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Plenary VI, General Assembly 2011

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Call to Order

GINI COURTER: Good morning. I now call to order the sixth plenary session of the 50th General Assembly [GA] of the Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA]. And I'll tell you later what made me laugh, because it's too cute to miss.

Chalice Lighting

GINI COURTER: I call on Robin Nelson and Rowan Van Ness to light our chalice this morning.

ROBIN NELSON: We call upon the sacred of every day, the mystery of life, God, holy one, the divine, spirit of life, spirit of love, creator of the Sun and Moon, Gaia, gracious God, ancestors.

ROWAN VAN NESS: All around us, faith communities are beacons of light, moving hearts and spirits. Our people are transforming lawns into community gardens. Our people are searching for truth about how our individual and collective actions affect us all. Our people are finding meaning in caring for the Earth. Our people are standing up and witnessing what we believe and what is right and just. Our people are working collaboratively to build the sustainable world we dream about.

ROBIN NELSON: In any one place, we may feel alone, unable to see the lights of others. When we take a step back, and look into the night sky, may we see the brightness of the stars, and think about our connections to a larger movement. We know that even in hard moments, when the sky is dark, the stars are bright, guiding us towards the vision of world community, with peace, liberty, and justice for all. We, Unitarians, universal less and Unitarian universal lists are part of a larger world community. Let us see the light and feel moved to join people who are guiding the way.

ROWAN VAN NESS: For our blue boat home, for our planet home, for our mother Earth, for Gaia. You UUA staff are also beacons of light. We'd like to share with you a video inviting people to join us in celebrating this past Earth Day.

Video

As Unitarian Universalists, we know how important it is to put our principles into action every day. In honor of Earth day and our seventh principal, the UU ministry for Earth and the UUA have launched the 40/40 campaign, beginning Friday April 22nd. The 40/40 campaign helps congregations celebrate Earth day through worship services and personal commitments. Take a look at what you UUA staff members are doing as part of the 40/40 campaign. Perhaps they'll inspire you to take action as well.

For the 40/40 campaign, I am going to commit to being a five day a week vegetarian. I'm making a commitment to use reusable bags at all times.

For these 40 days, I'm committed to bringing my own container for water no matter where I'm at.

I'm going to use a reusable washable mug, and bring it into Starbucks every day.

I will minimize all areas of my personal water usage at home, trying to make a conscious decision every time I use water.

Switch from bottled water to tap water.

As part of my spiritual practice, I give thanks for water, which makes all life possible.

We hope you'll join us in the Earth Day commitment challenge. Join me—

For Earth Day.

For Earth Day.

Join me in celebrating Earth Day.

Join me for Earth Day.

Please join me Earth Day.

Join us in the 40 day Earth Day challenge.

Join us for Earth Day at the UUA.

Update on the 2010 Green Revolution in Religion Resolution

SPEAKER 1: How time flies. It seems like years ago, that little introduction was made. Our 50th anniversary celebration presents an important opportunity to reflect on our efforts for environmental justice and stewardship, biodiversity, ecosystem protection, and environmental restoration. And to more firmly set our course for the future. Environmentalism, broadly conceived, speaks to the very heart of Unitarian Universalism, as demonstrated not only by the efforts of UUs in congregations across the country, but historically from Henry David Thoreau to Joanna Macy. Indeed, our faith proclaims respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are part in our seventh principal.

That legacy continues today in action throughout our association. The cornerstones of the UUA's environmental ministry have been the green sanctuary program and support of the UU Ministry for Earth, a UUA affiliate. For more than 20 years, the UU Ministry for Earth has helped bring environmental justice to the forefront of the work for Unitarian Universalists everywhere. The Green Sanctuary Program has become central to many UU congregations.

There are a total of 279 congregations officially engaged in the program and the number is growing. I'm pleased that we've created a full time environmental stewardship manager in our budget. But there's much more to be done. The Green Revolution in religion resolution seeks to engage all member congregations in The Green Sanctuary Program. A comprehensive report titled Going Green Beyond Belief is available online for download at UUA.org. The book mark you received when you came in to today's plenary lists the specific web addresses. There you'll learn of the impressive environmental ministry by our congregations, districts, the UUA, and its affiliates. Even in our success, we recognize that we're only getting started. If we're to live our values, we must continue this work with renewed passion.

Recommendations for moving ahead include engaging with the leaders of UU environmental groups, on fully integrating environmental justice in a Unitarian Universalism, developing programs connecting environmental activities, offering the work of our UU congregations in The Green Sanctuary Program as a model for other faith communities, and developing an expanded vision for UU environmental ministry, including environmental justice and stewardship as a core focus. So I encourage you to explore this report online to learn where we've been, where we are now, and where we have yet to go, Going Green Beyond Belief. Thank you.

Breakthrough Congregation: The UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA

GINI COURTER: How are we loving the presentations from breakthrough congregations? Well, I introduce to you the last of our breakthrough congregations, the UU congregation of Fairfax, Virginia. Please welcome them.

MARY KATHERINE MORN: Good morning. I am Mary Katherine Morn, one of the ministers at the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Fairfax. This morning I have with me on the stage, two of my colleagues in ministry, Russ Savage and Natalie Fenimore, the president of our congregation, Craig Bennett, some other leaders here on the stage with us, and some wonderful folks from the congregation on the floor of the plenary. We're so happy to be with you this morning. Let the show began.

Video

MARY KATHERINE MORN, PARISH MINISTER: A very important part of our work in this world must be about expanding the table to include others.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[Words on Screen: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax: a Breakthrough Congregation]

MARY KATHERINE MORN: I love being a part of this congregation. This is a congregation filled with spirit and generosity. The work that goes on here along with the fun that happens here transforms individual lives. It transforms our community, and in fact, some of the work we've done has helped to transform the world. We're really honored to be recognized this year as a breakthrough congregation, and we're happy for this chance to share some of our story.

[Words on Screen: BREAKING THROUGH]

BARB BREHM, FORMER BOARD PRESIDENT: Over the last eight years, UECF has asked itself some tough questions. Who are we? What we want to become? How do we help our members find their better selves, and take that out into the community and the world? We worked through some conflict and found a way to be in community together, and then we had to intentionally decide how we wanted to govern ourselves. And we created a hybrid form a policy governance. And then the members, in effect, together, aligned our limited resources with our mission and vision, so that we spent our time doing the things we said we valued most.

[Words on Screen: GROW]

YOUNG WOMAN: On behalf of the entire congregation, I bid you welcome to our worship service today at the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Fairfax.

YOUNG MAN: Whether you're joining us today for the first time, or you've been a member since the congregation's founding in 1955, you are welcome here.

WOMAN SEATED: Whatever the faiths you have known, if any, or what ever your heritage, you are welcome here.

BRUNO WALKER, PAST MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: About four or five years ago, the general assembly was in Saint Louis, Missouri, and at that time, I was the chairman of the membership committee at our church. In the seminar, we saw a video of how the congregation in Golden, Colorado, does membership. And the one thing that created a tremendous, a-ha moment for me, was the initial greeting. No matter who you are, you're welcome here. Whether where you come from, you are welcome here.

MAN WITH BEARD: Whoever you are, and whomever you love, you are welcome here.

BRUNO WALKER: And it just hit me as, that's right, that's welcoming. So I brought it back. The committee approved it. And we've been using this greeting ever since.

WOMAN OUTSIDE: It's such an open-minded and open-hearted place. This is the one place that I found where I didn't feel like I was a hypocrite.

TWO WOMEN WITH BABY: We wanted to come to a place where he wasn't having to hide his family, and we didn't have to hide our relationship as a family, either.

RAOUL DRAPEAU, LAY MINISTER FOR STEWARDSHIP: People are searching for a religious tradition. Many times, they will come here, either through a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague, or they found us on the Internet. And most UU congregations have a do-it-yourself operation. But we found that that doesn't work very well. And we found out that after we had gone to a very professionally designed website, if we asked people who come here, how did you hear about us? Many times they'll say, oh, it's from the website.

BRUNO WALKER: You make it easy for people to find you on the Internet , and if you encourage your membership to bring friends and family, well, it creates growth.

[Words on Screen: CONNECT]

CRAIG BENNETT, BOARD PRESIDENT: We've worked on the culture of the congregation to make it everybody's job, not just membership committee's job, to greet visitors on Sunday morning. And we know as we get bigger, it's harder to have that small intimate feel. So we worked real hard on working on small group ministry so whether it's a teaching team, or a covenant group, or a women's spirit circle, or an adult program in the evenings, we try to make opportunities to get people to connect with others in a small group settings. So that they find that they have friends here and they want to come back to meet those friends.

MAN AT PLAYGROUND:We joined a covenant group and that's what really connected us.

WOMAN: I think that's probably the main reason I'm here and that's the connections with other people.

MARY KATHERINE MORN: Another way this congregation has been very intentional about our growth is to articulate our vision very simply. Our vision is to grow, to connect, and to serve. In our religious exploration program, all of those components come into play, both with children and adults.

[SINGING]

WOMAN AT PLAYYGROUND: Growing young UUs into adult UUs, I think is really important.

WOMAN IN FRONT OF PAINTINGS: There isn't anything else that teaches our kids what they need about to know about their own sexuality.

WOMAN SEATED: They're getting a background in all of the major faiths.

YOUNG WOMAN: It's kind of gotten me to think more about the world around me and things like religion, and spiritual aspects. It kind of got me to open up more.

RAOUL DRAPEAU: We were woefully inadequate in terms of classrooms. We had the same pride to that program. We had the same number of classrooms here that we had in 1962, when the buildings were first built. So here, four years later, same number of classrooms, and yet the congregation has expanded from about 100 to something like 600 or 700. We instituted building program. We expanded our classrooms, doubled the number of them.

WOMAN OUTSIDE: The congregation embraced our family, and with great sincerity, they were going to help raise our children. And that is such a blessing.

[Words on Screen: SERVE]

MARY KATHERINE MORN: Another way we incorporate our vision of growing, connecting, and serving, is with our youth and our youth program. A member of our congregation went off to GA, and learned about a summer internship program for youth, and brought it home, and built it up. And each summer, we have a dozen to 20 teenagers who go out into the community as ambassadors for Unitarian Universalism, providing hours of service, making the world a better place.

CRAIG BENNETT (VOICE UNDER): We're on the doorsteps of the most powerful city on the face of the Earth. So we have an opportunity, if not an obligation, to help communicate and portray a progressive view of the way the world can be, and the way human beings can interact in that world.

WOMAN: I think a liberal religion is really important in these times that are so polarized.

BLONDE WOMAN: People that care about the environment, people that care about other people, that don't judge other people for their religions, or their sexual identity.

MAN WITH WHITE HAIR: It just struck us as remarkably different. There was a place for us to learn. A place not to fall into explanation about things, but to learn how to explore, and explore together. What does it mean to be human, and be human in today's world. And what difference can we make?

MAN WITH BROWN HAIR: It's the music. I love music.

[SINGING]

WOMAN: Here there is music all the time. It transports me from what I'm doing during the day. To come here on a Sunday and feel reinspired for the week.

MAN: It has been one of the major growth times of my life.

MAN: Today is the one year anniversary when my wife and I first set foot in the door and said, wow this is it.

DAVID MICHAEL, CHAIR OF SEARCH COMMITTEE: UUCF is a place that works. People get along. And not that we don't have our conflict as we do from time to time, but I find that folks are willing to stand together, to engage, to reflect, to be able to listen deeply to one another, and to move through the challenging times. So it's a wonderful home.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

MARY KATHERINE MORN: Our mission here at UUCS is to transform ourselves, our community, and the world, through acts of love and justice. It's not very complicated. But I've seen it really make a difference in people's lives, in the transformation of individuals' lives in the transformation of our community over the last several years. And I've seen members of this community take it to heart and take it out with them into the world and really make a difference. It's been a real privilege to have this opportunity to share our story. Thank you.

Agenda

GINI COURTER: Thank you so much. And so, it's Sunday. If we'd done Friday's business on Fridays and Saturday's on Saturdays, Sunday would actually be a day almost of rest. But it's not. So let me tell you about our day. We're going to go first—and if I were making notes on this is a delegate, I'd be turned to the agenda list in the front of the agenda, on page, yes, six is today. So after we do the debate and vote on Article XV, and hear a brief report from your commission on appraisal, we are then going to tuck in there the item that flowed over from yesterday. It's right above. Debate vote on proposed amendment to bylaws section C1, C3, C3.6.

Then we'll start on the actions of immediate witness. Then we will pick up the items we moved to this plenary on Saturday morning. So if you flip back to page five, which would be, if you find in the middle sort of, update gathered here, right underneath that, two items and then a song, and then a third item, in that block, all we did was sing the song. Now, obviously we won't get that all done this morning. We will keep going this afternoon. Make sense? Now, a couple of things I want to tell you about to help us actually make this happen. You should have picked up two different documents when you came in today, a CSW alert in blue.

AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE].

GINI COURTER: No, not true, Jerry Gaynor. And a bylaw amendment and business resolution mini-assembly report in green. Two different pieces of paper, different colors. This document actually lists the business in the order I just presented it to you. Does that make sense? But it has a bonus. Thank you. Ordered chronologically for your convenience. I actually got a calendar one year, that on one side it was standard and said, organized chronologically for your convenience, and when you turn it around, it was ordered alphabetically for your amusement. So the first month was April. The days of the week were in alphabetical order. It was just somebody's brilliance.

Now yesterday, we had something up on the screen that was supposed to be incorporated and didn't get incorporated. And because we thought it was a kind of a trivial thing, we didn't kill trees yesterday. And that was a bad decision, and I helped make it. So yesterday we voted a rearrangement—and I know when you go back to your congregations, you want to talk about that. You're going to say, it was only on the screen. No, it's on page three of the green handout. OK? All right.

So we're not going to take this up, cause we did already, but you deserve to have it in your hand. This is part of the nominating committee amendments that you approved as a package and it's sort of like a refinement that puts things in a way that we could actually read in one place. Because what happens when you're talking about the bylaws or rules and you're actually trying to use them, somebody says, well when I look at 5.2A, and take a look at this information about the planning committee, somebody says, yes but you're not looking at C and they're there too. And then they're there in E. And we're scattered all over. So somebody unscattered us. And we agreed to be unscattered, how interesting.

All right, so one more thing. You'll notice here that there were items that nobody discussed in the mini-assembly in terms of wanting to change them. Does that make sense? And then there are items were people actually might have wanted to incorporate amendments, and then you know that, of course, the big mega issues of all time are sitting on the agenda for this afternoon, too. I would encourage you not to make this the time that you go and say something just you can say you spoke in plenary. OK? Because, unlike your congregation, we will not carry any of this over to the next meeting. So what happened is, if we're still doing business at 8 o'clock tonight, we'll still be here. And some of you, I bet, wanted to have a closing celebration or something. We'll have that too. That'll be scheduled at 10:00 or 12:00. OK. Whenever we're good. So, all right? All right. We have business to get through and we'll move on.

Debate and Vote on Proposed Amendment to Bylaw Article XV

GINI COURTER: So we're going to now take up the debate and vote on proposed amendments to bylaw Article XV. And I want to recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Philip Reed, from West Shore, and this is actually a carry-on from the conversation around the green sheet. Yesterday, we voted on a bylaws amendment to restructure the board. And there was a mini-assembly for that on Thursday. In that mini-assembly, there was a large support for an amendment, which then, something happened to before it reached the plenary. And we never saw here. It was not part of a similar green sheet. So I have two questions that this raises. One, how can we improve communication and transparency in this process between the mini-assembly and the plenary so the delegates know what's going on. And two, shouldn't we provide information to makers of motions if the decision between the mini-assembly and the plenary dramatically changes the decisions made in the mini-assembly.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. Thank you very much. So, Phil and I had an opportunity to talk about this yesterday, too. So I want to tell you what happened, because he's asking a great question. The question is—because he's assuming that it's there. It's like, Prego, it's in there. But it wasn't in there, and the reason was that after the mini-assembly, there's a consolidation session, where the parliamentarian, legal counsel, myself, the moderators, myself, the moderators for the mini-assemblies get together and discuss what came up.

And what was proposed, and while legal counsel said he'd prefer that we have something in a separate place, that Phil's motion could be made. But he preferred that then we move it to another section of the bylaws. Upon conversation, what we realized was the amendment he was making had far larger implications. And in fact if we tried to follow the trail and fix all of the things that his fix implied, it was well beyond anything that should have come to the delegates without being on the tentative agenda. In other words, your congregation should have decided some of these things, cause they're about the interaction of the nominating committee, and people who are elected. And we didn't give you that opportunity.

So I, as your moderator, under the authority you grant me, ruled that it was out of order. Does that makes sense?

But we didn't tell him. That's awful. It's really awful. Part of the reason we didn't tell him is it's not part of our process. There's no place on the form that says, how will we reach you after this mini-assembly? OK? In this particular instance, there's really no excuse because he's in my iPhone. But we have an association where you shouldn't have to depend on being in the moderator's iPhone to get notified, right? So we're going to amend some of the forms, change some things. So now we have a process we have to fix because of Phil, and some bylaws. And we should thank him. And I'm apologizing. Make sense? OK. We're doing this better all the time. We need a motion. Lou, would you also make the motion as part this?

AUDIENCE: I'd be delighted to make the motion.

GINI COURTER: OK. I want to recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. I am the trustee from the mountain desert district, and a member of All Souls Church in Colorado Springs. Moved that we adopt the amendment as proposed in this morning's business resolutions pages, as depicted in the pages 17 through 20 of this morning's sequence business.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. We clear? 17 through 20. We are on Article XV, these are lines 17 through 20, lines 278, and then they keep on rolling, through 460 on page 20. Would you now give the position of the board, please?

AUDIENCE: I'd be delighted to do that. Please recall, when we met in Salt Lake City, two years ago, we had some significant consternation, some confusion about how to amend the association bylaws. We were concerned with amending Article II, the principles and purposes. The assembly asked the board to clarify the amendment procedures, and to consider allowing in plenary session, amendments to be proposed to C bylaws. Those are the amendments that require consideration at two successive assemblies.

Making those changes required a major redrafting of Article XV of the bylaws. We've done that. The result is the text that you have before you today. We preserved the basic procedures for changing the bylaws. There is good reason for requiring time and thoughtful consideration of major changes. Therefore timelines have been prescribed and a study commission for changes to Article II. Again, that's our principles and purposes that's still included. There are two major changes that are in direct response to what the assembly asked us to do. First, we think that we have made the entire process much easier to understand, much clearer. We hope that you agree. Second, following the study commission process during the first year of consideration, the assembly may offer amendments to the proposed text of an amendment. The board wholeheartedly recommends we adopt this amendment.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. So I'm already seeing no one at the con microphone. I'm still seeing no one at the con microphone. You are ready to vote. Ready? All those in favor of the proposed amendment to bylaw Article XV, found in the final agenda, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? Thank you. Loving that. All right. First vote of the day. We're on a roll.

Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendment Related to Member Congregations

GINI COURTER: So now we are going to go back and pick up the item from yesterday's agenda. And that item is, you'll forgive me because now I'm working with as many weird things as you are now, debate and vote on the proposed amendment to bylaw section C dash three one, C dash three three, and C dash three six member congregations. Now, let's go ahead and show the vote from the last one, about Article XV, while I'm doing this. That's OK. Mark, you can just do that, if you want, as I go on even. OK. So that you can all can see the vote. Pretty good. It's almost like we're together. It's a lot like what happened here, but even more so. Do I have a procedural question? Yes, I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Kathy Burek, Michael Servetus Unitarian Society, Fridley, Minnesota. On line 134, it refers to the trustee representing the district in which the congregation is located. And yesterday, we voted to have all of our trustees elected at large.

GINI COURTER: So in this case we now need to turn to our green sheet, as well. And you'll find in the middle of it, under, broaden the definition of the word congregation, we kind of shortened these up so they'd fit and we wouldn't push to a fourth page of printing. OK. It says the only amendments offered in the mini-assembly were to lines 131 through 134, and they were incorporated as shown, and that's almost correct. Jackie, can you tell them what's really correct? It's almost correct. Hang on a second. Stay there. Hang on.

JACKIE SHANTI: OK, in line 131, we are adding the word, and, after the semi colon. In line 133, we are taking out the word, and, and putting a period after the word, association. And line 134 is being deleted. And as you have brought up, because of our previous motion regarding trustee elections, doing away with representation by district.

AUDIENCE: OK, there was no bracket around it, so it didn't look as though it was being deleted. Yeah, OK. Thank you. So that's being deleted. We're cool. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Good. Thank you all. Are we good now? Great question. Do we want to talk some about this? This is changing our definition of a congregation. Then I'll go to the amendment microphone, then, seeing no one who wants to debate the main motion. I recognized a delegate at the amendment microphone.

AUDIENCE: Yes, I'd like to move that we adopt the bylaws amendments, changing and broadening the definition of the word congregation, spelled out in section C3.1, C3.3, and C3.6 of our bylaws. And I have the board statement in favor.

GINI COURTER: Go right ahead.

AUDIENCE: I'm John Hawkins, proud member of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, New Jersey, and of the GA choir. I was born in Texas, raised in Mississippi, and for some reason, I'm serving as UUA trustee from the metro district of New York. For many years, we've held to the notion that our congregations must be bricks and mortar institutions, rooted in local communities. The church of the larger fellowship has been the exception that proves the rule. Our one concession to the idea that those who cannot find a local congregation, still need to way to gather. A congregation unbound by location has been an attractive option for many, even as an alternative to a nearby physical congregation, or in addition to.

But many would like to gather in other ways, not limited to a large one size fits all virtual congregation. For many, including youth, young adults, people with accessibility issues, people who work on Sunday mornings, and other people who have sometimes been marginalized in our bricks and mortar congregations, we have continued to ask that they seek a place in traditional congregations, even as they have told us that they would wish to choose other ways of gathering. The bylaws proposal removes, also, the requirement that congregations be tied to location. It also removes the language of churches and fellowships, which is unwelcoming to many who come from non-Christian traditions. We propose replacing churches and fellowships with congregations.

As you can see, these are very small changes in wording, but we believe that they have profound meaning. Also, because these are C bylaws, they will require approval at sucessive GAs. We believe that expanding the definition of congregations is a justice issue worthy of your approval this year, and worthy of inclusion in our business agenda for justice GA in Phoenix next year.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Mark Richards. I'm from First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts. With regards to the green sheet. All week long, the brackets have indicated things that have been deleted, the underlining has been things that have been inserted. You just said that that's not true for what we're debating right now.

GINI COURTER: It's actually not true specifically for line 134, where the typist—and actually for this document, sadly that was me—omitted the brackets. I mean, it's really just line 134. All right? The rest of it's good.

AUDIENCE: And my question is, the underlining on the rest of this document means it's inserted.

GINI COURTER: Correct. I only made that mistake on the front page. We're good. This is good stuff. This is good stuff. Thank you. I want to recognize a delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Lyn Conley. I am a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. While I applaud and agree with the sentiment of this, I believe that this bylaw amendment may be a bit premature. You fixed the one problem, which had to do with the trustee represent in the district. I'm not sure who the president of the district is, in which the congregation on a cloud may exist.

I went to the workshop that the trustees held on, what is the new congregation? What is the congregation? And it was fascinating. And there are many complex questions and issues that need to be addressed. And, in fact, I applaud and give a shout out to Elandria Williams, who expressed many many, of these complex issues, which have not yet been addressed. And therefore, if we were to pass this—I guess this is actually a procedural question—in line 123, it says that the board of trustees shall adopt rules to carry out the intent of this section. Can we see those rules before this is voted on on the final agenda at next year's agenda, for next year's general assembly?

GINI COURTER: There's a great question. Like if this passes, can you see these? Or, could you see the rules before you did the final vote.

AUDIENCE: Which does not change should the bylaw, although my question about the president of the district of a congregation on the cloud may still exist. But it does not change the bylaw, itself. So, is that something I do from the procedural microphone?

GINI COURTER: Well, no. Just stay where you are. It's OK. I want to just ask the board, cause if this passes this year, how does the board feel about doing the work that's outlined here before the second year vote. Are we good with that? They're looking OK with it. Sure. I mean, cause this it's really what you're asking. So you're saying, if we see this again and we don't see that, should we feel bad about it? The answer would be yes. We're going to add a couple minutes to the microphone. We've spent a lot of time on procedure with me. OK, good. Do we have a different answer?

AUDIENCE: To help answer the question, we have a year, still. And beyond next year, when this next general assembly would approve this.

GINI COURTER: Right.

AUDIENCE: To make it final for the board to work out the rules and make those available to folks.

GINI COURTER: Cool. I have another procedural question. And a charming delegate this is. I recognize him.

AUDIENCE: I'm James Hobart, minister emeritus of the first Unitarian Society of Denver, Colorado. My question is what consideration and deliberation was there on the board of trustees about the possible impact on congregational polity of a change of this order and what can they tell us about?

GINI COURTER: I'm wondering who I should call on for that. And I'd like the board, particularly the congregations working group, to put your heads together and come up with an answer for the Reverend James A. Hobart, OK? All right. In the meantime, I'm when you go to the procedure, to the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. This is David Anderson, University Unitarian Church in Seattle, and I was at that assembly where it was discussed and I was apprehensive at first about changing this bylaw. But listening to the board and listening to the fact that they're going to produce rules to create procedures to add new congregations, I trust the board and I urge your support of this bylaw.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. Do I have an answer from the board yet on the last question? Yes? It's good enough for now.

AUDIENCE: New kinds of congregations would be congregations like any others, with the right to self government, to call ministers, to ordain ministers, to perform all the functions that bricks and mortar congregations provide.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I last recognized the con microphone—the pro microphone—there's no one at the con microphone. that must mean you are ready to vote. Thank you. All those in favor of the amendment to bylaw section C-3.1, 3.3, and 3.6, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Thank you. Thank you very much. That worked.

We're going to hear a report in a moment. I just want to point something out to you, and I'm sort of surprised it wasn't a question from the floor, but that's OK. We have just added, when we talk about minimal business for next year, this at least will be part of our business for next year. This is a C bylaw and will be back again. But we have overwhelming support here and elsewhere. So we'll want to talk about this so that our debate next year can be very focused and very tight, right? Excellent.

Report of the Commission on Appraisal

GINI COURTER: So now you're going to hear a report from your commission on appraisal. I call on their chair, the Reverend Barbara Child. And sit back, and then we'll go back to business of other kinds. Hi Barbara.

BARBARA CHILD: I bring you greetings from your Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal. And I'm happy to introduce my colleagues to join me in our exciting and challenging work. Reverend Erica Baron serves our congregations in Bennington and Rutland, Vermont. Ms. Megan Dowdell, Oakland, California, is an ethicist studying sociology to grapple with racial and gender disparities in health care. She is in transition from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley to the University of California at San Francisco, also an adjunct faculty member at Starr King School for the Ministry, and aspirant to UU Ministry.

Mr. Pete Fontneau, Springfield, Virginia, is an active lay leader at Accotink UU Church, and engaged in clinical pastoral education in a continuing care retirement community after graduating last month from Wesley Theological Seminary. Ms. Bev Harrison, Campbell, California, and Foster, Rhode Island, is an active lay leader in our San Jose congregation. Reverend Dr. Nana Kratochvil is minister emerita and Maritime Muskegon, Michigan, and consulting minister in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, as well as a ministerial settlement representative in the Heartland District.

Mr. Don Mohr is co-president of our congregation in Columbia, South Carolina. Mr. Michael Ohlrogge, who's not here, Oakland, California, is a student at Stanford Law School and formerly groundwork trainer in anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multi-culturalism competency, and co-creator of the YRUU Chaplain Training Program. Ms. Jacqui C. Williams, Albany, New York, is a beyond categorical thinking trainer, co-chair of the St. Lawrence district's anti-racism and anti-oppression work group, and a member of the planning team for the UUA's new appreciative inquiry project.

And I am Reverend Barbara Child, Nashville, Indiana, ministerial settlement representative in the Heartland district and retired accredited interim minister. Today I complete my term as chair of this commission.

We are all elected GA delegates, none appointed. Our mission is to provoke reflection and evoke creative transformation of Unitarian Universalism, our congregations, and our association. UUs far and wide have expressed excitement about our current study called, "Who's in Charge Here? The Complex Relationship between ministry and Authority. " This year we have engaged in a focus group marathon on our topic in every region of the country. We have brought together groups of board members, religious educators, small group ministry participants, Committee on Ministry members, and more. Groups of ministers, parish ministers, community ministers, male ministers, female ministers, ministers of color, BGLT ministers, co-ministers—well, you get the idea.

We have asked, by what authority do professional clergy do their ministry, and make decisions about it? What gives lay people the authority to make decisions that affect ministry in their congregations? How much do differences of opinion about ministry and authority contribute to congregational stresses and strain? And we have asked for suggestions for improvement in this area of congregation life.

You won't be surprised to hear that we are learning a lot. Next year will be a year of in depth case studies. Then, after a year of unpacking all the data and writing it up, you may expect a report of this study by GA 2013. Meanwhile, you can follow our progress on the COA website and you can write to us at coa @ uua.org. Happy 50th Anniversary, UUA!

Debate/Vote on Actions of Immediate Witness

GINI COURTER: So hopefully you're keeping up with the flow and what we're doing next, because now we're going to debate and vote on actions of immediate witness. So you can put away the green one and pick up the—

AUDIENCE: Blue one.

GINI COURTER: You all are so good. It also means I'm going to need the chair of the commission on social witness up here soon. He'll bring his own blue one. If he had two that would be great, because I've given mine away apparently. I've got pink ones, and yellow ones, and orange ones. I'm starting to feel like a Dr. Seuss moderator. Oh David, you rock. So how did things go in the mini-assemblies?

DAVID MAY: I think they did well. They worked together well.

GINI COURTER: Did we have a lot of changes? Oh, we had a fair number in the first one, yes?

DAVID MAY: Many of them we accepted and there are relatively few that are unincorporated.

GINI COURTER: So in the mini-assembly yesterday you made some pretty sweeping changes to the first one?

DAVID MAY: Right.

GINI COURTER: OK. And then there's some unincorporated. And then the second one, some. The third one's a lot like it looked when last you and I saw it. And the fourth one—

DAVID MAY: Has no unincorporated in it.

GINI COURTER: —has known incorporated amendments. Let's thank the commission for their work in helping you create better things to bring into the hall. So let's start with the first one. And I'll need you to—you want to make a motion?

DAVID MAY: Sure. textures didn't just do it?

GINI COURTER: Just do it. It's this one.

DAVID MAY: OK. To adopt, right? I move to adopt the AIW1 protest, representative Peter King's hearings on Muslim radicalization.

GINI COURTER: As shown in the CSW alert.

DAVID MAY: Page one.

GINI COURTER: We're all there. OK, so this'll be your clue if you want to debate this a lot to head to pro and con. If you want to amend it, to head over towards the amendment microphone. And I'm going to recognize the gentleman at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. David Anderson, University Unitarian church in Seattle. I'm looking at both the blue and the green sheets. An on the blue, when we delete something, we actually strike it out, and when we add something, we underline it. Is it possible to do that on everything in the future?

GINI COURTER: Actually, what I'm going to do is, David May and I are going to create a commission. The proper use of articulation and diacritical marks in documents presented to delegates for business and social witness processes. Oh yeah, we'll do this. OK. We'll do better next year. It's probably needed half the change. It's fine. It's what it is. Isn't this confusing? When you switch to this one—they were here first. So, yeah, all right. Good. I have no one at the con microphone right now. I'll take one delegate from the pro microphone and if you want to make an amendment, get over there quick. Go ahead. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hello, I'm the un-charming Finley C. Campbell.

GINI COURTER: You have your moments, sir.

AUDIENCE: The Unitary Universalist multi-racial unity action caucus endorses this witness. First of all, we must recognize that the Ryan hearings are simply a neo-racist way to distract the public from asking important questions about corporate interests in our oil and other resources in the Middle East. Secondly, his hearings are opening the door to keep US citizens of any color or nationality who converts to Islam in prison, or who may be Muslims who are sent to prison on normal criminal charges into a system of indefinite detention under the guise that they are radicalized and hint a permanent danger to society. Thirdly, whether we lose or win this vote, we can still carry out the struggle at our home base. One of the things we can do is to support the Cordoba Center, here in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a positive way of saying, no, to the Ryan approach to trying to demonize our Muslim brothers and sisters.

GINI COURTER: Do we have an amendment? I need a yes or no on this. Do we have an amendment? Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. I would like to amend the lines 15 through 20, to bring them back in, but only in part. And I'll be very clear. Would be starting on line 15, whereas such divisions foster the notion that the Middle East wars are against Muslim terror. And then the rest of it can be deleted. But I'm going to add, are against Muslim terror, distracting the public from asking important questions about corporate interests in oil and other resources in the Middle East. Thank you. I'm Georgiana Hart, had written the original. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Just a moment. Talk amongst yourselves. Now, OK. So, who else was a little confused by trying to figure that out. I've asked to have it on the screen before we talk about it some more, OK? And we have a difference of opinion, as yet unresolved, about how this is being sliced and diced. So don't get to invest either way. I recognize a delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, Alison Cornish from the Unitarian Universalist congregation of the South Fork in Bridge Hampton, Long Island. Madam Moderator, the delegates have lost their clock over the past couple of motions. And also, when the clock is there, it's been on the erratic side. I wonder if that can be corrected.

GINI COURTER: I kind of noticed that. I thought it was just my age. So we are having some issues with the clock. But what I want to say is, that unlike you all, I can actually see that we have one of our fine, fabulous, volunteers from the tech deck trying to fix the clock and maybe some applause would make him feel like we really wanted that to happen.

[APPLAUSE]

GINI COURTER: Ah, technology. I recognize the delegate the procedural microphone. And thank you.

AUDIENCE: Madam Chairman, I am Lincoln Baxter from the Unitarian Universalist church of Charlotte. And I rise with a procedural question about whether or not we can modify an unincorporated amendment, as part of trying to bring it back.

GINI COURTER: Oh baby. That's actually, the root of the of the discontent back here. So yeah, you found it, Lincoln. We're talking about that. Thank you. And we're still probably working to get the text up on the screen. There is a word that you learn when you're doing this thing that's called, substantive. Like, is it really big? We're trying to decide. Because we don't want to make decisions over trivial things. So there's a piece of that going on here. I'm wondering if while we're trying to sort this out, we could move up the song. Let's sing. Isn't it always better to sing in times like this? What have we got? Is that Sarah Dan Jones and Kellie? What can we sing that is just fun?

SPEAKER 2: Well, we were going to do breathing meditation, which is more calming.

GINI COURTER: On, so calming? How would you like to be calmed?

SPEAKER 2: Dancing.

GINI COURTER: They want to dance.

SPEAKER 2: They want to dance. Is John here? We could do, "Let's Sing and Rejoice," or we could do, "Let it Be a Dance", like we did last night. They want to do "Let it Be a Dance." Let me get my music.

GINI COURTER: First, a couple of quick things. They're professional musicians, not a jukebox. Second, because this is live-streamed, we can only do things that we have permission for, and they know what those are and we don't, OK?

SPEAKER 2: Do they have time to get them from the hymn? Sing "Let it Be a Dance"?

GINI COURTER: Oh, we're doing "Let it Be a Dance." Can we do it? Is that a, yes? That's a thumbs up from the tech deck. Thank the tech deck. Thank the musicians. Let's dance.

SPEAKER 3: So y'all didn't get enough energy this morning? Is that why you need a little bit more?

SPEAKER 2: Remember, there's many ways to dance, with your fingers, your whole body, sitting down, and standing up, whatever you want to do.

[CHORAL MUSIC]

GINI COURTER: Now I want to note that former moderator, Denny Davidoff, and parliamentarian, Gordon Martin, dance much better than Denny and I do. It was a thing of beauty. An absolute thing of beauty. I hope you got a chance to see yourselves. OK, so here's what we're doing. We're going back to that amendment, right? And the amendment that's actually proposed the incorporation of, what? Help me. Would be the incorporation of unincorporated amendment B, yes? Because, as the delegate questioned, do we actually get to rewrite our amendments between yesterday and today, and the answer would be no. So unincorporated amendment B. Can we debate that? Is that still what you want to speak against? I'm looking at the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Well I would ask—

GINI COURTER: I'm looking at the delegate at the con microphone. Fire it up for me.

AUDIENCE: Yes, I would speak against that, if that is the proposal now. That was not the proposal that came from the pro microphone.

GINI COURTER: I absolutely understand that and just explained why. So would you like to speak against the proposal that is before us now, which is the incorporation of unincorporated amendment B, which she was allowed to make?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

GINI COURTER: OK, go for it. I recognize you.

AUDIENCE: Hi, my name is Hayes Gorey. I'm a delegate from the UU congregation at Fairfax. I would rise to oppose this proposed amendment, because I think it mistates the rationale for the United States involvement in the war in Afghanistan. I think everyone who was in New York on September 11, 2001, knows that the reason for that military action has nothing to do with an oil pipeline crossing Afghanistan, if one was ever planed. And that this is a diversion from the purpose of this resolution, which is to bring attention to the King hearings, and to the claim of Muslim radicalization, and the bringing of disrepute upon the members of that religion. I think it detracts from the general purpose that we want to convey in this resolution. Therefore, I would rise to oppose it.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Chairman. Is it appropriate to call the question?

GINI COURTER: No. According to our rules, is is not yet.

AUDIENCE: At what point?

GINI COURTER: Not soon enough. No, I'm just kidding. We'll get a reading on that. And I'm sorry. That was really not even in keeping with how I feel about this. I'm still in that dance. You know what I'm saying? So, not yet. OK? And, I'll get a reading and tell you that in a moment. Let's recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: My name is Earl Scott, from UU fellowship of Winston, Salem. I rise to endorse this amendment, although I have a reservation with the term, Washington, for it is not Washington and it's capitol that has caused this. So I support this, and I was also in New York on September 11th as a counselor to children who had lost their parents during that vicious event.

GINI COURTER: To answer your question, sir, about five minutes. OK? I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hello. Mary Rose, San Diego First Unitarian Universalist. Is it possible, if not now, during the one hour break, to have the temperature in this room raised a bit? It's freezing.

GINI COURTER: Well, now I just want to give you a reflection on that. This is usually the lightest attended plenary, and it should pick up for this afternoon, in which case we'll crank it up and add more bodies. And then usually somebody comes up and asks why we can't cool it down. So, you'd like it to be warmer. One easy way to do that is, if you see anyone with a delegate badge on during that hour, drag them here. They're body heat. Hello. OK. Yes.

AUDIENCE: Regina Largent, Church of the Larger Fellowship. I have a question about what's on the board. You said that we were doing amendment B. But according to this blue sheet we have, lines 15 through 20 are crossed off. Amendment B doesn't add them back. Amendment B only affects lines 21 and 22.

HEATHER STARR: Hi, I'm Heather Starr. I'm one of the five commissioners on the commission on social witness. There were many different overlapping amendments proposed and discussed during mini-assembly. So that's part of the confusion. The other one is that that's a typo. It should be lines 15 through 16, is what that particular part is speaking to in amendment B. But the whole paragraph was deleted, as you saw, on the screen before. Again, there were many different amendments that were overlapping. That should say lines 15 through 16.

AUDIENCE: OK. But Heather, the incorporated amendment deletes 15 through 20. And amendment B only covers lines 15 and 16. So the rest of that paragraph should be stricken through. But up there, it's not strictly through.

HEATHER STARR: It was. But they made it un-stricken through, after the request to have the blue and the green match, so that you all could read it more easily right now. That's why it's stricken through on the front.

AUDIENCE: Do lines 17 through 20—are they supposed to be stricken through?

HEATHER STARR: Yes. Lines 15 through 20 were deleted. There was an amendment to delete lines 15 through 20 in the mini-assembly.

AUDIENCE: Right. OK. Stop. So amendment B just reincorporates 15 and 16. So the rest of those lines up there should be stricken through. But right now they're just highlighted, and not stricken through.

HEATHER STARR: This is why we had to sing. Because there was some confusion about all this. Audrey and our legal counsel are trying to figure out exactly what should show up on the screen to reflect the complexity of this particular unincorporated amendment. Thanks for your question.

GINI COURTER: So I want to make a recommendation. We're going to do all this business today. There are no amendments that could be placed for AIW number four. I don't just want to bypass this. But we need time for our commissioners and our legal counsel to sort all this out, and get with the tech deck and bring the right things to the screen. My suggestion, if it's OK with you, is to go to number four, give you all some time, and then come back. Is that OK? Well, I needed somebody and you're here.

DAVID MAY: OK. I move that we adopt AIW number four, oppose Citizens United, support free speech for people.

GINI COURTER: Excellent. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, Anna Olsen, a delegate from the UU Church of Asheville, North Carolina. I rise to ask as a delegate, when I vote for actions of immediate witness, am I simply voting that this is a righteous cause, or am I committing, as a delegate, to do something in my local congregation about these actions of immediate witness?

GINI COURTER: Well, I can't answer that for the delegates, but I can have an aspiration. You want to know what I aspire to?

AUDIENCE: It's easy to say these are righteous causes. But if they simply die in this location, I'm not sure of the value of our debating and voting.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. Actions of immediate witness. We voted on a statement on ethical eating, a few days ago. Do you remember that? And that statement already, like the statements we've made last year and in prior years, already is having an impact, with staff creating things, with us having particular positions in Washington, in our different lobbying efforts in the work that, for example, our staff, Tim Brennan, and the treasurer, and others do, to try to work for justice with corporations, with proxies and stuff.

Actions of immediate witness have none of those effects. They are a statement made here by us. And if all we really intend is to make a statement, that's fine, but if they are to actually have traction, we have to take them home and do something with them. They have no other staff other than us. Does that help? OK, great. So now we are on actions of immediate witness number four, oppose Citizens United, support free speech for people, moved by the CSW. I see the delegate at the pro microphone and recognize him.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. I'm Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, the social justice minister at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision, last year, struck at the heart of our democracy by allowing unlimited corporate money to flood our elections, potentially drowning out all other voices. The notion of corporate personhood also strikes at the heart of our first principle. As Justice Stevens said in dissent to last year's decision, corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. They are not, themselves, members of we the people, by whom and for whom our constitution was established.

The AIW before us asks us to raise this issue in upcoming elections to follow the example of states and localities that have passed resolutions against the Citizens United decision. To use or form state UU legislative groups to work for disclosure of corporate contributions, and ultimately to overturn, by constitutional amendment, if necessary, the notion of corporate personhood, and the ability of corporations to purchase our elections. Please stand up for the rights of real people. And help us restore our democracy by supporting this AIW, and then by bringing it back to your congregations and acting upon it there. I thank you, and I also wish to thank Kindra Muntz, and the UU legislative Ministry of Florida for having brought that to us today.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I want to ask the CSW. Do we have somebody at the pro and con microphones, helping people with a timer? Are you guys doing the two minutes at the microphones, or no? You are. So folks can know and can tell. OK. So you're just doing the ding at the end. Thank you. Procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. Keith Nier, from the Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey. My question is that since on line 20, this resolution urges us to get our member congregations to sign the resolution for the people's rights amendment, proposed at www et cetera, we are endorsing something that we don't know what it is. We do not have the text of this here. Is this proper? Is it appropriate to present something where we're being asked to approve something where we don't know what it is? That specific text of a constitutional amendment can make a very great deal of difference. So I'm just wondering, what is the appropriateness of presenting something here, essentially asking us to vote blindly.

GINI COURTER: I'm actually not asking you to do that. I think there's a difference between appropriate and usual. I'm on your side. I turn to the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: My name is David MacPherson, and I minister emeritus of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia. I've been attending general assembly since 1947, and I have watched these resolutions come and go with all kinds of excitement. What I have learned in the process of social justice work, is that you do it with county, city, state, federal, lobbying of congregations. And you list the votes. And you list how many of these people are going to be voting for the candidates that you're speaking to. Otherwise it's no big deal. This is an association of congregations and resolutions for social justice, should be coming through the congregations. We have a minority of people in our general assembly who are enthusiastic for this cause, or enthusiastic for that cause. But in the long term, we are not going to change the country and the world unless we go through the whole congregation process. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. You ready? I'd like to have the first pro speaker for this, who originally brought this action of immediate witness. I'm going to go to the pro microphone. But I'd like you, sir, at the procedural microphone, to give a better answer to the question of, what is in the people's rights amendment. There was a question about that. Or are you ready to go now?

AUDIENCE: I'm Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Jefferson Unitarian Church. The language this was drafted primarily by Kindra, who is at the pro mic, over there. There is more than one text of proposed constitutional amendments, and in fact you'll see in there, there are references to some other organizations that have proposed these amendments. At this point, my concern is that we be supporting amendments that would overturn the notion of corporate personhood, because this is the legal basis upon which this decision was made. My understanding is that that's what that one does. I can't recite for you what the text is, although I believe if you go to the website that it refers to, you could find that text. And maybe Kindra can answer that question more specifically.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Do you want me to speak at the procedural mic or here?

GINI COURTER: Actually, you are proper in asking that. Please come to the procedural microphone, answer the question asked, as briefly as you can. And then we'll get you back for a pro statement.

AUDIENCE: OK. My name is Kindra Muntz, from the congregation of Venice, Florida, and the UU Legislative Ministry of Florida. The concept is that corporations are said to have the same constitutional rights as people, and they don't. No where in the constitution is the word, corporation, mentioned, for number one. There are groups working against this issue, that they should not have free speech rights. Political speech with money should not be the same thing as your ability, Madam Moderator, to speak or vote, and this is a quite serious question. There are also questions about corporate personhood. Multiple groups are addressing these, and I'm referring in this AIW to the various groups that do it, which include movetoamend.org, peoplefortheAmericanway.org, publiccitizen.org, and Free Speech for People has a particular people's rights amendment, that is addressing particularly the free speech area.

GINI COURTER: So the question that's being asked is, can we access that information? So I'm going to send you back to the pro  mic. And on the way, thank you to the tech deck. Can we switch to the screen that I see in front of me right now? Mark can tell you how. Because this, then, would be, for example, movetoamend.org. They're figuring this out. Maybe. So I'm seeing this charming screen, that is movetoamend.org. And that actually has text of what you could sign. Does that make sense?

So that when we get something like the list of different places that you could sign, you would need to go look at those. And I think that the delegate who asked—there we go. Thank you, tech deck—so the delegate that asked the procedural question is saying, are we approving something that we don't even know what it says? And in fact, we were. This is one of one of the things that we're being encouraged to do. And there are others. So it's not, do one thing. OK, good. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator, I am Lew Phinney, from All Souls UU Church in Colorado Springs. And I'm volunteering to take my smart phone and stand next to either the pro or con speaker, so that they have a obvious timer available to them, if someone is willing to do the same at the other.

GINI COURTER: I think you have a partner in crime, right behind you. I recognize the Reverend David Pyle, I think, yeah.

AUDIENCE: The Reverend David Pyle, from the UU Fellowship of Midland, Michigan. I actually have the actual People's Rights Amendment pulled up. So I have it available, if anybody needs to see it.

GINI COURTER: Is it lengthy?

AUDIENCE: It is three sections. I could actually read it. It's maybe a hundred words.

GINI COURTER: Go.

AUDIENCE: Section one, we, the people, who ordain and establish this constitution intend the rights protected by this constitution to be the rights of natural persons. Section two, people, person, or persons, as used in this constitution, does not include corporations, limited liability companies, or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulations as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives deemed reasonable. And are otherwise consistent with the powers of congress and the states under this constitution. Section three, nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. Pat Emery, Jefferson Unitarian Church, Golden, Colorado. I also have been coming to general assembly for many, many years. And all AIWs go through this process, that do not have confrontational involvement until afterwards, other than the congregations that proposed them.

GINI COURTER: True.

AUDIENCE: And also that many AIWs, in the past, have referred to documents that we didn't see the full text of.

GINI COURTER: Correct. That's why I said the difference between appropriate and usual. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. Dino Drudi, from Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, suburban Washington DC. The question I have, and perhaps the legal counsel will have to address it, is that this concept of corporate personhood, among other things, allows these corporate entities to go into court and sue. Is that UUA such a corporate person? And were this amendment that's proposed to pass and be enacted and put into the constitution, how would it affect the UUA?

GINI COURTER: So we have 30 seconds until amendments are valid. But let's turn to our legal counsel, Tom Bean.

TOM BEAN: Having given this a good 5 to 10 seconds of thought, I have no idea. I will say that the UUA is an association, incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts and New York. Beyond that, I am not certain what the repercussions would be. But, suffice it to say, that the actions of this body today, as wonderful as they may be, are not going to change the constitution.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

GINI COURTER: So whoa, OK. You've been hanging out with me too long. All right. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Kindra Muntz from the UU congregation of Venice, Florida. I do appreciate all these comments. And the fact is that I definitely support this proposal as amended. Corporate person is a complicated issue. It would have to be dealt with. The free speech of people is an issue. It's been very specific, saying corporations should not have the same free speech as people. What we're trying to do with this AIW is to raise these two issues, raise the whole concept of corporate personhood and free speech for people, in front of the national eyeballs via the presidential debates. Because it's huge. It's affecting people. And so many people have no idea of what's really affecting them. OK, thank you very much. They need to see this. They need to understand what's happening. So that, of the many issues that are hurting them in their bread and butter, their pocketbooks, and home, losing their jobs. This is related to this. It's all related.

That's what we're trying to do. And that's what UUs can help do, if they will, going back to their congregations, involving them, helping them reach out. Take the actions that are in this AIW. They're not hypothetical. This is not conversation. It's real stuff. If we help raise a dialogue, we can get this in front of the public. And that's where it needs to be, in order to word any amendment to the constitution, either on corporate personhood or on free speech for people. And I just want to add, thank you so much to those people in the mini-assembly. The added amendments were wonderful, whereas anonymous unlimited campaign spending and its associated domination of the media, conflict with the fourth and fifth UU principles. Yes. Yes. And be it resolved that we're supporting pending and future federal state legislation requiring maximum disclosure by corporations of all political contributions they make, whether directly to candidates, or indirectly to advocacy groups. Yes. That's a wonderful thing. And even the very last two sentences, where it, to be sure, I did try to put in—

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. My name is Susan Anderson. I'm a delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills in Massachusetts. I'd like to propose, if it's possible, and phrases this as a question, a friendly amendment to this. That in line 20.

GINI COURTER: No. No. There are no amendments that would be allowed to this. Because there is no unincorporated amendment allowed.

AUDIENCE: Would it be a grammatical correction, perhaps, to say, sign a resolution for a people's rights amendment, such as proposed at WW—

GINI COURTER: You're actually changing it. You're actually changing it.

AUDIENCE: I'm making it more consistent, also, with lines 26 through 28.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. No.

AUDIENCE: All right. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Good. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. My name is Robin Ditzler. I'm a delegate from Quimper Unitarian Universal's Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington. I, too, was horrified by the Citizen United decision. And I would like to see that changed, by whatever means possible. However—and I don't need to be convinced of the merits in many parts of this righteous statement that's being proposed—that has nothing to do with the fact that I'm going to be voting against this. And I'm going to tell you why. This whole drama here that has been unfolding, is a classic example of what I find wrong with the entire process.

We Unitarians pride ourselves on doing research, doing careful reflection, democratic discussion, in our congregations, which is at the heart of our process for statement of conscience. And yet every general assembly, we come here, and we throw these things at each other. Today, we had this whole discussion about what we did or didn't know. And some very kind people looked up stuff on the internet to read it to us and then we get to think about it and make a decision. And I have an issue with that. And have an issue with the perception that those that vote against these righteous causes may somehow be a problem. So while I hate the Citizen United decision, I also, kind of, hate this process. So this is not how I want to be doing business. We also have a wonderful state advocacy organization in the state of Washington. And there are many, many ways to fight the Citizens United decision. To me, this is not one of them. And I am going to vote against this. Thank you very much.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator. Rudy Sprinkle, from the Unitarian Society of Germantown, Philadelphia. I'd like to move the question.

GINI COURTER: OK. If you haven't been here before, this is a vote to say, I've heard enough. I'd like to stop talking, so we can vote. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed? That means you're ready to vote. We are now voting on action of immediate witness, number four, opposed Citizens United, support free speech for people, as shown in today's CSW alert. All those in favor of AIW four, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. We're going to have to ask you to do that again, I bet. Hang on. This requires a 2/3 vote. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Lower them. All those opposed. This passes. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Finley C. Campbell, from the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. Madam Moderator, I think there's a way of people or trying to mix in their opposition to AIW with the specific issues that are at hand. That is not fair. It seems to me that either you speak to the question, and not talk about how much they dislike, or hate, AIW. These are irrelevant commentary, and should be brought to their attention.

GINI COURTER: I understand that that's your opinion, sir. But the reason that I haven't, is I actually think that it is an allowable position to say, I don't like this AIW. But I don't want to get up and say I don't like this one either, and this one, and this one. I think that's a case you can only make once. I'd appreciate it if we were making that case this afternoon, when it's actually on the agenda, though. OK? All right. So, not wrong. But specifically, could be better, because it's already an agenda item. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. David Anderson, First Unitarian Church. Point of parliamentary procedure, rule six, part C, says the motion to call the previous question on the main motion shall not be in order if there are potential speakers at both the pro and con microphones. And we just called the question.

GINI COURTER: Yeah. We actually had this conversation the other day, too. We have a rule that's not in keeping with the other rules that we passed. And it's a rule that we modified this year, and I don't think it was modified correctly. However, what I want to say is. How many of you wanted to call a question? I mean, calling a question is, sort of, integral to the ability of the majority of delegates of super majority to control your own agenda. OK. So the decision I made the other day was to go in favor with two different interpretations. Honor to go in favor of the one that gives you the most control over your time. OK? All right. And we'll fix this for next year. Let's now hear about AIW number two. We could use a motion. I turn to the chair of the commission on social witness. Or, we're back on one, aren't we? Let's go back to one. Tell them what we're doing. What are we doing? We know? With one. Tom, what's happening with one? Just tell us.

TOM BEAN: If you want to call the woman at the amendment mic, who was proposing the amendment. I believe she's decided to withdraw the amendment.

GINI COURTER: I'd like to recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

AUDIENCE: Georgiana Hart, from First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County, Orange, New Jersey. And was very proud to be part of this whole process. And I do, gracefully, withdraw the amendment, and thank Carol for helping me with it. And we'll stay in touch.

GINI COURTER: OK. So, yes. I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone. We're back on the action of immediate witness number one.

AUDIENCE: I am Ric Kranz of Unitarian Universalist congregation of Central Nassau, Garden City, Long Island, New York. I'd like to speak to unincorporated amendment A. In favor of it. I'd like it incorporated. It would be immediately following the line which says, whereas such hearings lead to the demonization of Arab and Muslim Americans and incite more hatred, racism, division, all along racial and religious lines. The additional amendment, line 15, would then say, whereas such hearings could create very, very radicalization they seek to curtail.

Now, representative King has gone out of his way to demonize only Muslims and Arab Americans. He's ignored radicalization in other areas, such as, in prisons, where radicalizations of Muslims do occur, but ignores the Aryan Brotherhood. He ignores other areas that are threats to our security, such as MS-13, the Crips, the Bloods, which exist in his district. He has singled out Muslims, and it is clear to me, and I hope it's clear to the rest of us, that this must stop. And including this amendment is important, and I hope that we vote for it. Thank you, Madam Moderator.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hello. My name is Fujio Hiyashi. I was First UU Church of Columbus, Ohio. I oppose the amendment that was just cited, for the same reason that apparently he was put down in that thing. That it's a hypothetical and unsubstantiated. I believe that this amendment should be something that we are trying to persuade the general public, on the course of our action. And anything that is controversial and can be argumentative, I think, will detract from a—

GINI COURTER: We're out of time for the motion. Go ahead and finish your statement, though, sir.

AUDIENCE: Therefore I think that amendment should not be incorporated.

GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you. It's hard, because you didn't have anybody show—and it wouldn't matter. Cause we're not seeing the big time. I'm hoping we're going to fix the timer between the two plenaries. Please. OK. Good. So are we ready to vote? This is an action of immediate witness number one, protest representative Peter King's hearings. And this is amendment A, that appears on page three, at the top. Are we good? OK. All those in favor of adding the amendment, raise your voting cards. All those opposed. We will not be doing that. OK. Now, since we're out of time for the whole thing, let's go back and vote now on the unamended, as you see on page two. Real easy to see what we're voting on. All those in favor of AIW number one, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Excellent. This clearly passes. Let's now take a look at AIW number two. Do we have the appropriate motion from the commission on social witness?

DAVID MAY: I move the adoption of AIW number two, entitled, support Southern California supermarket workers struggle for decent wages and benefits, on page one of the CSW Alert Today.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. So the text begins on page three. There were four unincorporated amendments, A, B, C, and D. There were some substantial work done to the final paragraph, lines 30 through 40. OK. And I recognize the speaker at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm the person who put this forward, Rick Rhodes, from Santa Monica, California. Am I supposed to talk, now, about the amendment, or the motoin as a whole?

GINI COURTER: You are supposed to talk about the motion that appears on page three and four, sir.

AUDIENCE: As I mentioned yesterday, 62,000 workers are getting set to strike the supermarket chains in Southern California. This is a big deal. It's the biggest strike since the last time they struck in 2003. And this is a period that's very different from what used to happen 20, 30, 40 years ago, when we probably wouldn't even be mentioning a strike like this. There'd be so many of them.

But we're in a period now where people are just accepting tremendous cutbacks in wages, health benefits, working conditions, and these workers are showing us the way. And it's tremendously in our interest to support them. And it's a national issue. It would make our denomination tremendously relevant to the working class of this country, if we pass this motion, and then our congregations act on it. And, could you put up, please, the document labeled, chains. Well, I hope that's going to happen. OK. And so I'm hoping that this exhibit can go up, which shows how thickly these supermarket chains cover the United States. And how possible is for us to engage nationwide in supporting this struggle, and hopefully spreading it. So I urge you to pass this AIW. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Duane Keenan. I'm a congregational president of the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Owensboro, Kentucky. And I was in mini-assembly, yesterday, trying to get the amendment passed. The sub-poverty wages and poor working conditions are not indigenous to Southern California. They're all over the country. What this last paragraph is suggesting that I do, is to go home and boycott and/or picket a grocery store that has a valid contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers. And I'm not willing to do that. And I don't think this body should suggest that anybody do that. I think we need to support the unions who are working for social justice, the same as we are. That's my point. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Would you stay there for just a moment, sir? Something accidentally happened that I want to say something about. The slide that's on the screen was something the last speaker asked for. And I need it removed.

AUDIENCE: Could I say a couple words about that?

GINI COURTER: No, you really can't. Because you already did. And visually, you actually did during the time the con speaker was speaking, as well. And so I have an issue with that. I'd like people to, at least, see the speaker who was making the point you just heard. This is not the point he was making. Make sense? It's just a mistake. But, we should be good together. Cool. So let's go to con microphone visually for me. Tell us who you are, sir.

AUDIENCE: I'm Duane Keenan. I'm congregational president of the Unitarian Universal congregation of Owensboro, Kentucky.

GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you very much. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Rich Richins, from the UU Church of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I guess I have a question, regarding whether or not this action includes, for example, Albertson's, that are not in Southern California. In Las Cruces, the choice is Albertson's or Wal-mart.

GINI COURTER: Wow. That's the lesser of two very non-lesser things, you know? My guess is that it's exactly what it says it is. I want to recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. Donald Ordway, member of the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society in North Hills, California, and proud member of IEBW local 18 in Los Angeles. I can tell you this much. I have seen the previous contract negotiations in 2003 and 2007, and they have always followed the same pattern. The three major chains, which are represented in our area, collude together illegally to try and leverage the local bargaining units to accept a lesser deal, waiting it out while they take profits from other areas. And with that lesser deal, they then move across the country, imposing worse contracts upon each individual chain in their larger company. So, therefore, I will say this much. It is about Southern California, now, but, as time goes on, what happens in Southern California will come around, and you will suddenly find lower wages and lower benefits coming to a producer section in your local supermarket. So thank you.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Derek Mustelier. I am from the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Miami. And, I'll just keep this short and sweet. I just feel as if this is a little bit too localized to be an action of immediate witness for the entire association. And I understand the point that it can cause a domino effect. But I just feel like it's a little too specific. And that's all I wanted to say.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator. My name is John Wright, and I am with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Salisbury. I work for Wal-mart, and I just want us to be mindful that there are folks among us who do. And I think that it's a class question.

GINI COURTER: Thank you very much. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Bobbie Campbell, First Unitarian, Chicago. I'm going to vote for this resolution. Having looked at the map we looked at a minute ago, which only showed the Super Value parts of the chain. I think these places are all over the country. And however we want to raise these issues at the stores and with these workers, I think would be very positive. Furthermore, it will be a good way for us to go home and start building for GA in Phoenix, building for the unity of Asian, Latin, black, white, workers all across this country. And it will be a good way for us to start building our statement of conscience on ethical eating.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Rudy Sprinkle, of Unitarian Society, Germantown, Philadelphia. I'd like to call the question.

GINI COURTER: OK. So what we've done is we've gone back. Though we have two interpretations in the rules, one of them is that after 15 minutes, which is why not having a clock works, you need to decide if you'd like to hear more on this or not. All those in favor of ending debate, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those Opposed. Thank you. That must mean that you feel you are ready to vote. Therefore, all those in favor of action of immediate witness number two, support Southern California supermarket workers struggle for decent wages and benefits, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Let's do it again. All those in favor. Thank you. All those opposed. The motion clearly carries. Off-site, the vote was 12 in favor, seven opposed, by the way. We have one more left. Do you have a motion?

DAVID MAY: I do.

GINI COURTER: I bet you do.

DAVID MAY: All right. I move adoption of AIW number three, entitled, toward ending the US military engagement in Afghanistan, on page one of today's CSW Alert.

GINI COURTER: So you will find the text of this beginning on page number five. Four. Sorry. Thank you. It takes a village to help the moderator. Beginning on page number four, it has lines one through 35. Unincorporated amendments begin at the bottom of page five, A though F, continuing onto six. If you intend to do anything about any of those things, you should be heading for a microphone. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Yes. I'm Richard Kopp, from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, New York, on Long Island. And I introduced this action of immediate witness the other day. I'd like to say two things about it now. One is, there are, I think, few reasons for us not to speak up on this important issue here at the general assembly. And this is the only time, I think, that we can do it. The second is that the mini-assembly, I think improved the statement with the amendments that were made and I would urge all of you to vote in favor of this. If you look at the inactive clauses at the end, it is largely urging, recommending, calling upon. Is not a question of a obligation. But it is an urgent call to take action for those who wish to do, or think they should do so. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Sam Gloyd, Arlington Street Church, Boston. I'm curious about the offline voting. If I were not a delegate physically here, would I be able to vote offline? And for future reference, that question might be relevant for other people also.

GINI COURTER: Oh, yes. We heard about that the other day. I think we're going to hear about it, later. But this year was a pilot. And while I'm telling you what the vote is offline, we're not counting those votes. I'm just reflecting them back to you. Next year, you will be able to register for general assembly, and participate offline. I think there's something we have to pass today to make that happen, yes? OK? So it's up to you. I'm giving you enough of what's going on, so we can decide, is that going to work for us.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. Reverend Anita Farber-Roberson. I serve our congregation, First Parish, in Cohasset, Massachusetts. And I have a point of information. Has the general assembly in the past ever passed a resolution about the war in Afghanistan?

GINI COURTER: Could I hear, please, from the commission on social witness?

DAVID MAY: Forever is a long time. I know that last year, one was proposed—it failed—that was on Afghanistan.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Valerie White, Unitarian Church of Sharon. Madam Moderator. I want to suggest that we make some clarity in language here. That seems to be my job. Those people who are participating by computer, are online, not offline. They're offline in the sense that they're not here, but if they're online, they aren't offline.

GINI COURTER: I have this problem when I go to the airport. There's a sign that says, arriving. And there's one this says, departing. And I'm arriving, but I wanted to depart.

VALERIE WHITE: Yes. So can we think of something else, besides offline, to refer to our online delegates?

GINI COURTER: You know, actually, there's a whole team that knows they need to fix that, and thank you for making the point. Because they're all over it. But that airport thing still gets me. OK. I want to recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Howdy. My name is a Tim Atkins. I'm from the Unitarian Universalism congregation of Atlanta. I rise in opposition to this day AIW. I rise in opposition to arrogance in favor of humility. Lines 28 to 30, I find the most troublesome. Who are we, this group of a couple thousand disproportionately white, upper class Americans, to tell the people of Afghanistan, what they need to be doing. It's time for us to be a little more humble. I also rise in opposition to this fascinating curious definition of, immediate. The war has been going on for 10 years.

You know, when I was 10, I was in the fifth grade. And if you tried to put me in a crib, I would have stomped on your foot. And I was a big kid. Look at me. I was a big kid. So it probably would have hurt. Saying that a conflict is immediate, when it has been going on since the 40th Universary, it seems like a pretty special definition of the word, immediate. As we say in the South, bless your heart. I encourage you to vote, no. If this is an AIW, let's remember, the I stands for, immediate, not I. And let's remember that very same humility. After all, last year in our statement of conscience, if you remember. In our, creating peace, statement of conscience, humility was one of our theological principles. Let's try to remember that. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Finley C. Campbell, First Unitarian church of Chicago. As one of those middle class white folks that is constantly being denigrated at our meetings, I think we should use the privilege of our whiteness to stand up for the brothers and sisters of Afghanistan. There is compassion that goes along with humility. The drone attacks, the slaughter in the rooms, the shootings of young women and children. We are causing more deaths than all the deaths that piled up in 2001. I think what a radical position is, US out now. You want a definition of a minute. It's now.

But we are Unitarian Universalists. Process is key. We know it's going to be a long, hard slog. And even though I called for US out of Vietnam in 1971, it took us another four years to finally get us out when the soldiers began to mutiny. When the Vietcong became more organized, and our anti-war movement fought back. Therefore, we must support this. We can stand on our, so called, privileges, to take that privilege as Unitarian Universalists, and bear witness against the war machine, the military industrial complex, that is killing in our names.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate of the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm Derrick Mustelier, from the UU congregation in Miami. And just a very quick thing in response to the lady that was asking about offline delegates. They are off site delegates.

GINI COURTER: You know, that was the next thing that came up on my little screen. It says from off site but online. Arrivals, departures, thank you. OK. Takes lots of help. I recognized the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Don Campbell. Unitarian Universalist church of Arlington, Virginia. I'm retired military and I opposed this AIW.

GINI COURTER: just go ahead.

AUDIENCE: First, the United States is not pursuing, primarily a military solution in Afghanistan, but a comprehensive solution. The comprehensive solution includes agricultural assistance, helping build and rebuild roads and industrial infrastructure, promoting cooperation among tribal leaders, assisting with the development of Afghani military and police forces, including training the forces, and education of military and police leaders, educating Afghani leaders In effective governments, helping build and rebuild schools, and educating teachers. These are all in addition to military operations, and are intended to assist the Afghani people to develop and maintain their own security and governance, and enable them to resolve their conflicts through free and democratic processes.

Second, to paraphrase an old saying, the defeat of Al-qaeda is greatly exaggerated. In fact, Al-qaeda and Taliban forces are both active in Afghanistan, and would be whether or not we were there. And they are much more effective if we are not. Third, promoting international assistance to the Afghani people is already a major objective of the state department. Finally, the president has already announced plans to reduce US military forces in Afghanistan, as soon as can be reasonably achieved. Based on these facts, I do not support this action of immediate witness. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator. Ben Borton, from the UU congregation of Shelter Rock. Our present US policy in Afghanistan, with due respect to one of the previous speakers, is anything but a display of humility. It is our government's decision that a policy which kills Afghan civilians, and maims them, and destroys their homes and schools, is what is best for them. Well, I have a little bit of an alternate perspective. The way to democratic approaches in governance, and revival of a country, in this case Afghanistan, anything but, comes from bombs, missiles, drone airplanes, and grenades. It comes from schools, day care centers, agricultural cooperatives, medical clinics. I urge the passage of the section of immediate meeting. Thank you very much.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: My name is Helini Thayre, from the Arlington Street Church, in Boston. I'm really concerned about the women, and the children, and the violence in Afghanistan. You know, there's been an awful lot of violence against the people who are trying to study, in particular. And I feel that if there were any way of supporting this AIW, it would have to include some very specific parts about how we were going to defend these people, what kind of concrete, physical things we would do to protect them.

And there is really very light weight on that, because it says things like, we urge the United Nations to help mediate among the hostile parties, and facilitate rebuilding and reconciliation. That is not going to help people who come with guns and sledgehammers and destroy schools. It just is not enough. And also, we are asking the people of Afghanistan to resolve their conflicts through the democratic process. But, as we know from our own revolutionary wars and other wars, sometimes people just come at you, and you have to defend yourself. And I don't think this is strong enough in that area of how we are going to help build the peace-making process in a very concrete way over there.

GINI COURTER: Think you. We are almost out of time for this item. And I recognize that the gentleman the pro microphone has already spoken once. No, you have not. OK. And I have somebody at procedural. Here it all comes. Procedural microphone always goes first.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator. I am the Reverend David Pyle, the inter-minister for the UU Fellowship of Midland, Michigan. I also have a ministry that prevents me from stating an opinion on this AIW. I would like the honor of this general assembly to call this question.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. All those in favor of ending debate, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. We're done, and we're ready to vote. Interesting. Nicely done. All right. So all those in favour of proposed action of immediate witness, number three, toward ending the US military engagement in Afghanistan, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. OK. Come on. Let's look. Ready? We're going to do it again. So if you thought, oh, I'll maybe vote. All right. All those in favor. Good. I don't want to see the screen vote. Thank you. All those opposed. We've got to do this again. And some of you voting who didn't vote the time before. OK. We're watching it shift.

Everybody's cards down. All those in favor. Hold them up. Don't do the hokey pokey. It's not what it's all about. I don't know if this is. But I know the hokey pokey is not. Thank you. Down. All those opposed. This fails, because it did not achieve 2/3. Thank you. Now you can show the vote for the off site but online delegates. A lot like ours. I bet they're Unitarian Universalists. I'm just starting to figure that out. So, friends, please just hang on here a second. We have other business to do. And I need to talk with you about how we want to do it. OK? I need your assistance. We [INAUDIBLE] outstanding items from prior assemblies.

Religious Education Credentialing Committee bylaw amendments, Associate Ministerial Fellowship bylaw. It's actually a rule change, I believe. And a bylaw amendment to replace the use of specific staff group names with, staff, because every time staff groups change, it messes us up. Those are all, pretty much, housekeeping items. And, yet, we need to have time for them. And we are scheduled to be done with plenary at five o'clock. So here are our choices. I can be clear with you about them. Because I can't promise that any of you will decide that we should take less than the full amount of time to debate things. It's kind of interesting.

We can stay a little later right now. We can come back a little earlier than two o'clock. Don't like that much, cause people who left won't know. Or we can let the afternoon slide a little farther. Yeah, I know. None of these are good choices. Welcome to Sunday. OK. So how do you feel about trying to take one more of these items, so we don't slide as much. Can we do one more? Stay with me. OK. All right. So let's go with the use of staff in place of the names of specific staff groups. Feels kind of benign, doesn't it? OK. I have a procedural question. I hope it's important. No. Let's just go with it.

AUDIENCE: Elaine McMillan, Unitarian Church in Westport. Point of information. The exhibit hall closes at 2:00. Just a point of information.

GINI COURTER: Don't need it. Thank you. Thank you. All right. So we getting geared up here? All right. So I'm going to ask that we move. This is if you flip to page five of the final agenda. We're looking at the item that is right below the song, on the right hand side. The thing I told you was the only thing we did in that block. And this is the proposed amendment to bylaw, section 4.12, replacing, in quotes, advocacy and witness staff, with, staff. As you will notice, in your green sheet. You don't even need to get it out. There were no amendments at all to this. OK. Can I have the first vice-moderator of the board please make the motion.

Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendments to Replace “Advocacy and Witness staff” with “staff”

JACKIE SHANTI: Move that bylaw, section 4.12, be amended as shown at pages 22 of the final agenda. Is that the correct page? Let's make sure it's the correct page. 21. Page 21 of the final agenda.

GINI COURTER: Good. Can we hear the statement of by the board, please, why we're doing this.

AUDIENCE: I'm John Hawkins, representing the UU district of metro New York. If you believe that our association's bylaws and rules contain marvels and wonders, please raise your hand. Among those marvels or bylaws references UU departments that no longer exist, and other references in rules that provide a degree of specificity that is not especially helpful. This bylaw's proposal changes language that refers to a nonexistent department to general language indicating that the UUA staff is responsible for follow-up related to study action issues. Similar changes in the language to procedural rules do not require action by the general assembly and will be enacted by the board of trustees at a later time.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. Does anyone want to speak against this? Can we, then, vote for or against your choice. All those in favor, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. There's always somebody who makes it non-unanimous. And I enjoy that moment. OK. This clearly carries. Clearly, clearly carries. Breathe deep. How're we doing? You good for one more?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

Debate/Vote on Proposed Amendments Related to the Religious Education Credentialing Committee

GINI COURTER: I love you guys. OK. There were no changes suggested for the Religious Education Credentialing Committee. Let's get the person with the board position on that, is Donna Harrison in the hall. You're perfect. Can we have the first vice-moderator make the motion? This is the first of those three items I told you, and there's a lot of stuff in it. OK.

JACKIE SHANTI: Move that the amendment related to the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, bylaw Article IV, section 4.8, delegates, Article V, section 5.11, board of review, Article VII, section 7.13, Religious Education Credentialing Committee, and Article XII, Religious Education Credentialing, sections 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.6, and 12.9, be amended, as shown on pages 14 through 17 of the final agenda.

GINI COURTER: Amendment mic or pro microphone. Either one.

AUDIENCE: Hello. I am Donna Harrison, trustee from the Southwestern conference, and a proud member of first Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio. I'm here to present the board's statement in favor of these proposed amendments. There are two types of amendments that relates to the Religious Education Credentialing Committee being proposed. First, there are several changes that clarify the requirements for becoming a credentialed religious educator, or the procedures that will be followed in the event that a religious educator is denied credentials status, or has that status suspended. In these cases, the proposed language is in line with the language already in the bylaws, governing the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

The bylaws establishing the Religious Education Credentialing Committee were originally developed with a view to making its structure similar to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, to the extent that this is possible and appropriate, and this bylaw's proposal is in keeping with the vision that our association has had for this important credentialing committee. Secondly, there are administrative changes which bring the language in the bylaws into agreement with the credentialing categories used by the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, specifically changing the term, Master's level, to Master level, wherever it appears in the bylaws. Your board of directors urges support for these proposed amendments.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Madam Moderator. Rudy Sprinkle. The Unitarian Society of Germantown, in Philadelphia. I did not hear her state that it included sections 12.6 and 12.9, the material on page 16.

GINI COURTER: So make sure you check the material on page 16. I checked with our first vice-moderator, who assures me that it was read. But we all want to be looking at the same stuff, right? Thank you, Rudy. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: I am Ryan Hedges, with the Unitarian Universalist of the Blue Ridge. And I urge rejection of this amendment. In particular, I object to deleting, in section 12.6, the right of the accused religious educator to be represented by counsel, to introduce evidence, to have relevant and material evidence in the possession of the association produced, and to cross-examine and rebut adverse evidence. I believe that these are against it Unitarian Universalist principles, and against the universal declaration of human rights that's been passed down to this assembly, which in particular guaranteed that people should have all necessary guarantees for their defense. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Yes, Madam Moderator. Bob Bacon, First Church, San Francisco, a former chair of the board of review. The conversation the previous speaker requested was held head, at some length, at the Fort Lauderdale general assembly. And the consensus of this body was that the provisions for representation by counsel were not necessary in the bylaw, as they do exist in the rules and procedures of the board of review, which have been endorsed by the board of trustees. This was the resolution that the body adopted, with respect to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee three years ago. And as the board of trustees representative said a moment ago, the purpose of this amendment is to bring the procedures for religious educators into conformity with that, so that a yes vote is appropriate, based on what was done at Fort Lauderdale. Thank you.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: Dino Drudi, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, of suburban Washington, DC. I've come to ask the same question I asked when this came up for ministerial fellowship, which of course everyone assured me, they would fix the language. Instead they repeated the language.

GINI COURTER: Well, that's kind of like fixing. Go ahead.

AUDIENCE: 23, they have inserted the word, incompetence. Does incompetence, here, mean mental incompetence, or for example, physical disablement. The person cannot perform the functions for reasons beyond their control. Or does it mean, simply, the capabilities and abilities to do the job, because of what we normally call, incompetent government, or whatever. What is meant here by incompetence? It's the same question I asked two or three years ago that tied everybody up for 15 or 20 minutes.

GINI COURTER: As soon as you came up, it felt very familiar. So let's do what we did when we talked about this last, which is we will call on the chair of the ministerial fellowship committee, since I see him approaching the microphone. And the MFC is already using these rules, more or less, right?

AUDIENCE: Yes. Wayne Arnason, chair the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. I think that Dino's language did suggest what really is the broad definition of our understanding of, incompetence, which has to do with the ability to do the job. Your ability to do the job can be compromised for a variety of reasons. And rather than do a laundry list of those reasons, both the ministerial fellowship language and this language, does give the committee some broad discretion to be able to define and understand that, and be responsive to the numerous kinds of circumstances under which a religious leader could no longer be competent to be able to do their job.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

AUDIENCE: Helini Thayre, of the Arlington Street Church in Boston. I have to acknowledge, I'm not really expert in any of this area of the bylaws. But, just reading lines 250 to 252, which I'll read in a second, makes me concerned that there's no remedy for the decision of the Religious Education Credentialing Committee. And there may be a time when somebody might want to have further consideration beyond what their determination was. And so I'll read those lines. The religious education credentialing committee's determination of fact, and/or credibility, will not be overturned unless no reasonable fact finder could have reached such determination, and disputes a factor to be resolved in favor of the Religious Education Credentialing Committee's determination. So I don't know if that particular amendment could be removed and leaving everything else there.

GINI COURTER: No. This wasn't discussed. How many of you were in the mini-assembly for this item? Do you begin to see. That's a great time to ask questions about some of these items. So, no. We can't remove part of it, because this issue wasn't raised in the mini-assembly.

AUDIENCE: So it's an up or down vote against the whole thing. that. Well, anyway. That's my two cents, and maybe I just don't understand it. But it worries me that there's no remedy.

GINI COURTER: Well let's go get us some help. I want to ask for procedural answer from the pro microphone.

AUDIENCE: Thank you very much, Madam Moderator. Bob Bacon, again. The lawyers in the room will recognize, what's called, an abuse of discretion standard of review by an appeals court. It essentially gives, in this case, the Religious Education Credentialing Committee the benefit of the doubt. The board of review is to focus on procedural errors. It is not to second guess either the MFC, or the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, on questions of fact. Once again, this is a standard that is very familiar in the courts of law. And it is the standard we adopted three years ago for the board of reviews review of decisions of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.

AUDIENCE: My name is Susan Anderson. I'm with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills. This is a point of clarification. My understanding of this is that, what this amendment does, is remove the right to counsel at the point that any factual evidence is presented, and solely permit a right to counsel for argument on appeal. But it reads to me as if it requires the person to go without counsel, when facts are presented, and preclude council at that level, but only permit it to argue whether or not the person acting, pro-se, did a good enough job on presenting their case on their own.

GINI COURTER: Wayne.

AUDIENCE: Thanks, Madam Moderator. One of the difficulties we had, when we did these with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, that are coming up again, and delegates may not remember, is that we tried to make the distinction between a credentialing process, that involves the determination of whether a person is competent to perform in the professional capacity in which they are called, and that they are appearing before us, to be determined, versus a judicial process, in which there is a crime that is being investigated, and uses the model of the legal processes with counsel.

Our credentialing processes do not involve somebody coming before the RU credentialing committee, or the MFC with a representative with them, or an attorney with them, when they are being credentialed in the first place. In these hearings, in the case of whether a person is competent to continue to do this, similarly, are not ones that we think require counsel. So this is what changed with the ministerial fellowship committee. We see disciplinary issues or competence issues as an extension of the original process of determining whether a person is has basic competence to be a religious leader.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.

AUDIENCE: Steve Burns, Unitarian Church of Davis, California. As a huge number of delegates have left the hall, I would just like to ask that when the counts are taken, to be sure to maintain the quorum requirement.

GINI COURTER: Thank you. OK. So I'm going to say what I would say, right now, this afternoon, because I'm preaching to the choir. You're still here. Thank you. I see no one at the con microphone, even though I have someone in the pro microphone. It's time to vote. So all those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. OK. This clearly passes. So we start again at two o'clock. Yes? OK.

Recess

GINI COURTER:Start packing up, as I say the magic words, that say, I declare we shall stand in recess until then. And I'll see you very shortly.

Plenary VI is General Assembly 2011 event number 5005.

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Last updated on Monday, February 27, 2012.

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