I haven’t been to General Assembly in six years. The first time I went was the year I was recognized as a fellowshipped minister. Tara stayed home in our Annapolis apartment, seated above the RE classrooms of the church, so we didn’t have to board the dog. The night I ceremonially bridged from lay person to minister, she sat in tears on the front step of the apartment / classroom building with the dog, having locked herself out and needing to wait until morning when the administrator would come to work.
The time after I gave the response to the Berry Street address. A prestigious moment that now feels like a dream. From the time the plane landed all the way to the moment of speaking, I vomited from a car/plane sickness that I couldn’t shake. And the last time I went to GA, I had to leave early from Providence, driving myself home with a flu I couldn’t give enough description to with poetry or prose.
History aside, it takes a lot for me to consider going to GA; being away from my family for a week and especially for a week of extroversion at the height of what we ministers call the “crispy season.” I’ve been okay with missing the conversations and the collegiality and the worship I get to receive rather than produce. But this year I ache that I will not be in Kansas City.
Every year away from that space I miss out on a conversation that feels vital to bring back to you. For example — did you know that this year at General Assembly, there will be a vote on whether to give Religious Education professionals Delegate status, meaning, representation and the right to vote on denominational affairs?
Or maybe I should ask, did you know that right now Ministers and lay people have the right to shape our faith but the people who we entrust our children to, to create a UU identity, do not currently have the right or opportunity to vote at GA? Did you know that there are too many ministers who are not in favor of this change and that DRE’s are having to start, and speak to, this fight on their own? And get this – they can’t even speak from the floor, in any formal capacity on this issue because… they aren’t Delegates! It is unfathomable to me that Robin should not have as much of a platform as me.
This General Assembly will also remind us that our Principles and Sources are part of our living tradition, changed and changing. No, I’m not only speaking about the 8th Principle conversations which will be a part of the time in Missouri. This June, the Second Source language will also go to final vote this year.
Final vote?! Yes.
Last year my colleague Jami Yandle (who, incidentally, moved into my apartment after I left Union – so clearly a space filled with some great blessings!) brought forward a proposal to update the Second Source language from “prophetic women and men” to “prophetic people” for inclusivity purposes. Last year the proposal was brought to the General Assembly because of congregations around the country expressed their support of this change (sound familiar?) and it passed the preliminary vote then. This year it will be brought the floor again and will need a 2/3 vote of affirmation* to change the wording of this Source for all of us.
*Who makes up the voting population at General Assembly or who will these 2/3+ people be? You. Us. Each congregation, depending on size, is allowed a certain number of delegates (what the DRE’s are fighting for) to go to GA and speak on behalf of their congregation. When a vote is brought to the GA – a vote that effects the entire denomination (all of us) – it is those we send who determine where our faith is heading. (This year, we thank Holly Bussey and Jim Sanders for their attendance in Kansas City and representation of UUCWC).
Want to know more about this year’s General Assembly? Check it out here: https://www.uua.org/ga.
Most everything is offered through a live stream so even if you can’t attend this year (like me) you don’t need to miss out. Some special moments to mark you calendar for are:
Wednesday, the 20th at 7pm, the Welcoming Celebration
Thursday, the 21st at 7pm, the Service of the Living Tradition
Saturday, the 23rd, at 7:30pm, Ware Lecture
Sunday, the 24th, at 9:00am, Sunday Morning Worship
And maybe next year, we can share a flight to Spokane.