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An Invitation to Providence for General Assembly 2014

I’m Beth McGregor, District Coordinator for General Assembly (GA) 2014. Along with the many Unitarian Universalists in the Ballou Channing District and the wider New England region, I can’t wait to welcome you to Providence, Rhode Island, where we’ll gather around the theme, the truth, that Love Reaches Out. We’ll worship, learn, deliberate, work and witness together in one strong body, all in a scenic and historic setting in the heart of New England.

Rhode Island is a fitting place for Unitarian Universalists (UUs) to gather. It was founded in the 1600s by Roger Williams, a refugee from religious persecution in Massachusetts who established the world’s first outpost of full liberty of religion and conscience, the first to insist on an absolute wall of separation between church and state, the first to treat native Americans as equals and publicly repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, the first to create a fully democratic system of governance. It was a haven for heretics like Anne Hutchinson, and the country’s first Baptist church stands within sight of where we’ll meet. Unitarian Universalism has a long history in the state and region as well—the Ballou Channing District takes its name from two of its liberal religious pioneers, the Universalist Hosea Ballou and the Unitarian William Ellery Channing. Rhode Island Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are keeping up this history—they worked long and hard for several years to finally get the legislature to adopt equal marriage in May 2013.

Providence has of course changed a lot in the last 350 years. Known as “The Creative Capital”, it’s a vibrant Renaissance city—a living history map, a contemporary art scene, a culinary mecca, and home to distinguished colleges and universities. Located at the head of Narragansett Bay, it sits at the confluence of rivers, lined by Waterplace Park.

We’ll pretty well take over the compact downtown, where you’ll find history, natural beauty and vibrant culture wherever you turn (not to mention a major shopping mall connected to the Convention Center). Providence is also a gateway to New England—it’s quick and easy to head from there to historic Newport, to our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) “home town” of Boston (where you can visit our new headquarters), to Plymouth, to many museums and historical sites, and to the ocean shores of Rhode Island and Cape Cod. (Rhode Island is known as the “Ocean State”—it’s the country’s smallest state, but has over 400 miles of coastline.) There’s good Amtrak and commuter rail service that brings you right downtown, and the Providence airport is convenient and traveler-friendly.

Local UUs will be waiting to welcome you, offer home hospitality, share our favorite places with you, and just plain be with you. They’re engaged with their community, and ready to share that engagement with you. So let’s gather at the river in Providence in June 2014!

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Last updated on Monday, August 26, 2013.

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General Assembly 2014 District Coordinator Beth McGregor

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Waterplace Park in Providence, RI

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