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General Assembly (GA) 2013 Event 5007
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Moderator Gini Courter presides over the plenary sessions in which the business of the Association is being conducted.
Late arriving items may require rearrangement of the agenda as published.
GINI COURTER: I now call to order the ninth and final plenary session of the 52nd General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, also known as the top of the ninth. Thank you to Linda Olson Peebles for pointing that out. Please welcome the Reverend Neal Anderson and the UUA minister's council on congregation-based community organizing to light our chalice for this last plenary session. And if you are a congregational president from our session yesterday, this is what I was talking to you about that I told you you'd hear about in plenary. Neal.
REV. NEAL ANDERSON: We light this chalice, symbol of our faith, on this last afternoon of plenary for all the work that we do together in interfaith community in organizing for justice. Good afternoon. We have some exciting news to share with you from the first comprehensive study to be done on the field of congregational-based community organizing what some of us call CBCO, in over a decade, building bridges, building power.
The findings show that congregational-based community organizing is a growing, vibrant, diverse, effective movement for faith-based justice making. The field has grown 42% reaching into 40 States beyond urban cores to metropolitan areas. 3,500 congregations and 1,000 schools, unions, and faith-based non-profits are members. While mainline Christian participation has fallen, Unitarian Universalist involvement has continued to grow along with black Protestant, Jewish, Evangelical, and Muslim congregations in the past decade.
REV. LINDA OLSON PEEBLES: CBCO membership is significantly more diverse than US congregations bridging the divides of race and class. We're seeing profound generational and gender shifts. The majority of organizers are between 20 and 40 years old in contrast to 30 and 50 10 years ago, and organizers are 55% female, 14% are immigrants, many are former dreamers.
The scale and scope with CBCO has transitioned from a primary focus on local partnerships to connecting these to State and national organizing efforts. You can see here the issues that CBCOs are addressing at various levels building a bigger and wider bridge.
REV. NEAL ANDERSON: I was inspired a number of years ago when I witnessed a film about Reverend Linda and others in an organization called Voice and a presentation at the General Assembly plenary about the power of congregational-based community organizing and Unitarian Universalist congregational engagement.
I went home to Reno, Nevada excited to get involved but found there was no organization there. So did I do? I began organizing one. And after three years of organizing, we held our Founding Convention of ACTIONN, a PICO Network affiliate in October. Here is a video of that event.
-Where there is no vision, the people perish.
-Only 55% to 58% of Washoe County students graduate. Where there is no vision, the people perish. 90% of students graduating from Washoe County Schools, entering Truckee Meadows Community College need remediation. Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Many of our young people undereducated in a cultural climate that fails to value education, drop out of school for living wage employment. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Companies that are considering relocating to Nevada are skipping over us due to the unskilled workforce and the low ranking of our schools. Can I get a witness? Where there is no vision, the people perish.
But we have a vision, friends. We have a vision.
-When we work together, when we show how much power we have together, we can really make a difference in the communities. We can change the direction that our leaders are taking. We can change the direction in our communities.
-We are truly, truly better together. You know, if you agree with me, you can raise those signs. I want to know, are you as excited as I am to feel the power in this room as we work together? Are you energized to work together to create change? As you heard this evening, action has begun our work together focusing on jobs and education. And you know as well that this is just the beginning.
-We hope at Holy Temple, churches of God in Christ—
- —here on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of all of Nevada.
- —and representing. We are [INAUDIBLE] NAACP.
-And I'm here to represent Second Baptist Church of Reno.
-I'm Rick Michaelson representing Temple Sinai Reform Jewish Congregation. We're a founding member of ACTIONN. We have 11 of our faith leaders here tonight from our congregation numbering 120 families. We support ACTIONN's founding platform.
-We're better together. That we have the strength in numbers as the saying goes. There's an ability to have that voice heard because when we come together and we all say we're going to build some way, or we all say we're going to get behind some kind of change or action, then things can happen. When I'm by myself, I'm just one voice alone.
-May we run after justice, not once but twice and endless times more from this evening of ACTIONN's historic Founding Convention throughout all the days of our lives. [SPEAKING LATIN] And let us say as a promise to one another. Amen.
[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]
REV. NEAL ANDERSON: This past April, ACTIONN held a public assembly with over 200 leaders from 32 different faith communities in northern Nevada to improve education. We gained the support of the superintendent of schools and the school board for $200,000 in funding for parent/teacher home visit program.
In may, I went with other PICO clergy to Washington to advocate for compassionate immigration reform. And on May 29, ACTIONN organized over 1,200 northern Nevadans to gather to advocate for a pathway to citizenship joined by the United States Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Unitarian Universalists and their congregational-based community organization groups are making change and changing.
REV. LINDA OLSON PEEBLES: Organizing for immigrant justice. If you see your congregation in one of these pictures, applaud our shout out. Organizing for education. For green transportation. For protection of the environment. For stopping foreclosures, and for ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
Would you like to get involved? Attend a CBCO training. The UUA will pay half of your cost and the first year of your member dues. Talk to our CBCO minister's council or contact UUA staffer Susan Leslie via visiting uua.org/cbco.
REV. NEAL ANDERSON AND LINDA OLSON PEEBLES: Join us in building bridges, building power, and building beloved community.
REV. LINDA OLSON PEEBLES: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. That was really brilliant. Make some noise and a visible sign if your congregation is involved in congregationally-based community organizing. I want to say a couple of things about that really quickly before we go on and I introduce our next folks. First of all, there's actually some serious scholarly work.
We've had enough time with faith-based or congregationally-based community organizing to have a body of work that says that when congregations are actually involved in community organizing, there are a ton of good outcomes for the congregation as well. Things like a better awareness of the congregation within the city or community, but also that on average, individual members of the congregation are more civically engaged than they would have been in similar congregations or before. That because folks know who you are, they visit more often. That because they visit more, congregations that are doing CBCO work well, tend to grow as well.
So it feels to me like there's great evidence, but to me some of the best evidence was several years ago, maybe four, when I asked, remember about 1 in 6 of our congregation is it is involved in community organizing and it has little to do with congregation size actually. We have small and large congregations involved. And I asked our Board of Trustees at that time how many of them came from congregations involved with community organizing, all but 3 out of a 24-member board.
So there's also leadership development that happens along with community organizing and a willingness to reach out, not simply beyond your walls in your community but within Unitarian Universalism as well. We don't always have funds available for you to train. If you are interested in this, I encourage you to go back to your congregation and start to make this happen so that in future years, it won't be 1 in 6, it will be 1 in 4, and then 1 in 2. And then finally, we will be engaged in congregations in the way that we've always said we should be Thank you.
I recognize the delegate at procedural microphone.
SPEAKER 1: Madame Moderator, [INAUDIBLE] still working with the tech team.
GINI COURTER: Yes.
SPEAKER 1: Just as a reminder, there is an off site delegate with a procedural issue.
GINI COURTER: Thank you very much. I'm going to recognize the off-site delegate with the procedural issue.
SALLY J. GALLERT: Hello.
GINI COURTER: Hey, Sally. What have you got?
SALLY J. GALLERT: Hey. OK. This is Sally Gallert, Central Unitarian Church at Paramus, New Jersey. I was just wondering that given that we started 10 minutes late, do we need to extend the time to 6:15 or do we wait till later and just pray we might lose time? Check.
GINI COURTER: No. Let us manage it. I think we're probably going to be OK. I think will be fine.
SALLY J. GALLERT: Thanks. OK Thank you If we need that, we'll come back and do that. Fabulous. So you saw them at the beginning of General Assembly asking questions and wondering how we were doing on the journey towards wholeness. Please welcome your Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee.
SPEAKER 2: Thank you Madame Moderator, and thank you for your leadership and vision on our journey toward wholeness. And I now invite you to hear from four of our members David Slavin, Carrie Stewart, Walter LeFlore, and Jonipher Kwong.
DAVID SLAVIN: In 1997, we made a promise to ourselves and to each other. In the language of that promise we committed to a journey toward wholeness, toward becoming an anti-racist, multicultural, faith community. The Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee was created and tasked with monitoring and assessing our progress. How are we fulfilling that promise? Three days ago we came before you and asked you to help us answer that question.
We asked you, what have we accomplished? What is our current reality? Many of you respond.
-Well, there's been a lot of accomplishment, I think, since 1997 including the fact that we have dedicated events for people of color, and marginalized people, and people of different ethnic persuasions.
-I do see progress especially in people in dominant culture actually imagining what the impact of their words and their decisions are, proactively imagining how they can be in right relationship with the marginalized groups in our world, and actually listening and believing the stories they hear.
-When I look around, I see a lot of people from different cultures whether it be different racial cultures or just different regions with their different experiences. Then it's really fun and exciting and it's beautiful to see.
-The current generation that's in power has to empower the next generation if we're going to successfully transition our faith into the next century. It's important that we understand that people of color are going to be a major part of what happens in this nation and in this world. And our faith needs to be representative of that change.
-Just this morning one of our volunteers was asked if there was a grocery store nearby, and the volunteer said, yes, there's a ghetto Kroger three blocks away. The grocery store is not located in a particular neighborhood that one would relate with the term ghetto. It's not even necessarily related to be in a necessarily poor neighborhood. It is an older grocery store and maybe not as shiny as others.
-A group of UU religious professionals of color visiting in Chicago. Community in struggle. Basically, Latino, Latina, African American community. Tough section. And we went in. As people of color, you use with our own struggles, they went into the community to be enveloped within a community of color struggling for ecological justice, racial justice.
What I saw was the way in which we were no longer the ambassadors of color, if you will. We were there to learn, to share and to live our faith too and make real that resolution. It felt like an extraordinary step forward. Sometimes I wonder, well, how do I fit in when I'm so often asked to be the teacher? Here, I was able to be a very humble student on our collective duty.
-I wanted to encourage and support the UUs to both be working on themselves, but to see the work in the world for justice as a powerful part of the overall journey. That we can't just make ourselves a perfect island that's outside of society. But as we work and transform society, we also transform ourselves.
CARRIE STEWART: These are only some of the stories. You also shared stories of awkward and painful experiences, people who are asked their nationality, what it is, or told that their names are too difficult to pronounce. We heard wounded testimony from those who move through the world differently either in body, mind, or spirit.
WALTER LEFLORE: We heard stories of congregations who believe themselves to be one place on the journey while claiming proudly members who understand the place on the journey to be very different. One person said, we still have many among us. We're just beginning to trust enough to speak the pain of feeling other. You have a profound gratitude for speaking your pain.
We encourage everyone to view these stories and others at our Facebook page, UUA JTWTC.
JONIPHER KWONG: As you can tell on our Facebook page, we have about 162 Likes as of five minutes ago. We need more of you to Like us please, because we could use all the affirmation we can get. And as these stories on Facebook and on the video and on the cards that you filled out have indicated, we have a long ways to go on our journey toward wholeness. Fortunately, as Mel Hoover said yesterday, "The journey is not over."
In the coming months, we welcome your continued input, so you do have a homework assignment to take with you after GA. Please take these questions home and help us widen the conversation. Make room for the sharing of our collective accomplishments and the hard truths of our current reality. Together, we can do this difficult thing. Together, we can share all of our truths and then move forward on the journey together.
And I'm going to close now with the words from the immortal saint, Mel Hoover. I bet many of you didn't know that people could be canonized before they died, did you? If the pope could become a Universalist, anything's possible, I suppose. Anyway that's not in the script. Here's what Mel Hoover said. He says, "Truth is not limited. It changes, and it changes us." May it be so.
GINI COURTER: We are a learning community, aren't we? It's a good thing. It's a good, good thing. So we're going to do some of the voting stuff now because we like doing that. We're going to work on actions of immediate witness, but just before we do— so that's a clue to get out banana paper. Right?
But just before we do, earlier David and I did a call out of gratitude. This is also known as the gratitude plenary. You can just call it that. And we expressed our gratitude to the folks who are working high tech our behalf, the people from CMI and our local folks who are working studio in AV with us. I'd like to actually call out to the volunteer crews now that are over to my left, the people who have been getting stuff pushed up on the screen every day all day, who have been covering the angles, changing the text, our tech deck.
I happen to think it's one of the best gigs in the land. And in between the tech deck, make some noise tech deck. Right there. Love. Just this side of the tech deck the folks enabling increasing numbers of us every year to attend General Assembly and participate online but off site, our off-site delegate team right in the middle. Let's Thank them.
The folks who keep the clocks running so that we can make sure that we're doing everything according to the book, but also making sure that each time I start us off, and it's like, oh, we need to start that again. They just reset the clock quietly and they never ding me for it, the folks who are running our clocks and monitors for us right down here between off-site and me, say, hi.
That's all good. Thank you. We'll have more gratitude as the day goes on. So we added three actions of immediate witness to the agenda yesterday. And now we're going to take each of those up in the same order in which we dropped them in yesterday. I notice I have two delegates at procedural microphones already. And I'm going to recognize the first delegate at the procedural microphone that would be, it looks like Robert Hatfield.
Let me say that word, off-site, procedural microphone.
ROBERT HATFIELD: Well, I'll speak anyway.
GINI COURTER: Hi. We can hear you now, Robert. Go ahead.
ROBERT HATFIELD: OK. Actually, I had asked to be at pro microphone, but I'll speak anyway.
GINI COURTER: No. Actually, no. Hang on. I'm going to actually put you over at pro microphone line. And would you move him over without changing his time, please? And would you give me the second delegate who's listed under the procedural microphone? We'll be back to you, Robert.
ROBERT HATFIELD: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: And that would be Gina Whitaker. Gina, are you wanting to be at the procedural microphone?
GINA WHITAKER: Yes, I am.
GINI COURTER: Your question ma'am.
GINA WHITAKER: OK. I'm Gina Whitaker from the Unitarian Universalist scholarship in San Luis Obispo, California.
GINA WHITAKER: Some of our off site delegates are wondering, why are resources and footnotes not appropriate for AIW.
GINI COURTER: Huh.
GINA WHITAKER: Did you hear me?
GINI COURTER: Yeah, I did. And now I'm just looking stymied. This is my stymied look. We have the map on the screen, so it's hard to see.
GINA WHITAKER: Yeah, it's a map.
GINI COURTER: Just a moment please. Let me see if I can learn something.
GINA WHITAKER: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I'm going to ask the chair. This actually came from the Commission on Social Witness, so let's ask the chair of the Commission on Social Witness. Go right ahead.
SUSAN GOEKLER: We do ask that there be verification of some of the information in there that is presented, and we take a look at it. There were actually some footnotes in some of them when they were originally proposed. The footnotes were not that's specific to them and were not necessary. And there were other footnotes that could be, and there could be a whole long list of footnotes.
So we made the decision that we would not include footnotes. If the delegates decide that they want to put footnotes in, we would put footnotes in if that seems like it's important.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you. Thank you, Gina. So I'm going to—
GINA WHITAKER: Ah, and one more thing.
GINI COURTER: Oops. I guess not.
GINA WHITAKER: I'd like to give gratitude to our off-site IT folks.
GINI COURTER: Yeah. We were just giving them props here a minute ago. They're pretty cool, aren't they?
GINA WHITAKER: Yes, very. Thank you very much.
GINI COURTER: It's great to have you at GA this year, Gina. Thank you. All righty. We're going to go to the pro microphone now and here the first of the actions of immediate witness that you've placed on the agenda. And go ahead, Susan.
SUSAN GOEKLER: The Commission on Social Witness moves to adopt the proposed AIW-1 as revised in your sheet.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you. And I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
MICHAEL GREENMAN: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Michael Greenman, First UU Church of Columbus and the UU JAC. First I'd like to thank the plenary delegates yesterday for giving us the strong approval to move this AIW forward. The 1,000 copies of it and the We the People amendment we passed out, I'm sure led to this strong support.
The mini assembly yesterday afternoon was a surprise. Only 35 people attended, 3 of the 35 proposed most amendments with the express purpose of removing all reference to the move to amend proposal and to introduce wording that would include all other amendments currently in Congress. I believe there are now 13. Inclusiveness is wonderful. However, now is the time for focus. Every other amendment is only a partial fix to the massive challenges we face.
One person speaking against the move to amend document said, "This is the gold standard, the only proposal that deals fully with both key issues, corporations are not persons, and money is not speech. But it could not get through Congress today. We agree. We do not intend to push this in Congress now. What we need is support from UU congregations all over the country to endorse the amendment and go on record that we need to address both issues.
If we pass resolutions in our congregations and cities and States, we can combine our voices nationwide to show Congress that people demand true democracy. Our effort is like that of the suffragettes who worked intensely at the grassroots level until Congress saw the power of that movement and stepped in front of the parade to adopt the 19th Amendment. This is our strategy.
We know there will be improvements to go forward, but we invite you and your congregations to endorse the We The People amendment as many have already to show that the people of this nation insist on resolving both issues now. Too much damage is happening to this country. We cannot afford to wait.
As Bill Schultz charged us this morning, 'No rest. No peace. No victory for the greedy.'"
GINI COURTER: Thank you.
MICHAEL GREENMAN: Thank you. So we're stuck in an interesting place here, because we're looking at, remember look at banana. So we're looking at a proposed action of immediate witness, the one numbered one, which has been pretty heavily amended. So I want to be clear that what we're doing is we're speaking pro and con in favor of what you see on paper here. Does that makes sense?
All right. So I'm going to recognize the delegate who wants to speak at the con microphone.
SPEAKER 3: Hi. I'm Jim [INAUDIBLE] from First Unitarian in San Jose, California.
SPEAKER 4: Madame Moderator, that was—
JIM RUMBA: I understand this proposal.
GINI COURTER: That's not what we do.
SPEAKER 3: But I think there's a certain hypocrisy in criticizing the role of money in the government ignoring the role that money plays in this very organization. I'm here as a delegate because I can afford to pay my way, and I'm retired. And I bet that most of you, not all, but most of you are in the same position. You can afford to come, and you don't need to work this week to put food on the table.
So the audience that I see does not reflect the diversity of our existing congregations, yet again, the diversity that we hope to achieve. And our campaigns for moderator and UUA president are not so different from national and State elections. Money speaks and excludes. And in the life of our congregations, many people are excluded from leadership because they can't afford the time from work or to pay the babysitter.
I agree with Reverend Mel Hoover. When you want to know an organization's values, follow the money. And money, even more than race or gender identity, is a topic we don't like to discuss. So yes, pass this proposal to do the little that we can to affect national policy. But let's take charge of something we completely control, the corrupting effect of money in our own house.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
SARA JANE SIEGFRIED: Thank you, Madame Moderator. I'm Sara Jane Siegfried from University Unitarian Church in Seattle, one of the original proposers of this forum. I'm a former lobbyist for public campaign financing and was a candidate for State legislature in 2012. My church requested only one thing of me as a delegate. Our Get Money Out of Politics social justice group asked me to support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, but to oppose the overly-specific language that has been circulated by the group called Move to Amend. that supports only one bill in Congress of the dozen or so that have been and are being proposed.
Our Get Money Out of Politics group asked me instead to support three principles. These are corporations are not people. Money is not speech. Campaign contributions and expenditures must be disclosed to the public, including dark money. This is what the new version does.
We believe that any amendment ultimately adopted by Congress will likely differ from the narrow language that was originally proposed. While we are all intent on the same goal, about 3/4 of the mini assembly voted to support this broader language so that the UUA and its congregations will have more flexibility in supporting an amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Help us get out of the weeds and keep our eyes on the prize.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the off-site delegate at the procedural microphone.
SALLY GALLERT: Hi. This is Sally Gallert from Central Unitarian.
GINI COURTER: Go ahead.
SALLY GALLERT: Can you hear me?
SALLY GALLERT: Yeah. OK. I wanted to know how to go about storing one of the amendments from those that were deleted to merely include laws 22 to 24 so we reference but do not focus on Move to Amend.
GINI COURTER: So Sally, that's in our rules of procedure. And I believe we have to debate for— I think we're still three minute short of the time at which an amendment could be introduced. Five minutes.
SALLY GALLERT: OK. Thanks. Yeah, I'll tell her what to do. I'll come back. Bye.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you so five minutes. Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
REV. CATHY RION STARR: Reverend Cathy Rion Starr from All Souls Church in Washington, DC. I would like to ask if we could display the text of the Move to Amend amendment, which the tech deck does have so that folks could be able to see that.
GINI COURTER: Yes, we can do that. So that's a request for information. Tech deck, is that something that you can do for us at the drop of a hat, or should I go on to hear the next speaker and then come back? We might get it pretty quick here.
REV. CATHY RION STARR: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Or not. So as soon as we can have it between speakers, just flag me, OK? Thank you tech deck. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
TIM ATKINS: Good afternoon. My name is Tim Atkins from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, and I rise against this motion. Besides my questions if this is appropriate for an action of immediate witness as I doubt it immediacy, it might be better as a congregational study action issue, so we can study the ramifications of corporate personhood in depth. I have another concern. I was at the 2011 General Assembly when I saw in the texting amendment. It made reference to an AIW pass. I went and read it during lunch.
The 2011 AIW reference in this current AIW says, "Be it resolved that the 2011 General Assembly encourages member congregations to support similar motions of other organizations such as Move to Amend." Now, I know a lot of the references to Move to Amend have been taken out through the mini assembly, but the fact that remains in 2011, we passed an AIW that calls on us to do, well, the exact same thing in different words in the AIW two years later.
Do we really want to annually issue AIW's on the same issues over and over again? Should we as a body focus on repeating these same issues over and over when there are only three AIWs allowed for a vote, which makes it impossible for other more immediate actions to be voted on. If we pass this just two years after a fairly identical AIW is passed, it will only encourage further repeated duplication shutting the door on other pressing issues.
I hope you join with me in voting no on this AIW to preserve what I see is the integrity of the AIW and greater social justice processes of this body that we all love, General Assembly. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. How are you doing tech deck? OK. I'm now going you pick up— one, two, three— recognize the delegate at the pro microphone, and I want to let the off-site delegate know that they will speak pro next. Go ahead.
DAVID KEPPEL: Madam moderator, my name is David Keppel, and I'm co-chair of the Just Peace Task Force of the UU Church of Bloomington, Indiana. Michael Servetus went to the stake to oppose a theologically-oppressive doctrine of personhood. The modern secular trinity is corporate personhood, the national security State, and an oppressive version of racial, social, and sexual identity.
Unitarian Universalism has deep religious roots to confront abstract and oppressive accounts of personhood and to affirm the worth and dignity of real flesh and blood persons. The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution grants its most sacred rights, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, to persons, not just to citizens, persons including immigrants.
The notion that vast profit-maximizing corporations should enjoy the rights and protections of real persons and the need for financial limit on corporate speech would be an infringement of free speech, is in reality a devastating devaluation of the rights of real persons. It drowns our voices in a sea of money. The proposed constitutional amendment, which states that corporations are not persons and money is not speech, is simply an attempt to reclaim American democracy.
As we return to our congregations to implement this action of immediate witness, I hope we will both reflect and act to restore the dignity of real persons. Yesterday, we heard proposals to act in defense of privacy on behalf of whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden and to reject force feeding at Guantanamo. These initiatives are in fact—
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
A. J. SEGNERI: Madame Moderator, my name is there A. J. Segneri, delegate for First Unitarian Society of Chicago. Ladies and gentlemen, I am saddened to see that the language to remove Move to Amend has been stricken in this language. Being a person an activist, a community organizer who has worked with David Cobb and Ben Manski with the Liberty Tree Foundation, to get Move to Amend as a coalition, we as a UU community, need to work with other organizations like Move to Amend, and I would like to see Move to Amend being put back into this language. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone off site and online. Carol?
CAROL CROSS: Yes. Hi this is Carol Cross from the Unitarian Universal Fellowship of Redwood City in California.
CAROL CROSS: I've got a procedural question because discussing this amendment with friends, I was given to understand that once the constitutional incentive is called, you don't really have a lot of control over what other crazy things might be introduced. I'd like to hear from a constitutional expert as to whether that is really true. Because in this climate, where, not venting to you, but a lot of people are billing a lot of privacy rights and what else? Yeah, the surge of seizure rights in the interest of [INAUDIBLE], so called, I'm really worried about us if there is a Constitutional Convention. Could that be addressed?
GINI COURTER: Certainly. I'm going to ask our legal counsel who does not declare himself to be a constitutional expert, but we decided between him and me, it's his turn. And he's trained, and I'm not.
TOM BEAN: I did draw the short straw here. I am not a constitutional expert, but I know that corporations go well beyond Fortune 500 companies. The Unitarian Universalist Association is a corporation. Nonprofit, charitable, educational institutions of higher learning, hospitals, those are also corporations typically.
I invite you to think about, and again, I'm not expressing an opinion, whether if the Unitarian Universalist Association, if corporations were not people and didn't enjoy the benefits of the Bill of Rights, whether or not the government could review the files of the Unitarian Universalist Association without a warrant. In other words, generally speaking, corporations, like the UUA, enjoy the protections against unreasonable search and seizure. I invite you to consider whether the UUA way would lose those Fourth Amendment protections if corporations were not people.
I also invite you to consider whether if the government decided it wanted to own 25 Beacon Street, it could take property without due process and without just compensation as now mandated by the Constitution. So I think it's really important for you to consider the implications. Many people may think of corporations as Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 companies. It's a lot broader than that. The UUA is a corporation.
So I invite you to think about what are the possible ramifications of a constitutional amendment defining corporations not as people. It's a lot broader than just the Fortune 500. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Hi. OK. I need to recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
MICHAEL GREENMAN: Michael Greenman, First UU Columbus. I just want to answer or respond to the question from off site as to whether a Constitutional Convention would be called, would be desirable. Our purpose is absolutely not to have a Constitutional Convention. I refer to the amendment 19, which was women's suffrage, is exactly the same situation we're talking about here.
We want to build the movement grassroots so that there's a recognition that this has to happen and then it goes into Congress as it did in 1920. There is no desire, or wish, or intention to go to a Constitutional Convention. As she said, that could be a mess.
GINI COURTER: Almost like this. Right. OK. All right. I'm on it. I have somebody at the amendment microphone, and amendments are now in order.
KINDRA MUNTZ: Thank you. My name is Kindra Muntz from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice, Florida. And thank you. I applaud the work of this body. I appreciate all the good thinking that's gone into the mini assembly. However, I support the gentleman at the con mic who suggested that we restore the language of Move to Amend. The reason is this.
We write now, as we learned last night at the Service of the Living Tradition are at a point of great awakening in this country. We need to go forward to make something happen for the benefit of the people or we are losing our democracy. We are losing our democratic republic, and we are in deep danger of losing so many of the protections that have been put into the Constitution and also our environment, our earth, it's very, very scary point in time.
Move to Amend is a coalition. It's not an organization. It's a coalition of organizations all over the country. Over 500 different organizations plus many Unitarian Universalist congregations have supported this. My amendment is to restore the language that you see on your yellow sheets, the language that was crossed out to focus on the Move to Amend proposal.
Why? Because we need to energize people all over the country to the importance of these two issues, to address the point of the attorney, of Mr. Bean. Yesterday, there was an outstanding attorney from California in the mini assembly. Afterwards I talked to him. He said that this could be parsed as it gets closer to provide the protections needed by corporations for all the things they need to function while removing those aspects that are causing problems all over the country, where they are violating major campaign finance contributions and so forth.
This can happen. We know it's going to be amended, but the people need to see right now that both issues are critical. Corporate personhood and money is not speech. If we can energize people all over the country, we can raise that critical mass just the way they did with the suffragettes to accomplish what's needed not in 10 years, not in 5 years, but sooner than that.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I have a motion to introduce an amendment, which would take everything that is stricken from pages two and three and restore it. Is there a second? I'm seeing seconds. OK. Thank you. So that's an order. I recognize the gentleman at the procedural microphone.
DAN SCHNEIDER: Madame Chair. I'm Dan Schneider with the First Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have a procedural question. My question is, why did the man who was apparently supposed to be giving us information, gave his opinion? I feel like he should have been at the con microphone. I don't think you should have allowed it.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. We're at the end of our time. Somebody can fix that if they want to or not.
KINDRA MUNTZ: I move for—
GINI COURTER: Not from there. Thank you. Yes, you know right where to be.
KINDRA MUNTZ: Thank you. Kindra Muntz from Venice, Florida. Thank you. I move that we extend the time for another 15 minutes, if needed?
GINI COURTER: 15 if needed. Are we good at the motion? Is there a second? All those in favor of adding 15 minutes to the clock for this item raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed.
We're going to do that again. All those in favor of adding 15 minutes, raise your voting cards. Ah, more cards. It took us a minute to find them. Thank you. All those opposed. We want to see it one more time and slower. All those in favor of extending debate 15 minutes. More and more cards every time. All righty. Thank you. All those opposed.
The motion carries. Let's add 15 minutes to the clock, if needed. Remember, if we are needy enough in this regard, we can spend an evening together here without ever leaving. It's in your hands. OK.
So let me tell you what we just did. There's a substantial amendment on the floor. OK? So if you want to speak in favor of that amendment, if you want to speak in favor of putting all of these stricken language back in, you would now be at the pro microphone. If you want to say, no, I don't want to change it, you would be at the con microphone.
Normally, when we totally turn what we're talking about on it's head, people change microphones. None of you have, and that's bothering me somehow. I'm not sure. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone. Maybe I'll discern something out of this. Go ahead.
BOB BACON: I hope so, Madame Moderator.
BOB BACON: Bob Bacon, First Church San Francisco urging a no vote on the amendment that was just made. The CSW has given us a narrowly-drawn proposal related to campaign finance of this amendment from We the People seeks to have us endorse a much broader amendment that goes far beyond that. The We the People amendment is not well grounded in either history or constitutional law.
During the Cold War era, the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles had its property tax exemption taken away because it refused to sign an anti-communist loyalty oath. They got their property tax exemption back. Why? Because as a corporation, they had first amendment rights and due process rights that were vindicated in the federal courts.
Tom Bean a moment ago gave the second example I was going to and that is the UUA's Fifth Amendment right to just compensation. If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to expand the State House and take over the building on Beacon Street.
The people supporting Move to Amend say that we can trust the legislatures to protect corporations to the extent they need to be protected. I don't trust Congress to pass the laws necessary to protect The New York Times and The Beacon Press when they proposed to publish the next generation's equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.
I don't trust the legislature of Oklahoma or the city councils around Oklahoma to protect the property rights and the associational rights of the mosques in the Islamic student centers, and for that matter, the churches in Oklahoma that have marriage equality signs out on their front lawns. I urge a no vote on this amendment so that we do not endorse the We the People amendment.
GINI COURTER: So I'm going to return to the request from the procedural microphone previously, and we're going to put the text of the 28th amendment on the screen. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. That's really cute. I want to text you back. I'm sorry. Are you all on Twitter? No. OK. Thank you.
I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
JODY MALLOY: Hi, Madam Moderator. I am Jody Malloy from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, Pennsylvania. And I'm a little confused about this amendment and what we're voting on. I thought that you had said that we're voting on putting back in the language that was there, but it wouldn't make sense if all we were doing was voting on putting it back in. We'd have to take the other language out. Right?
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And remove the underlying language. Yes. It's a move to restore it to its original format, which would include removing the items that are underlined and returning the items, restoring items that were stricken.
JODY MALLOY: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. All right. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone speaking in favor of the amendment.
MARCIA MEYERS: My name is Marcia Meyers. I'm from the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. I want to speak on several of these very important issues. One, the man who spoke before me is concerned about a government that we have now that is run by money, run by lobbyists, run by free speech of entities that never die and really cannot be held accountable as individuals can.
The very first part of this AIW, the We the People is what this is about. That we the people need to take back our democracy and our power. And part of our power, when we can jettison the money issue of huge multinational corporations, is to make laws and make legislation which will protect people and corporations. We the people have that power. We should not be relying on Congress people who have 20 or 30 lobbyists at their door more than 20 or 30 citizens.
Another part of this is that the Move to Amend amendment, we've been working on this for over 10 years with UJEC, it's the only one. There are 13 bills in Congress right now. This is immediate. It's happening. And all those 13 bills, the Move to Amend one is the only one that is grassroots.
It's coming from the people. The rest are all from the beltway. They're from Congress. They're from people who have seen that they have an opportunity, and they're hitching their start at the wagon. We want to be with We the People, the grassroots movement. We've given it a lot of thought.
MATTHEW JOHNSON-DOYLE: Matthew Johnson-Doyle, senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockford, Illinois against the amendment, which is proposed here. Mini assembly made the right choice in changing out the specific language. The bill is too broad. It is also not urgent, not immediate. Money finds a way. And if you close off one door, it will be Exxon, and Apple, and all the rest that will find another way for their money to be influential.
But small corporations, including non-profits, including justice organizations, will find it much harder. Do you believe that in all of these States, these corporations will be protected and will have their rights? I think that would be hard to make that point. It is the small community organizations that also need constitutional rights. You'd say that no corporation, no group of people, no church, no anybody has any rights whatsoever, their right to free speech, their right to assembly can be taken away.
That is both unlikely to pass and not a good idea. So we should vote not to do this amendment. The other thing to say, is this does not seem to me as a minister serving our congregation, our core missional question and our actions for immediate witness ought to be things that come out of our sustained work and faith.
Some of us have been working hard on this issue, I know, and are here. But others have different views, and I don't think we know enough to be involved in legislation like this.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.
KARLA CHEW: I'm Karla Chew from Third Church in Chicago. And the Equal Protection Law, the 14th Amendment, was adopted in 1868 and was bent to give voting rights to freed slaves and indentured servants. From then on, corporations tried to get those rights. And then 18 years later they did, sort of. In Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad the Supreme Court voted for the corporations about taxes along the railroads right of way.
Chief Justice Waite stated that they didn't rule on the corporate person who had question. But the clerk of the court, a former railroad president, added the head notes that corporations are people, or persons. Ever after, this was considered a precedent based on a lie. Corporations can be protected by existing laws or laws that can be created by our government. If we so fear our current government, that's a reason to pass this so that we can get the ones not protecting our public good out of the government and the gazillion dollars influence out of our government.
SPEAKER 5: Hello. A bit shorter. My name is Jen [INAUDIBLE], and I'm from All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC. And I know we put the text up on the screen, but I would also like to read part of it just to make it clear why I'm against this amendment. So including this language, which the mini assembly decided would not be appropriate since congregations across the country have alternative proposals, which would be much better than the 28th amendment.
Because I believe that All Souls, my former congregation, First Church of Pittsburgh, all of the hundreds of congregations that were a part of deserve these constitutional rights. So the language would include, "artificial entities established by the laws of any States. The United States or any foreign state shall have no rights under this constitution." And so that is the reason why we're against this amendment, because the work that we do is so important and really does need to be protected.
DAVID KEPPEL: Madame Moderator, my name is David Keppel, and I'm co-chair of the Just Peace Task Force of the UU Church of Bloomington, Indiana. Fellow delegates, I know that Unitarian Universalists have a sense that when we gather together, we are ourselves the United States Constitutional Convention. However, I think it's well to remember that what we are is part of a broader citizen's movement.
I support the amendment to restore the original language, because it seems to me crucial for us to align ourselves with a national movement working to curb corporate power. This is not just a limited matter of campaign finance reform as important as that is. This is a broad challenge to the corporations that are strangling our democracy. And we as UUs need to be out there in the public square with our inter denominational allies. Please support the amendment.
GINI COURTER: I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone here in the hall.
HANNAH ROBERTS: Hi. Thank you, Madam Moderator. My name is Hannah Roberts, and I'm a delegate from the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland. I'd like to move the previous question.
GINI COURTER: OK. Is there a second? So that would immediately end debate on this amendment. All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Well, that clearly carries. Thank you.
Well, now we need to vote the amendment. All right. So the amendment is to restore the text to its original. All those in favor of restoring the text for proposed action of immediate witness, AIW-1, currently titled "Amend the Constitution. Corporations are not person's and money is not speech by restoring the stricken sections and removing the underlying sections." If you are in favor of that, please raise your voting card. If you are opposed, please raise your voting card. This amendment clearly fails.
We now return to the main motion we have 40 seconds on the clock, and I have an off-site delegate Robert Hatfield who would like to speak in favor of the original motion.
ROBERT HATFIELD: Speak quickly. Regarding the corporations are not— while I am thoroughly— let's recognize that it enabled— to make unlimited and undisclosed source critical contribution— both unions and other labor— AID— training to be more honest and comprehensive amends are still possible on this. I would ask— to include all such references. —gives corporations is opposed to any— pass of this to say that we have our blinders on.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Robert. I'm going to just let you know from here that we got about two out of every three words and not necessarily the ones that would have helped us understand your intent, but we know you were in favor of this, and the clock expired while you were speaking. So let's vote. Yes? Are we good?
All right. So we are now voting in favor of or against proposed AIW-1 as shown on pages two and three of today's CSW alert in this attractive banana color. All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. The first AIW clearly carries. Thank you.
Just so you can all join me in management, we are now 40 minutes behind schedule, because we started late and we extended. So we're OK, but let's be focused together. All right. So now, we turn to the second action of immediate witness. And I need a motion some time in my future. Hey. Oh.
SPEAKER 6: Gini, how's it going? Pauly from Brooklyn. Madam Moderator, I propose that the number two AIW be adopted at this time. It's a cricket.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And what we have here, this appears beginning on page three. This is proposed AIW-2, which as amended, they were incorporated amendments, "Condemn the racist mistreatment of young people of color by police" is the current name. And I'm going to let you speak to that if you would like for up to two minutes.
SPEAKER 6: Thank you. First, hello to all my people. And thank you for all the contributions of everybody, all the delegates and everything that's been done in committee. Long story short, do this. It's the right thing. Take an action. It's immediate. And do this as a witness within our faith. Living our faith means taking actions, not sitting on one's duff.
We have the opportunity to put this immediately into action. This is going on in Saint Louis. This is going on in Chicago, in New York. It's going on at this minute. How immediate can this be? Get your BlackBerrys out. Turn your laptops on. Throw the window open and say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."
By the time you leave here, you can start texting you congressmen. You can text everybody up and down on every level government. And you can do this individually. You can do this as a group, but just do it. It is the right thing. If the spirit says do, do it. And I'm telling you, friggin do it.
GINI COURTER: I had an off-site delegate at the procedural microphone, and then they disappeared. And I assumed it was on the last item. And it was nice to see David Pyle in the hall if even only on my screen. So if I was wrong about that, jump back in here, David. I have nobody who wants to speak against this. But I do have someone who wants to amend it. So I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.
JOYCE MOORE: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Joyce Moore from First Parish, Waltham, Massachusetts. I am new to this process, and I think maybe our process has changed, so I apologize for my confusion.
GINI COURTER: That's OK.
JOYCE MOORE: What we're voting on right now is in banana.
JOYCE MOORE: What we voted in yesterday to admit things was on our melon?
GINI COURTER: Honeydew.
JOYCE MOORE: Honeydew. I'm not good with the fruits.
GINI COURTER: How are you with colors?
JOYCE MOORE: Good with the colors. Let's switch colors.
GINI COURTER: OK.
JOYCE MOORE: So what I want to do here is to propose that we amend the unincorporated amendment D, which is one page, well, I won't say nonetheless. But that would be inserting into line one the title "Mass incarceration" after the word "mistreatment." That was removed at some point in the process that I won't attempt to explain because I'll get it wrong.
My concern other than really being disturbed by "mass incarceration," and that is the word that brought me to the mini assembly, we voted on the green paper with a title that included "mass incarceration." So I was very confused when I ended up in the mini assembly to find, sorry too many papers, to find that this is what we voted in. And it could be that I just didn't understand the process, but I was quite surprised to learn this is what we voted when I never saw that, and maybe I should have known where to find this.
But nonetheless, I really appreciate all of the folks that facilitated the mini assemblies as well as the Commission on Social Witness. They're great folks. I'm enjoying learning the process, but I would like to move that we put the "mass incarceration" back into the title. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: So you'd like us to have an AIW that says, "condemn the racist mistreatment and mass incarceration of young people of color by police."
JOYCE MOORE: Yes ma'am.
GINI COURTER: All right. Is there a second? I recognize the delegate at procedural microphone in the house.
TED PAPPAS: Thank you, Madame Chairman. Ted Pappas, Unitarian Universalist Society East, Manchester, Connecticut. I rise, I believe to a point of order, which was my understanding that amendments were not proper until the 12 minutes of debate had past.
GINI COURTER: There was no debate, Ted. So we could have sat in silence together for 12 minutes.
TED PAPPAS: Or move to a vote on the question no being no con.
GINI COURTER: No. That's actually not what we do. It says, debate if there is. When you read the rules, it says, we need to reserve that much time to debate the main motion if there is debate.
TED PAPPAS: Thank you, Madame Chairman.
GINI COURTER: OK. You're welcome, Ted. Thank you. All right. So we have an amendment. You want to speak against that amendment. So I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
DAN FLIPPO: Hi. My name is Dan Flippo both from the UU Church of Kent in Ohio. And I was a member of the committee that was working on this. The reason that we took this out was because we specifically wanted this to be targeted at certain parts of the criminal justice system. If we go into mass incarceration, that is a very broad concept that we believe could be a congregational study item, but we wanted this to be very specific.
Now, as a means of trying to come up with a middle solution, we came up with the amendment that's on line 21 and 22 where we talked about how this leads to the mass incarceration at tremendous cost. But we did not believe that it should actually be part of the title, because we didn't want that to be the focus of this AIW. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: OK. Thank you. I don't have any but the pro microphone. You want to vote on this amendment. Yes? No. Procedural microphone. I'm sorry. Yes.
TONY BLANK: Tony Blank, First Unitarian Church, Oakland, California. One problem with this is that it doesn't show in here that "the mass incarceration" was removed from the title. It's not crossed out.
GINI COURTER: Yeah. There's actually a question here about when "mass incarceration" was removed. You all kind of caught the nuance of that. Didn't you? That it's not clear when it was removed. The author says that it was there originally. The CSW says it wasn't in the text of the original. So I think it's fine. I think we all know what we're talking about restoring or not. Right?
OK. Let's hold no harm, no foul on this one please. And I don't need to know if that's what you're here for. Thanks. I'm asking us not need to know because I don't want to spend the next 10 minutes debating where this went. Because what we want to debate is whether it's in or not, right? Thank you.
So I think we should do then is we should vote on the amendment, and the amendment is asking us to insert the words or restore "and mass incarceration" after the word "mistreatment". All those in favor of doing this, raise your voting cards. All those opposed, raise your voting cards. That clearly fails, on site and off site. Thank you. All right.
Is this another amendment? Yes, I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone then.
BARRY NOBEL: Hello?
GINI COURTER: Yes. Go ahead.
BARRY NOBEL: I'm Barry Noble from the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, New York. I was also at the mini assembly.
BARRY NOBEL: And I would like to reconsider an unincorporated amendment A concerning lines five through six. And the reason I would like to delete those words "and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind," is because it does not add anything. I think it is totally superfluous, and seeing is how part of the quotation from Michelle Alexander has already been removed as shown by the ellipsis, it would not hurt to do this. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Is there a second? Second. OK. So the delegate is moving that we put in place unincorporated amendment A, which would then have lines four and five and six read, "Whereas Michelle Alexander at the 2012 UUA General Assembly said quote, 'We use our criminal justice system to label our people of color criminals, period. Dot, dot, dot. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights,'" and it continues. Make sense? That's what's been suggested, and we have a second.
I'm going to recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
SARA JANE SIEGFRIED: Thank you Madam Chairman Moderator. I'm Sara Jane Siegfried from the University Unitarian in Seattle, and I oppose shortening the quote because when she says, "and all those practices we supposedly left behind," she's specifically referring to Jim Crow. That's what we're talking about here, and it resonates.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. All right. So we are voting on the inclusion of unincorporated amendment A. All those in favor of removing the extra portion in the center of the quote from Michelle Alexander, if you're in favor of removing that, raise your voting cards. If you're opposed. We will clearly not be doing that either. The motion fails.
We have folks at the pro microphone. Yes, or do I have procedural? Procedure? OK. I want to recognize the off-site delegate at the procedural microphone, Eric Burch.
ERIC BURCH: Hello. This is Eric Burch, Rockville, Maryland. I'm watching in beautiful Cedar Lane. And should the amendment timer be on while we talk about these amendments?
GINI COURTER: I couldn't hear.
ERIC BURCH: Yeah. Should the amendment timer be on while we talk about the amendments?
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Eric. It should have been. We haven't exceeded the amendment time on any on this one. But yes, it should have been on. Thank you. Good. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone. Good afternoon, Madam Moderator.
NORA KENNY: My name is Nora Kenny, and I'm from the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, New York. I stand before you not only has a New Yorker, but as a young adult as well. While I have never experienced the racist practices brought on by the policy of stop and frisk, I can speak to the terror many of my friends feel simply for leaving their homes.
Thousands of young people, mostly males, are stopped, have their privacy invaded, and are often detained simply for being of color. The young people of color in our nation are my friends, your children, nieces and nephews. I implore you to think of their rights, their rights to privacy, safety, and protection from the Fourth Amendment.
Some of them will never be stopped and searched, but an overwhelming majority will be, and for what? 9 out of 10 people stopped are completely innocent. People of General Assembly, I beseech you to think of the damage stop and frisk has done to thousands of lives, and I ask you to support this AIW.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I've got nobody at the con microphone, so you are ready to vote. All those in favor of the action of immediate witness "Condemn the racist mistreatment of young people of color by police" as presented in today's CSW alert on pages three and four, raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. The motion overwhelmingly carries. Thank you.
Thank you. And I did it again. I didn't wait for the vote off site. Can we see the off-site vote? I'm so sorry. Cool. One more, yes. I'm having a stream of consciousness moment before we go to the third one. And my stream of consciousness would be since the original order of these numbered one through whatever was random, it would feel to me more likely to create equity in terms of timing if when they came back on Sunday, they were in the order in which they had received votes as they were presented yesterday. OK. Thank you. Are we ready? OK. Go.
TERRY WIGGINS: Yes. I would like to move that the assembly passes AIW number three about divestment. When considering the conversation for divestment from fossil fuels.
TERRY WIGGINS: Do you need my name?
GINI COURTER: Yes. So let's start again. Terry, let's just start again.
TERRY WIGGINS: OK.
GINI COURTER: Because you want to move "Consider divestment from the fossil fuel industry." right?
TERRY WIGGINS: Yeah.
GINI COURTER: First, tell us who you are and where you're from.
TERRY WIGGINS: I'm Terry Wiggins from the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, and I move that we consider the AIW number three, "Consider divestment from the fossil fuel industry."
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And would you like to speak to this?
TERRY WIGGINS: Yes, I would.
TERRY WIGGINS: OK. I'm Terry Wiggins from the First Unitarian Society in Milwaukee. And I'm speaking today in favor of this AIW as the coordinator for the action, not because I love public speaking. This action is really a very watered-down version of what we had originally hoped to bring before this assembly. We had hoped the Unitarian Universalists would be ready to take the lead among religious bodies to support divestment nationally.
Instead, we learned our bylaws, rules, and polity will not let us do that. So instead, we are asking you to have a conversation in your congregation about this issue. We will be able to provide you with many resources for doing so at the website that we are creating, and we will be assisted by the Unitarian Universalist Ministry For Earth in getting that information out to you.
This is a movement that was started by an article that Bill McKibben wrote for Rolling Stone magazine that was published well after GA last year. Our aim is to support this movement about which more can be found at 350.org and gofossilfree.org. So I highly recommend using their reasoning, language, and resolution statements. This issue is one that requires immediate action on our part for this movement to gain momentum.
Like the climate crisis, it might look like something that can be put off. It cannot. The Oregon senate of the ELCA, or Lutherans, has already agreed to divest. The United Church of Christ is going to take a national vote to divest later this month. While I am saddened that we Unitarian Universalists will not be leading the religious climate justice movement, I realize that it's a very good thing because we have a process and we do democracy right. Let's pass this AIW, and let's get those conversations started.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
JESS CULLINAN: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Jess Cullinan. I'm from Los Alamos, New Mexico. I'd just like to ask you please to wait for the off-site votes to come in before you announce the—
GINI COURTER: Yep. I caught myself afterwards. Thank you. Appreciate it. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.
TERESA WILMOT: I am Teresa Wilmot Denominational Affairs chair of the UU Church of Rockford, Illinois. We UUs are small in number. Our influence depends on working smarter, not harder. When we divest our stock in a large multinational company, it's like taking a pinch of flour out of the red mix. No one tastes the difference.
But when we work inside the corporation as a stockholder, we are the yeast that raises the moral expectations of other stockholders and forces the company to change. If we had boycotted Phoenix in 2012, would we have raised the hopes of immigrants in Arizona? May we be the force that causes corporations to rise to their moral responsibility.
DAVID KEPPEL: Madam Moderator, my name is David Keppel, and I'm a member of the Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change of the UU Church of Bloomington, Indiana.
DAVID KEPPEL: Fellow delegates, I urge you to support this resolution, which enables us to begin a denomination-wide discussion of divestment from the fossil fuel industry. I am inspired by our president Morales' conviction that Unitarian Universalism can be the religion of our time. The global climate emergency is the issue that will do the most to shape the world in which today's youth and future generations have to live. How we respond to it and specifically how we respond to 350.org's national and global divestment campaign will define this.
Fellow delegates, we are not a foundation. We are a faith. The most precious of our resources is not our dollars, it is the power to inspire within and beyond our denomination. As Wendell Berry and Tim DeChristopher both said, "We must withdraw our money from the fossil fuel industry to show we have the courage to be part of the future we hope to see." I admire what our treasurer has done with shareholder resolutions, but I do not believe the fossil fuel industries will walk away from planet-destroying mining and drilling, which bring enormous profits. Nor are they the companies we want to lead the new economy.
There are alternatives. Carbon-free investing is attracting talent and money, and I am confident that with planning and creativity, we can implement this change in a fiscally-responsible way. Please vote to begin the conversation on whether and how we can do that trusting that an earnest and respectful dialogue can only strengthen us. Thank you.
TIM ATKINS: Hello. My name is Tim Atkins and once again, I'm honored to represent the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. I rise against this action and immediate witness for a variety of reasons. You know, we are a faith, as was just mentioned, but we are a democratic faith that has certain rules and procedures that we like to go through for statements of social justice.
This invites us to have a denomination-wide conversation. And really isn't that what the CSAI, the CSAI stands for Congregational Study Action Issue, and isn't that what that process is all about? I don't see how this is immediate and not an attempt to try a CSAI without the in-depth congregational work that CSAI needs, demands, and deserves.
I'm going to quote from the UUA website explaining this process. "Unlike a statement of conscience, an AIW does not carry the full authority of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Rather, it expresses the conscience of the delegates at the GA at which it is past. This procedure follows from the difference in procedure. Congregational study action issues are initiated by congregations or districts or specified UUA-sponsored organizations, and move through a three-year period of study in action with opportunities for a congregational and district comment.
There are no such opportunities for AIWs, which are initiated by individuals and move through the entire creation and adoption process during one GA." I more than appreciate the passion of those who work for environmental justice and appreciate their efforts on all of our behalves. But this AIW is not the right process for trying to start a national conversation.
Later on that same web page, it mentions that AIWs are used to, and I quote, "empower the Washington office for advocacy to take action and recommend action through other departments of the UUA and other UU groups." This fails to direct the UUA Washington office and well, anything within the UUA at all. It's asking us to ask our congregations to think about maybe doing something, which is the purview of the CSAI process, not this AIW process.
I once again ask you to vote no with me so we can uphold the distinctions we as a GA have set out in the past, so we can maintain the historical— Thanks.
AARON PAYSON: Madame Moderator, my name is Aaron Payson. I'm minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts and this year's lead chaplain for General Assembly.
AARON PAYSON: My question is along the lines of the previous con speaker and that is asking from a procedural standpoint, by changing the intent of the action of immediate witness to propose a conversation, does it then disqualify it as an action of immediate witness?
GINI COURTER: Talk amongst yourselves for a second. All right. We're good. There was an earlier draft of this that was never actually submitted and that early draft did not call for a conversation. The early draft, just to kind of try to navigate a piece of this, the early draft actually called for divestment. And we could not vote for divestment as an action of immediate witness. That would be a business resolution.
So that was not submitted as an action of immediate witness. It was redrafted with advice from legal counsel so that it would actually fit the definition of an action of immediate witness. What makes this an action and immediate witness is in order, is they are asking for an immediate beginning of a conversation, that we would start a conversation now.
Remembering that this is simply a motion from the folks who are here. So if you all vote in favor of this action of immediate witness, it actually expires, and the only intent it has is your intent. If you wanted to make sure we had that conversation, or as sure as you can be with Unitarian Universalist congregations, probably a CSAI would be better. It's a longer process and it involves more folks. But this is not out of order as it's written. Thanks for the questions.
OK. So we are now going to the pro microphone please.
BRUCE WIGGINS: Bruce Wiggins, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. Regarding the first comment from the con mic about shareholder activism, this is not an either/or resolution. It includes both. It's a both/and, and if you look at it closely, I'll explain in a moment. It includes shareholder activism and considering divestment. That's their thrust of it.
And it automatically, as I understand it, addresses the Washington office if we pass it, so it doesn't necessarily need to direct the office to do that. My testimony that this is a better AIW because of the process here at General Assembly. We've had programs on faithful investing. We've had a mini assembly that included representatives from the committee on socially-responsible investing.
And some of the changes in here are from them. It's now broader and more inclusive. Our committee on socially-responsible investing in the Common Endowment Fund are doing a good job with shareholder advocacy. The Common Endowment fund has reduced its holdings in fossil fuel companies from 10% to 3%, and has been active in shareholder activism.
At the same time, climate change has been a very low priority for its shareholder activism. 37 shareholder resolutions have been advanced in the last three years, and only a few have been about climate change. It's time to act. Passage of this AIW will communicate to our representatives the importance of climate change in our investments. It won't bond them because we cannot do that with an AIW, but it will communicate and strengthen their hands.
The thrust of this resolution is that it's time to act. We urge your support.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. Amendments are now in order, so I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.
BETH MILHAM: Madame Moderator, I am Beth Milham from Channing Memorial Church in Newport, Rhode Island. I would like to start off by saying I am totally in agreement with the intent of this AIW. And because of that, I propose a change in line 29 to eliminate the word "passively" from the statement, the wording that was introduced at yesterday's mini assembly on the basis that adding the word "passively" weakens greatly the intent of this AIW by justifying the substitution of consumer advocacy for divestment while not limiting investment levels.
The drafters of the AIW are espousing divestment because they believe that consumer advocacy is inadequate, an inadequate strategy and is insensitive to the urgency of climate change and the need for the change in business as usual. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: I have a question to the CSW. Because this is not listed as an unincorporated amendment. Was there discussion in the mini assembly yesterday to leave "passively" out of this sentence or is this a brand new idea?
SPEAKER 7: This was an incorporated amendment, the whole statement.
GINI COURTER: Correct.
SPEAKER 7: That one word, there was some discussion—
SPEAKER 7: —about it within the mini assembly, but there was no separate amendment formed specifically to take the word out or put it in.
GINI COURTER: But there was—
SPEAKER 7: But there was some discussion.
GINI COURTER: —discussion about it's inclusion?
SPEAKER 7: Yes.
GINI COURTER: All right. Next time, let's try to get some paper on that. Delegates that would be helpful, but let's go ahead and— do we need to talk about this, or can we— maybe we do. Does someone want to speak against this amendment striking the word "passively" on 29? Does someone desperately want to speak to this? Not so far.
All right. So let's go ahead and vote. Oh, I have procedural microphone. Yes. The delegate at the procedural microphone.
ALLAN LINDRUP: Hello. My name is Allan Lindrup from the First Unitarian Society of Chicago. I was in the mini assembly. I'm referring here to lines 11 and 12. Line 11 says that UU social responsibility investment guidelines of 2008 state that investments in companies engaged in negative global impact activities are to be avoided.
ALLAN LINDRUP: We had somebody there who was from the investment committee. And she said that that was incorrect quote, but she did not have the correct wording with her. The question I have is, if this is adopted today, can we authorize the CSW look to see what is the proper wording regarding investments that are to be avoided and to insert that wording in place of that on line 12 since we don't have the correct wording as an amendment?
GINI COURTER: This was a really great help that you just asked this question. Because what happens is in fact, all of the motion that we passed that have a call out to other actions and quotes end up getting double checked and are fixed. So if it was 2008 or if it was a different kind of a— 2009, it'll get fixed.
ALLAN LINDRUP: OK. So that's line 12 wording.
GINI COURTER: Got it. We're OK. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: Thank you Madame Moderator. I'm Carolina Kwawarik-Graham from Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. I just have a really quick procedural question. I'm a little bit unclear about what just happened with the word "passively." I understood we didn't have paperwork, but I was confused. It was amended in the mini assembly to strike the word "passively?"
GINI COURTER: No. What happened is lines 29 through 31 in total were inserted in the mini assembly and then incorporated. So during that whole thing, should we put in "Whereas passively profiting for business" et cetera, during that conversation there was a back and a forth about do we want passively, do we not? Do we? Do we not?
And nobody actually sees this entire incorporation until it comes out the next morning. So I'm willing to treat this as a learning moment that it would have been really good if that delegate had put in, if this is accepted, remove the word "passively," but because it was an active discussion that mini assembly and the CSW seemed to think it was OK, we're rolling with it.
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: OK. So I just want to clarify because there's some things I'm clearly not clear on.
GINI COURTER: Welcome to my world.
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: Is if it had been like amended, could a motion then be brought to unamend it from the floor?
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: OK I just wanted to clear that up.
GINI COURTER: So it's in exactly that same spirit that I'm saying we can do that. Because the two things we can do, is we are incorporating amendments that weren't or unincorporated amendments, so what I hear somebody wanting to do is unincorporated one word out of an amendment. I normally think there's a better way to do it, but that's for conversation.
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: No. I just was unclear, because I know unincorporated amendments have been on that side of it. But I've never actually, I don't know if I'm not paying attention or something.
GINI COURTER: It's all good.
CAROLINA KWAWARIK-GRAHAM: So anyway, thank you.
GINI COURTER: It's all good. All right. Do I have other folks at the procedural microphone right now? Not so much. I'm going to recognize then the delegate— yeah, just a second. I'm going to recognize the delegate at the con microphone. Thank you.
BETTY TROUGHT: Betty Trought from Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Plymouth, New Hampshire. I was at the mini assembly yesterday. I'm not quite sure where the maker of this motion is right now, but I'd ask you to read this whole whereas. The point of this it is that many of us are passively profiting, that we are not paying attention to our investments and that that is morally wrong.
And that is probably for us retirees something that is very important to pay attention to. It isn't that you're actively investing in Mobil, it is that you passively are receiving the business as usual. So I think that's why that was his intent.
GINI COURTER: Great. Thank you. I don't have anybody at the pro microphone. We're going to vote this. OK? So the motion is to remove on line 29 on our yellow sheets the word "passively." All those in favor of removing the word passively, raise your voting cards. All those opposed. We are still being passive. All right. Thank you.
Yep, we've got off site. You know, what happens is, it pauses for me, and I think it's done. And I'm realizing that's part of my problem. So Mark, give a shout out when it's done again today, and I'll try to wait for your shout. All right. So 35 oppose. 20 in favor. Slightly higher percentage of folks off site who were in favor of this. All right. Good.
All right. I have a procedural question from off site. I recognize the Reverend David Pyle.
REV. DAVID PYLE: [INAUDIBLE]. This is the Reverend David Pyle from—
REV. DAVID PYLE: —the Unitarian Universalist—
GINI COURTER: I can hear you, sir.
REV. DAVID PYLE: —Church in Ventura and from US Army Reserves in Garden Grove, California. I would like to propose we add 10 minutes on the time clock because of all the procedural time we spent on that amendment.
GINI COURTER: OK. So there's a request that we add time to the clock. Pardon me? Right. To add 10 minutes to the clock, because we are indeed out of time. Is there a second? Second. All those who wish to add—
REV. DAVID PYLE: [INAUDIBLE].
GINI COURTER: OK. All those who wish to add 10 minutes to the clock, raise your voting card. All those opposed. David, that motion while we're waiting for off site— the folks off site are far more interested in having us extend time than the folks on site. And so this motion fails. So we are now out of time.
And we are going to vote on proposed AIW-3 "Considered divestment from the fossil fuel industry." OK. Are we ready? And we didn't change this at all right from here. All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. Am I good, Mark? This overwhelmingly carries. Thank you.
So we're actually done with our voting items, but we have other business to do. But there was a question that was asked yesterday, and I promised you an answer today. So we're going to hear from UUA legal counsel Tom Bean who's going to tell you if one of the things that you wanted to do was insure, for example, that we had information added to the G rule, the new G-2.3 on gender identity, how that would happen. In other words, how do you get any piece of business on the GA agenda? So if you would please give a warm welcome to UUA legal counsel Tom Bean.
TOM BEAN: How many of you have one of these books? I think it would be really helpful if you could open it to page 101. And I'm going to walk you through the process as best I can of how you would propose an amendment to a G rule so it gets on the agenda for next year's General Assembly.
Everybody on page 101? Good. OK. Take a look at section 4.11 in the lower left hand corner. Tentative agenda for regular general assemblies.
GINI COURTER: I hate to bother for just a second.
TOM BEAN: Go for it.
GINI COURTER: I engaged in a piece of wishful thinking. We do have one more voting item after this and it's not just the recess, it's the debate and vote on proposed amendment to sections 7.7, 7.8, and so on. So just a thought. Back to Tom.
TOM BEAN: Thank you. OK. So at line 274, and this is going to be a little tedious, and I apologize, but I want you to understand how you can take the initiative, you, your congregation, your district, to put an amendment to a G rule on next year's General Assembly's agenda. Line 274, "The Board of Trustees shall prepare a tentative agenda for each regular General Assembly, which shall include—" now go down to line 286 E2.
There are three ways the delegates, or districts, or congregations can come together to get an item on the General Assembly tentative agenda. E2. "Not less than 15 certified member congregations by action of their governing boards or their congregations," OK? 15 certified member congregations at least, "or a petition by not less than 250 members of certified member congregations with no more than 10 members of any one congregation counted as part of the 250."
So you need at least 10 people from 25 congregations or fewer than 10 and more than 25 congregations, so you get at least 250 signatures. Go to F. "Proposed amendments to rules and business resolutions submitted by a district by official action at a duly-called meeting at which a quorum is present," and I'm just speaking to the rules.
OK. So there are three ways that all of you can propose an amendment to a G rule that it gets on the tentative agenda, not less than 15 certified member congregations, a petition not less than 250 members with no more than 10 from any congregation, or district action. OK. Everybody good with that?
OK. Go with me to the next page, page 102, because we were talking about the tentative agenda. So go to section 4.14, the final agenda. "The Board of Trustees shall prepare a final agenda for each General Assembly which shall include," and go to A at the top of the next page, "all reports in other matters required by these bylaws to be submitted to the General Assembly and all proposed amendments to bylaws and rules appearing on the tentative agenda that meet the requirements of G-418.3." So if it's on the tentative agenda, it goes on the final agenda so long as it meets the requirements of G-418.3. Everybody good with that?
Many of you I see are already doing what I'd like you to do. Turn to page G-418.3 on page 118. So G-418.3 deals with congregational polls which deals with business resolution, so we're not going to talk about that. We're not going to focus, so that's not going to be relevant to establishing an amendment to G rule. But what is important to you or what are important to you are G-418.1, which is gee, when I do this? When do I get these signatures and submit them to the UUA?
G-418.1. "By November. Whenever in the fiscal year the GA opens in June, each certified member, congregation, and districts shall be notified of the dates of submitting items for the tentative and final agenda the procedure to be followed and the forms to be used." So by November of every year, by this November, you should be notified of what you need to do to get an item on the tentative agenda. And there will be instructions and guidelines on how to do that.
If you comply with that and you get it on the tentative agenda for a rule amendment, it will go on the final agenda. Now, I want to direct those of you who might act by district action to rule G-418.4, because you remember, a district can get something on the agenda, and we had a proposal this year as I recall from the southeast district.
"In the event that a proposed amendment to a rule or tool business resolution that was submitted by a district is to be considered a General Assembly, the district that submitted the proposed amendment or resolution made in accordance with its own procedure designate a representative to speak in support of the amendment or the resolution." OK. So a district can submit a rule and then designate someone to speak in support of the amendment to that rule. Everybody with us?
So what's the date by which you're going to get something for the UUA that tells you how you could put an amendment to a G rule on there?
AUDIENCE: November 1.
TOM BEAN: And what do you need to do when you get that?
SPEAKER 8: Read it.
TOM BEAN: Read it. And follow the instructions. And then you need to get the signatures that we looked at, right? So many certified and 15 certified member congregations, 250 people with no more than 10 per congregation, or a district coming forward and submitting that amendment. So if any of you want to submit an amendment, a proposed amendment to that G rule on nondiscrimination to add gender identity or change it in any way you deem appropriate, take that form on November 1, read it, and follow the rules in that instruction. Everybody OK? Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you, Tom. I recognize the delegate at the procedural microphone.
BARBARA ATLAS: Barbara Atlas, a delegate from the UU Church of Long Beach, California. Now that we are establishing regions and congregations who are members of regions won't be members of districts anymore, all of this language gets a little bit confusing, doesn't it?
GINI COURTER: That's actually not true so far, because right now, we're in the place where the congregations that are members of districts, of regions are in fact, also members of districts. Is there stuff to sort out as we make changes? Yes. But we're all good. We're all good for next year and the year after. Do I have any other procedural questions right now? OK.
BILL SASSO: My name is Bill Sasso. I'm a delegate from the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship. I'm appreciative to the, I guess it's a point of personal privilege or something. I'd like to point out that the date by which resolutions submitted for the tentative agenda need to be received by the UUA is February 1, and that many district meetings are held after February 1.
BILL SASSO: And call that to the delegate's attention as they consider this. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. As a matter of fact, I believe only two districts hold their meetings before February 1. Thank you.
JOYCE MOORE: Joyce Moore, First Parish Waltham, Massachusetts. I really appreciate that explanation, and there's a lot of good stuff we can do. But since we were discussing the issue of language for six years, did you say? I did notice that on page 101, the item that wasn't discussed is, if we don't want to do it ourselves, the Board of Trustees or the executive committee can put it on the agenda. Might we trust that that's going to come back on next year's agenda for us to do the inclusive language?
GINI COURTER: I would encourage that, and I actually said I believe you should trust the Board on this because they're in the hall and they hear you. But it's also true that I can get excited about stuff being placed on the agenda by congregations and districts too.
JOYCE MOORE: Yes. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: So it's good. And yes, procedural microphone in the hall.
TERRY WIGGINS: Yes. I'm Terry Wiggins from the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. My question is how is that information that is to be received by the congregations on November 1 distributed? Is there a mailing, or is it an email, or how do we know who to ask our congregations for it?
GINI COURTER: Gosh darn. That's a great question. How would we know? And I'm going to need to turn to the administration for this to find out how that information is distributed in November. And here comes, and I thought we wouldn't get to love her up one more time, Executive Vice President, Kay Montgomery.
KAY MONTGOMERY: It traditionally comes from the planning committee, and we will follow up to make sure that happens. I don't think that there's a planning committee member here who can speak to that, but the GA office will make sure it happens.
GINI COURTER: And it usually happens by mail, right? not email.
KAY MONTGOMERY: That's right.
GINI COURTER: Physical mail. Thank you. All right. We're now going to move to the debate and vote on proposed amendments to sections 7.7, 7.8. C-10.6 and C-10.7 regarding provisions concerning investments. And this text is found, I'm sorry, on page 87 of the final agenda. And I'm going to ask the First Vice Moderator to make the appropriate motion.
JACKIE SHANTI: Move that the proposed amendments to sections 7.7, 7.8, C-10.6, and C-10.7 regarding provisions concerning investments found on page 87 of the final agenda be adopted by this assembly.
GINI COURTER: And I turn to the delegate at the pro microphone, Mr. Dan Brody giving the opinion of your of Trustees.
DAN BRODY: I'm Dan Brody, UUA Financial Adviser and member of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts. The UU Common Endowment Fund, or UUCEF, which we pronounce, yousef, has about $170 million in invested assets. The Association's endowment funds are invested in UUCEF or at about half of $170 million in the fund, was invested by more than 300 UU congregations and related organizations.
Several years ago, the UUA's independent auditing firm recommended that we change the legal structure of the fund to provide better protection to the congregations that invest in UUCEF in the event of a lawsuit against the UUA. The Association has more than $100 million in net assets. Presently, the funds invested by congregations are owned by the UUA.
In the highly unlikely event that the UUA were to lose a lawsuit by a plaintiff who was awarded damages above the amount of the Association's net assets, the plaintiff might claim that funds invested by congregations should also be taken to pay the award. To prevent such a dire, if extremely remote possibility, the UUA boar voted last year to set up a limited liability company, or LLC, to own the Common Endowment Fund.
The LLC will be under the full control of the UUA Board, which will appoint members of the LLC's investment committee. The number of provisions of the bylaws control the investment of endowment funds. Some of these conflict with the new LLC, some are obsolete, and some are just unnecessary or poorly written. In consultation with our legal counsel, the Board has drafted and placed on the GA agenda a series of bylaw amendments to address these problems. The Board urges their adoption.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. And you have no desire to do anything but vote on this. I can tell, even off site. Cool. All right. All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. Thank you. All those opposed. It looks unanimously around here. It looks unanimous so far off site. OK. We're waiting. We're waiting. We're waiting. We're waiting. I didn't actually say what the outcome was, just that it looked unanimous. That passes. Thank you. Thank you all.
OK. Well, that was cool. We're still behind, but that's OK. So we're going to have a song. We're going to sing together. Would you like to sing? I so want to sing. And then we have a bunch of cool stuff to talk about, so let's go ahead. David.
DAVID: Hey there. I think it would be great for us to rise in body or spirit. Turn to the person to your right. Turn to the person to your left and say, hey, want to sing? Hey, You're talking a lot more than I just asked you to. But we're going to do a son called "Over My Head."
This came, obviously, from a tradition where there was a lot of needs to be seeking our own optimism. So we'll sing the original words, and then I'll throw some others at you. Do we have the words for this? I threw this at the tech deck pretty quickly. I'll sing it once.
Let's do that again, but there must be hope.
One more time. There must be love this time.
GINI COURTER: OK. So we've been doing lots of group processes together, not just the voting process, but the other processes. And every time someone talks about how we are going to revamp our democracy, I know that there are usually two ways, either do less of it or do it differently. And we've had a couple of great experiments in different going on here.
So I've asked three members of your Board to give you an update on some things that we learned this weekend. This isn't final results, this is just to let you know what the Board is going to continue to track going forward. Does that make sense? All right. And those three things are reflection groups, and conversations that have been had with youth and young adults, and what we did with fifth principle with our Twitter wall the other day.
So please welcome trustees, if you would, the Reverend Jeanne Pupke, the Reverend Susan Ritchie, Mr. Lew Phinney, Ms. Linda Laskowski, and she has friends with her too. So just give a hand for your Board bringing you up to date on just some stuff we're watching, OK?
REV. JEANNE PUPKE: So during this week, mid day was spent for so many of us engaging in a dialogue that included many people from different places, people we hadn't yet met. How many of you took part in a reflection group meeting. Can I see your hands? All right.
You know, we're working on this. It's not a perfect process, and we're learning how to do it. But just to remind you, we felt the call to discover how to talk about what our promises to one another were the year before we went to Phoenix. It became important for us to learn how to be with one another and to understand what is our commitment one to another.
So as we were closing at that General Assembly, a very brave delegate came up and suggested that we all ask ourselves, how shall we be in covenant with one another? The conversation we've had this week was stirred back at that time and with many other inputs. Covenant is an important part of who we are.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Susan.
REV. SUSAN RITCHIE: Hi. So we've gotten feedback occasionally that sometimes when we talk about covenant, we sound like we might be speaking some kind of insider language. So I just want to say what I find so exciting about the work that happened in the reflection groups is that we are opening up the conversation for the 21st century, what does covenant mean as the theology of our polity in these times.
You know, we've made some easy connections between the parented past, and the distant past, but now is the conversation for why do we gather and what are the promises we make implicit in that gathering and why is that gathering theologically necessary, not just as a matter of gathering together for business.
REV. JEANNE PUPKE: So if you had a positive experience in your group, you have, of course, your group members to thank. But we would like to ask you this question, was there something essential that you experienced? Did you have an opportunity to hear an opinion different from your own that enriched your own understanding? Did meeting in a group with people you did not at first know actually contextualize the experience of General Assembly?
We'd love to invite a few of you forward to just share an experience of insight or anything that was particularly moving to you in your understanding of covenant. So as we finish this section here, we'll invite you at the conclusion to offer remarks. That will give you a little bit of time. And I just want to remind you we're not asking about the process, and whether or not it was easy to unhook the chairs, or whether you were too close to the bathroom, or any of those things. We're asking you, were you changed by the experience?
LEW PHINNEY: So what's your Board been up to? We've done a lot of tweets, more far more important, you've done a lot of tweets. And we're just now beginning to sort through all of the tweets, all of the data that you provided. There's a lot of work there, but it's going to happen.
Primarily, thank you. Thank you for providing those data, providing those tweets. Once we've had a chance to sort through all of that, we'll have a lot of information about what you want GA to look like. There's a lot of information some of which we gained from the tweets, and we're just beginning on that. We also had a workshop. We also had meetings with the youth and young adults. A whole bunch of suggestions came out of that.
Here are a few of them. One of the first that came up in the workshop was that we at GA need to model good democracy for our congregations. Another one that came out all across the board was that we need to use more effective use of the web. We need to do more electronically. We need to explore new options, particularly, as the technology evolves and gives us additional options.
The other point that came up several times was that you can't do an electronic hug. Yeah, I know. There are ways to actually say that, but it's not the same as meeting somebody you haven't seen for a year since the last GA and getting a big hug when you walk down the hall.
Another one that came up many, many times was that we really do need to solve the economic accessibility problem. GA is expensive. That one's got the rise right close to the top of the list. The related one that I really hadn't expected was electronic accessibility, not everybody's got a computer, not everybody's got a smartphone.
One that the young people brought up primarily was that any reduction in the number of delegates makes that a bit elitist and that we need to look closely at how we go about that if we go about that at all. Another thing that came up a couple times was we need to reduce our use of paper, and they were specifically looking at the AIW process and saying, we can do that better.
Yeah, all of us don't have smartphones, but a lot of us do. And those of us that have that technical capability and know how to use it, should use it and not be handed a piece of paper as we walk in the plenary. If you have a dumb phone or no phone at all, you need the piece of paper, and you should have it.
One that I hadn't heard before and there were several like that was, how about a shared registration for parents? They're never going to attend anything at the same time. One's going to be taking care of young child. The other one's going to be involved in workshops, and plenaries, and so forth. They're never going to be there at the same time.
Another one that came up that's already been identified as a problem and planning committee looks at it every time, is when do we stop on Sunday? Do we stop at noon on Sunday so at least a lot of people can get home and get to work on Monday morning, or do we continue? That one's an identify problem, and we'll continue to look at that one.
Another on that came up that I thought was interesting that I hadn't heard before was that it might be better if we group our delegate activities as in those actions that require a vote, during the same plenary. Group everything else, reports and so forth, spread it out through the four days of GA. So yes, your Board has been working on this one, and oh, by the way, we're just getting started.
LINDA LASKOWSKI: Hi. My name is Linda Laskowski, and for five of the six years that I've been on the Board of Trustees, I have been working with the Board to figure out better ways of listening to you, not only is delegates during this, but at other times. So I'd like to quickly highlight three things that we've done. The first one is really a shout out to a partnership that we've developed over the last couple of years with the District Presidents Association.
They also have the same sense of a responsibility and accountability to congregations. And so for the last two years, they've really been a part of us in a partnership to do that. And in fact, for the months of March and April, there were district Board members across the United States that were having in-depth conversations with many of our congregations about what kind of results, what kind of outcomes, what is it we want to do together in the world as Unitarian Universalists.
And so I particularly like to thank the past two DPA presidents Kathy Burek and Ted Fetter for their invaluable leadership and work with the District Presidents Association to do that. We also started five years ago with something we called a world cafe with Youth Caucus. And I describe the world cafe as a cross between small group ministry and speed dating.
It was a lot of fun. The trustees who participated in it had a great time, but rather than me telling you about it, we have two of youth who have participated in this just yesterday, and that's Oliver and Anna who will introduce themselves, and tell you a little bit about it. So Anna and Oliver.
ANNA RUTH HALL: Good evening. My name is Anna Ruth Hall, and I'm from the Pasadena, California Congregation of Neighborhood Church.
OLIVER FARNUM: Good evening, everyone. I'm Oliver Farnum from the First Parish Church in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
ANNA RUTH HALL: Thank you, Linda. I feel like that was definitely an accurate description of the world cafe, the mix of speed dating and small group conversations. I think that describes it because we do get to meet other youth, and we do get to meet members on the Board. And I would say that this is actually a very beneficial form of getting to know about the Board as well as then getting to know about how we feel about GA and how our experience was.
And what I really like about it is that by being in these small groups, you can get an insight into what goes on before GA and what they need to do in order to make all this happened. But also you really feel like they care about what you have to say and what you want changed. And I think that that's something that really aligns with the Unitarian Universalist principles, and it's sort of what General Assembly is about.
So it's a program that I like, and I participated in last year in Phoenix as well as this year.
OLIVER FARNUM: I would definitely reiterate and everything that Anna said. I have some thoughts of my own. I thought it was a great informal atmosphere for us to really understand what the Board does, who's on the Board. I confess my ignorance right away to what the Board actually did. And the member that I was with really took his time and explained to me exactly what their role was and how I fit into that role.
And it's a little thing, but when we answered the questions, they would write down the notes that we've said. I thought that was really kind of inspiring to me that they are actually listening to what we have to say. They do care about the youth, and this isn't just about them. And it was such a nice, informal atmosphere to be able to eat a little bit. Speed dating was a funny way to describe it.
But I really enjoyed myself, and I would definitely encourage any youth who didn't attend this year, to attend next year and any parents in the crowd to encourage your youth to attend.
ANNA RUTH HALL: Thank you.
LINDA LASKOWSKI: Great. Thank you Anna and Oliver. And I thank the trustees who participate, we are always so impressed every year when we see the depth of thought and things that happen with these wonderful youth.
So after four years of this, last year we got a little bit smart about it, and thought, you know, we do this with youth, why not with young adults? And so got an enthusiastic yes from the co-leaders of the Young Adult Caucus. And not only that, but I think what really impressed me is how they stepped into owning the process with us, in developing the questions, in really promoting it to the young adults who were here at General Assembly, and also actually participating in leading the process.
So let me turn this over to the co-leaders, Hannah Roberts and Ellen Zemlin.
ELLEN ZEMLIN: Thank you, Madame Moderator, and thank you, Linda. My name is Ellen Zemlin. I live in Newark, New Jersey, and I'm a member of the Church of the Younger Fellowship. I've got a few hours left as the senior co-moderator of Young Adult Caucus.
HANNAH ROBERTS: Hi. My name is Hannah Roberts, and I'm a member of the First Unitarian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. And I am the rising to be senior co-moderator of the Young Adult Caucus. Yesterday, when the members of the Board of Trustees met with members of the Young Adult Caucus, our conversation topics ranged from the role of General Assembly as a governing body to how youth and young adult leadership development around anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism turns into accountable leadership across all generations.
The Board listened carefully, and many young adults present felt heard.
ELLEN ZEMLIN: However, what matters most is not what was said, but what comes next. Yesterday's dialogue was but an opening verse in what must be an expanding discussion around the role of young adults in our Association. These dialogues cannot just happen at General Assembly. They need to be in your congregations about your congregations. They need to be in your regions and districts, on college and university campuses, and in professional organizations like the UU ministers network, the Liberal Educators Association, and the UU Musician's Network.
HANNAH ROBERTS: Because we young adults are everywhere. And then when that talking is done, we still need to know what comes next.
ELLEN ZEMLIN: We are glad to be heard. But it has long been time for more than promises and commitments. It is time for action. We are already ministers, religious educators, lay leaders, and more.
HANNAH ROBERTS: So friends, what are you going to do to create, elevate, support, expand and fund ministries to and with young adults?
ELLEN ZEMLIN: We are building the present and future of our faith.
HANNAH ROBERTS AND ELLEN ZEMLIN: Come build it with us.
ELLEN ZEMLIN: Thank you.
GINI COURTER: The off-site delegates thank Jenny. Jenny thanks the off-site delegates. The off-site delegates should also thank the delegates in the hall who, along with the off site delegates, have expanded some ability to be off site more again this year. How cool is that?
So as Jeanne and Susan mentioned, we would have a couple minutes after this next piece, if there's something that you just need to say that came out of your discussion, your reflection group and you need everyone to hear it, we can do that. But I also want to offer you up a hashtag, which is what I'm mostly good at right now. So if you would like to write about your reflection group experience so that we can capture it very easily, what you could use as your hashtag, my new Twitter friends, is #uugareflect. That's #uugareflect. Anything posted there, we know who it's from. We know when they posted it, and it's all discoverable, not just by the Board, but by everyone else in the hall.
So we're going to have a conversation about a new project, and I welcome Jackie Shanti to introduce us here.
JACKIE SHANTI: Well folks, this all started with colleagues on the Board wanting to do something special for Gini to acknowledge all of the gifts of leadership that she's bestowed on us through the years. But what do you get someone who doesn't need stuff, who already has the coolest shoes in the assembly hall, who doesn't wear interesting jewelry, who according to those who know, is impossible to shop for?
We thought that we probably weren't the only ones who wanted to honor Gini's service. And so we imagined that some of you might want to get involved too. Am I right? Our next best idea was to find out Gini's favorite charity or UU organization that we could contribute to in her honor inviting you and other UUs to do the same. But unable to agree on what that charity or organization might be, we gave up on trying to surprise Gini and decided to just ask her.
We said, we want to do something in your name, something that will make a difference in the world, something worthy of your legacy to our movement. Well, you know the saying, you give someone an inch, and they take a mile? Well, Gini and I had recently attended the 2013 Minns Lectures in Boston, and we had been inspired by the vision of faithful risk and the challenge of supporting entrepreneurial innovations to grow and enrich Unitarian Universalism.
One idea, one inch was all it took to set Gini off. Before we knew it, Gini had figured out exactly what she wanted. And not surprisingly, our gift for Gini was becoming her gift to all of us.
GINI COURTER: So wow. So Jackie and I, and how many of you were at the Minns lecture this year? OK. So just some people, it's a small room, but it's such a big idea. So Jackie and I get to go to the Minns lecture. We don't even both know that we're going. we're all of a sudden, sitting right next to each other.
And at this means lecture the Reverend Naomi King and Peter Bowden bring up this idea of something called Faithful Risk, about re-imagining what success looks like, not that we have to be perfect the first time, but that we can try something that's good enough and then figure out how to do with the next time, and the next time, and the next time.
And how we can do that in a way that's faithful so when our leaders try new things, try new things, we don't say, oh, that was a failure because everything is a step towards the next success. And imagination then that we could get beyond our legacy and our reality is a white, middle class, buttoned-down, too-worried organization of faith, and break out and do something earth shaking one small piece at a time. Right? That's what I heard. But let me introduce you to one of our Minns lecturers from 2013, Peter Bowden.
PETER BOWDEN: Friends, I am happy to be here with you in the city of possibility. You feeling it?
PETER BOWDEN: All right. So one, I have to give a shout out to my colleague and dear friend the Reverend Naomi King who cannot be here with us. She is dealing with some very severe health issues, so I hope you all share some love for her and let her know how much you appreciate her ministry. And I'm tweeting as I go.
So I just want to give you a sense the Minns lecture. So many of the themes have come up this week. But for us, it came down to we're all hearing that our world is changing and that pace is accelerating. My friends, we cannot change a world that is changing at a rapid pace if we are not willing to change ourselves, and to do that quickly, and smartly, and get into this playful, curious, experimental mode.
Now, I have bad news. We're not well designed for this. Institutions aren't good at this. But we found some people who are, Unitarian Universalists. We are good at revolution. Are you good at revolution?
PETER BOWDEN: So instead of trying to hold on to things like our models and the things that we can grasp on to for security, we have to hold onto each other and innovate together. And so through this project, we are hoping to create a way that we can do some crowdfunding to really support, promote, and affirm exciting, maybe even cheap, ministries. And so I hope you'll join us in this and both support Gini, Reverend Naomi King, and what is our great potential moving forward.
So when this came up, I said, ah. Someone's already working on that, Mass Bay, Clara Barton District. And so I connected Gini to the Reverend Sue Phillips.
REV. SUE PHILLIPS: Hey, y'all. Are you feeling this fabulous flow already? This is the future of Unitarian Universalism. There aren't the old walls that used to be happening. Are you feeling any of them right here? This is synergy at work, and this is our future. The question is, how do we build on it? I was so delighted when I got the inquiry about this nebulous crowdfunding platform that some good folks had heard about. And Peter was kind enough to send Gini our way.
I want to talk to you about how Faithful Risk, the funds that are going to be raised in Gini's honor might be used on behalf of UU ministries, really across the globe. I believe we are about to launch the only denominationly-affiliated, crowdfunding platform in the world. We will do this with all of your help in part to honor Gini.
We are establishing a crowdfunding site that allows innovative ministries across the country, Unitarian Universalist ministries, to connect with innovative Unitarian Universalists. And Gini promises me that the first $10,000 raised through the Faithful Risk Fund will be used to help build the UU Fund crowdfunding site. I'm excited about that.
Your donations to Faithful Risk will enable countless hundreds of Unitarian Universalist ministries to share their work through video, picture, and narrative on the uufund.org website. You, in turn, as users will be able to browse projects. You'll be able to have access to hundreds of innovative UU ministry projects. You'll be able to follow those projects and find out what's happening. You'll be able to share those projects on every available social media site, and you'll be able to donate to those projects to help the ministries you care the most about bring Unitarian Universalism in the world.
The days are gone when old silos kept us apart my friends. This is the latest manifestation of our ability to cross old boundaries and connect to one another, and I for one say Amen. Amen?
REV. SUE PHILLIPS: The Mass Bay and Clara Barton Districts, and I'm here with the Clara Barton District President Justine Sullivan, our two districts, incidentally, have stopped acknowledging the boundaries between our districts for some years, and all I can say is, wow. The sharing that this has opened up is incredible, and we're making that manifest in the crowdfunding platform.
We're going to pilot this program in the fall, in the Mass Bay District, and get all the tweaks out. But in the early spring of 2014, you can expect to see your donation dollars in play in service of our faith. And what we'll begin to do after that is invite new ministries to come and tell you all about them through the site. And then we'll begin to invite other Unitarian Universalists funding sources to distribute their funds through the site, thereby leveraging your dollars with theirs to create whole new opportunities for Unitarian Universalist ministry.
The Mass Bay and Clara Barton Districts are absolutely delighted to work with Gini, with all of you, with Peter, and with countless others to make this a reality. We just can't wait to see what's going to get going, so stay tuned my friends. We're about to take off in a whole new direction, and I for one am juiced about it. How about you?
REV. SUE PHILLIPS: All right.
GINI COURTER: And they can follow this on your website? So like what's next? This is cool. If you want to know more about the Minns lectures and I would love you to know more about the Minns lectures, I think it's kind of interesting because when I'm asked about what excites me and the answer, of course, is Unitarian Universalism. But this is what caught my eye in such a big way this year because this is a combination of putting our passion, our best efforts, sort of a new attitude, an emerging culture, and democracy all in one bucket together. And I could not be more pleased.
So if you would like to know more about the Minns lectures, go to www.minnslectures.org. M-I-N-N-S is Minns. That's the name. Thank you. Minns, M-I-N-N-S, and by the way, there's a Minns lecture every year, and they're often really, really great. They're often really, really groundbreaking. So that's piece one.
So find out more about this year's Minns lectures and the fine work was done in the Saturday lecture by Peter Bowden and the Reverend Naomi King, my friend. If you want to follow where you can contribute now, right now to this effort go to the Mass Bay District's website, and you will find information there. You can go back to your congregations and say, we want to be part of this too. Again, if you're one of those congregations that does a fundraising Sunday, and you can imagine funding the next thing.
One way to think about this is, is many of your districts have chalice lighters. How many of you here are chalice lighter in your own district? I know I am. This isn't to replace that. This is to expand what's possible beyond simply giving grants to congregations, although congregations could apply. This would allow a small campus ministry just starting at some college that you believe in, to say, we need $500 to do this, and for Unitarian Universalists, 50 of them to reach out $10, and make that happen. Does that makes sense? All right.
So it's creating democratic possibilities for funding. I could not be more pleased and honored that a question that first came to me from the trustee from the Clara Barton District returns all the way back full circle. We don't have to do it alone, and we didn't even have to start it all. We just needed to connect the dots between innovation and the work already being done by thoughtful district leaders in one part of our country and the love that all of you have for our faith.
So donate in my honor or simply donate because you care about our future. But I would encourage you to engage with us together in Faithful Risk. Thank you very much.
So the question that we had is, is there something that somebody feels need to share with everybody else about reflection groups. Are we good just to go with— we might be hashtagging it. You all are hanging on the edge of your seats. I can tell.
I'm going to start my moderator's report then. Yeah, aren't you fun? It always has readings, you know? This year it has two. The first, you all have access to, but don't worry, I'll read to you.
Section C-3.1 of the UUA bylaws. Member congregations. "The Unitarian Universalist Association is a voluntary association of autonomous self-governing member congregations, which have freely chosen to pursue common goals together." Our second reading from Marge Piercy, probably the favorite reading of all moderators, "So Far, At Least Those I Speak With and Love."
"The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the sleek, black heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls. I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water Buffalo with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge in the task who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who are not parlor general's and field deserters, but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out. The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands crumbled to dust, but the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil Hopi vases that help pouring are put in museums, but you know they were meant to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry, and a person for work this real." Thank you because it hasn't ever been more real than my time with you. More real than this.
I like to pride myself that one of the things that I do is speak truth to power. And so I am here to do that today. And by power, I mean I want to speak to you. Because our organizational form is congregational polity, and you hold the power of this Association in our congregations, in your hearts and hands. You are the powerful among us, and when you forget, things go awry.
You are the power in Unitarian Universalism, and when you forget, things get broken. So I am here to speak today my last report as moderator to you, because it is time that I speak truth once more to power.
I'm going to talk to you about three things today. I want to talk to you about growth. I want to talk to you about inclusion, and I want to talk to you about accountability. And I think it's important I do this because it's possible that someone with my perspective will never again serve as a leader in the Unitarian Universalist Association.
I was actually only two and a half years passed our definition of young adult when I was elected to your Board of Trustees. I have spent a full third of my life on the UUA Board. 18 years. And they have been the finest years of my life. I think the person who will have been on the Board longest pretty soon will have been there four years at most. And that's not a bad thing. I'm all for newness.
Whoever said, if the world never changed, we would still have pterodactyls, was right. And that makes me love that sign about, this is a velaciraptor-free workplace. It's been 12 million years since the last velaciraptor incident, my favorite OSHA poster from the door of the Reverend Erik Wickstrom's office posted at child eye level. Oh my.
And yet if there are things we do not change, we too can become of the stuff of horrific reptile ancestry. We too can become the dinosaurs that folks ask, where did they go? What did they do? After actions here today, I think the one thing that's true is they will know we did not become coal.
And so before I was a moderator of the UUA, I served our faith as finance chair, and I served my first eight years on the UUA Board as a member of the UUA Finance Committee. And back in the day when I first came on the Board, when we would meet together in General Assemblies, we would welcome 10 and 12 new congregations every year. How many did we welcome this year my friends?
GINI COURTER: Is that acceptable to you?
GINI COURTER: It is not acceptable to me either. I don't get all curious or confused about this. When I was, and it's not that long ago, when I was a young person in the Michigan district now part of the heartland, now part of the mid-America region, we had not had a new congregation in 35. Years. And then a group of committed ministers and lay people, working with a program at the time of the UUA called the extension program, applied for funds and started new congregations and within a 10 year period, created seven new full-time ministries in the State of Michigan. Seven.
How many of your districts have proto congregations waiting to become congregations? JPD has got like what, how many, 10, 9. 8? We have congregations in waiting, always a bridesmaid never a bride, scattered all over our UUA. So what's different now?
Well, what happened was that program was helping us create small congregations, but not large ones. And so the imagination was, maybe we could pool our resources and start large congregations. And we tried that twice, and that didn't work.
But what I know today is that the small amount of money we spend on growth is trivial compared to what we spent 18 years ago. And the small number of new congregations wonderful as those folks in them may be, is trivial compared to the number of congregations that we will need in the future. I believe that when you quit funding growth, you might stop growing.
And if you disagree, then let's at least try to fund some different things we haven't tried. I believe that we are a faith made up of congregations of the types we have and the types we cannot yet imagine. Two years ago, this body widened the definition of congregations. We have had no new groups come and say to the Board, hey, we think this might be a congregation. We're looking for folks who want to mutually covenant together and be in groups.
Even with the wider definition of congregations, if we are not financially supporting new starts, I believe we will continue to experience the kind of non-growth that we have now seen for about the past six years, and it is not acceptable. It is no longer true that people don't know who we are. I drive 35 minutes one way to church. If I head in any other direction, I drive for 90 minutes.
There are people between me and the congregation I joined and the others in every direction who deserve to have our message, and who deserve to experience our communities. I was saved by congregational life. How many of you were saved there too?
And so I believe in the importance of the Ends that your Board of Trustees developed that included demand that we grow the number of congregations and that we be able to speak about growth. Please continue to support your Board of Trustees in insisting that flat growth is not acceptable for Unitarian Universalism.
And I'd like to say that this is the only place that I have seen us retreat, but it is not. And I want to tell you how this looks. OK? It's hard for me to be here in a way, because I think that often folks take a look and they say, OK, there's some disagreements around how things happen. Maybe Gini doesn't like the current president, or there's some conflict there. This isn't about any one person or even any one administration. What's true is our method together, so I'm here to speak truth to power and that's you.
Three years ago, somebody stood up right under your Board table and said something that just shook my world like in the way of, why didn't I ever figured this out? And that is that you cannot have a worthy vision, a compelling vision, a salvific vision, an institution-building vision, an outreach-expanding vision four or six years at a time.
That you can have tactics in six-year blocks and strategies in six-year blocks, but you cannot have a worthy vision six or four years at a time. And if you read our bylaws and you are attentive to our history, you might realize along with me that there are really two separate kinds of visions we talk about at least in our faith. And the first kind of a vision is the vision that comes from the people.
You heard earlier without a vision, the people perish. But it's because the people aren't visioning, not because no one gave them something. Without a vision, the people perish because they are no longer active in their own future. You congregants, us together, are responsible for setting that 50-year vision for Unitarian Universalism with the and through your Board of Trustees and your General Assembly.
The long-term vision of Unitarian Universalism, what we will bend our arc towards, that is ours to set, and we have not been doing it lately. We believe instead that we can elect a personality, I've been one for us, that we collect a moderator or a president and let them tell us what to do. That's not congregational polity, my friends. That is Episcopalian polity. That's what Catholics do. That's what Methodists do. It is not what Unitarian Universalist do.
I am here to speak truth to power because you have power, and you have not used it. And you must use it. What we are supposed to be in the world, our grand experiment is a thousand plus points of light, not a thousand, then 1,100, then 1,500, then 2,000, then 3,000. Arranged in communities in ways we can't even yet imagine, but each one of them visioning. And then we come here together and we roll those visions up and that is our future. That is our future.
And instead, we've gone a secular. We believe Gini is going to give us a vision, or Peter, or Bill Sinkford, or John Buehrens, or Denny Davidoff, or Jim Key, or Tamara Payne-Alex. No, my friends. No. The vision is right here. It's yours to do. It's yours to do. And you do that in discernment with your UUA Board, and they've been working hard to make that happen.
They've been meeting with you for six General Assemblies in a row, and out in your districts, and out in congregations. And I thank heaven for Linda Laskowski imagining 20 new ways we can connect to our congregations and our youth and our young adults to figure out what it is we want, what it is we need, who we will be in the future. And then the Board take that and it crafts it into something called Ends.
And it says, this is just for the next 50 years. This is our long-haul vision. OK? And you need to participate more. How many of you have read the Ends of the UUA? Everybody in the Board section. Hello. OK. Many people in the staff section, almost the entire staff section. The rest of us need to too. Because that's the Board's way of saying we think this is what we heard. This is our vision.
And then that second vision I spoke of then, that's the vision of the folks who are in for the short term, the moderators, the presidents, the financial advisers, us officers who you elect to come in and go, OK, that's the vision. Cool let me grab my piece of that and run with it. Let me grab my piece and run with it. But never unclear about the direction because it came from here, because that's our polity, because that's our Unitarian Universalist way in the world.
And so you in power can't simply be satisfied by electing officers. You've got to advance a vision. And every time we believe that the right way to do a vision is to elect somebody new, even somebody as charming as me, to tell us what to do, we fall out of our way and into the ways of groups like the Catholics, and the Lutherans, and everybody else who elects strong leaders to replace the authority of individual blessed congregations.
I also think this gets tied to growth, my friends, because I think without a vision, the people perish. And if the people in your place aren't dreaming, maybe then you're not exciting enough to be with. I need you to dream. You needs you to dream. Without a vision, the people perish.
So then the next piece here is that because we've been willing to accept a new vision every four years, or six years, or eight years, or you had me for ten, because we've been willing to do that, we've been what I would call unfaithful. And let me say more. What we say is, every six years, in our new set up, the next moderate will serve for six years. Every four years or eight years in the past, it's OK to have a new vision. It's just OK to do that, because we're not doing our necessary visioning.
So we elect a vision. How many of you remember when we spend money on extension, on growth? OK. Well, we don't do that. How many of you remember when we spent money on building large congregations? That was somebody else's vision. Yep. We don't do that. How many of you remember when we spent money on an advertising campaign called Religion That Puts its Faith in You? That's John Buehrens' administration. We don't do that more.
How many of you remember when we placed ads in Time magazine? How many of you remember the uncommon denomination? How many of you remember having a Washington office that actually was a Washington office instead of an office that happened to be in Washington? How many of you remember when we supported different offices for identity-based ministries, for ministries for people of color?
And how many of you remember when we did anti-racism training? A lot of it. How many of you remember just change consultancies helping congregations figure out— OK. These are all things that have come and gone. Do you see my drift? They've come and gone. We don't even know if they were ineffective. We just know that at the time, they were undesirable.
I want to say that again. We don't even know whether or not they were effective. We just know that they weren't what the next group of leaders wanted to do. And so at the very time that we have finally elected administration in Washington that wants to partner with us, we closed the office that teaches us how best to do that in Washington.
Was it right? I don't know. But I think we should know. I think we should know. You can't have a worthy vision six years at a time. It's not possible.
So who built this craziness, and who allows it to continue where we do one faddish thing after another, nothing ever long enough to really know that it didn't work? We built it. It's in our bylaws. And we built it in another the way. We built it by tradition.
I want to say that in my opinion for whatever it's worth, how many of you have heard there's been a little strife between the administration and the Board lately? It's not a secret. I want to tell you why I think that's so. I believe that after many long years of silence and after many long years of trying to do the white, middle class, New England thing of just getting along, your Board of Trustees is finally doing its job.
And the price they have paid for doing that has been heavy, because you like them better when they're not doing their job. Because they're asking, how do we know if it works? How do we know if it doesn't work?
After almost four years with the current administration, and it could have been four years with any administration, let me be clear about this. Peter Morales and I were colleagues on the UUA Board together. This is painful stuff to me too. But after four years into this administration, we finally heard the administration saying, we don't know how to measure some of these things. And the UUA Board of Trustees said, now, we hear you. Let's hire a consultant to help put together plans that will work and measurements that will work against them. Let's help you get the answers.
And the result of that was a headline that made it seem like the Board was spending $100,000 for some purpose I can't even imagine. But it's $100,000, big money, yes, but it's out of a $22 million a year budget. $100,000, not to fix a relationship, but to provide skills to the Board and skills to the administration so we can answer the question of before we stop one more program, might we know it doesn't work. And before we start one more, might we know going in what would make us successful.
I don't think that's too much to ask. I think you should demand it. And I think when your Board delivers it up, they should not be publicly held to a wow, what are they thinking? question. What they're thinking is, they're accountable to you. That's what they think. The Board of Trustees— will you rise, please— they are accountable to you. That's what they're thinking.
The hardest thing I do is not spend time with you. This is my easy work. The hardest thing that we have had to do as a Board for the last 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, because the Board goes on and on. That's the point of Boards. I go away, but the Board rolls on. The hardest thing we have had to do, I think, is to learn how to tell the truth in a way that we could be heard.
I think it's a pretty scary thing for somebody to say, I voted on a hundred million dollars of expenditures, and I don't know why we cut this program or added that program. And we need to get that under control. And I think that kind of an honest admission in our culture, in our culture that says, we need help better knowing what to do, I applaud anybody who can stand up and say, we need help to be more accountable to our congregations.
I know some of the people who've been most critical of the Board's saying they wanted to spend that money aren't sitting in this hall. But you will eventually run into them and when you do, I would like you to remind them that the UUA Board of Trustees is unflagging and its devotion to the bylaws you wrote, to the ideas of congregational polity, and they are unstinting in their affection for Unitarian Universalism and its growth because they'd be crazy to serve if they weren't.
You don't pay them a penny, not a penny. And that's not to say things we don't pay for are always priceless, but in this case they are. I think that we have forgotten often what Boards are intended to do I hear people say, you know, I take this to the Board, but it takes so long. I take this notion to the General Assembly, but that would be a two-year process. My friends, our bylaws in congregations in the UUA make Boards and GAs take long because that's our value. We take our time and do it well.
And so if it takes longer to go through the Board, you might just read that bylaw again and wonder why we made that provision. It's a provision against haste and a provision against waste.
So while we are on our waking-up state now, this piece has been about accountability, because then the Board, given its vision that they have gotten from you and have returned back to check with you as best they can, and you could be engaged more, to say, this is the vision of Unitarian Universalism over the long haul, the Board then is responsible under the bylaws, the bylaws you give us to make sure that the resources the Association are spent in the direction of that vision. And when they have done that, it has caused strife because believe it or not, this is the first time in 52 years that we've actually done this. Isn't that weird? Isn't it weird?
That for the first time in 52 years, the UUA Board of Trustees is asking the kinds of questions that I see congregational boards ask all the time. All the time. How many of you sit on a board of congregation? How many of you ask what money is spent for? How many of you ask, is this a good thing?
How many of you ask why a program might be being cut? How many of you want things to be measured? And we know measurement is hard. But we also know that there are plenty of organizations that do measurement rather than talk about measurement, that do measurement rather than talking about enjoying measurement. And so your Board asks to have measurement done, and that's a huge culture change.
We went 49 years without asking. That's why I can't tell you about some of these past programs. We don't know if they were effective. We just quit doing them and added new ones in their place. So the Board is the accountability link back to you. Congregations make the vision through the General Assembly handed on to the Board. The Board gives the 50-year vision to the administration that then takes it in shorter chunks, because they serve for shorter periods of time.
Moderators do the same thing. They do that work and then the GA is back again, and the Board comes back to you and says, this is how we did. And then the president comes back and says, hey, on my chunk of the vision, that's what we did, and we've never heard that president's report given in these halls, because we haven't asked for it, but that's where we're going. Because the vision comes from here, and when you don't do that part, all the rest is broken.
Am I describing something different than you've ever seen? Yes. Am I describing something different that you put in your bylaws? No. And so finally, one more piece. On the things that I've asked do you remember, I asked do you remember when we used to do a lot of anti-racism, anti-oppression training? And many of you remember.
Do you remember when we knew that part of our job was to become the anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural Unitarian Universalism that would survive and even thrive in the future? But we're not doing much of that right now. For example, we have a training that happens tomorrow where everybody who was elected today, yesterday actually, is supposed to show up at that training, and it used to be paid for out of the UUA budget.
Some time in the last few years, we shuffled that cost of to individual committee budgets. So one way to save money is, don't participate. But we've also removed a whole raft of programs that helped us be more anti-racist, more just. And I was here when we did it. And it's not OK.
Best sermon of the weekend I heard was Mel Hoover yesterday. Not to say anything negative about any other sermon I heard, but my gosh, if we're going to be the people of promise, we better remember what we promised. If we're going to be the people who are anti-racist, we have to help white folks like me figure that out. And if those things are important to us then they go in the Ends of the Association, we hold the Board accountable to do them. Because whether or not we have programs to help people learn about how to be better in a multicultural world does not depend on who the moderator is and does not dependent on who the president is. It depends on the fact that you want it to happen.
Mel Hoover said, "If you want to know what an institution believes, follow the money." I've just told you things we're not spending on. Follow the money. And the same skills that Eboo Patel talked about we could learn inside Unitarian Universalism because we are multicultural and multi-faith inside our walls too. And if we can learn that then we can go outside, but we have to invest in that, and it's more than having him here for a Ware lecture.
I want us to stand strongly behind the ministries of folks like Eboo, and Mel Hoover, and Neal Anderson who was talking about congregationally-based community organizing and the Reverend Linda Olson Peebles with the group in Arlington, Virginia. I want us to support the ministry of a young African American on the Board named Natalia Averett who came and spoke with you. And in order to do that, you and I need skills we didn't walk in the door with. And I expect our faith to help us get them.
Your UUA Board is finally doing its job after long silence decades before some of us were even born. I need the General Assembly to wake up too, because without a vision the people perish And if you are not busy making visions, your life will be less and so will our life together. It has been a bigger honor to do this job than I could have ever imagined. Ever. Ever.
There is an intimacy in this space that's impossible. But when I walk in the door, your affection for me allows me to be this far out with you. This is the biggest act of trust I've tried pulling off from up here in a long, long time.
And so I want to ask you going forward for our future, there are just a few things I would ask. Extend to the next moderator the same trust you extended to me my first year so that he can have this relationship with you too. That's number one. You started with trust. We start with trust every time. No matter who you supported, we start in that place.
I want you to extend that trust and love to President Peter Morales as well. He deserves your love and trust. We're all just working hard, OK? I want you to demand accountability, which you can still do when you love and trust? You can love me and trust me and still hold me accountable. You can support the Board when they hold our leaders accountable. That's not about love and trust. That's about accountability, which is a basis for love and trust, and any good leader knows that.
I need you to demand more. I need you to demand more. You don't demand enough. I've been walking through the halls, and people have said something they say almost every year. They go, you know, you're going to be a hard act to follow. And this year I realized that's how it should be. You deserve leaders who want to set a high bar. You had people run to be the next moderator who wanted to set a high bar.
Yeah, I'll be a hard act to follow. Denny Davidoff, there was a hard act to follow. Diane Olson was a hard act to follow. Nat Gulbrandsen was a hard act to follow. We're all hard acts to follow. Peter Morales will be a hard act to follow, Bill Sinkford, a hard act to follow, John Buehrens, a hard act to follow. Just keep going.
We should always be because we should always be on our way to the next place we're supposed to be. If we elect leaders to help us be comfortable where we are, we fall generations back with every single election. We need hard acts to follow because we're a faith on the move. We're a faith on the move on the way to tomorrow. All the time. All the time.
So I need you to expect more. And I need you, I desperately plead with you to pick up your role as the visionaries for our Association. When I occasionally hear somebody explain to me that vision comes from only one place, whether it's the president, the moderator or somebody else, I just say, please read the bylaws. Vision comes from our congregations. And then they look and they go where is it?
And I need you to work harder all the time. Go back and read the Ends of the Board. If they aren't what you thought they would going to be, they know how to get tweets now, #uuaboard#ends, right? It'll work. Tell them what you think. Be engaged in the conversation about who we are, because being a member of this Association is not a once every four- or six-year gig. It is a day in and day out membership of relationship.
And so you can't just wait till you come in a GA to elect the next moderator, the next president, the next financial adviser. You can't wait for that. And day in and day out, year in and year out, your relationship actually is appropriately with your Board of Trustees who you elected to be you the other 51 weeks of the year. That's what they do. They're you. When we sit down at the table, when the Board sits down, I go, the congregation has just arrived, because when I'm there alone, you're not there yet, as much as I love you.
So give the next leader and the next and the next but particularly, those with us right now all the affection and trust that you've given me. Dare to dream. Take your own envisioning. Demand more. Trust your Board as you would your heart. They're that good. They're that good.
Could I have the folks who will be on the Board after GA only, please stand right now. Here's your smaller Board. Send them your love right now. There's your new moderator. Send him your love. There's your new financial adviser, Ed Merck. Send him your love.
Is Peter Morales in the hall? Peter, come here, please, and Harlan Limpert, your new COO. Send them your love. If we are to fulfill our promise, if we are to be the religion for our time and for all time, for all time, you will have to learn to love in a way you have not yet learned, you will have to vision in a way you have grown unaccustomed to, and you will have to preach and demand accountability in a way that is uncomfortable. But if you can do all those things, my friends, all those things, in addition to what you do today already, there is no power between the atom and the stars that will slow us down. Go well and go loved.
I love you so. Let's keep spreading the love around the house because we got more love to go. More love to go. I want to help recognize all the folks who made General Assembly possible. You saw some of them earlier, but where's our General Assembly planning committee and volunteers. We're going to need those folks coming on up. Here they are headed up. We'll people get to the stage. I'll tell you all were calling in order, and then we'll just say, hello and thank you and love.
We need the Commission on Social Witness. Yeah? We need the Commission on Appraisal for that great report they brought for us. We need the members of the UUA Board of Trustees, incoming and ongoing. We need our ushers and tellers. And I need our head teller right now to come up here for just a second, so make sure, Jerry, you get right up here next to me. That's all good.
We have local volunteers who helped with this GA. Where are they? We need the staff of the General Assembly and Conference Planning Services office. We need any other member of the UUA staff who helped with General Assembly. Where's Dia Bradden who's been running all week long? Stephanie Carey our new floor manager for GA, come on up here.
Our tech deck, our on-site, off-site, online delegates. Those folks. Jerry Gabert has been on our procedural microphone in 1988 right down here and has been a volunteer from 1998 right through this General Assembly. I need you to send him some love. This is Jerry last year as our head teller, but he will be back with us next year. Love him up. I love you.
JERRY GABERT: I love you.
GINI COURTER: You might wonder who's our new head teller next year. Denise Rimes who's the president Southeast District. Everybody's going to help me get that right. Here's our new head teller for next year. If you were part of making this happen and I didn't call you, get up here, of course. OK. We look out here and there's nobody in the seats. We're all up here. All right?
This is a small part of what it takes to make General Assembly happen. There are folks who've been working on GA all year who already had to leave who've been working. Have I missed any big group, or did I get it right this year? 10 times, the 10th time's the charm. Thank you. Please thank all of these folks for all of their efforts on behalf of General Assembly. Walt Weider, come here, and Bart Frost, come here. You too. Reverend Walt Weider, this is his last GA as your Planning Committee chair. Thank him for his work this year in Justice GA.
Starting Monday, the new chair of your GA Planning Committee, Mr. Bart Frost.
BART FROST: Thank you. That's for you from us. You see that? We heart Gini. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: There's a We Heart Gini up in the window there from the GA Planning Committee. All right. We get a little bit of stuff left to do. Thank you all. We'll clear the stage and do the next little piece.
I'm going to ask in a minute, might there be a responsive resolution? Yeah, that's OK.
David Glasgow, slow down a second. And don't blaspheme on your way here, son. All right. How has the music been this year? I just want to point out I need to call out a name that might not make any sense. But when I was first moderator, I was told in May that it was my job to choose the hymns for GA, and I don't like, this was before "Blue Boat Home." so I didn't know what we could sing every day and me not get sick of.
And I asked the musician in my congregation, our minister of music Kevin Tarsa, I said, would you be willing to take a look at our GA music, and based on that experience with having a professional musician from the UU Musician's Network do our music, every year sense this has been a partnership between the GA Planning Committee and the Musician's Network. David's our guy this year. But thank him and the Musician's Network, please, for their great work.
DAVID GLASGOW: Thank you, [INAUDIBLE].
GINI COURTER: It's been a pleasure. OK. All right. This is the time in our agenda when we entertain responsive resolutions, if there are any. And so I'm going to get ready to do that. And I will go. It looks like— where would you like us? Amendment microphone. So could we light up the amendment microphone, please.
CHRISTOPHER SIMS: Madame Moderator, I'm Christopher Sims. I'm a delegate from the UU Church of Rockford, Illinois. I'm also on the Executive Board of Drum. I offer the following responsive resolution. "Responsive resolution, deepen our commitment to an anti-oppressive, multicultural, Unitarian Universalist Association. Whereas the Board-approved Ends for the Association call on the Administration to move our Association toward a future in which UU congregations and communities are intentionally inclusive, multicultural, and multigenerational," and
"Whereas moderator Gini Courter in her report and Mel Hoover in his acceptance of the Distinguished Service Award called upon our Association to recommit to our work in the area of anti-oppression, anti-racism, and multiculturalism, and whereas, the Unitarian Universalist Association has been engaged in a decades-long struggle to better equip us to be more inclusive across race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability as well as a renewed conversation about covenant and ability, and
Whereas, those marginalized in our Association and their accountable allies continue to lead us and our need of continued opportunities to be supported in their efforts through mutual support and spiritual sustenance, and whereas, the need for that struggle has not abated and indeed, has only been magnified by the demographic economic and geopolitical changes facing the world in which we live and offer our faith, therefore,
We call upon the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association and his staff to establish a vision for the steps needed to deepen the anti-oppressive and multicultural capacities of Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations and to identify the systematic programmatic and financial resources needed to provide deeper support to congregations and affiliated organizations seeking to move into a deeper anti-oppressive, multicultural understanding."
Thank you. "We also call on the Board to ensure the Board of Trustees and staff-appointed, board-appointed and elected communities of association are empowered and encouraged to identify existing and new practices and structures that lead to greater diversity among participants in the work of those committees and that lead to a greater sense of inclusion among participants and provide for youth and young adult-led efforts.
We call on the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee to assess the financial and staff resources currently devoted to this work, including those supporting organizations that empower marginalized populations and an analysis of these expenditures relative to other allocations.
These measures will ensure the deepened understanding, relationships, spiritual renewal, and practical skills necessary to move toward the beloved community that we are compelled to build on in the name of our faith."
GINI COURTER: Is there a second? This is the pro line for this item, isn't it?
SPEAKER 9: Yes.
GINI COURTER: No. Thank you. There's nobody who really wants to speak against this. Are we good?
GINI COURTER: All those in favor, please raise your voting cards. All those opposed. I believe it is three votes short of unanimous. Motion clearly passes.
I recognize Madam Moderator at the procedural microphone.
MADAME MODERATOR: Madame Moderator, I need your help with a procedure. I would not want for this General Assembly to end without a formal resolution of gratitude to you for 10 years of being a superb moderator, and I want that in the record. And where do I go to move that?
SPEAKER 10: Absolutely, from right here.
GINI COURTER: Well, since you would be speaking in favor of it, I would normally send you to the pro microphone.
MADAME MODERATOR: Oh, good. Now I get to say it all over again.
SPEAKER 11: That was pretty smart.
GINI COURTER: You know I love you, don't you?
MADAME MODERATOR: I do know that.
GINI COURTER: Yeah.
MADAME MODERATOR: That's because we quarrel so effectively.
GINI COURTER: It is. She's not kidding.
MADAME MODERATOR: In conflict, there is affection.
MADAME MODERATOR: My friends, I move that the 2013 General Assembly go on record to thank Jennie Courter with respect and affection for her superb service as Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
SPEAKER 10: I second that.
GINI COURTER: It has been moved and seconded.
MADAME MODERATOR: Now, call for a vote.
GINI COURTER: I see someone going to con microphone. I know. You're just flirting again. OK. Are we good?
SPEAKER 12: I would like to hear more.
GINI COURTER: Maybe later.
MADAME MODERATOR: Perhaps, with a glass of wine, I can talk about walking in your shoes.
GINI COURTER: There you go. Thank you.
SPEAKER 10: Then Madame Moderator, the one amendment I might make to this motion would be that this body of delegates is moving this, but we're doing it on behalf of not just ourselves, but on behalf of the delegates who have been in these halls, for the 10 years of your being a moderator, for the eight years of your delivering financial reports to us as a chair of the Finance Committee, and dare I say, we're doing it on behalf of probably the next 10 years of delegates who will benefit from the example and the courage and the loving challenge that you have offered us.
That's my amendment.
SUZI SPANGENBURG: Thank you, Madame Moderator. My name is Suzi Spangenburg, and I am the delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship from Laguna Beach. I'm wondering where I would go to add something to this, which is, I would like to add "with love, immense love."
GINI COURTER: Is that OK over there?
MADAME MODERATOR: Accept that.
SPEAKER 10: Accept that.
MADAME MODERATOR: It's a friendly amendment.
GINI COURTER: We like, "with love." And Kay Montgomery is thinking, how am I going to track this whole motion? Send it all to Kay. And she doesn't have to. OK. Are we good?
MADAME MODERATOR: So I would, if I were the moderator, I would call for a vote of acclamation.
GINI COURTER: Oh, can we have a vote of acclamation? Yeah.
GINI COURTER: Our legal counsel wants to leave before it gets any sillier here.
MADAME MODERATOR: Can we sing to you?
GINI COURTER: Huh?
SPEAKER 10: May we sing to you? [SINGING] We love you, Gini. Oh, yes we do. We love you, Gini and will be true. When you're not with us, we're blue. Oh, Gini, we love you.
GINI COURTER: Ah. Lovely of you to do that. Do we have any other responsive resolutions? Dare I ask? Thank you so much, my friends. Thank you so much. I'm going to turn for a last report to the Right Relationship team. Please be here with me and hear. This is important stuff, right? This is how we do community. So do I have a report? Here they're coming.
I did not call them up to the stage earlier because I knew we were going to have them alone. But they're part of that whole group of folks who are our General Assembly, right? But they were busy working, and I wanted them to be able to get here, and they're still sprinting.
SPEAKER 13: [INAUDIBLE].
GINI COURTER: Hm?
GINI COURTER: Oh, OK. There's just one quick thing while you're coming up. The invitation to Providences in the voting item, it's an invitation. And you're going to hear that in the closing celebration. And you didn't need to hear it twice. You'd go on my having deja vu all over again. All right. So please give a warm affectionate welcome to your Right Relationship team for 2013. Go for it, you all.
SPEAKER 14: [INAUDIBLE].
GINI COURTER: Well, I can't do anything about that.
SPEAKER 14: I get it. I get it.
GINI COURTER: And they just a second because they were sprinting to get here. So tell me when you're ready. Just breathe. It's OK.
SPEAKER 14: You ready?
GINI COURTER: Yeah. I'm all ready.
SPEAKER 14: All right.
GINI COURTER: I could do credentials first. Could you use another minute?
SPEAKER 14: No, we're good.
GINI COURTER: They're ready. OK, good. Credentials is next though. that's final credentials. OK. All right. Go ahead, [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 14: At the beginning of the week, we mentioned that right relationship is easy to say and harder to achieve. We told you that you might find yourself falling out of right relationship with other attendees here this week and that we would help you return to right relationship. That our team would support you in directly addressing those with whom you were out of relationship.
What we neglected to mention is that you could hold these conversations yourselves, but you didn't need us to tell you this. Many of you stopped in the moment to notice your own or someone else's discomfort and then leaned into your own discomfort to directly address each other in the moment to begin to repair your relationships. Throughout this week, we have shared with you a fraction of the success stories you've shared with us. How many of you found yourself in deeper conversations about our relationships with one another? You've done good.
As a community, we've been able to quickly address some of the places where we needed to change our ways in order to include everybody. We changed the way in which we leave this hall in order to make sure that those who use scooters were able to lead us out rather than be unintentionally left behind. Together, we lived through a week of gender-neutral bathrooms ensuring that all of us could pee.
But there is more to do before we live into our beloved community.
SPEAKER 15: As we mention some of the currents that have move through our General Assembly, we invite you to listen not just the logistical or technical solutions, but also the compassionate and relational ones as well. Around accessibility. There have been things brought to us around accessible language, around bathrooms, around being able to see in worship. Some of this is huge. Some of it is just as simple as maybe letting people who need scooters sit in the first couple of rows. That's logistical.
Youth and Young Adult Caucus. As the Caucus of the Youth and Young Adult co-moderators and co-chairs reminded us, that we are them and they are us. And they're not just the future, there are current and present and supporting them both at General Assembly and in our home congregations is vital and important. Some other things that came up that we want to say because we're trying to change our faith, is that we really lifted up this year all of the international visitors and people who had different languages.
But guess what that means? It means we need interpretation. And so sometimes that's hard to remember, that there are people interpreting next to us. And so one thing that we're going to have to learn is how do we use simultaneous interpretation? How do we bring that into our midst, not just at the one Justice GA, but to make all of our GAs Justice GAs.
How do we make sure that we are treating staff with respect, all of the staff, better here both the ones that are working within our own faith and the ones that are working within the greater Louisville area? The last thing that I really want to mention is that there were numerous occasions where people did not feel safe walking to and from this assembly. And so one thing that we are going to have to figure out is, how do we hold each up, not just in these walls, but when we go outside of these walls.
And for trans people of color, that gets even more challenging. Because trans people of color do exist within our midst, but sometimes we forget they're here, but we want them in our communities and they're already present. Now here's where I go off script.
So the Right Relationship team was born out of General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas. I remember it because I was there and some of you were too. And we started the next General Assembly was called Toward Right Relationship. And so that's where this team was born.
We've seen a lot of changes in this team. We've seen a lot of new conversations and new dialogue. Things now don't directly go to Drum, they now come to us, which is a blessing to Drum, trust me. We now are able to have conversations and know where to take things.
So sometimes we get things that may not be about right relationship, but we are very happy to listen even though sometimes we do have to send things on to chaplains. The thing that we really want to state is how important and vital this is to this General Assembly. Without it, we will go backwards. And we can't go back.
We need to think about how do we increase dialogue, how do we have conversations. So one example is the gender-neutral bathrooms. What would've been amazing is that actually had dialogs around what are some of the challenges of it? What are some the questions that it's bringing up for you so that when things are coming up we're able to have those discussions as a community, not just individuals talking to each other walking to the Starbucks or going back to your hotel.
And so there are some new things that we want to put on the horizon to think about for the future. We invite you to share with us, as some people just did around what they want to see. Please share this. Bring this back to your congregations. Bring it back to your colleges, universities, and communities, and thank you so much for treating us with love and care this entire week.
GINI COURTER: Thank you all. This has been a special gift to have you with us.
SPEAKER 16: [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 16: You're amazing.
GINI COURTER: Thank you. We're going to get to our final credentials report, which for those of you who would like to report at home, this is the one you're going to write down, and then I'm going to gavel us down out of here. On my way out, I want to give a great call out of love again to Stephanie Carey for being our floor manager this year. She had never been to a GA, and she's been here managing everything coming on and off this stage. I've made a new friend. I hope you have too.
I want to shout out gratitude to the UUA Board one more time, including First Vice Moderator Jackie Shanti and Tom Lockery who have been working really hard on your behalf with this GA and everybody else who has been wonderful and fabulous. And yes, when it's all done, I'll have more time with my girlfriend. OK. Cool. Tom, tell us what we did here.
TOM LOCKERY: Let me start with, we've got a number of things here that I want to tell you about. Let me start with a little result on the collections that we have head while you have been here and generously contributed to. We collected for the Greater New Orleans congregations $16,994. For the Living Tradition Fund that was taken up— was that last night? time flies— $60,730.46.
And in today's Sunday service for Kentucky Power and Light, let me first tell you. The have about a $60,000- $65,000-a-year budget. We collected for them this morning $33,958. I've also been asked to give a shout out to the District Presidents Association and the district presidents themselves who made up the team for our Environmental Justice event. They asked me to give a special shout out to Gini for her coordination of the event. So a shot out to Gini. Let's hear it for them.
The final credentialing report. We've had a total registration of 3,326 people. It's comprised of both our on-site and off-site folks. We've had 1,732 delegates on site, another 112 off-site delegates. We've had other registrations meaning non-delegates, but people who have paid the registration to be here, 1,586 people including 232 youth.
They represent all 50 States, one Canadian province, and total congregations of, let me make sure I get this right, 611 congregations. So we've had quite a turn out.
I also want to officially get in the record what our election results were. First of all, the complete election results and they're lengthy. There were a lot of positions as you know, most of them were not contested, will all appear on the uua.org website. So you'll be able to get the exact count. I'm not going to go through the individual numbers. But I would like to report the numbers for the contested election for moderator.
We had a total of 1,861 ballots cast. Of those, Jim Key received 945 ballots. Tamara Payne-Alex received 905. There were 3 ballots that were determined to be invalid, and they were reviewed by representatives from both campaigns and agree too. And we had 8 ballots on which there was not a vote at all for the moderator.
And so the final percentage total was for Jim Key 51.1%, for Tamara Payne-Alex 48.9%. So that is the election result. You'll be able to see the full lecture result on uua.org.
Last items. Don't forget the lost and found. I've also been asked by the ushers make sure you pick up your area around you, and as they tell you on the plane, make sure you collect all your personal items before leaving. You'll need those. We've actually had people today who have left luggage and headed for the airport. You don't want to do that.
And I have one last item. One of the most difficult things to do as secretary is to tell somebody who has come here expecting to be a delegate that they cannot be a delegate I don't like having to do that with anyone, and I've had to do it a couple of times this week. And the primary reason for it is the failure of the congregation to certify. And there is a certain number of things that congregations have to do to certify.
We try to be very generous in looking at exceptions and looking at reasons why they might not have been able to do it, It's February 1. sometimes it's snow, electricity, the internet is out. There's all kinds of reasons. We try to be very generous with that, but sometimes no effort is made at all, and I have to tell somebody they cannot be a delegate.
I would like to challenge you to make sure that in your congregation, before that February 1 date comes around, make sure you do the things that you need to do to be certified and next year nobody will come to this expecting to be a delegate and only finding out then that they cannot. I want to thank you very much for the opportunities you've afforded me as your secretary. Thank you.
GINI COURTER: Bye, Tom. Bye, Tom. Bottom of the ninth. I'm looking for the magic piece of paper, which has been moved five times today. Ten times out, you would think I would know the words. I now call for an official adjournment of the assembly. Is there a motion to adjourn?
GINI COURTER: Is there a second?
GINI COURTER: All those in favor.
GINI COURTER: All those opposed. Are we good, Mark? Yeah. OK. No. More and more people who don't want to leave. What does that mean not to adjourn when you're off site? The motion to adjourn is carried. I declare that the 2013 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association now stands finally adjourned.
Have a wonderful summer. Go well. Go loved. And I will see you all in Providence, Rhode Island next year. Let the scooters go first. Remember how we roll. We got music, David?
DAVID GLASGOW: Sure. [SINGING]
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Last updated on Friday, March 28, 2014.
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