Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

Plenary IV

Play Video

General Assembly 2010 Event 4003

Unedited Live Captioning (TXT)

The following final draft script was completed before this event took place; actual words spoken may vary. See the UU World General Assembly Blog for up-to-date reporting.

Call to Order

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I now call to order the Fourth Plenary Session of the Forty-Ninth General Assembly [GA] of the Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA].

Report from UUA Board of Trustees

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Four members of the UUA Board of Trustees serve “at large” having been elected here at General Assembly rather than by districts. Charlie King, the Reverends Jeanne Pupke and José Ballester, and Nick Allen are here to report to the delegates.

[Charlie King speaking]

Good morning, I’m Charlie King, member of First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, NY, and one of the at-large members of the Board of Trustees. The other at-large members are here on stage with me. Our positions are elected every four years by you, the General Assembly delegates, and we join Moderator Gini Courter, President Peter Morales, Financial Advisor Dan Brody, and the nineteen District Trustees as members of the Board. By now, you are likely to be familiar with some of the propositions we have discussed this year: many of them can be found in your plenary agenda. You will continue to hear from us about our positions on resolutions and proposed bylaw changes, but we also think it important that we spend some time discussing other major initiatives the Board has explored since our last report in Salt Lake City—those not encapsulated in your agenda.

To explain this year, it’s easiest to start three months before General Assembly in Salt Lake. In April of 2009, we became a Policy-based Governance board. We often get questions about how Policy Governance works differently than other governance models, but sometimes we get pleas asking us just the opposite—to stop explaining. For those of you who stand on that side, I ask exactly five sentences of patience.

Policy Governance is a method of governance relationship that seeks to clarify the roles of Board, President, and staff. From the input it gets from all parts of Unitarian Universalism, the Board sets a long-term vision for the UUA. The President then interprets the Board’s vision, and in relationship with the staff, charts a course for enacting it. The President presents his interpretation and its results to the Board. In turn, the Board decides if the interpretation is reasonable, if the means are justifiable, and if the results reflect the intent.

Here’s what we’ve found so far with Policy Governance. We’ve found the process of casting vision demands clarity, feedback, and accountability. We’ve found that many tasks historically positioned with the Board may be better handled by the UUA President and staff. And finally, we’ve found that our Association’s governance is ready for transformation. Hold that thought, because we’ll be coming back to it in a big way. I’m now going to pass the torch to my colleague, Jeanne Pupke, trustee at-large and minister of First UU Church of Richmond, VA, who will take you through the first of several initiatives we have taken on this year.

[Jeanne Pupke speaking]

Since this Board was first authorized to conduct the business of the UUA, it has been assembled to represent all corners of our Association. To reflect our composition, we have transitioned into a mode of governance that insists on consistent, reliable feedback from all parts of Unitarian Universalism. And this year, the Board has decided cannot do that work from a single vantage point. This Board of Trustees cannot afford to let Boston be its only home.

This past year, we held our first out-of-Boston meeting in San Antonio, TX. Not only is San Antonio the childhood home of President Morales, it is a bustling hub of activism and UU vitality. We were graciously welcomed by the congregations in the San Antonio area, and were provided ample time to discuss what a healthy association looks like with them. We also found time to simply enjoy the blessings of community with those same congregations, and we would like to thank them all deeply for their hospitality, with special gratitude to First UU Church of San Antonio.

Based on our many deep and nourishing conversations there, we intend to continue holding meetings outside of Boston. Because of the discord surrounding Arizona’s new immigration law and GA 2012, we have decided our next out-of-Boston meeting will be held in Phoenix. We cannot think of a better place to engage in dialogue and witness with our congregations.

We would love to hear your ideas for future locations for meetings, and we encourage you to pass them on to your district trustees. We are eager to hear from you and eager to meet with you in your home communities.

To continue with the topic of engagement with our congregations nationwide, I would now like to invite Linda Laskowski, my colleague from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, California, and trustee of the Pacific Central District, to the podium. While Linda is not an at-large trustee, she has shepherded the Board through one of the most ambitious projects the Board has ever undertaken. We have asked her to share the content and findings of this project with you.

[Linda Laskowski speaking]

[Slide 1]

Good morning! As you just heard, one of the most important functions of a UUA trustee is to understand and reflect the values of those [Slide 2] we serve, which includes our member congregations.
Over the past few months we have tried a new [Slide 3] approach to understanding these values. We started with 12 Texas congregations during our Board meeting in San Antonio, and then randomly selected 100 congregations, nearly 10% of our membership. We [Slide 4] are having conversations between a trustee and each of those congregations, either face to face or by phone, about having a healthy relationship between us. On the screen is a list of the 65 congregations [Slide 5] we have already interviewed in the past few months. We have mostly been listening– and we are learning a lot.

For example, we are learning that you are busy and we are busy, so setting up the interviews [Slide 6] is taking a little longer than we expected. What you are hearing today is just the beginning as we continue the interviews and begin a more in depth analysis of what we are hearing over the summer.

We are also learning how enjoyable [Slide 7 title] these interviews can be—[Slide 7 first bullet] for all involved. Some representative comments from our interviews include:

  • “It was an honor to be chosen, even if it was a random honor.”
  • “It means a lot to have someone listening.”
  • (from a trustee) “I have found the time linking with congregations some of the most rewarding I have spent as a trustee.”

Not surprising [Slide 7 second bullet] was that most congregations feel they have NO relationship with the UUA board, even if they knew their trustee. When they think of “the UUA,” they think of UUA staff.

Part of our quest was to know who we should actually be talking to when we want to be in dialogue with “a congregation.” [Slide 7 third bullet] We found no consistent spokesperson, though the minister and board president are mentioned most frequently, at over 60% of the time. And though we were not having this discussion in the context of General Assembly, none of the 65 interviewed congregations mentioned their GA delegates. [Slide 8 title]

We are having great conversations about what makes relationships work—[Slide 8 first bullet] over half of the interviews mentioned respect, trust, and honesty. This must be the foundation of the relationship we are building. We got—and will continue to get—great suggestions on strengthening our relationship, which we will consider as a full board, and make available as a public document some time this fall.

Perhaps the most poignant finding for many of us [Slide 8 second bullet] was the degree to which so many of our congregations feel alone—especially where they are geographically isolated in religiously conservative areas. We have invited several of the congregations who spoke most eloquently about this to join us this morning by streaming video, or some may have delegates here, because we have a message for them. Please join us in delivering that message with 3000 voices!

[Jeanne speaking]

To the San Marcos UU Fellowship in San Marcos, TX [Slide 9]


[José Ballester speaking]

To the UU Fellowship of Laguna Beach, CA


[Linda speaking]

To the UU Church of the Lakes in Elkhorn, WI


[Charlie speaking]

To the UU Fellowship of Kern County in Bakersfield, CA


[Nick Allen speaking]

To the UU Church of Brevard in West Melbourne, FL


[Linda speaking]

and to all of our congregations wherever they are, 3000 of us say [Slide 10]


[José speaking]

Thank you all! I am José Ballester, Trustee at-Large and minister of Bell Street Chapel in Providence, Rhode Island. I would like to follow Linda’s report with another major initiative the Board has taken on, Excellence in Ministry. The scope is big, and we are working in collaboration with the Panel on Theological Education and many other ministerial organizations. To be clear, this is a broader than a conversation about excellent ministers. Excellence in Ministry is an endeavor to deepen and transform the culture of congregational ministry, in issues ranging from multigenerational ministry to models for congregational growth. Rather than focusing on specific skills or “one-size-fits-all” molds for ministry, Excellence in Ministry is an effort dedicated to outcomes.

The UUA Board is spearheading several aspects of this conversation. We are taking a hard look at professional credentialing from every angle; we are investigating anti-racist and multicultural efforts in our congregations; we are compiling best practices and outstanding models of ministry; and we are deepening the UUA Board’s relationship with the boards of denominationally-identified seminaries.

As it has for several years, the Board continues its attention to youth ministry. We are eager to further efforts to empower young generations of UU leaders. Our collaboration with the UUA Administration to implement changes in youth ministry is ongoing. We continue to receive regular updates on the progress of the Youth Ministry Working Group’s recommendations.
I will now hand things over to Nick Allen, Trustee at-large and member of Unity Church in St. Paul, MN, who will discuss with you the final aspect of our report.

[Nick speaking]

As Charlie mentioned at the top of our report, one major discussion since our shift to Policy Governance is how governance itself aids or inhibits our aspirations as a movement. Our governance structure, to say the least, is convoluted. This flowchart was created by Financial Advisor Dan Brody, and I think you will find it articulates this point well. [Slide 11]

What you’re seeing is about the easiest presentation possible. We wonder how so many moving parts, jumbled accountabilities, and operational minutiae affect our capacity to make transparent, effective, and bold decisions as an association of congregations.

Over the years, the Board has commissioned at least five task forces to report on our governance structure. To cite a document generated earlier this year:

“These task forces have all described the same basic condition: our governance is too complex. They have observed that we elect leaders but do not authorize them to do their jobs, that the Board of Trustees is too big to be effective, and that General Assembly is too expensive. In short, these task forces have observed systemic brokenness in the governance of our Association.”

We think change starts with us, the Board. Our present construction of twenty-four members is costly, cumbersome, and ill-equipped to serve congregations and a movement. In the next few years, we will be asking you to pass bylaw changes that reduce our size and thereby increase our capacity to serve you.

Of course, if this intricately connected flowchart is any indicator, governance transformation cannot happen in isolated compartments. This Board is connected to our districts, and we cannot review one without the other. In recent years, we have seen an organic transition to shared resources and multidistrict collaborations in many regions of the country. We are hopeful that the ingenuity we seen in districts will morph into structural solutions, and we are beginning to initiate conversations about the possibility of formally investing in regions larger than our current districts.

And lastly, as we tease out our interconnections, there is the perennial quandary of this assembly. Each year at GA, we expend an enormous amount of energy and money in the name of conducting business. But our method of conducting business is astonishingly out of line with our values. Despite hard-fought efforts to improve access and follow-through to GA, it continues to be inequitable, convoluted, and by and large unaccountable to the statements we painstakingly craft together. This is flagrantly unfair: unfair to the delegate who labors for congregational input on statements most congregations will never see again; unfair to the volunteer who spends meticulous hours evaluating the accessibility of a conference that is in no way economically accessible; and unfair to the many congregations and Unitarian Universalists who simply cannot be here at all. We can and we must do better.

Next year will mark our fiftieth assembly as a body of congregations. If we are to thrive in the next fifty years, we have to commit ourselves to a model for this assembly that is affordable and congregationally accountable. We will be presenting to you motions to reform all aspects of General Assembly: composition, process, planning, financing, delegate subsidies, size of delegations, duration of meeting, and frequency of meeting.

If the Board is completely committed to any tactic at this point, it is to ensure that this transformation does not occur in vacuum. It would be ineffective, and more importantly, it would be irreligious to claim this as solely “Board work.” We could not make changes to GA without the engagement of those who rely on GA for community not available congregationally.

Transformation like this is going to need persistent attention. You can expect from us in the next several years resolutions that shrink this Board, re-imagine our districts, and finally make this General Assembly fair and focused. In fifty years ahead, we will have to be more. As a religion, our message is too urgent to be constricted by our governance.

Unquestionably, as much as we have taken on this year, there is much ahead. As always, we invite you to seek us out, here and in our respective districts, for conversation, questions, joys, and concerns. As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Board of Trustees.

Board of Trustees Annual Report (PDF)

Update on Article XV

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome the UUA Trustee from the Mountain Desert District.

[Lew Phinney speaking]

I am Lew Phinney and I have the pleasure of reporting to you on two of the key responsive resolutions that were approved near the end of our time together in Salt Lake City last year.

The two resolutions are closely related.

The first “… urges the UUA Board of Trustees to facilitate a continuation and further deepening of the discussion of the Principles and Purposes…” Centered around the draft that the Commission on Appraisal presented, we had extensive discussion throughout the association. Many members felt strongly about the draft; therefore, the Board takes that urging very seriously.

The second responsive resolution directs the Board to conduct “…a review of the entirety of Section C-15.1 (c) in order to clarify the process and limitations of a proposal to amend a bylaw in Article II.” We were all confused and frustrated by the provisions of Article XV. Many delegates were frustrated by the fact that Article XV does not permit amendments to an Article II amendment that has been formally proposed to the Assembly.

After careful consideration, the Board decided that it was important to deal with the confusion first, then take up further discussion of the Purposes and Principles; therefore, we will work on Article XV first. When we have the procedural confusion addressed, we will again address Article II.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that Article XV is what we refer to as a “C” bylaw. That means that, to amend that article, we must use some of the more restrictive portions of Article XV to amend Article XV. Will that shift the confusion we had last year over Article II to new confusion over Article XV? I certainly hope not and that’s part of the reason we plan a complete re-draft of Article XV.

So, how do we go about amending Article XV? The Board has done a lot of work on Article XV already, but there’s much more to be done. We’re trying to answer the basic question, “What’s the purpose of this article? What are the important pieces of the existing article that we must clarify and carry forward in the draft that we propose?”

Over the next couple months the board, in consultation with our legal advisors, will propose a draft amendment. We’ll post it on the website and, to make it easy to find, announce its presence on the UU Leaders and GA [lists] and ask that it be included in the UU Updates [list] as well. Please have a look at that draft. If we haven’t achieved the clarity that we intended, please tell us and suggest language that would make it better—more clear. If you think we’ve missed the mark on what should or shouldn’t be included in the amended Article XV, please tell us and suggest language that our make it better. So, how should you do that? Send us an email [slide 1]: articlexvcomments @

The Board will put the amendment on the agenda for GA11. That action starts the two-year process for amending a “C” bylaw. We’ll discuss the draft, we may amend it if needed, and vote. If the amendment is approved by a simple majority, it will be placed on the agenda for GA12.

At GA12, we will again consider the amendment. If we approve the amendment by a 2/3 majority, it becomes the new Article XV. At that point, confused procedures resolved, we will, once again, begin consideration of Article II using the new procedures prescribed in Article XV.

I’m not about to predict the specifics of how the Article II amendment process will work, but I expect that there will be a review and study process similar to what the Commission on Appraisal conducted prior to GA09. That’s where the deepening has to happen. I also expect that, following presentation of a new draft of Article II, there will be a two-GA approval process. If you get the impression that this will be a careful, intentional process, you’re right. It’s important that we get it right. Article II, the Principles, Purposes and Sources are the stuff we post on our church walls and print in orders of service—that article comprises the bases on which our Association exists and operates. Let’s take our time, be intentional and get it right.

So, please, let us know what you think. Read the proposed amendment, consider how we should amend our basic governance guidance, and let us know. Actually, that email address is already functional. If you have concerns even before the draft is available, let us know.

This is your document—help us make it better.

Introduction of International Guests

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome the Reverend Eric Cherry.

[Slide 1]

[Eric Cherry speaking]

We are blessed to be joined by representatives from 7 faith communities from around the world at this year’s General Assembly. Some are old friends, and some are new friends, many are Unitarians or Unitarian Universalists, though two are very dear and historic interfaith friends.

The UUA’s Sixth Principle declares that we covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. May the time all of us share together at General Assembly this year contribute to the achievement of that vision. We are so glad to welcome each of you.

Please hold your applause until all of our international colleagues have been introduced:

[Slide 2] From Free Unitarian Congregation of Mexico, we are honored to have Lay Chaplain Francisco Javier Lagunes Gaitan with us.

[Slide 2] From the Canadian Unitarian Council, we are honored to have Executive Director, Ms. Jennifer Dickson with us.

[Slide 2] Representing the Transylvania Unitarian Church, we are honored to have the Counselor to the Bishop, Reverend David Gyero with us.

[Slide 2] From the Unitarian Church of Hungary we are honored to have the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Budapest with us, Reverend Jozsef Kaszoni.

[Slide 2] We welcome the Eric Hausman, representing the German Unitarians.

[Slide 3] Each of you come as representatives of member groups of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists—known as ICUU.

[Slide 4] And we are all grateful for the collegial work that the ICUU promotes among all of its members, and the nearly 40 large and small U/U [Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist] worshipping communities around the world. It is an honor to welcome Reverend Steve Dick, Executive Secretary of the ICUU, to our General Assembly this year.

[Slide 5] In the same way, we cherish relationships with interfaith partners. Many of our interfaith relationships have existed for decades, and have been marked by both warm friendship and shared commitment to religious freedom and peace.

[Slide 5] It is a great honor to welcome Guji Yukiyasu Yamamoto, Chief Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine (Shinto) to be with us. Together we celebrate the establishment of scholarships for 3 UU seminarians to spend 2 weeks each at Tsubaki Grand Shrine this year. And, we look forward to welcoming a Tsubaki Priest to the U.S. for 2 months in 2011.

[Slide 5] And, Rev. Masamichi Kamiya, Rissho Kosei-kai’s minister in New York City, to our General Assembly. Rissho Kosei-kai (RKK) is a lay-Buddhist religious movement with which the UUA has collaborated on Peacemaking and Religious Freedom since the 1960s. This year we celebrate the graduation of an RKK member—Kyohei Mikawa—from Meadville/Lombard Theological School and the completion of an internship at the UU Congregation in Clearwater, FL, by RKK member Nick Ozuna. And, we look forward to continuing our deep friendship and collaborative work with RKK in the years to come. Unfortunately, Rev. Kamiya is unable to be with us this morning.

[Slide 6] The UUA’s Holdeen India Program has been supporting social change work in India since 1984. And we are honored to welcome Ms. Reema Nanavaty, a Director of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) a 25 year partner of the Holdeen Program. SEWA is improving the lives of millions of people in India and we are grateful to be a part of their incredible work.
(Live camera as Ms. Reema Nanavaty steps forward)

[Eric Cherry speaking]

Would you please welcome all of these friends and leaders to our General Assembly.

Presentation of the O. Eugene Pickett Award

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome the Reverend Harlan Limpert to present an important award.

[Harlan Limpert speaking]

The O. Eugene Pickett Award is given annually by the UUA to the congregation that has made an outstanding contribution to the growth of Unitarian Universalism. Nominations for the award are made through the districts. Selection of a winner is based on honor society status, numerical growth both in adult members and children in church school, and on the ways in which this congregation has expressed commitment to the multifaceted growth of its membership and to the growth of Unitarian Universalism.

The recipient of the (twenty-ten) 2010 national O. Eugene Pickett Award is: First Parish in Bedford, MA!

This congregation, founded in 1729, has grown steadily in numbers over the last thirty years, and has been a vital presence in their community, and within Unitarian Universalism as a whole.
One of their guiding themes is the notion that “the Church has left the building!” and they have long been a leading voice for social justice in their community After coordinating memorial services for two soldiers killed in Iraq, First Parish has provided outreach to the needs of returning veterans and their families, as well as hosting forums on public policy that have featured prominent guests such as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. In a long-standing Partner Church relationship they have sent over 80 parishioners to Transylvania.

First Parish Bedford has been served by many august ministers in their 281 year history. Their current ministry team includes Minister Emeritus, Rev. Jack Mendelsohn; Community Minister, Rev. Bill Shulz; Parish Minister, Rev. Megan Lynes; and their Senior Minister Rev. John Gibbons, who also serves as President of the Board of the UU Service Committee.

Rev. Gibbons, would you please come forward to accept the award certificate and check on behalf of First Parish in Bedford.

Update: Standing on the Side of Love

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome Meg Riley.

[Rev. Meg Riley takes the stage and introduces Adam Gerhardstein]

[Adam Gerhardstein speaking]

I am Adam Gerhardstein and I am the campaign manager of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. The Standing on the Side of Love Campaign was created to change the world. To accomplish this we were equipped with only three things.

First, Unitarian Universalism’s core belief that no one should be left behind—that we all have inherent worth and dignity. Second, the hard work, commitment and passion of the people who would make this campaign come to life. You. And third, an understanding that we were trying something new. This meant we would succeed, fail, disagree, and change course everyday—but we would always embrace the joy and pain that you find on the side of love.

We learned that when you come to the table with the core of our faith, a willingness to work hard, and a boldness that will overcome setbacks—you will change the world every single day and this is what it looks like:

Video Transcript

“The great writer Zora Neale Hurston said that fear was the greatest emotion on the planet Earth and I said, ‘no my dear sister, fear will make us move to save our lives, to save our own skins, but love will make us save other people’s skins and lives.’

“Love heal, love reconciles, love helps us move when we’re stuck.”

“We have to stop the prejudice. We have to stop the hating. We have to stop living in fear of our own neighbors.”

“It takes a unique individual to hug someone, and tell them, ‘Brother, I love you.’ It’s not a sign of weakness—quite the contrary, it is the sign of the ultimate strength. Through love you can do all things.”

“In Arizona’s constitution define marriage as between a man and woman.

“The reverend vows not to sign any more marriage licenses until same-sex couples can legally marry.

“I can no longer in good conscious and good faith, continue to sign the marriage license for heterosexual couples until I can sign marriage licenses for all couples.”

“Mr. Chairman, my faith teaches me that where love is present, God is also present, for God is love. When the state denies equal protection and security to some couples simply because of their sexual orientation, the state harms them. For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I urge the council to pass this legislation, and to stand on the side of love.”

“We stand in full and unequivocal support of immigrant families. Only compassion can make the world fair and just and safe.”

“Our faiths tell us here united to speak, to stand, to move, together. May it be so.”

[Adam Gerhardstein speaking]

Please join me in shouting out “We stand on the side of love!” On the count of three... 1… 2… 3… “We stand on the side of love.”

Again… “We stand on the side of love.” One more time… “We stand on the side of love.” I’ve been waiting to do that for a year and what a year it has been.

On October 11th, [Slide 1] over 1,000 of you marched on Washington calling for full equality [Slide 2] for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Hundreds of you returned on March 21st [Slide 3] calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

In the middle of February, [Slide 4] over 150 of your communities reimagined Valentine’s Day by participating in International Standing on the Side of Love Day. Over 30 news outlets covered our actions.

On April 14th, when Sarah Palin spoke at a Tea Party rally on the Boston Commons, a group [Slide 5] of you showed up with a banner, homemade signs, and talking points. You were prepared to stand and speak in a civil way. When the media came over, this is what you said, [Slide 6] “Public discourse is great—there is room for the Tea Party—but there is no room for racism, homophobia, or anti-immigrant sentiment.”

I think you impressed me most on May 29th. Over 600 of you answered the call to go to Arizona [Slide 7] and march against the devastating anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. You saw young Latinos wearing shirts saying, “undocumented and unafraid.” You heard undocumented immigrants speak of the fear they face each time they leave for the grocery store—wondering if they will be stopped, detained and separated from their families. You wore these bright yellow [Slide 8] t-shirts and proudly became known as the love people.

After one year, the love people have held over 200 community events, [Slide 9] received coverage in 133 news stories, and filled out 26,000 postcards, petitions, and letters. 26,000 of you received our emails and 15,000 found us on facebook. You watched our YouTube videos 30,000 times and visited our website 83,000 times.

That, my friends, is a beautiful beginning.

In the upcoming year standing on the side of love is going to be more important than ever before.

13 states are considering similar legislation to Arizona’s SB 1070 and the November elections are going to be ugly. Our voices of compassion and civility must be heard.

To help you, we’ve created activist thumb [Slide 10] drives pre-loaded with all the things you need to stand on the side of love in your community–videos, [Slide 11] music, logos, organizing and media resources, case studies and more. To get a thumb drive, all you need to do is fill out a one-page application and scrape together 20 dollars. Look for a Standing on the Side of Love volunteer to get an application or visit [Slide 12] the Advocacy and Witness/State Advocacy Network booth, number 417, in the exhibit hall.

Finally, on a personal note, this General Assembly is my last big hurrah as campaign manager. Leading this campaign has been the biggest privilege of my life and I’ve given it all that I have. In the fall I begin law school here in Minneapolis, but I am 100% certain that this campaign will thrive while my head is buried in books.

I’d like to introduce the new campaign manager, Dan Furmansky. Dan is the former director of Equality Maryland and has a decade of organizing experience. Trust me, he rocks!

We are both very excited for the year ahead, because we now know that we can change the world when we have enough faith, commitment, and boldness to stand on the side of love.

Breakthrough Congregation: The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

It is time for a presentation from our second Breakthrough Congregation. Please welcome Rev. Harlan Limpert.

[Harlan Limpert speaking]

This year we chose the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA, to be a Breakthrough Congregation. We chose them for their sustained growth and vitality. And we chose them because they have embarked on an adventure of the spirit. This adventure of the spirit is changing the congregation in surprising and wonderful ways.

Since 1921 the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg has been a home for liberal religion in Pennsylvania’s conservative mid-state region. For eighty-three years the church has championed the free and responsible search for truth and meaning while working for the betterment of society. In recent decades, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg has grown considerably. It has engaged in successful building projects to expand its facilities. It has kept a steady presence for justice and equality in the state capital. And it has nurtured its people well, developing a warm, vibrant congregation.

Much of the church’s vibrancy crashed to the ground twelve years ago when a polarized congregation forced its minister of eight years to resign. The debilitating fight over this resignation caused many people to leave the church. Those who stayed were demoralized and hurting. The congregation did not know if it would be able to call another minister. It wondered if it was worthy of ministry.

Resilience and tender hope sprouted during a two-year interim ministry. A thirteen-member search committee representing the church’s various factions came to a surprising unanimous decision to recommend Rev. Howard Dana as the next minister. In May 1999, the congregation voted to call him. On June 13th of this year, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg marked the completion of Howard’s tenth year as the congregation’s minister. Let me introduce Rev. Howard Dana…

[Howard Dana speaking]

Thank you Harlan. It is a pleasure to be here. Yes, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg and I had a great celebration together last week. I am deeply grateful for the congregation’s willingness to follow me for the last decade—and put up with my many mistakes. It has been an honest, hard-working partnership. I sometimes describe our time together as “ten years of heavy lifting.”
As I introduce our Breakthrough Congregation video, I want to stress one point in particular: ours is an ordinary congregation doing extraordinary things. When I came to the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg ten years ago, the congregation had much healing to do. The congregation had been through a painful struggle with its last minister. We spent nearly five years together truly getting past the fight. And then the congregation began to really grow.

The second half of our decade together has been one of increased vision, power, and abundance. We have doubled the adult membership of the church and tripled the church school. We have outgrown our building and been through the agonizing process of grappling with how to get more space. Through it all, however, we have remained the most ordinary of Unitarian Universalist churches. It is our faith in the work we do that has made our journey extraordinary. Please enjoy our video.

Video Transcript


Imagine a church that’s open to hearing your questions and doubts.
Welcoming all who come there. And leaving no one out.
Imagine all the people living for today.

[Cynthia speaking]

We have gone where few congregations have gone before. This congregation has taken the bold step. We are not only a church of ourselves, but we are a church of a community. And we have a community in need, in great need. And we need to get out of ourselves and assist them. And interestingly enough, by assisting them, we have helped ourselves.

[Wendy speaking]

This congregation is very bold, and has done something very bold by buying a second campus in the city of Harrisburg. And that’s very scary to the congregation and to me, but we did it anyway because we know that it’s an important thing to do…

[Clay speaking]

And I think that just purchasing a building and coming in and becoming a part of a community, a community that many of us really turned our back on, didn’t really want to know existed, and the opportunity to come, worship a few times a month has really helped people understand that many of the stereotypes and many of the ideas that maybe they had of Allison Hill and the people who live here really was unfounded. And I think that the more that we come to this place and make connections with the individuals here in Allison Hill, the better off we’ll be.

[Gloria speaking]

By the time we got to the end, the church had pretty much split. I had lost some of my dearest friends. It was just terrible. There was enough commitment by a few people—we were down to a very, very small attendance, but it went on. I don’t know that we saw much of a future.

[Cynthia speaking]

There is a little engine in this congregation that keeps on going and keeps on going. And I think it was getting down to the core, getting down to what the core of this church was, what they believe, and how important this church is to so many people of this area, and not being able to imagine central PA without a liberal religious community.
(Song)…deep in my heart, I do believe…

[Cynthia speaking]

And we started to forgive each other in what we had done, and then looked forward to bringing a settled minister in.

[Kevin speaking]

My family decided to stay with the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg after that initial attraction because there were so many different programs and classes and social action projects that we could be involved in, and there were people that invited us to be a part of that.
When I went to the Pride Fest, I was amazed again at the number of people from our Unitarian church and many of the Unitarian churches in central PA that were there to be the shield between the parade participants and the protesters.

[Kevin speaking]

I wish I was as good as some of the people who do…I mean, their doing that prompts me more to do the Race Against Racism and things that aren’t necessarily for myself.
Probably 2003-2004, I could see that we were physical having space issues and that there were limits to the programs we could do in the church because committees and groups would be vying for the same space.

[Clay speaking]

We all agreed that we needed more space; we just didn’t know exactly how to go about. Whether it be building a church or figuring out how to raise funds to renovate our current building, or moving into Harrisburg.

[JD speaking]

I saw the pitfalls of taking on a building this large and the age that this building is, but they didn’t really frighten me. What frightened me was that the congregation itself would experience a tension around the decision about whether to move forward with this, that the personal and emotional and spiritual bonds that held this church together wouldn’t hold. I’m relieved now a year and a half later to see that…I won’t say I needn’t have worried, but everything has turned out fine.

[Clay speaking]

Well, the congregational meeting in 2008 was really an experience to behold. It was…well, leading up to the meeting, none of us really know what to expect. We didn’t know if people would storm out in anger, or if we would all just hold hands and sing songs and agree on most things. It was one of the more interesting church meetings that I’ve ever been a part of.

[JD speaking]

It had been a week of controversy. Emails back and forth, flame wars even, people very concerned, on the one hand that we wouldn’t take this once in a lifetime opportunity that was so in line with what we said we wanted to do, and on the other hand, people extremely concerned about taking on a huge new expense, and debt related to that expense, right in the middle of a recession. Many people were concerned about the neighborhood itself. There was concern about whether there was an undercurrent or a conspiracy, maybe, to move the entire congregation to this building and get rid of this old building that was so beloved to many in the congregation…and that all came to a head during the last few days of that week. And in the end, it came down to a vote, either we were going to do this risky thing, or not do it. This was a decision where you had to vote yes or no.

[Leta speaking]

I think that any time you are on an adventure together, any time you are growing, any time you really are engaged in a good measure of discovery, and of taking risk, I think that’s a really messy proposition. And so, it hasn’t been neat, and we haven’t tied everything up in a bow, and there are times when we have argued mightily among us, and where there’ve been hurt feelings, and maybe not such great feelings, and I just think that’s part of our struggle together, and that’s part of the risk that we take in being together.

[Clay speaking]

We are striving to live out our principles. We come to church every Sunday, we sing, we hug, we listen to Howard’s incredible sermons, and that’s all good. But what really is going to be important as we go forward is to show people that we don’t just talk the talk, but we also walk the walk. We find opportunities, we look for opportunities, and we don’t just watch them from afar, but we get involved.

[Cynthia speaking]

There are no limits. There are no limits at this point.


People all over the world, join hands, start a love train, love train. Next stop we make will be England. To tell all the folks in Russia and China too. Don’t you know that it’s time to get on board and that this train will keep on riding, riding on through.

[Leta speaking]

I don’t think we ever get this work done. There will never be a destination. And somehow we have to get settled with that, we just have to be ok with that.

[Cynthia speaking]

The congregation has stepped over this little white line, and is starting to see what it’s like on the other side, and I can’t imagine that they’re going to want to stop.

[Leta speaking]

We will never, ever get this work completely done.


For my wandering now has ended, so goodbye, farewell, shalom.
Now at last I found to you I’m bound…I am coming home.
Coming home, coming home to see you again.
Coming home, coming home to you.
With the stars as my guide, I’ll be there at your side, I am coming home.

When the tides are calm and gentle, when the sea is mist and foam,
Then I’ll think of you with love so true, I am coming home.
Coming home, coming home to see you again.
Coming home, coming home to you.
With the stars as my guide, I’ll be there at your side, I am coming home.
I have traveled sea and mountain, distant pathways I did roam,
Now it’s time, my friend, for journey’s end.
I am coming home.

Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation Report

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I now introduce to you LindaLu Burciaga who will give us a report from the UU Women’s Federation [UUWF]. [Slide 1]

[Linda Lu Burciaga speaking]

During this GA we’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of our remarkable Unitarian foremother, Margaret Fuller [Slide 2]. In honor of that Bicentennial, I’m going to use my time with you here today—which is also my last time with you as UUWF president, as my term ends this month—to tell you about how the UU Women’s Federation celebrates and honors this groundbreaking UU woman every year through our Margaret Fuller Grants Program.

Its story begins in 1985, when planners of a UUWF membership meeting could not find a UU theologian to deliver a keynote address on feminist theology [Slide 3]. Of all our theologians of stature, not a single one was centering her or his work on women’s consciousness and experience of the sacred. Not a single one was creating worship materials, or exploring or developing spiritual or ethical practices or thought rooted in what Rev. Marilyn Sewell—recipient of one of the first of these grants—called the “crucial differences in consciousness” that women bring to the table—such as mutuality, interdependence, nurturance, and care for the planet as our home.

So the meeting planners invited a Roman Catholic feminist theologian to keynote the meeting, and this inspired women from the Southwest District to do something about the then state of UU feminist theology. They [Slide 4] went home and raised $40,000, which they entrusted to UUWF to use to further the growth and development of UU feminist theology. With a matching grant [Slide 5] from the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock’s Veatch Program, UUWF doubled this amount, with [Slide 6] additional fundraising bringing the endowment to just under $160,000.

Originally called the Feminist Theology Awards, the program’s first grants were given in 1989. I’ve already identified [Slide 7] Rev. Marilyn Sewell as a first recipient—her project involved using her collection of women’s writings, Cries of the Spirit, to encourage our congregations to use similar materials in worship. Another of those first grants supported a conference on the religious response to incest, child abuse, and sexual abuse by clergy. Serendipitously, [Slide 8] another went to a project focusing on the church-home paradigm done by Dr. Cynthia Grant Tucker—who received our Ministry to Women Award on Thursday.

After revisioning in 2002, the program was re-named in honor of Margaret Fuller and its mission refined to the funding of accessible projects in UU religious feminisms, the pluralizing “S” added to embrace its many and diverse strands, which include work done by those who name themselves womanist, mujerista, or eco-feminist.

The work we fund is also diverse: the development of rituals for women with breast cancer; curricula [Slide 9] like “Ancient Roots: The Feminine Face of Western Religion,” a compendia of selected works of May Sarton that deal with spirituality, aging and death, and her vision of life for women. [Slide 10] This year’s funded projects include a CD of original songs by Shelly Jackson Denham, familiar to you from her hymns and readings in “Singing the Living Tradition,” and a guide for 21st century consciousness-raising groups.

At its meeting [Slide 11] last September, the UUWF board re-affirmed its commitment to this program in particular and to the religious development of UU women in general by revising our mission statement. UUWF’s long-time commitment to social justice, which includes our Equity and Justice Grants Program, was already represented by its opening words: “advancing justice for women.” To this we added [Slide 12] “and promoting their spiritual growth,” to embrace both our Margaret Fuller and Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley Grants Programs, the latter of which supports aspirants to the UU ministry who identify as women of color, Latina or Hispanic.

“Advancing justice for women and promoting their spiritual growth”—it has a ring to it, doesn’t it? And we have also put our money where our mouth is. For most of its history, this program distributed grants totaling about $10,000 annually. But as is sadly so common these days, recent years have seen a decrease in its endowment earnings. The board now adds money from its operating funds to the income available for Margaret Fuller Grants—this year $6,600 to bring the total up to $12,000.

In her famous conversations for women, Margaret Fuller [Slide 13] brought women together to “do their minding, not their mending.”

[Actress Laurie James, dressed as Margaret Fuller, joins Linda Lu at the podium]

[Laurie James speaking]

Linda Lu, excuse me, but you took the words out of my mouth! That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for almost 200 years! (To audience.) Oh yes, women, you do have minds, but may I gently suggest you have not found them yet. What woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded, to unfold such powers as were given her. Now the time has come when a clearer vision and better action are possible! (To Linda Lu.) Let’s talk about what can be done!

UUWF Annual Report (PDF)

UU United Nations Office Report

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office.

[Bruce Knotts speaking]

[Slide 1] What in the world [Slide 2] are you Unitarian Universalists doing? Actually, whether you know it or not, you are doing a lot through your office at the United Nations [Slide 3]. The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (The UU-UNO) continues as the ONLY faith-based office at the United Nations with a program dedicated to promoting equal rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We work [Slide 4] in very close partnership with the UUA and its President, Peter Morales. We stand [Slide 5] together on the side of love in Washington, DC. We stand [Slide 6] together against those who would kill gays and lesbians in Uganda and anywhere on earth. We [Slide 7] protested this the bill at the Ugandan mission to the United Nations in New York City. We [Slide 8] work with Unitarian Universalists and other human rights activists in Uganda itself. We stand [slide 9] with Yousef and Nafal, two Iraqi refugees who faced torture in Iraq due to their sexual orientation and who faced harassment in Houston, Texas until the UU-UNO and UU congregations worked to greatly improve their lives. When [Slide 10] the leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) visited New York, we arranged an interview for him at CNN [Slide 11] and took him to the UN missions of several member states. The UU-UNO leads a nationwide faith network to oppose homophobia and we are leaders in a worldwide network for the same purpose.

We [Slide 12] lead in the area of saving our planet against man-made climate change. The UU-UNO participated at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and we work on the United Nations NGO Committee for Sustainable Development. Our [Slide 13] Intergenerational Seminar this year was on Climate Change. Here [Slide 14] you see our participants in a new conference room at the United Nations learning about the devastating effects of climate change. Our United Nations Sunday [Slide 15] this year also focuses on Climate Change? What is a UN Sunday, you ask? There used to be a UN Sunday [Slide 16] in every UU church devoted to discussing the unique and vital role of the United Nations. If your church does not have a UN Sunday, do [Slide 17] something to make sure it does. If you need help in planning content, see our website or give us a call.

Get up to date. Gone [Slide 18] are the days when the United States acts alone and without consulting the rest of the World at the United Nations. If your congregation has forgotten the United Nations, it's time for it to remember the United Nations [Slide 19] again and get involved. Once your minister gives the UN sermon, have it submitted for the Greeley Award competition. This [Slide 20] year's winner is Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons who serves at All Souls New York City.

We [Slide 21] continue to empower women and girls in Easter Ghana and to educate and provide health care to children orphaned by HIV AIDS. This [Slide 22] is our way to contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals: to eradicate extreme poverty, provide universal primary education, to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases and to establish gender equality and empower women. For [Slide 23] $10 per month you can provide an orphan child with an education, health care and empower the women that do this noble work in their community.

We [Slide 24] are expanding our advocacy for women. We are dedicated to ending violence against women. We work for the full implementation of UN [Slide 25] Security Council Resolution 1325 which was passed unanimously on October 31st, 2000. This is the first resolution ever passed that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. We [Slide 26] work for ratification by the United States Government of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). While [Slide 27] we are at it, we also need to ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court which ensures the end to impunity in human rights atrocities. The UU-UNO leads the National Faith and Ethics Network for the International Criminal Court which seeks U.S. ratification and join this important United Nations Court. We also need to ratify [Slide 28] the UN Conventions which protect the rights of indigenous people, the rights of persons with disabilities and the rights of the child. There are only two countries in the world which have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Somalia and the United States. Shame!

The [Slide 29] UU-UNO helped organize and participated in the UN Conference in Mexico City in September 2009 devoted to disarmament, peace and development. The conference concluded that the world [Slide 30] needs to abolish all nuclear weapons. It needs to limit the production and sales of small arms. We need to reduce military spending globally and especially here in the United States which spends about as much on its military and wars as the rest of the world combined. Over [Slide 31] half your federal tax dollars go for military spending. There are demonstrations against providing health care, but the tea baggers ignore the 54 cents out of every tax dollar that's spent on the military and war.

I could go on and on, but there is probably a big hook somewhere ready to pull me off stage. So let me conclude by telling you [Slide 32] that you have a very powerful and very influential at the United Nations Office under the leadership of our new board president, Catherine Onyemelukwe (on the left) working in close collaboration with the UUA President Peter Morales (on the right). Our small [Slide 33] office at the United Nations that is leading large international coalitions to effect meaningful change [Slide 34] at the United Nations and around the world. What in the world are you doing? Be Proud. You are doing a lot with your office [Slide 35] at the United Nations that plays in the major leagues and effects global change. The time for you and your congregation to join the UU-UNO is now. Fill out the form and become a player in global affairs. Thank you.

UU-UNO Annual Report (PDF)

UU Service Committee Report

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, Interim President of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee [UUSC].

[Bill Schulz speaking]

[Slide 1] When I completed two terms as president of the UUA in 1993, most General Assembly-goers were familiar with my name. But one year later at the 1994 General Assembly, which I had chosen not to attend, someone came up to my wife and said, “Tell me, where is Bob Schwartz these days anyway?”

[Slide 2] Well, when Charlie Clements announced last January that he was leaving the presidency of UUSC to take up a position at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the UUSC Board said, in effect, “Where is Bob Schwartz these days anyway?” and asked me to become interim president until a successor to Charlie is chosen. Board Chair John Gibbons will tell you more about all that in a moment.

My only hesitation in taking the job was this: even though I’m an old man now, I regard myself as still pretty spry, but Charlie Clements is about—oh, I’d say…thirty years older than I am, and he is like the Energizer Bunny on steroids. [Slide 3] Plug him in and in a little under an hour he’ll organize four demonstrations for you, give three speeches, raise two major gifts and, as a former bush doctor, assure you that, should you ever be in the jungle and sustain a bite from the dreaded Cuchicurri bug, urine, honey, and paprika make a great salve...assuming you’ve got paprika handy. Charlie took all that passion and energy and literally saved UUSC. He is here with us this morning and I hope you’ll join me in thanking him for his six years of outstanding service to our cause.

Why I did not hesitate to become UUSC’s interim president, however, is because [Slide 4] UUSC is quite literally the most effective way to put Unitarian Universalist values to work in the world, to make your faith shine, to make justice roll like a righteous stream across this nation and the world, and to insure that you are in the vanguard of the torrent.

[Slide 5] Women in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, should be protected by the UN police in the camps, not left on their own to risk assault when they venture outside to gather firewood, for example. [Slide 6] The UN has now adopted a training program devised by UUSC to train the police in how to protect women in the camps. You did that. You and UUSC. You made justice roll.

[Slide 7] Access to clean water should not be rationed or priced out of reach of anyone on this planet. [Slide 8] UUSC and its Unitarian Universalist partners in California helped persuade the California legislature to send the governor a bill codifying the human right to water. He vetoed it but you did it and you will do it again until it is signed. You and UUSC. You made justice roll.

[Slide 9] Until we see the earth protected as readily as we protect our children, none of us will be safe from environmental degradation. [Slide 10] UUSC and its partners in Ecuador have succeeded in convincing that country to adopt a new Constitution that—for the first time anywhere in the world—recognizes that the earth itself has rights that need protecting—a whole new concept in the struggle for earth justice. You did that. You and UUSC. You made justice roll.

[Slide 11] Two hundred thousand people were massacred in Guatemala over the past forty years, most of them Mayan Indians. [Slide 12] Few of their killers have been brought to justice. But UUSC and its partners in Guatemala are collecting forensic evidence to do just that.

[Slide 13] No one should have to live on $15,000 a year—that’s what a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes but that’s below the federal poverty line for a family of three. [Slide 14] And consider this—it's less than what the average CEO at an S&P 500 company earns before lunchtime on any given day. UUSC is working to raise the minimum wage so that a job will lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it.

Muslims are stereotyped and profiled in this country. [Slide 15] Through its Building Bridges project designed to link UU congregations with Muslim and Arab American communities in this country, UUSC is promoting the civil liberties of all U.S. residents. [Slide 16] In some Muslim countries, if you speak out for religious tolerance or the rights of women, you are harassed, arrested, tortured. Through our partners in the Muslim and Arab world, UUSC is working for a more tolerant, progressive Islam as well.

[Slide 17] You are doing all this. You and UUSC. You are making justice roll.

And nowhere are you doing that on a larger scale or in more effective ways than in Haiti. [Slide 18] Unitarian Universalists have given $1.8 million to put Haiti back together again but far stronger, far healthier, and far more free than it was before. UUSC and its partners are focusing on the forgotten people whom the large aid agencies often overlook: [Slide 19] children in relief camps who have no adult family members to care for them; restavek children who serve essentially as slaves in wealthy households; women whose security is under threat in the camps. [Slide 20] We are providing for their immediate needs but we are also helping Haitians refashion their livelihoods; we are training trauma response teams to help them re-imagine their lives; we are assisting Haitians here in the United States to resolve their immigration status so that they can work lawfully here and remit resources to Haiti to help rebuild the economy.

[Slide 21] And now, thanks to an extraordinarily generous challenge grant of half a million dollars from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, we will be providing ways for Unitarian Universalists who want to put their skills at the service of the Haitian people, just as hundreds of volunteers have done in New Orleans—building skills; education skills; health skills; agricultural skills—to do just that through volunteer missions to Haiti beginning in January, 2011. To meet that challenge grant, which will supply $3 for every $1 we raise, we need to raise $166,000. Just because Haiti is no longer in the news, we cannot allow it to slip from our hearts. The needs there are still enormous and the people of Haiti still in great need. Help us meet that need by supporting our 3 for 1 for Haiti challenge. Log onto the UUSC website as shown behind me or stop by our booth in the exhibit hall to make your gift.

[Slide 22] In all these ways, then, UUSC is your vehicle for, as Reverend Ike used to say, “tangibilitating” your Unitarian Universalist values. For it’s not enough to wish. Not enough to talk. Not enough to worship. Not enough to pray. They’re all good but they’re not enough. In the face of tyranny and repression and greed and fear, what is required is to join hands, to use our power, to invest in the best, make your voice count, join your brothers and sisters, join UUSC, make your values live, make your faith shine and let justice roll.

I now introduce UUSC Board Chair John Gibbons. [Slide 23]

[John Gibbons speaking]

You have done so much to make justice roll. We feel fortunate that you were willing and available when UUSC needed an interim president and CEO. Thank you so much, Bob.

Actually, Bill—Bill Schulz—speaks a critical truth by saying that it’s not enough for us to talk, worship, or pray alone. Neither is it enough for any of us to act alone and that is why to empower our Unitarian Universalist values, we need strong institutions—strong churches, a strong Association, and a strong UUSC.

We are very fortunate that Charlie Clements did so much to energize UUSC and that Bill still has spring in his step. Charlie’s greatest legacy is the re-establishment of a vital connection between UUSC and our congregations, our ministers, members and the UUA.

This summer the UUSC Board will conclude a yearlong effort to create our new strategic plan. Foremost among our aims is that we strengthen UUSC’s relationships with UU congregations, especially with UU youth and young adults, and that we maximize opportunities for all of us to work together.

We need you to keep writing generous checks to UUSC but our future demands that UUSC create more opportunities for UUs and UU congregations to participate and experience the work of justice-making personally, dirt-under-the-nails, hands-on.

Yes, UUSC is searching for a new president and CEO. We seek someone to build upon Charlie’s and Bill’s public witness but we are not looking for someone to go it alone.

Call me a socialist but I appreciate Eugene Debs’s admonition, "I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it."
We seek a president and CEO who will walk—and talk and pray and act—with us to advance human rights and social justice.

We are working with a search firm—Ford Webb Associates—to thoroughly shake the tree for prospective applicants, and we hope to bear fruit by the end of this year. If you or someone you know or someone you know of is someone we should consider, please contact us. Every suggestion will be seriously considered.

Rev. Ike says we must tangibilitate, but it was Rev. Billy (not that Rev. Billy) who exclaims, Change-alluia! We cope with change, we plan to change, we strive for change—together! Brothers and sisters, Change-alluia!

UUSC Annual Report (PDF)

Motion to Admit Actions of Immediate Witness

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

We will now take the first step in the process for adopting Actions of Immediate Witness. Bylaw Section 4.16 provides that not more than six Actions of Immediate Witness may be admitted to the agenda for possible final action and that two-thirds of the delegates must support the admission of each one to the agenda. Delegates have had an opportunity to pick up a copy of the proposed Actions of Immediate Witness from the information table located next to the entry doors. If there is any delegate without a copy, please raise your voting card and the tellers will make sure that each delegate receives a copy of each proposed Action of Immediate Witness.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The following proposed Actions of Immediate Witness have qualified for possible admission to the final agenda.

  1. ____________
  2. ____________
  3. ____________
  4. ____________
  5. ____________
  6. ____________

When we vote to place an Action of Immediate Witness on the agenda, we are allocating 20 minutes of time in our final plenary on Sunday to debate and vote on that item. As you may have noticed, we have a full agenda this year, and this body may want to vote to extend debate for some of the substantive items already on the agenda (Arizona). The only large unallocated time on our agenda is on Sunday afternoon. I am required to provide up to two hours because you get to decide whether to allocate or all part of that time to the proposed actions of immediate witness. You might, then, consider each of these items with the lens of “Is this at least as important as the other items we might discuss together on Sunday?”

The first step in the screening process for actions of immediate witness is a two-minute presentation by the sponsor of each Action of Immediate Witness. Following each presentation, there will be a vote to determine whether the proposed Action Of Immediate Witness will be admitted to the agenda. The motion to admit is not debatable.

1. Action of Immediate Witness No. 1

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The sponsor of the Action of Immediate Witness titled [___________________] may now give a two minute presentation in favor of its admission.

[Sponsor presents action]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Will the sponsor please make the necessary motion to admit the Action of Immediate Witness titled _________________ to the Final Agenda of this General Assembly?


Moved: To admit to the Final Agenda of the 2010 General Assembly the proposed Action of Immediate Witness titled ________ and found at page __ of the 2010 General Assembly Proposed Action of Immediate Witness handout.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

All those in favor of admitting this Action of Immediate Witness to the agenda, please raise your voting cards. (pause for response.)

All those opposed. (pause for response.)

[No debate permitted on the motion to admit. Two-thirds vote required to admit. The Moderator announces the result of the vote.]

2. Action of Immediate Witness No. 2

[repeat procedure]

3. Action of Immediate Witness No. 3

[repeat procedure]

4. Action of Immediate Witness No. 4

[repeat procedure]

5. Action of Immediate Witness No. 5

[repeat procedure]

6. Action of Immediate Witness No. 6

[repeat procedure]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

That concludes the voting on whether to admit the proposed Actions of Immediate Witness to the final agenda. The final vote on these Actions of Immediate Witness will be held tomorrow afternoon during the plenary session of the General Assembly.

Debate and Vote on Rule Amendment: Rule G-9.12.6

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

We are now at the part of the agenda to consider and act upon proposed amendments to Rule G-9.12.6 regarding distribution of candidate information. The amendment requires that such information be made available electronically. The text of the amendment may be found at page 27 of the Final Agenda.

Will the Chair of the Planning Committee make the appropriate motion.


Moved: That Rule G-9.12.6 be amended as shown on page 27 of the Final Agenda.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon ________________________, trustee from _____________________, to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

[Debate occurs]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The time for debate now having expired, we are ready to vote. All those in favor of the motion to amend Rule G-9.12.6 please raise your voting cards. (Pause). Opposed?

[Results are announced]

Debate and Vote on Bylaw and Rule Amendments: Sections 4.11, 4.12, 4.14, 5.7 and 15.2 and Rules G-4.12.2, G-4.18.1, G-4.18.3 and G-4.19.1

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

We are now ready to consider and act upon proposed amendments to Bylaw Sections 4.11, 4.12, 4.14, 5.7 and 15.2 and Rules G-4.12.2, G-4.18.1, G-4.18.3 and G-4.19.1 These amendments assign responsibility for the General Assembly agenda to the UUA Board. The text of the amendments may be found at pages 28-31 of the Final Agenda.
Will the Chair of the Planning Committee make the appropriate motion.


Moved: That Bylaw Sections 4.11, 4.12, 4.14, 5.7 and 15.2, and Rules G-4.12.2, G-4.18.1, G-4.18.3 and G-4.19.1 be amended as found at pages 28-31 of the Final Agenda.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon ________________________, trustee from _____________________, to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

[Debate occurs]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The time for debate now having expired, we are ready to vote. All those in favor of the motion to amend Bylaw Sections 4.11, 4.12, 4.14, 5.7 and 15.2, and Rules G-4.12.2, G-4.18.1, G-4.18.3 and G-4.19.1 please raise your voting cards. (Pause). Opposed?

[Results are announced]

Song: "De Colores"

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

It’s time to sing, yes?

[John Hubert speaking]

Our song this morning comes out of the new Spanish language hymnal, Las Voces del Camino. We will sing two verses from the traditional Spanish song "De Colores." This song celebrates the brilliant colors found in nature: the birds, the fields, the sun, and ultimately the many colors of love. Let’s run through the Spanish first and then give it a go.

Very good! Now please rise in body or spirit and join me and Beth Norton from First Parish in Concord, MA, in singing this beautiful song.

De Colores, de colores se visten los campos en la primavera.
De colores, de colores son los pajaritos que vienen de afuera.
De colores, de colores es el arco iris que vemos lucir.

Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí
Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí

De colores, de colores brillantes y finos se viste la aurora.
De colores, de colores son los mil reflejos que el sol atesora.
De colores, de colores se viste el diamante que vemos lucir.

Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí
Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí

Debate and Vote on Amendments: Bylaw Section 4.16 and the Rules G-4.12.1 and G.4.18.2: Remove “Continental” References in the Social Witness Process

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Next we will consider and act upon proposed amendments to Bylaw Section 4.16 and Rules G-4.12.1 and G.4.18.2. These amendments remove “continental” from the text. The amendments may be found at pages 24-25 of the Final Agenda.

Will the Chair of the Planning Committee make the appropriate motion.


Moved: That Bylaw Section 4.16 and Rules G-4.12.1 and G-4.18.2 be amended as shown at pages 24-25 of the Final Agenda.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon ________________________, trustee from _____________________, to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

[Debate occurs]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The time for debate now having expired, we are ready to vote. All those in favor of the motion to amend Bylaw Section 4.16 and Rules G-4.12.1 and G.4.18.2 please raise your voting cards. (Pause). Opposed?

[Results are announced]

Special Guest: Rep. Keith Ellison

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Please welcome Meg Riley to introduce a special guest.

Debate and Vote on Amendment: Bylaw 4.12(C)(3) to Designate Email Notification for Social Witness Process

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Next we will consider and act upon a proposed amendment to Bylaw Section 4.12(c)(3) to designate email notification for the social witness process. The text of this amendment may be found at page 28 of the Final Agenda.

Will the Chair of the Planning Committee make the appropriate motion.


Moved: That Bylaw Section 4.12(c)(3) be amended as shown at page 28 of the Final Agenda.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon ________________________, trustee from _____________________, to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

[Debate occurs]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

The time for debate now having expired, we are ready to vote. All those in favor of the motion to amend Bylaw Section 4.12(c)(3) please raise your voting cards. (Pause). Opposed?

[Results are announced]

Debate and Vote on Bylaw Amendments: Section 5.4 and 6.7: Removal of a Committee or Board Member for Cause

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Next we will consider and act upon proposed amendments to Bylaws Sections 5.4 and 6.7 concerning the removal of a committee or board member for cause. The text of these amendments may be found at page 24 of the Final Agenda.

Will the Chair of the Planning Committee make the appropriate motion.


Moved: That Bylaw Sections 5.4 and 6.7 be amended as shown at page 24 of the Final Agenda.

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon ________________________, trustee from _____________________, to give the position of the Board of Trustees.

[Debate occurs]

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

There being no time for further discussion, a vote is in order. All those in favor of the amendments please raise your voting cards (pause). Opposed (pause).

[Results are announced]

Right Relationship Team

[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

Is there anything that the Right Relationship Team needs to note?


[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

I call upon Association Secretary Tom Loughrey to give us any announcements.


[Moderator Gini Courter speaking]

There being no further business to come before us and in accordance with the schedule set forth in your Final Agenda, I declare that this Plenary Session of the General Assembly shall stand in recess until this afternoon, Saturday, June 26th at 2:45 p.m.

For more information contact web @

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

Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation



Representative Keith Ellison Addresses the General Assembly

More Multimedia


Magnify Image
The crowd responded enthusiastically to Rep Keith Ellison's speech.


From UUA: Top Stories

More News

Page Navigation

Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation