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Opening Celebration and Plenary I

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General Assembly 2010 Event 1018

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The following final draft script was completed before this event took place; actual words spoken may vary.

Calling the Community into Being

[Beth speaking]

It’s Wednesday night, June 23rd—this must be GA [General Assembly] in Minneapolis! Thank you, GA Band—you’ll be hearing more from these fine musicians, and lots of other fine musicians too.

Are you glad to be here? I am. How many of you are here for your first GA? Shout out. Welcome! Are you looking for a friend to sit with in the hall? Well, just sit down wherever you are and make a new friend—everybody, introduce yourself to someone near you—find out where they’re from.

Here we are gathered—From east and west, from north and south, from far and near—at this 49th General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations [UUA]. Here we are gathered, in one strong body, together. Together, we are the very special community that is General Assembly—a short-lived community, but a powerful one. We’re on holy ground, and the energy is real. So let’s get ready to give ourselves over whole-heartedly to this community—to work and worship, to listen and learn, to witness and govern, to struggle and sing—together. And let’s start with celebration—Let the banner parade begin!

Words of Welcome from Prairie Star District

[John Blevins speaking]

Welcome!

Welcome to General Assembly 2010 in the Prairie Star District!

Prairie Star reaches over the north central United States,

from the tallgrass prairies and flint hills of Kansas to the lakes and iron mining ranges of northern Minnesota,

from the badlands and Mount Rushmore of the western Dakotas, to our star seaport of Duluth on Lake Superior,

from the sand hills of Nebraska, to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and it’s lush valley joining the uplands of western Wisconsin.

All this magnificence lies transected by that river of discovery for Lewis & Clark, the mighty Missouri, which takes you through my hometown of Kansas City.

Our people and our belief systems are as varied as our geography.

For those of you who might suspect we’re newcomers to this liberal religion, out here on the Prairie, I am proud to inform you that 1 of every 8 of our congregations was founded before 1870!

Unitarian abolitionists were leaders of the Bleeding Kansas Border Wars of the 1850’s that presaged the Civil War.

An amazing group of 19th century pioneer women, the courageous Iowa Sisterhood, ventured onto our prairies over 130 years ago and took up the call to ministry that they had been denied in the East. Perhaps it was these voices who began prying open the doors that led to Iowa’s becoming the only state outside the Northeast to legalize same-sex marriage.

Universalists were founders, 150 years ago, of this great city of Minneapolis. You’ll see their names on streets and parks, and yes, even on that bag of Pillsbury flour in your cupboard.

UU [Unitarian Universalist] leaders like Reverends John Dietrich, Leon Birkhead and Raymond Bragg were all creators and signers of the groundbreaking “Humanist Manifesto” in 1933.

Looking at Prairie Star today, you’ll find every variety of belief system that you might see in any other region of the country. Yet, one difference you might find here, at least partially due to the scale of our geography, is that they might all appear in one congregation!

As we begin our Assembly, we also wish to remember and honor those innumerable communities of indigenous peoples who inhabited and began caring for these lands long before our arrival.

I call out the opening lines from Rev. Mark Belletini’s poem, “Spiritual History”

“Let my body remember
Let my hands and feet remember
Let my breath remember
Those who have come before me,
Those who have come before us,...”

May we continue to honor this legacy in our work here together this week, and beyond.

Prairie Star is proud of the legacy of liberal religion that we represent, and live out, in our country’s heartland.

We have been one of the fastest growing districts over the past 10 years.

We are 59 congregations strong, with at least 6 new ones emerging as we speak. Thirty-six (36) of them are Welcoming Congregations.

We are the home of 4 Breakthrough congregations in the past 6 years, with Mankato, MN, being recognized at this GA.

And we’ve been anticipating your return for 35 years, since you last met here in 1975.

We are ready for you!

And now, I’d like to ask all the residents of Prairie Star District to rise, in body or spirit, and extend your personal welcome to our guests. Please rise.

On behalf of over 9,000 members of Prairie Star District we welcome you to our homeland and to this 49th General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Have a wonderful week!

Chalice Lighting

[Fritz Hudson speaking]

Into the circle of the wide prairie sky, we come together, each of us casting our personally unique circles.
—we come carrying around us the circle of those whom we love
—we come carrying upon us the circle of those whom we represent
—we come carrying within us the circle of our apprehensions & our aspirations.

Circles, in motion, whose borders touch—may repel each other, may hold their borders, may demand separate space for separate accommodation,

Or circles, in motion, whose borders touch, with a little push, a little release, may overlap
Can intermingle, can even seek each others' center.

There's friction in such inter-mingling, as circles pass through circles.
But, in all the rubbing, should two circles' centers find each other, touch, rub
the spark, the spark
can ignite a holy prairie fire.

“Holy Now”

[Peter Mayer speaking]

When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, Everything
Everything is holy now.

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now

GA Volunteer Greeting and Intro for Ann Reed

[David Lauth speaking]

Good evening. My name is David Lauth. I’m a member of First Universalist Church in Minneapolis and for the past year I have had the honor of serving as District Coordinator for this year’s General Assembly.

It is a real thrill to stand here tonight and welcome all of you to Minneapolis.

You have a fabulous time ahead of you. In addition to all of the worship services and workshops and plenary sessions on the schedule here at GA, we are going to have a weekend of Pride and a weekend of Hope. The Twin Cities Pride Festival will be going on all around us. You all will have the opportunity to join a public witness event with the festival at Loring Park which is only a few blocks away from the Convention Center. This is happening on Saturday morning.

We will also be working in the Philips neighborhood nearby to help Hope Community in their inspiring work to build a sustainable neighborhood through community organization and affordable housing development. There is information about this project in your program book, and I encourage you to stop by the Hope Community booth in the exhibit hall to learn more.

There are many people who have been working very hard to make sure that you have a great GA, and I’d like you to meet a few of them—these are the members of our Volunteer Committee:

  • Ginny Allen
  • Marlene Brown
  • Patty Cameron
  • Kathy Charles
  • Bette DeMars
  • Mary Engelmann
  • Mark Gibbons
  • Rudy Sprinkle
  • Jeff Sylvestre
  • Tim Wilson

These folks will be working with almost 200 volunteers, who you will see throughout the convention center. You'll know who they are by the bright green t-shirts they all will be wearing. These are your "Ask Me" volunteers and others who can help you navigate GA. Not only are our volunteers at the ready to help you around the convention center, they can also help you find your way around our neighborhood, and all of downtown Minneapolis. Please don’t hesitate to ask any one of them for help whenever you need it.

I now have the privilege of introducing Ann Reed and the Prairie Star singers. Ann is a Minnesota treasure. She’s been a touring musician for more than 30 years. She has won Minnesota Music Academy awards for Performer of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Best Recording of the Year. She has been honored by a number of nonprofits that she has supported while donating 25 percent of her time and efforts to organizations that primarily benefit women and children. Ann has made countless appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and NPR's Morning Edition. And we at First Universalist Church were honored just last year when Ann wrote and performed the song that you are about to hear, to commemorate our congregation’s 150th anniversary. We are so pleased that Ann agreed to share the song with all of you. So please welcome Ann Reed and the Prairie Star singers...

“We Will”

It's a long road we've set our feet upon
And with loving hearts we walk on
We will walk on ...
Bridges are made with open hands
We begin to heal the world
We will heal the world ...
When the sun shines through all of us
There on the road
Will be a rainbow in front of us
Wherever we go
Wherever we go
Take a single flame and pass it on
It's enough to light the way
We will light the way ...
When the sun shines through all of us
There on the road
Will be a rainbow in front of us
Wherever we go
Wherever we go
All the souls who came before are standing here
You can hear them whisper low
We will walk with you ...

Opening Plenary

Welcome and Call to Order

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I now call to order the Forty-Ninth General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Welcome New Congregations

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome the trustee from the Clara Barton District and First-Vice Moderator of your UUA Board of Trustees, Jackie Shanti.

[Jackie Shanti speaking]

Thank you, Madame Moderator. One of the most rewarding experiences each year at GA is welcoming new congregations into our UUA family. Starting a new congregation is an extraordinary piece of work—and an astounding act of faith. It takes vision, courage, leadership, patience, bureaucratic brilliance, jumping over hurdles and through hoops. Most of all, it takes love. The leaders you'll meet in a moment have given all this and more to their dream of a Unitarian Universalist congregation serving their communities.

New congregations come into being because local UUs work closely with district staff and District presidents. So it is my pleasure tonight to ask xx District Presidents to introduce to you people of vision and faith in their districts who have planted and nurtured six new congregations. I'll ask President Peter Morales and Moderator Gini Courter to join me in greeting our newest UU member congregations—and ask you to welcome them with hearty applause as they are introduced.

[Jackie speaking]

From the Southwest Conference District, District President, Kevin Bolton.

[Kevin Bolton speaking]

Please welcome: Caroline Mackey, standing in for Roe Mackey, President of the San Gabriel Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Georgetown, TX.

[Jackie speaking]

From the Heartland District, President Judy Buxton

[Judy Buxton speaking]

Please welcome: Dick Guernsey, founding member of the Heartland Unitarian Universalist Church in Indianapolis, IN.

[Jackie speaking]

Friends, members of this great UU family, let us once again welcome these three spectacular new congregations to our Association, with hopes that they will be as enriched by their association with us as we are by their presence among us.

Review and Adopt Rules of this General Assembly

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Our business item for tonight’s plenary session is the adoption of the Rules of Procedure for this General Assembly. The proposed Rules of Procedure can be found on pages 7 through 9 of the Final Agenda.

These rules will govern our consideration of, and voting upon, the business items that come before us during our plenary sessions. The rules are largely the same as in previous years. There are a couple of rules that I want to direct your attention to. Please note that Rule 5 provides that no amendments to a business resolution, bylaw change or rule change will be in order unless submitted for consideration at the mini-assembly for that item. This procedure is the same with respect to social witness statements such as the Statement of Conscience and Actions of Immediate Witness. Also, please note that Rule 2 provides that, unless the Association's bylaws otherwise require, action on all matters will be decided by an uncounted show of voting cards, or by an uncounted standing vote. A vote will be counted only in two instances. If there is doubt about the outcome of a vote, I will call for a count. A count will also be taken if so requested by a delegate and if 99 other delegates join the request.

In either instance, the count will be made by the tellers who are present on the floor of the assembly. They are wearing GA tee shirts and vests. Where are our tellers? We’re going to treat all our volunteers with kindness throughout this GA, so let’s start by thanking our ushers and tellers.

In addition, Rule 7 provides that separate microphones will be designated as pro and con for discussion of proposed bylaw amendments, rules, resolutions or actions.

The pro microphone is up front on the ____ (point). The con microphone is up front on the ____ (point). There is also an amendment microphone which has been placed at the front of the assembly (point), and a procedural microphone which has been placed immediately in front of me (point).

Please note that points of personal privilege, and points of information must be made from the procedural mike, not from the pro or con mikes or the amendment mike. By the way, only delegates may speak from the microphones, except by express permission of the Moderator.

I strongly urge those of you who are attending General Assembly Plenary Sessions for the first time to read the Rules of Procedure. Particularly look at Rule 6 on page ___ of the Rules, so that you understand the time limits in effect. No person may speak on any motion for more that two minutes. Thirty minutes is the time allowed for discussion of any proposed bylaw amendment, rule change, resolution or action on a report that is on or admitted to the final agenda. Time limits for debate on Actions of Immediate Witness are found in Rule 13.

Before proceeding with our business, I want to introduce you to the two men seated at my left who will be helping us all in these proceedings. First, let me introduce Ned Leibensperger, our legal counsel, who has served us in this capacity for more than 17 years! Thank you, Ned. Next, please say hello to retired Massachusetts District Court Judge, Gordon Martin, who will serve as our Parliamentarian and has done so since the 1969 General Assembly!! Thank you so much for your dedication.

Will the Chair of the General Assembly Planning Committee, now make the appropriate motion with respect to the Rules of Procedure?

Motion

Moved: That the Rules of Procedure of this General Assembly as set forth in full on pages 7 through 9 of the Final Agenda be adopted.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Is there any discussion?

(Discussion, if any, of the Rules of Procedure.)

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

There being no [time for further] discussion of the Rules of Procedure, discussion is now closed and a vote is in order. All those in favor of adopting the Rules of Procedure, please do so by raising your voting card. (Pause for response.) All those opposed. (Pause for response.)

(A two-thirds vote is required to adopt the Rules of Procedure; any amendment requires a two-thirds vote. The Moderator announces the result of the vote.)

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I draw your attention to an important matter set out in Rule 13, defining the two deadlines for submitting proposed actions of immediate witness. A copy of your proposed AIW, without signed petitions attached, must be delivered to the booth of the Commission on Social Witness in the exhibit hall by 5:00 p.m., Thursday. The proposed AIW will be posted there for public view.
The proposed Actions of Immediate Witness must also be filed, with the requisite delegate support, in the GA office by 5 p.m. on Friday. This is all set out in Rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure on page 9 of the Final Agenda.

Introduce Youth Caucus and Young Adult Caucus Managers

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome leaders from the youth and young adult caucuses.

Introduce Right Relationships Team

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome Garner Takahashi Morris, Scott McNeill, conveners of your Right Relationship Team.

[Garner Takahashi Morris and Scott McNeill speaking]

Good evening, beautiful people!

There are quite a lot of you out there.

How many of you have met somebody new since you came to GA?

That's what I like to see!

How many of you are sitting next to someone you'd never met before this evening?

That's fantastic!

Whether you're new to GA or this is your 48th, you know that this gathering is all about sharing ideas, meeting new people, and for a brief few days, building a continental community. We each bring a multitude of stories, of ages, sexualities, racial, cultural, class, and gender based identities, to this table, in ways that are both visible and invisible. We are blessed to be so many. And along with that multitude of experience we bring a culture of oppression and mistrust. We want our community to be safe and loving, and the seven principles are one guide for us on that path.

As Unitarian Universalists we have a moral calling to live against oppression, and the place to begin that work is inside ourselves. As you go through the next several days, we challenge you to act with intention. Ask yourself questions;

Who am I speaking to?

Who am I speaking for?

What do I assume I know about others? What do they assume they know about me?

About who We are? And where We are coming from?

We know that this GA can be an affirming and uplifting experience, where we will all feel loved and visible, heard and respected. Where we will see ourselves treating others with that love and respect. As the Right Relationship Team, we hope that you'll share those experiences with us.

Oppression is deeply imbedded into our society, and seeps into our interactions in ways we may not even be aware of. We will disagree on things that are very important to us, but that is part of the blessing of our diversity. Being in community, in Right Relationship, means learning to be accountable to each other, and the team is here to keep us in conversation even when the going gets tough. We are all learning. We want to uplift voices of the painful experiences along with the affirming—to ensure all are heard. The team is not here to be the green-shirted "be nice brigade." We are here to help facilitate an ongoing conversation, because it is important to be in Right Relationship with each other, and thereby grow as a community, and as a faith.

And now to meet our team!

(Each introduce self)

If you'd like to speak to a team member, you can call the Right Relationship Team (the number is in the GA bulletin) or ask a chaplain. We will be wearing bright green t-shirts or rainbow ribbons, and you'll see us in workshops, at plenary, and walking around the hall. We also have office hours from 2-3 pm in the Chaplain room. We'll be checking in with you at the beginning of Thursday and Sunday plenary. We’d love to talk to you anytime!

Recess

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

This has the possibility of being a very interesting General Assembly, a meeting where Unitarian Universalists discuss and debate and vote on important issues of our time. A meeting where we set the direction for our future in ways we cannot yet know fully. After the publication of the final agenda, other adjustments were made to create more time for discussion, including additional time for mini-assemblies. We’ll provide an update on these adjustments tomorrow morning. If you are a delegate this year, or are interested in observing the business of this GA, be sure to be in plenary tomorrow morning with your program book and agenda so you can know when to engage with the business and social witness issues. We’ll also sing.

There being no further business to come before us, and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your program book, I declare that this plenary session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until 8:00.

Introduction of Peter Mayer and GA Band

[John Hubert speaking]

Good evening everyone. It is with great excitement that I introduce to you the wonderful musician, Peter Mayer. Peter writes songs for a small planet—songs about interconnectedness and the human journey; about the beauty and the mystery of the world. Whimsical, humorous, and profound, his music breaks the boundaries of "folk", and transcends to a realm beyond the everyday love song, to a place of wonder at the very fact of life itself. As UUs we are blessed to call Peter one of our own, as he is affiliated with the White Bear UU Church here in the metro area. Peter has written a new song, “Come Rising,” that he will now share with you. Everyone, please welcome Peter Mayer!

“Come Rising”

[Peter Mayer singing]

To the wind
To the burning sea
To the turning from night into day
To the sea
To the mountain peaks
To the fire beneath, we say

Earth come rising! come rising!
Earth come rising up inside of us
Rising, come rising
Earth come rising up inside of us

To the breath
To the beating heart
To the morning lark that calls in the spring
To the seed
That has been growing here
These four billion years, we sing

Life come rising! come rising
Life come rising up inside of us
Rising, come rising
Life come rising up inside of us

Teach us wisdom
Teach us wisdom

To the source
from which all proceed
to the mystery that moves through our days
To the love
That intertwines our lives
To the higher mind, we pray

God come rising! come rising
God come rising up inside of us.
Rising, come rising
God come rising up inside of us

Homily: “Gather in Strength”

[Peter Morales speaking]

It is so good to see everyone!

I love watching people arriving for GA. I can feel excitement in the air. I love seeing people run up and hug friends. Every General Assembly reminds us that we are not isolated in our congregations. As we gather with thousands of Unitarian Universalists from across this continent and from across the world, we realize that we are part of an international religious movement. We are connected to thousands upon thousands of Unitarian Universalists—and those connections create breathtaking possibilities.

We come together at General Assembly to “do the business of the Association.” If you have glanced at the agenda for our plenary sessions, you will see that once again we have plenty of business before us. Our business meetings will deal with important matters, decisions that will have far reaching consequences. We will, as is our wont, discuss, debate, confer, edit and amend.

And yet, when I think of the essential business of our Association, I don’t think immediately of resolutions and voting. I think of worship services in more than a thousand congregations—worship services that touch our souls and help shape our lives. I think of children learning compassion, understanding and responsibility in our religious education programs. I think of the deep, enduring spiritual friendships being formed in small groups. I think of people coming together to make a difference in their communities—people helping others, people speaking out against hatred and violence.

When I think of our business I think of memorial services where family and friends gather to celebrate a lives lived with purpose and filled with love. I think of young people gathering at cluster and district “cons” where they feel safe and where human diversity is celebrated.

Our real business is religion. Our real business is helping people lead lives filled with meaning and purpose. Our real business is loving one another. Our real business is helping to heal the brokenness in our world. Our real business is bringing hope where there is despair, comfort where there is pain, community where there is isolation, acceptance where there is marginalization. Our real business is speaking truth to power. Our real business is to love one another and to stand on the side of love.

How we gather here at GA is an expression of who we are and what we value. Let our time together be one that expresses the best of who we are.

We have always been a people who value democratic process. This grows out of our core conviction that everyone matters and our communities should be inclusive. To affirm the democratic process also means we acknowledge that people will have different points of view. The only reason to discuss and debate a topic before voting is so that we open ourselves to seeing things from another’s point of view. People who have a point of view different from mine and yours do not disagree because they are agents of the devil.

Let us gather at this GA with open hearts and open minds. Let us listen. Let us reflect. Let us discover our common ground.

We also gather to bear witness. Last year we stood on the side of love with immigrant families, calling for comprehensive and humane immigration reform. At this GA we have scheduled time to join in a public witness event in support of marriage equality. This demonstration Saturday is not just a break in our business meeting. I urge you to join me Saturday. For UU’s, standing on the side of love is not an optional activity.

We gather to celebrate, to worship and to mark important transitions. Our Service of the Living Tradition is a sacred time—a time to honor past service and to embrace new beginnings. There is something special about the sound of thousands of UUs singing. It renews the spirit and touches the heart. There is a mysterious power we can all sense when we pray together. Let worship be an integral part of your GA experience. Let there be joy in our gathering.

We gather to learn. One of the unfortunate aspects of serving as your president is that my schedule won’t allow me to attend all the workshops I used to attend. Year after year I would leave GA filled with new ideas about how I could make my congregation better. Ours is a tradition that has always delighted in human learning and embraced change. We are moving into a new era. Let us learn gather with open minds that are eager to learn.

And let us gather to dream together. What is truly possible for our congregations and our movement today? I have seen some of the possibilities. I was privileged to serve a church that kept surprising me—that grew beyond what I dared to dream and served people in ways touched my heart. And I have seen over and over, in congregations all over our movement, what we can do if we harness the spirit, the dedication, the compassion and the vision of our people.

We have only begun to glimpse what is possible for us if we join hands and work together.

We gather, then, in hope—a hope that is grounded in the knowledge that together we can do amazing and wonderful things.

In a few days this GA will be over. We will be exhausted.

But the real measure of this GA will not be what we did here in Minneapolis. The real measure of this GA will be what we do after we leave.

Let us gather, then, open to how this GA can change our lives.

Let us gather in such a way that we leave with hearts filled with hope, with our heads filled with new ideas, and with our spirits renewed by our being together.

May this General Assembly be a blessing to each one of us, to this movement we all love, and to the world. Have a wonderful, wonderful, General Assembly.

“Gather the Spirit”

[Jim Scott speaking]

I'm always honored to get to do my Number 347 in this great gray hymnbook of ours. We'll add a little section at the end that I originally wrote with this. You can help, you'll see where you come in. I like to sing the chorus for an introduction. So we start with—

Chorus: Gather in peace, gather in thanks
Gather in sympathy now and then.
Gather in hope, compassion and strength..
Gather to celebrate once again..

Gather the spirit, harvest the power.
Our separate fires will kindle one flame.
Witness the mystery of this hour
Our trials in this light appear all the same.

Chorus: Gather in peace, gather in thanks
Gather in sympathy now and then..
Gather in hope, compassion and strength..
Gather to celebrate once again..

Gather the spirit of heart and mind.
Seeds for the sowing are laid in store.
Nurture in love, and conscience refined.
With body and spirit united once more.

Chorus: Gather in peace, gather in thanks
Gather in sympathy now and then..
Gather in hope, compassion and strength..
Gather to celebrate once again..

Gather the spirit growing in all
Drawn by the moon and fed by the sun.
Winter to spring and summer to fall,
The chorus of life resounding as one.

Chorus: Gather in peace, gather in thanks
Gather in sympathy now and then..
Gather in hope, compassion and strength..
Gather to celebrate once again..

Multigenerational Voices: We Are the UUA!

[Kendyl Gibbons speaking]

We gather to celebrate the legacy and tradition of our community, the message and mission of our faith, and the promise of our future. We bring together in this place the voices of Unitarian Universalism.

[Doyle Mullin steps forward]

Our legacy is the work of the founders, who carry the light of experience for those who follow. My name is Doyle Mullin, and I am 76 years old. I was one of those who signed the original incorporation documents for the Michael Servetus UU congregation in Fridley, MN, 44 years ago this month, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Doyle lights candle, steps back.]

[Nan Corliss steps forward]

Our mission is the wisdom of the elders, who have maintained the struggle for justice in our world for generations. My name is Nan Corliss, I am 68 years old, and I am a born and raised UU. I have exercised my commitment to social activism for half a century as a member of our congregations in Elkhart, IN; Hinsdale, IL; Walnut Creek, CA; Wayzata, MN, and the Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship in Bloomington, MN. This is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Nan lights candle, steps back.]

[Kendyl Gibbons steps forward]

Our heritage is the service of ministry in many forms, that has inspired, comforted, challenged and guided our communities down the generations. My name is Kendyl Gibbons, and I am 55 years old. I am the Senior Minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, and I recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of my ordination. This is my 26th General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Kendyl lights candle, steps back.]

[Alison Albrecht steps forward]

Our message is the delight of those who discover after years of wandering that we are not alone in our longing for a religion of reason, reality, and compassion, and find a home in our congregations. My name is Alison Albrecht, and I am 48 years old. I have just completed my term as chair of the board of trustees at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka in Wayzata, MN, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Alison lights candle, steps back.]

[Mark Kotz steps forward]

Our faith is the dedication of lay leaders, who find a path of spiritual growth in service to our religious communities. My name is Mark Kotz, and I am 46 years old. I coordinate the concert series and perform original music at the White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Mark lights candle, steps back.]

[Kristi Schuck steps forward]

Our tradition is the heritage we pass on to the generations of children who receive freedom, reason and acceptance of one another as their birthright from us. My name is Kristi Schuck, and I am 37 years old. I am in my third year as the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Kristi lights candle, steps back.]

[Neely Crane-Smith steps forward]

Our promise is the energy of the young adults, who ground the shape of our emerging lives in the values of this faith. My name is Neely Crane-Smith. I am 26 years old, and I became active at Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul, MN, while I was a student at Macalester College. This is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Seely lights candle, steps back.]

[Elliot Altbaum steps forward]

Our community is the hope of the teen-agers who come to maturity here, believing in our ability to make a better world. My name is Elliot Altbaum, and I am 18 years old. I am a member of the youth group at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN, which I have attended my whole life, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Elliot lights candle, steps back.]

[Bronia Bogen Grose steps forward]

Our future is the cradle of a new generation, who grow in wisdom, kindness, and joy as the children of our congregations. My name is Bronia Bogen Grose, and I am 12 years old. I am a member of the Chalice Lighters Club at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, MN, and this is my first General Assembly. I am the UUA.

[Bronia lights candle, steps back.]

All lift up candles

All: We are the UUA!

“Blue Boat Home”

[Prairie Star District Choir]

Though below me I feel no motion, standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean, still my dry land heart can say:
I've been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel, and the earth is my blue boat home.

[Peter and Congregation]

Though below me I feel no motion, standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean, still my dry land heart can say:
I've been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel, and the earth is my blue boat home.

Sun my sail and moon my rudder as I ply the starry sea,
leaning over the edge in wonder, casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship's companions, all we kindred pilgrim souls,
Making our way by the light of the heavens, in our beautiful blue boat home.

I give thanks to the waves upholding me, hail the great winds urging me on,
greet the infinite sea before me, sing the sky my sailor's song:
I was born upon the fathoms, never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel, and the earth is my blue boat home.

Benediction

Postlude

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

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Peter Mayer performs "Jamma Day," a song in honor of his wife, about a day they stay in their pajamas. Video by Nancy Pierce.

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