This past June, nine members of UUCWC attended virtual General Assembly (GA) in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, you may think a virtual conference can be uninspiring, dull and maybe just not your cup of tea. You should consider GA! There was excitement and energy flowing through the Zoom sessions that you could almost taste.
Several attendees admittedly said it was challenging to capture enthusiasm for this GA. But, after attending, one of our delegates, Heather Edwards stated, “This was my second General Assembly, and both have been virtual. Despite that, after attending GA virtually I still feel more connected to the wider community of Unitarian Universalists and re-energized in my personal spiritual practice and my volunteer work within UUCWC.”
The group gathered to review their GA experience. All agreed that the Ware Lecture-shared by two people—a first—was amazing and energizing. Stacey Abrams and Desmond Meade were the two lecturers this year. The session is now available for viewing, here. We encourage you to check it out.
Participating in GA touches on a full range of experiences and spiritual emotions. For many, the highlight is the daily worship services. The brief 30-minute daily service helps set the stage for the sessions that follow and to do the work of the UUA with an open heart and mind. As always, GA had wonderful music (COVID would not stop us…we were creative!).
Yet, at this GA, we didn’t avoid the obvious. This has been a painful year, one of loss—in many forms. At multiple venues, time and space was given to honor the losses and trauma of the many past months. In the Opening Celebration, Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom led a lamentations ritual to allow time for “noticing and naming what the heart grieves.”
Heather again shares: “I attended a workshop about “Community in a Post-Isolation Age” that talked about the effects of trauma. This workshop helped me to realize how much the trauma of the pandemic continues to impact all of us and will impact the ways that we create community moving forward. Rev. Jami Yandle spoke about the need for community care rather than just self-care – remembering to slow down and be gentle with each other in order to hold each other with grace at this moment.”
One benefit of a virtual GA is that sessions are recorded so attendees can continue to engage with workshops and worship services throughout the summer. Some sessions our UUCWC members attended included but were not limited to: “Ableism, Liberatory Theology, and Disability Justice.” One of the highlights of this workshop was that as we move towards a return to more in-person activities, we must be sure not to lose the increased accessibility that Zoom is currently providing for some disabled people who might not be able to attend activities in person. And, at the same time, we must always continue to increase the accessibility of our spaces and events.
Another workshop that expanded our understanding was called “Taking Up Space: Fat Liberation and UU.” This workshop emphasized the sacredness of all bodies, of all sizes, and provided ideas for what UU congregations can do to become Fat Liberationist spaces.
Other sessions we attended included: “Community in a Post-Isolation Age,” “Reparations Rooted in Repair,” Intergenerational Action for Climate/Food Justice,” “Authentic Leadership Being Anti-racist,” BIPOC Oral History,” and much more.
Many of the sessions are now available online. Please consider taking time to review the sessions, to get inspiration, encouragement, and to hear thought–provoking content. Don’t forget to listen to the Ware Lecture.
Most of our members who attended were also delegates for UUCWC at the UUA Business meeting. Delegates give input on behalf of their congregations and vote on issues, actions etc. that they would like the UUA to focus on.
This year, our members were honored to be part of considering and adopting the Statement of Conscience “Undoing Systemic White Supremacy: A Call to Prophetic Action.” This is the first time a statement has called on the UUA, individuals and congregations “to actively engage in undoing systemic white supremacy in all of its manifestations. Systemic white supremacy refers to the embedded, institutional, and pervasive nature of racism, white privilege, and racial bias and oppression in our society.” This Statement of Conscience, which resulted from years of study and feedback from congregations, will help to inform our Eighth Principle work dedicated to dismantling racism and other oppressions.
GA delegates also voted overwhelmingly to allow registered delegates to attend the Business Meeting and represent their congregations without having to register for GA. The discussion centered around the fact that, historically, only those who could afford to attend the entire GA could be a delegate, and this was an unfair practice. More and more young people wish to be involved and can’t always attend the sessions of GA. The motion passed overwhelmingly. So, stay tuned for more on this for GA 2022.
Speaking of GA 2022, we will have the option of meeting online or in-person! For those who enjoyed the convenience and accessibility of remote participation, GA will continue to offer virtual attendance with robust programming and enhanced delegate discussion tools. For those who have been missing the physical experience, GA 2022 will also feature face-to-face interactions, hanging banners, a browsable exhibit hall, meals with friends old and new, local site attractions, and more! Start a vacation by attending GA and then travel on to see the many sites in that area of the country.
Holly Bussey, Denominational Affairs Liaison
Heather Edwards, Contributor