Rhode Island was the destination, if only in our minds, as 17 people set off to attend the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly! 2020 was the first totally virtual event ever! There were close to 5,000 total attendees, the 2nd largest General Assembly (GA) in its history.
Each GA has a theme that builds on years’ past. Rooted, Inspired, & Ready! was the theme this year. Acknowledging our theological roots (all aspects), working towards transforming our faith, and leaving GA ready to take action in the wider world, and a wealth of programming addressing all aspects of equality for marginalized populations.
None of us knew what to expect, but we were all impressed with how interesting and well run this event was. Who attended? Terry Caton, Sallie Dunner, Heather Edwards, Nathalie Edmond, Jamie Evanini, Kathy Frey, Bernice Husk, Susan Irgang, Robin Pugh, Denny Rogers, Jim Sanders, Sue and Steve Saddlemire, Phyllis Warren, Marcia Wittmann, and Regina Zilinski. Days were long and full!
Hooking up to phones, tv, laptops, we all attended various sessions and through discussion rooms and chat boxes, we got to know other UUs. We were thrilled to see the evolution of GA towards a more multi-cultural, gender identities expansive, event. We worshipped together daily. We were inspired by social justice spiritual events. We saw our youth and were in awe of their power and how they want us ALL to be energized.
There were nationally known speakers, singing, fun parties (if you could stay awake that long), even virtual exhibit halls and, of course, the business of our UU Association. But don’t be fooled, the business wasn’t dry and uneventful. It was a time to celebrate the influence UUs are making and to be joyful over our independent publishing company Beacon Press and Skinner House Books (InSpirit) who are selling out on books they’ve published on the topics of the day. We had a virtual cocktail party, we went for walks, we celebrated how we UUCWC-ers are a wonderful congregation!
So, what were the highlights? Well, ask 16 attendees and you might get 20 different answers! Overall impression was described as: Much to absorb/ponder and examine. Focused, energizing, amazing. Inspiring, enlightening, challenging. Seeing/hearing the greater, diverse, and committed UU community at work is amazing.
Perhaps the best way to capture what moved us is to read some of the quotes we took away:
- “Dance counterclockwise (tilt the world back towards love)”
- “Web of all existence.”
- “We are All in this together. Youth plus experience of the elders required.”
- “It is the UU YOUTH who moves us forward” “
- “To make a change you have to change the narrative.”
- “Universalism means fighting for collective liberation”
- “Even though I’m afraid, even though I don’t know how, I’m saying yes… What are you ready to do?”
- “Anti-racist work is not one and done and can’t be done quickly and move on…”
- “Our congregation is not a single story, it is multiple stories.”
- “White supremacy malnourishes the souls of white people…Antiracist love creates harmony—white supremacy drains it….don’t spend energy on those most ‘stuck’, work with the moveable middle and speak from the heart.”
- “We are in a time of tectonic shift—a liquified moment for racial justice.”
- “If we get this right, we will never go back to normal”
- “Feel uncomfortable – you’ve reached the door of opportunity”
- “Now is the time to switch our focus from individual needs/resources to integrating our collective needs/resources”
- “Although we know we have a long way to go and the work is never done, it was encouraging to learn that UUCWC is on the leading edge of the curve on many issues.”
What’s Next? Those who attended will be working with the Racial Justice Ministry and RE to develop related courses, book reads and discussion groups to bring information on reparations, updates on the adoption of the 8th principle nationally, racial justice in many forms, indigenous people’s reclaiming, how to continue enabling all populations to have full access via all venues, examining how to make our congregations more open. Also, we’re hoping to bring a Sunday service that will highlight some of the key takeaways and how they relate directly back to UUCWC. So, stay tuned!
A majority would attend GA again with no hesitation virtually or possibly in person!
Worth attending? YES! Why should YOU consider attending? For the opportunity “to hear UU voices from all over the country and calls to action from voices in the denomination. To hear Black, Indigenous, People of Color, transgender, and other marginalized voices speaking up about where Unitarian Universalism needs to go next and to hear how we’re doing it!”
Next year (2021) GA will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin either in person and/or virtual. So, start planning NOW! It’s a chance to connect, to energize to see how we UUs are making a difference. “You can’t adequately describe GA; you have to experience it.” PLAN ON IT.
Questions? Contact any attendee listed above or yours truly.
Holly Bussey, Liaison
Denominational Affairs for UUCWC