A Rev. Bill Commentary: Reflections from New Orleans

I write this as I wend my way home from our denomination’s annual General Assembly (“GA”), this year held in steamy New Orleans.  As always it was a time to feel the joy and stimulation of celebrating our common faith with over 4000 UU’s.  The rich and spicy cuisine of the Big Easy also helped.   For getting in touch with the cutting edge of what is percolating in our movement (good practice for an old dude!), and being reinvigorated in its promise, there is nothing like GA.  Here is a brief summary of some of the major currents.

The 2017 session was dedicated to the theme of racial justice.  This was in the wake of recent resignations of Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Morales, the Director of the UU Ministers Association, and two other national leaders who had been embroiled in controversies involving racial issues.  Much of the message that dominated workshops, worship services, plenary sessions and the major lectures had to do with raising awareness about and dismantling systems of “white supremacy” infecting our association and culture and oppressing people of color.   A primary leader of this movement is a group called Black Lives UU (B.L.U.U.) and the UU Board of Trustees has committed to raising $5.3 million to support the work of that group

Delegates voted in favor of sending a B.L.U.U. proposed 8th UU Principle to a study commission for a 1-2 year period.  The proposed, new Principle affirms the centrality of antiracism and multiculturalism.  Also, the UUA was charged by the assembled delegates to assist congregations in confronting the crises we face due to the intersection of racism, white supremacy, widening income inequality and environmental degradation. I hope to find ways to bring some of this conversation back to KVUUC.

Another proposal to amend our 1st Principle in to “affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all beings” (instead of persons) was tabled indefinitely.  KVUUC through its board was one of 25 congregations that sponsored the original proposal.  I expect supporters were relieved to have the proposal tabled as it appeared to lack broad support at this gathering.

It will take exquisite skill and wisdom to navigate successfully the troubled seas facing our denomination.  Three very impressive female candidates vied to be the new UUA president.  (If only a certain woman running in another recent presidential election had been as inspirational!)  In the end Susan Frederick-Gray was elected.  She has been a courageous leader in the struggle against anti-immigrant laws and practices in Arizona as minister of a UU congregation in Phoenix.

If you are interested in leaning more much of GA 2017 can be downloaded on line at http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2017.   A more detailed summary is at http://www.uuworld.org/ga.  Also, it will be the topic of conversation with me in a potluck dinner on Saturday, June 8 in a location yet to be determined.  Mark your calendars and stay tuned.

In faith and love,

Rev. Bill