburbs. We worship on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. We are Christians and Jews and Muslim and Buddhists, and representatives from seven UU organizations. We are in this for the long haul. I want to share from my own experience how working in community-based organizations has met our needs. It is in my self-interest to develop new and capable leaders for my organization.

"I need new leaders. It is in my self-interest to develop a new congregational culture of relationship and co-responsibility. Learning the centrality of the relational meeting means that we are only just beginning to see each other as multi-dimensional human beings…this changes our congregational culture, and I need that. And it is in my self-interest as a person committed to the deconstruction of the social sin of racism, to become a partner with people of color in resolving the issues—the real life and death issues which our society is confronted with. We will transform Boston because working with each other, we are transformed."

Jim Gunning, chairman of the Socially Responsible Investing Committee of the UUA, was introduced. Gunning, a member of First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, NY, talked about the work of the Committee. He said, "We want to be responsible in religious terms because we are religious people. We can have it both ways. We can obtain competitive financial return and also use our clout to improve the lives of people at home.

We must bear witness to the whole world and the community. Our goal is the sixth principle: world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all, nothing less. Socially responsible investing is a ministry, nothing less. Our ends and outcomes are similar to many ministries. Our path is to use our assets to achieve greater bang for the buck. Our path is in part to call out, to witness in our world, that companies in which we invest can do a better job, relative to their financial mission. Our task is to bring religious and ethical beliefs into the countries in which we invest, and show managers that it is good business to be good citizens. Our efforts have been to assist the UUA investment committees to screen the processes by which the UUA invests money. We will turn to our congregations and individual UUs and offer assistance on this broader base. We want you to join us in the ministry of socially responsible investing. We want to welcome you to this mission."

Moderator's Report

And now, it's time for my Moderator's report... First, I want to tell you I've had a wonderful time serving as your Moderator for the past year. The time has flown by. It's been at times an overwhelming job to learn ... But I've loved every minute of it!! I can't think of doing anything else that would give me the deep level of satisfaction and well-being that this work does ... It gives me the opportunity to serve and to act upon my deepest values ... And I thank you for the opportunity.

I told people in the earlier months of this year... That this was a wild and sometimes wacky job. It seems much more comfortable to me now. I've traveled over 120,000 miles since September... I wanted to become acquainted with as many congregations and districts and elected and board-appointed committees as I could. I wanted to make sure that you understood how deeply committed I am to serving you in your congregations and your districts. 

I'm interested in doing church. I'm committed to supporting the development of healthy congregations in our association. By this I'm speaking of congregations that use good governance practices to nurture strong community. In the many congregations I've visited this year I've asked what's working well for you in your congregation ... and what's not? I began to notice traits in common in the congregations that seemed most healthy and where the members voiced the fewest complaints.

embers in these congregations had engaged in conversation with their ministers about shared ministry. They understood they were each an important element in building community. There was no confusion about what the board was really doing. There was an absence of mistrust in the community.

Most of these members honored their membership responsibilities. They were present consistently, generous with their time and their financial support, and spoke respectfully when disagreements arose. They wanted to protect the integrity and well being of their religious community, so they covenanted among themselves, promising to one another how they would work together to nurture and cherish their community.

In conflict situations they agreed to stay at the table until resolution of the conflict, speaking their own truths and not critiquing others' opinions, listening sacredly, and agreeing to reach settlement acceptable to all.

So now when a congregation asks me what can be done to strengthen their church I tell them this. Develop a vision for your future. Covenant together, so you understand the rights and responsibilities of membership. Insist your staff and board leaders practice transparent, accountable leadership. It is the responsibility of the members to speak up when they feel excluded from information and decision-making. Be clear in defining boundaries between the roles of minister, staff, and lay leaders. Learn to recognize and deal effectively with conflict. Most importantly, have fun!! And the more fun you have the more deeply satisfying your participation will be.

In reality, I can only encourage you to nurture and support your congregation's practices. It's your job to take this challenge on. And it's very doable.

The UUA website offers you extraordinary assistance in developing your community. So I've asked Jim Austin, our UUA Director Of Technology Information Services, to give you a brief overview of our UUA website... Where you can find answers to the questions I've raised. And you can learn lots of other things about developing church life.


Thanks so much, Jim.

Now let's return to words from the opening celebration…We meet on the holy ground of this Unitarian Universalist faith we share, you and I. We can be transformed by the invitation to growth that Unitarian Universalism offers us. We can be challenged to grow at our religious edges…if only we are willing to accept the challenge.

From my visits and my conversations with you I have experienced most powerfully a wish to come together in ways that surrmount our increasing diversity…. a diversity that demands that we stretch, that we focus on our commonality as well as our individuality.

I've listened to several poignant stories of folks who were devoted humanists in the association's earliest years. Their experiences in those years gave them a sense of oneness in community. And they feel lost now.

I've thought a great deal about those stories. And what I've wondered is this. Did that sense of oneness come from being a Unitarian Universalist…or did it come from the pleasure of sharing a common theology that created a sense of oneness?

In our earliest years this association merged two very different groups…those who were committed Unitarians and those who were committed Universalists. To me our history reflects a stronger attention to our individuality and a lesser concern for our commonality.

I'm sure the source of this emphasis came from the need to blend two such very different communities. We have become very articulate about our ability to discern our own faith path, our own individual theologies. We are not very practiced in speaking of the power of our one community.

So I ask you to ponder this question with me. What is our oneness????? What I'm hearing from you is a longing for oneness. So what is our oneness? Is it our principles? Is it our history? Isn't it just about time to move away from the hesitancy to commit as one community as in our earlier years…can't we move into this century celebrating the whole as well as the parts?

I believe we will become so much more vibrant, connected, and even joyous…if we can move in this transformative direction. To me it's the most important question facing our movement at this point in our history. What I hope for as moderator is that we can reach for, risk for the larger experience that our faith can offer us. I want to point us towards that possibility.

Two stewardship issues come to mind for me, when I consider our oneness. Can we come to the place where each of our congregations pays annual program fund dues? What happens now is that 80% of our congregations pay dues that cover the costs of programming for 100% of our congregations. These  services include ministerial training, religious education curricula, and teacher training. These services provide our hymnals, they offer us training in leadership development, in church finance, and in capital campaign development. And this list just scratches the surface of the support the association offers each of our congregations.

Do you have any idea what would happen if each of our congregations paid 100% of their fair share dues? The association would receive about an $800,000 increase each year…enough to completely underwrite all of our ga delegate fees, or underwrite the beacon press deficit and buy the bill board space described in the president' report. Or, if all had congregations paid their fair share, last year's fair share would have been $37.50 per member rather than $44. This information, by the way, was provided by our UUA board finance committee chair, Gini Courter.

If your congregation is not yet paying your fair share, won't you please do your part in supporting the whole? We need you!

The second stewardship issue I want to mention to you is also a justice issue. We ask the sun, the moon, and the stars from our ministers....let's give them decent salaries. Become a fully committed fair compensation congregation. There are programs this weekend that can offer you assistance. Find Ralph Mero's booth in the exhibit hall and make your commitment now.

The UUA board is certainly making increased efforts to connect with you and to be transparent about its leadership…as am I. We've opened working group meetings, we're publishing visitor friendly agendas on the web, and information-packed minutes of our board meetings four days after the meeting adjourns. We're connecting with the district presidents association. We're in conversation with all who wish to speak with us. I'm making the visits I mentioned to you earlier.

But, connection is a two way street? What will you do to connect with the association?

The deepest sense of obligation I feel in my role as moderator is the need to further our efforts to become the religious community we want to be ... To become anti-racist ... To become anti-oppressive ... To become a multicultural religious community.

This is not easy work. It requires of each of us that we develop a personal intentional practice of the values we espouse. The deeper principles that infuse our journey toward wholeness commitment with energy are these….our commitment to respecting the worth and dignity of every person…our promise to honor the democratic process…our fierce engagement with bringing about social justice for all! I ask you to incorporate this sacred practice in your life on a day-to-day basis.


I'll tell you how the board and I are planning to engage further in our journey toward wholeness. I am asking the board to develop a list of questions that will help us assess what we can do to change.

I've suggested as 2 beginning questions that we look at how transparent we are about our decision making process. An open governance process is an anti-oppressive practice. A governance process that creates goals, monitors them, and announces progress toward those goals is an accountable board. The board will be doing that this fall and I will report to you annually about our progress. Your congregational boards could begin this practice as well.

The board received the report of the task force on nominations for president and moderator at its April board meeting, and members of the task force spoke with 
us here at GA. We need a process that supports all candidates who wish to run, a process that is open about qualifications and that explains clearly the time demands of the position. I promise you we will work very intentionally with the advice of this new report to create an open process.

On a personal level I will continue to actively promote socially responsible investing and grass roots organizing…because these activities offer great leverage to direct the actions of large commercial corporations as well as nurture the development of powerless and impoverished communities to demand the city services that they deserve.

Finally, I promised you last year that I would look into how to make our general assemblies more affordable to more of our members. I'll introduce you now to the newly appointed Moderator's Task Force On Economic Access to General Assembly. The members include June Gillespie, Chair of the Task Force....June could not be here today. The Reverend Douglas Morgan Strong, Vice Chair of the Committee, and Patsy Sherrill Madden, the Reverend Burton Carleigh, Brad Bradburd, and the Reverend Kristen Harper. This is the charge I have given to the task force:

That this task force report back to the UUA Board of Trustees at its April 2004 board meeting, addressing the following question:

How can costs to general assembly attendees be reduced so a much larger and more representative segment of our membership can afford to attend future General Assemblies? Thank you task force members!

What can I say ...I love this job. I'm committed to healthy congregations, a collaborative association, and intentional practice of our values. You know where to reach me if you have suggestions.

Moderator's Annual Report (PDF)

The Rev. Meg Riley Remarks

My name is Meg Riley. For the past eight years, it has been my honor and privilege to serve the UUA as Director of its Washington Office. Our office is charged with taking the positions created here at General Assembly and giving them voice in the wider world--to elected officials, to media, interfaith coalitions, and everywhere else we can. Each year we print up a comprehensive list of all the statements we've made in the past year--in the interest of sparing trees, we'll offer them on the business tables for people who want to read them.

A glance through this year's positions may remind you of that old folk song, "Whatever it is, I'm against it!" Although thanks to the exceptional work of our legislative director, Rob Cavenaugh, we were grateful to celebrate small but real victories in our work around campaign finance reform, in the failure of making the estate tax repeal a permanent measure, and in amending the Patriots' Act so that immigrants may not be detained FOREVER without explanation--theoretically they may only be detained for seven days now.

This has been an exceptional year in our office. Not only because of September 11. And not only because of the steadily increasing requests for our voice to speak out publicly on issues ranging from marriage promotion as a solution to poverty to stem cell research, as Bill Sinkford has already mentioned.

Not even because I was called by "The Weakest Link" to appear on their clergy special -- how would YOU feel if you were told that something you had written made the producers of "The Weakest Link" think you were a perfect contestant for their show??? Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to appear...

But, what has been most exceptional about this year is that we were given a green light and some green dollars to move forward with a long-held vision of a stronger, more vital presence of Unitarian Universalism in the nation's capital, and for this we are inexpressibly grateful to the UUA Administration and Board.

Just last month our offices moved to grand new headquarters in Washington DC. These offices, unlike our crowded old ones, contain room enough for dreams. One of the most compelling dreams is to house a social justice internship program for young adults, community ministers, and other UUs to spend a year practicing their religion: answering a resounding YES to the question, "If they accused you of Unitarian Universalism, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" After a stupendous design team launched this vision, we began its implementation this year with three young adults fresh out of college, and a community minister spending some months with us. Rev. Lori Staubitz serves as an advisor to the program.

Last year at GA a fellow I had never met before, by the name of Ed Law, from San Diego, approached me and asked if I had ever heard of an organization called RESULTS, and if the UUA might consider partnering with them to eradicate poverty. I did know the group, and respected them enough to tell Ed to send me more information about them, which he did. What I did not know then was that Ed is a generous enough person that he had in mind personally funding an intern's position to do this work. After a number of conversations between RESULTS and UUA staff, we saw that the partnership could be very beneficial for both of us. And so, I would like to take a moment to thank Ed and Betty Law, who could not be at GA this year, for their huge generosity in making one of our internships possible.

I'd like to introduce you to the two interns who have been with us since January, Lissa Gundlach and Emily Dulcan (below). I have asked them to take two minutes of my time to tell you about the initiative on which they have both spent most of their time, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Emily is going to do this by presenting what is called a "laser talk" by RESULTS. Look for their workshops on this topic or come to the booth and talk to them about it.

Finally, in my brief report this morning, I have been asked to report to you how UUs are following up on statements of conscience. I have already told you how the Washington Office follows up--we use the statements to define the parameters of what we will say to policy-makers and others on behalf of the UUA. Since the statement which was ratified last year was NOT primarily a legislative agenda, though it had some legislative components, but rather it was primarily a congregational education program, I want to take a few moments to ask you to wave your hand, hoot or stand up if you have done any of the following in your congregation:

Let me start with this: How many people remember what Statement of Conscience we ratified last year? I'll give you a clue: __________ is our moral imperative...RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION IS OUR MORAL IMPERATIVE!

All right, let's see what your congregations are up to. Have you:

  • Started a simple living group in your church?
  • Held a letter writing campaign about any environmental issue, from coal  emissions to Arctic drilling?
  • Started carpools to your congregation on Sundays?
  • Become a green sanctuary? There are four such congregations: one in Vermont, one in New Mexico, one in Ontario, and one in Oregon.
  • Begun the process to become a green sanctuary? I understand that there are fifteen declared candidates in this process currently. Please see the Seventh Principle Project.
  • Encouraged congregants to undergo audits of their impact on the earth, using websites such as the Center for A New American Dream?
  • Held alternative holiday events which emphasize hand made presents or socially responsible giving?
  • Otherwise 'acted courageously and encouraged UUs to tread more lightly on the 

Thanks so much for your time! Drop by and visit our booth--we'd love to talk with you!

Remarks by Emily Dulcan and Lissa Gundlach, Interns in the UUA Washington Office

Some of the most startling portions of the House welfare bill involve the UU issues of marriage, sexuality, and family formation. The House TANF bill authorizes an $100 million annual fund to provide grants to states to encourage the formation of two-parent families, the reduction of non-marital births and the prevention of teen pregnancy. Additionally, $50 million has been authorized for unproven abstinence-only sex education programs in our nation's high schools. These welfare policies outwardly discriminate against single people who choose not to marry, BGLT welfare recipients, and victims of domestic violence, as well as ignoring public opinion which overwhelmingly supports the government staying out of these sacred, private decisions.

Letters to Public Officials and Endorsed Statements

On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and in accordance with resolutions by its Assembly, The Washington Office for Faith in Action authored and/or signed on to the following letters to public officials and endorsed statements in coalition with religious and secular groups in 2001-2002.

  • June 2001:
    • Judge Eugene Hamilton, Chair, DC Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Safety and Juvenile Justice Reform: Opposing planned new youth incarceration facility
    • Bush Administration: Urging protecting U.S. children from environmental health hazards
    • Senate: Supporting S. 890, McCain/Lieberman bill to close gun show loophole and fund state computerization of gun records
    • House of Representatives: Urging support for strong Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill
    • House of Representatives: Opposing H.R. 7, which would expand school vouchers and allow religious discrimination
    • House of Representatives: UUAWO letter opposing H.R. 7 if Charitable Choice provisions remain
    • George W. Bush, Congress: Urging rapidly phased-in minimum wage increase
    • George W. Bush: Urging declaring October 2001 Domestic Violence Awareness Month and supporting the Violence Against Women Act
  • August 2001:
    • Congress: Opposing school funding proposals in Elementary and Secondary Education Act which would support sectarian organizations
    • Conferees on Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Opposing Sessions amendment S. 604 and Norwood amendment H. 55 to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act discipline provisions, because the amendments would deny educational services
    • Congress: Urging opposition to cutting human needs spending or taking from Social security or Medicare to fund military increase
    • Endorsement: Supporting S. 940/H.R. 1990, the Children's defense Fund Act to Leave No Child Behind
  • September 2001:
    • George W. Bush, Colin Powell, President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Maleeha Lodhi, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan: Decrying death sentence for blasphemy of Pakistani professor
    • Congress Members: Urging increased funding in FY2002 for youth employment and development programs
    • Dept of Health Secretary Tommy Thompson: Decrying misleading National Inst of Health report which questions condom effectiveness
    • 11 September 2001: Senate: Supporting S. 767, Gun Show Background Check Act of 2001
    • 13 September, 2001: The public: Opposing anti-Arab, anti-Muslim backlash after 9-11
    • Congress: Urging opposition to Administration's attempt to lift human rights restrictions on US military assistance and training around the world
  • October 2001:
    • House and Senate Appropriations Committee members: Urging increased funding for WIC nutrition program in light of economic effects of 9-11
    • George W. Bush: Opposing planned push on discriminatory "Charitable Choice" portions of Faith Based Initiative for post 9-11 needs
    • House members: Urging support and co-sponsorship of Rep Mink's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families reauth bill, HR 3113
    • Senate Judiciary Committee: Expressing concern about items weakening protections for youth in Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act reauth
    • George W. Bush: Urging restraint and emphasis on non-proliferation regarding nuclear weapons in post 9-11 world
    • George W. Bush: Urging that economic stimulus package prioritize low-income needs
    • Statement: In Defense of Freedom statement calling for reconciliation of requirements of security with demands of liberty
    • Senator Tom Harkin, Chair Senate LHHS Approp subcom, Representative Ralph Regula, Chair House LHHS Approp subcom: Urging increased youth mental health funding in Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education appropriations
    • Endorsement: Amnesty Intl set of principles to guide US response to 9-11
  • November 2001:
    • House Conferees on HR 1: Expressing concern over the school-prayer provision included in the "Leave No Child Behind Act of 2001"
    • Senate and House Conferees on Approps for Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education: Urging level and then zeroed funding for abstinence-only programs in Maternal and Child Health Block grants
    • George W. Bush: Urging delay on "Charitable Choice" provisions of Faith-Based Initiative due to danger of ill will toward minority faiths
    • House of Representatives: Urging support of S. 565/H.R.1170, the Dodd/Conyers electoral reform bill, and expressing concern over H.R. 3295, the Ney/Hoyer electoral bill which would actually weaken standards
    • Labor, HHS/ Education Appropriations Conferees: Urging support for S. 543, the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act
  • December 2001:
    • Statement: Interfaith reaffirmation on terrorism and US nuclear policy
    • George W. Bush: Strongly opposing intention to withdraw from Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty
    • Kenneth L. Zwick, Civil Division, US Dept of Justice: Urging compensation for all relatives or life partners of 9-11 victims, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status
  • January 2002:
    • Congress: Urging co-sponsorship of S 121/HR 1904, the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2001
  • February 2002:
    • Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Ralph Regula: Decrying loss of funding for mental health services
    • Endorsement: Supporting "Prison Rape Reform Act"
    • Statement: Commenting on poverty reduction related to T.A.N.F. reauthorization
    • Congress: Opposing lifetime welfare ban
  • March 2002:
    • George W. Bush, Members of Congressional Appropriations Committees: Urging U.S. development funds of $2.5 bill. In FY 2003 For global AIDS programs
    • George W. Bush, Members of Congressional Appropriations Committees: Urging emergency supplemental spending of $750 mill. for Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria
    • Roderick R. Paige, Secretary U.S. Department of Education: Decrying exclusion of civil rights protections in 21st Century Community Learning Center programs under "No Child Left Behind Act"
    • George W. Bush: Decrying language of Nuclear Posture Review, calling for nuclear abolition
    • Attorney General John Ashcroft: Urging maintained, not relaxed, domestic spying guidelines for the FBI
    • House Members: Urging support and co-sponsorship of "Restoration of Fairness in Immigration Act of 2002"
    • House Members: Calling for repeal, through HR 786, of Higher Education Act section which denies financial aid for any drug offense
    • George W. Bush: Urging withdrawal of proposed increase in abstinence-only funding
    • George W Bush: Urging U.S. signature on landmines ban
    • Terrence S. Donahue, Acting Admin, Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention of U.S. Department of Justice: Decrying proposed reduction in funds for states to research and address Disproportionate Minority Confinement
    • General Services Administration: Commenting on Policy Guidance for helping immigrants and people with low English proficiency access GSA financial and material assistance
  • April 2002:
    • Members of Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee
    • George W. Bush, Colin Powell, UN Ambass. John Negroponte, USAID Admin. Andrew Natsios: Urges quicker payment of promised 50% increase in US development assistance for poor nations
    • Sec. Of St. Colin Powell: Urging US to allow inclusion of "reproductive health services" language and reference to Convention on the Rights of the Child in final international document from UN Special Session on Children
    • George W. Bush: Urging signature on National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2001
  • May 2002:
    • Urging opposition to H.R. 4700, Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002, which would raise work hour requirements for welfare recipients and ignore child care and educational needs
    • Decrying violence between Israelis and Palestinians, urging US to support international protection force and call a regional peace conference
    • House Majority Leader Daschle: Urging rejection of attempts to weaken the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act
    • Senators on Finance Committee: Opposing "abstinence only until marriage" language in welfare reauthorization bill
  • June 2002:
    • Select Members of Congress, Ashcroft: Expressing concern for civil liberties
    • Senate: Opposing "abstinence only until marriage" language in welfare reauthorization bill

Socially Responsible Investing

James Gunning, Chair, Committee on Socially Responsible Investing

"Responsible" is our middle name.

Our task is to foster Responsible Investing. Responsible not only in financial terms, but that's one part of the task.

We also want to be responsible in religious and spiritual terms, because we are religious people.

We do not have to be schizophrenic about our job of investing.

I am here to tell you we can have it both ways. We can obtain competitive financial returns while using our clout to improve the lives of many people at home and around the world.

And our middle name also applies to our social mission. Our UU principles tell us to live and be part of the whole world -- not just on Sunday or any other part of the week.

The whole world and all of its parts. And the whole interdependent web of life.

So our task also is to foster Social Responsibility. In our motives and actions, we must bear witness to our principles throughout our whole world community.

Our goal is the Sixth Principle: world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. Nothing less.

How in the world can we use our investments to move towards this goal?

Let's try to explain in these terms.

SRI [socially responsible investing] -- SRI is a ministry -- like many other ministries. We may use different tools, and we may be speaking to different target groups of people. But our ends and outcomes are similar to many other ministries.

Our path is, in part, to use our financial assets as a tool to achieve greater "bang for the buck". To get competitive financial returns WHILE we also get social returns from our financial clout.

Our path is, in part, to call out -- to witness in our world -- that the companies in which we invest can do a better job as a world citizens, consistent with their responsibilities to their financial mission.

And we do that by talking to the managers of these companies, people just like you and me. In fact, many UUs have responsible positions in companies that we approach. Perhaps a number of you here today are in equivalent positions.

Our task is to bring our religious and ethical beliefs into the companies in which we invest and show their managers that it's "good business" to be a good citizen.

So what have we been doing in the first year and a half of our existence?

Our first efforts have been to assist the UUA Investment Committee to screen the companies in which the endowment fund invests. And how the proxy votes are cast, and select the issues on which to engage the companies represented in the portfolio.

Now that these areas are well under way, we will turn to the local congregations and individual UUs and direct our energies towards offering assistance on a broader base.

That's what we are about. How about joining us in the ministry of Socially Responsible Investing. Some congregations are already part of this ministry to their own congregations, and we want to welcome many others to the mission.

We had one workshop on the subject yesterday. There are two more workshops this year -- one tomorrow jointly with the UU Service Committee -- focusing on the shareholder activism. And another on Monday on the process of screening companies in which to investment. I invite you to join us, at the workshops and in this ministry.

It's exciting. It's rewarding. It's a way to put our faith into action.

Thank you for your attention. 

The Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee presented information which reviewed their charge and activities, including a skit in which Ben Van Dyne, a delegate from Arlington, VA, asked questions about the work of the committee. Danielle DiBona, a member of the UUA staff who works on justice issues, discussed the history of the Jubilee World Working Group, which has been active in some different iterations since 1985. The effort began as the Black Concerns Working Group and became the Jubilee Working Group. In 1985, said DiBona, "these pioneers were charged with eradicating racism in the UUA and beyond. They were provided with $5,000 to accomplish this work. My friends, the dream continues and the work continues. I have heard that one of the original members, the late George Squire, knew that the Black Concerns Working Group would be his dying legacy to his faith. And as we sunset this committee and as the anti-racism work of this effort is interspersed through our community, we recognize those people who helped our faith to be more authentic in this way."

DiBona then recognized those present who were members of one of these groups: Dr. Leon Spencer, Rev. Anne Hines, Gini Courter, Norma Poinsett, Tamara Payne Alex, Rev. Melanie Morel Sullivan, Margaret Link, Rev. Kurt Kuhwald, Rev. Mel Hoover, and Rev. Nannene Gowdy. DiBona said, "We owe them a debt of gratitude because they have helped us on the road to achieve the beloved community…thank you."

Vote on Proposed Statement of Conscience: Alternatives to the War on Drugs

Diane Olson called for actions on the proposed UUA Statement of Conscience—Alternatives to the War on Drugs. Youth participated in a silent demonstration asking the delegates to not amend the proposed statement of conscience in the name of, and on behalf of, youth. Richard Nugent, Chair of the Commission on Social Witness, introduced the action. He said, "while many of you many not be able to state the name of last year's Statement of Conscience, I suspect that many of you can state the issues of our longstanding support. All of them started as a social witness statement started by a past General Assembly.

"Today's debate," said Nugent, "is likely to be lively… May it be done remembering that we are all members of the same faith." Nugent then moved adoption of the statement "Alternatives to the War on Drugs."

As thirty minutes of debate on the motion began,strong opinions both for and against the proposal were voiced. A physician's assistant who treated drug abusers for 17 years testified that the Statement, as written, would improve the lives of addicts and protect children.

Susan Manning of Summit, NJ, speaking against the motion, said, "I thought I would be speaking from the other microphone…I find there is so much intemperate language in this document that I can not support it…I want to be able to take this to my legislator, to the New York Times, but I can not. It says we support the legalization of all drugs…this is overly broad and does not address the real issues of abuse. I ask you to consider the amendments as they come up and read this more carefully than you have already."

Greg DuBow, representing YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists), spoke in favor of the motion: "Last year we in Youth Council passed a resolution supporting this issue and we ask your support. We cannot stand for this injustice any longer. Prohibition does not work. Drugs have always been available, and yet it is becoming harder and harder to seek treatment and be in the community."

Bob Deniston of Arlington, VA said, "I have worked for 25 years in public health education, mostly focused on substance abuse by youth. While the intent of the [proposed] statement is laudable, it does little if anything to help our youth."

Debate continued, and two amendments were offered, as well as a proposal to defer the entire action to committee for another year. All motions failed, and debate returned to the main motion with time for debate expired.

Olson called for a vote, and the main motion, as shown in the amended final language for this Statement of Conscience, passed.

Alternatives to the "War on Drugs" Statement of Conscience

Scope: Continental
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
as passed by majority vote General Assembly in Québec City, Saturday Plenary June 22, 2002

Background: This final draft Statement of Conscience of the Unitarian Universalist Association builds upon four social witness statements on drug policy adopted by the Unitarian Universalist Association between 1965 and 1991. In June 2000, the General Assembly of the UUA selected "Alternatives to the 'War on Drugs'" as the Study/Action Issue (SAI) suggested to congregations for two years of study, action, and reflection. The Commission on Social Witness (CSW) received initial reports from congregations and districts in March 2001. In June 2001, the CSW held a workshop on this issue at General Assembly. An initial draft Statement of Conscience was distributed to all congregations and districts for their reflection and feedback. At its March 2002 meeting, the CSW prepared a revised draft. It was placed on the final agenda of the June 2002 General Assembly. A mini-assembly was held on Friday, June 21, where proposed amendments were received. Friday evening, June 21, the CSW produced this final draft Statement of Conscience, based on the mini-assembly and the proposed amendments. The delegates present at the Saturday June 22 plenary adopted this Statement of Conscience with the required two-thirds majority.

Our Call to End the "War on Drugs"as a Matter of Conscience

For more than 30 years, American public policy has advanced an escalating "war on drugs" that seeks to eradicate illegal drugs from our society. It is increasingly clear that this effort has failed. Our current drug policy has consumed tens of billions of dollars and wrecked countless lives. The costs of this policy include the increasing breakdown of families and neighborhoods, endangerment of children, widespread violation of civil liberties, escalating rates of incarceration, political corruption, and the imposition of United States policy abroad. For United States taxpayers, the price tag on the drug offensive has soared from $66 million in 1968 to almost $20 billion in 2000, an increase of over 30,000 percent. In practice the drug war disproportionately targets people of color and people who are poverty-stricken. Coercive measures have not reduced drug use, but they have clogged our criminal justice system with non-violent offenders. It is time to explore alternative approaches and to end this costly war.

The war on drugs has blurred the distinction between drug use and drug abuse. Drug use is erroneously perceived as behavior that is out of control and harmful to others. Illegal drug use is thus portrayed as threatening to society. As a result, drug policy has been closed to study, discussion, and consideration of alternatives by legislative bodies. Yet many people who use both legal and illegal drugs live productive, functional lives and do no harm to society.

As Unitarian Universalists committed to a free and responsible search for truth, we must protest the misguided policies that shape current practice. We cannot in good conscience remain quiet when it is becoming clear that we have been misled for decades about illegal drugs. United States government drug policy-makers have misled the world about the purported success of the war on drugs. They tell the public that success is dependent upon even more laws restricting constitutional protections and the allocation of billions of dollars for drug law enforcement. They mislead the public about the extent of corruption and environmental degradation in other countries that the American war on drugs has left in its wake.

As Unitarian Universalists committed to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, we call for thoughtful consideration and implementation of alternatives that regard the reduction of harm as the appropriate standard by which to assess drug policies. We seek a compassionate reduction of harm associated with drugs, both legal and illegal, with special attention to the harm unleashed by policies established in the war on drugs.

As Unitarian Universalists committed to respecting the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part, we find irresponsible and morally wrong the practices of scorching the earth and poisoning the soil and ground water in other countries to stop the production of drugs that are illegal in the United States.

As a community of faith, Unitarian Universalists have both a moral imperative and a personal responsibility to ask the difficult questions that so many within our society are unable, unwilling, or too afraid to ask. In asking these questions and in weighing our findings, we are compelled to consider a different approach to national drug policy.

A Different Approach

To conceive and develop a more just and compassionate drug policy, it is necessary to transform how we view drugs and particularly drug addiction. Drug use, drug abuse, and drug addiction are distinct from one another. Using a drug does not necessarily mean abusing the drug, much less addiction to it. Drug abuse issues are essentially matters for medical attention. We do not believe that drug use should be considered criminal behavior. Advocates for harsh drug policies with severe penalties for drug use often cite violent crime as a direct result of drug use. Drugs alone do not cause crime. Legal prohibition of drugs leads to inflated street value, which in turn incites violent turf wars among distributors. The whole pattern is reminiscent of the proliferation of organized crime at the time of alcohol prohibition in the early twentieth century. That policy also failed.

We believe that the vision of a drug-free America is unrealistic. Many programs for school children have misled participants and the public by teaching that all illicit drugs are equally harmful in spite of current scientific research to the contrary. "Just Say No" is not a viable policy. The consequences of the current drug war are cruel and counterproductive. At issue here are the health and well being of our families and our communities, our societal fabric and our global community. Alternatives exist.

Alternative Goals

Based on this perspective, we believe appropriate and achievable goals for reformed national drug policies include:

  • To prevent consumption of drugs, including alcohol and nicotine, that are harmful to health among children and adolescents;
  • To reduce the likelihood that drug users will become drug abusers;
  • To minimize the harmful effects of drug use, such as disease contracted from the use of contaminated needles and overdosing as a result of unwittingly using impure drugs;
  • To increase the availability and affordability of quality drug treatment and eliminate the stigma associated with accessing it;
  • To significantly reduce violent and predatory drug-related crime;
  • To minimize the harmful consequences of current drug policy, such as racial profiling, property confiscation without conviction, and unnecessary incarceration; and
  • To reduce the harm to our earth now caused by the practice of destroying crops intended for the production of drugs.

Alternative Policies

Instead of the current war on drugs, we offer the following policies for study, debate, and implementation:

  • Shift budget priorities from spending for pursuing, prosecuting, and imprisoning drug-law offenders to spending for education, treatment, and research.
  • Develop and implement age-appropriate drug education programs that are grounded in research and fact and that promote dialogue without fear of censure or reprisal.
  • Undertake research to assess the effects of currently illegal drugs. Ensure that findings and conclusions are publicly accessible, serving as a basis for responsible decision-making by individuals and in arenas of public policy and practice.
  • Research the sociological factors that contribute to the likelihood of drug use becoming habitual, addictive, and destructive, such as poverty, poor mental health, sexual or other physical abuse, and lack of education or medical treatment.
  • Research and expand a range of management and on-demand treatment programs for drug abuse and addiction. Examples include nutritional counseling, job training, psychiatric evaluation and treatment, psychological counseling, parent training and assistance, support groups, clean needle distribution and exchange, substitution of safer drugs (e.g. methadone or marijuana), medically administered drug maintenance, disease screening, and acupuncture and other alternative and complementary treatments. Publish the results of studies of these programs.
  • Require health insurance providers to cover in-patient and out-patient treatment for substance abuse on the same basis as other chronic health conditions.
  • Make all drugs legally available with a prescription by a licensed physician, subject to professional oversight. End the practice of punishing an individual for obtaining, possessing, or using an otherwise illegal substance to treat a medical condition. End the threat to impose sanctions on physicians who treat patients with opiates for alleviation of pain.
  • Prohibit civil liberties violations and other intrusive law enforcement practices. Violations of the right to privacy such as urine testing should be imposed only upon employees in safety-sensitive occupations.
  • Establish a legal, regulated, and taxed market for marijuana. Treat marijuana as we treat alcohol.
  • Modify civil forfeiture laws to require conviction before seizure of assets. Prohibit the eviction of family, friends, and co-habitants or the loss of government entitlements.
  • Abolish mandatory minimum prison sentences for the use and distribution of currently illicit drugs. Legislation should specify only maximum prison sentences.
  • Remove criminal penalties for possession and use of currently illegal drugs, with drug abusers subject to arrest and imprisonment only if they commit an actual crime (e.g., assault, burglary, impaired driving, vandalism). End sentencing inequities driven by racial profiling.
  • Establish and make more accessible prison-based drug treatment, education, job training, and transition programs designed for inmates.
  • End the financing of anti-drug campaigns in Central and South America, campaigns that include the widespread spraying of herbicides, contribute to the destruction of rainforests, and are responsible for uprooting peoples from their homelands.

Our Call to Act as People of Faith

We must begin with ourselves. Our congregations can offer safe space for open and honest discussion among congregants about the complex issues of drug use, abuse, and addiction. Through acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth, we should be able to acknowledge and address our own drug use without fear of censure or reprisal.

We can recognize that drugs include not only currently illegal substances but also alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, over-the-counter pain relievers, and prescription drugs. We can learn to distinguish among use, abuse, and addiction. We can support one another in recognizing drug-related problems and seeking help. We can seek to understand those among us who use drugs for relief or escape. With compassion, we can cultivate reflection and analysis of drug policy. In the safe space of our own congregations, we can begin to prevent destructive relationships with drugs. We can lend necessary support to individuals and families when a loved one needs treatment for an addiction problem. We can encourage our congregations to partner with and follow the lead of groups representing individuals whose lives are most severely undermined by current drug policy-people of color and of low income. We can learn from health care professionals what unique patterns of substance abuse exist in our local areas. We can go beyond our walls and bring our perspective to the interfaith community, other nonprofit organizations, and elected officials.

Our Unitarian Universalist history calls us to pursue a more just world. Our faith compels us to hold our leaders accountable for their policies. In calling for alternatives to the war on drugs, we are mindful of its victims. Drug use should be addressed solely as a public health problem, not as a criminal justice issue. Dependence upon any illegal drugs or inappropriate use of legal drugs may point to deep, unmet human needs. We have a moral obligation to advocate compassionate, harm-reducing policy. We believe that our nations have the imagination and capability to address effectively the complex issues of the demand for drugs, both legal and illegal.

We reaffirm the spirit of our social witness positions taken on drugs in resolutions adopted from 1965 to 1991. Recognizing the right of conscience for all who differ, we denounce the war on drugs and recommend alternative goals and policies. Let not fear or any other barrier prevent us from advocating a more just, compassionate world.

Commenting on the plenary action, Charles Thomas, President of UUs for Drug Policy Reform said, "Based on our experience, we trust that the Statement of Conscience is a good compromise between the small number of UUs who think that it goes too far and those who think that it doesn't go far enough," said Charles Thomas, executive director of the UUA affiliate group, UUs for Drug Policy Reform, which spent the past two years facilitating the drug policy study efforts of the UU congregations. "Among the congregations that studied the full range of reform options, we've heard almost universal support for the policy recommendations in the final SOC."

"Many UUs wanted the SOC to call for the full legalization of all drugs," said Thomas. "Instead, the SOC only calls for a legal market for marijuana—and for the decriminalization and medicalization of other drugs. Apparently, two-thirds of the delegates agreed that this is a good compromise. Now, we ask all UUs to visit Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform, and join our efforts to take our message for more just and compassionate drug policies into the public arena."

Reflecting on the results, Dan Harper, incoming Director of Religious Education for the Church of the Larger Fellowship, noted that he was "troubled by the process by which this action was passed." As a delegate when this issue first arose as a proposed study action item, Harper said he'd been concerned about the language in the proposal, and that, two years later, the lack of time on the plenary floor for considered debate of the final motion seemed to encourage hasty action without due consideration of the impact of the action on children and youth.

Following the vote, the Rev. William Sinkford, UUA President, commented, "As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our religious values to speak out against misguided policies. The so-called 'war on drugs' is creating violence, endangering children, clogging the criminal justice system, eroding civil liberties, and disproportionately punishing people of color. It's time for a cease-fire."

*For further information on this issue and its coverage in the media, visit these articles:

Results of Voting on First Year Statements of Conscience

Olson discussed the results of voting on proposed first year statements of conscience. She said that no issue had received a majority vote between civil liberties and prison reform, and called for a runoff vote. Civil Liberties carried in the voting as the new study action item.

President's Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service

Olson called on UUA President Bill Sinkford to present the President's Volunteer Service Award to Jan and Stu Sendell. Sinkford said, "Jan and Stu Sendell have been active for nearly thirty years in Morristown and Paramus, New Jersey. They have been members or the UUA Presidents Council for ten years, co chairing the council from 1997 to 2001, bringing radical hospitality and good ideas. They have overseen the successful completion of one capital campaign and the launch of another. They traveled to six cities, talking about the possibilities for the Association. Hundreds have been inspired by their commitment." In accepting the award, Stu Sendell said, "Unitarian Universalism is our fourth child. The UUA has the responsibility to nurture our existing congregations and grow the movement. Our estate will be divided into four parts, one for each of our children, and one for the UUA." Sinkford said, "Stu and Jan have provided wise and candid counsel to UUA Presidents, and I am personally grateful to them for their love of this faith. As a token of faith from me and our faith, I ask you to accept this award."

Remarks on Presenting the 2002 Distinguished Volunteer Service Award to Jan and Stu Sendell

The Rev. William G. Sinkford

Jan and Stu Sendell have been active Unitarian Universalists for over 30 years in congregations in Paramus and Morristown, New Jersey. Nearly ten years ago they were invited to join the UUA's Presidents' Council. They agreed and the Association has been blessed by their commitment, dedication and generosity ever since.

Jan and Stuart co-chaired the Presidents' Council from 1997-2001. They led this group with warmth, good humor and effective meeting management skills. They oversaw the successful completion of one capital campaign Handing on the Future and the launch of our current campaign, The Campaign for Unitarian Universalism. During the first year of the Campaign for Unitarian Universalism, Stuart and Jan traveled to 6 cities around the country facilitating day-long meetings on the future of the UUA. At each meeting they shared their faith, their confidence and their boundless optimism. Hundreds of UU leaders from across the country have been inspired by their example. Jan and Stu describe their commitment this way: "UUism is our fourth child. The UUA, in our opinion, has the opportunity and responsibility to nurture existing congregations, ministers and lay leaders and also to grow the movement. We're doing what we can to help realize these goals through our estate plans. Our estate will now be divided into 4 parts, one each for our three children and one share for the UUA."

Thanks to their leadership, the Presidents' Council has grown in numbers and deepened in effectiveness. They have not only challenged the Council but also the President to set high goals, dream big dreams, and give generous gifts to ensure that they UUA lives up to its promise.

Stuart served as a founding member of the Congregational Properties Loan Commission. This group provides critical guidance in the shaping of UUA policy around loans, grants to new congregations and insurance guidelines for church property. Stu passionate commitment to the future of our congregations combined with years of experience as a commercial mortgage broker led him to playing a key role on this committee.

Meanwhile, Stuart was also actively involved in the formation of a new congregation in Somerset Hills, New Jersey. Once again, Stu was recruited by his district leaders because of his fundraising savvy and hands on approach to making things happen. During all of this time they have remained engaged in the leadership of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship where Jan has served as president and canvass co-chair.

With three grandchildren now enrolled in the Morristown Religious Education Program, they are doing their personal best to help it grow.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Stu and Jan have consistently provided wise and candid counsel to our presidents. I know how grateful I am to them for their generous spirit and honest insight. I know John Buehrens counted them among his most trusted advisors. We have been truly and deeply blessed by their love of our faith.

Following the presentation, Trustee Judi McGavin offered process observations, and Secretary Wayne Arnason made announcements. The Plenary stood in recess at 12:25 p.m. and was scheduled to reconvene at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, following the Service of the Living Tradition.

Reported by Debbie Weiner. 

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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