UUCWC Works and Enjoys General Assembly 2023

By Holly Bussey, Denominational Affairs Liaison

More than 4,100 Unitarian Universalists participated in the multiplatform General Assembly (GA) June 21–25, with 1,768 online registrants and 2,380 in-person registrants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From the David L. Lawrence Convention Center onsite participants absorbed stunning views of the Allegheny River and picturesque downtown architecture. Online participants enjoyed their ability to participate from the comfort of their homes or hotel rooms.

In this safe environment, your UUCWC folks attended both virtually and in person. Representing our congregation in person were: Maria Baratta, Alison Streit-Baron*, Holly Bussey*, Jennifer Ciccolini*, Jane Root, Jim Sanders* and Dan Tuft*. Heather Edwards* and Klaus Zechner attended virtually. (*=delegates). Robin Pugh and Julie Rigano also attended as professional staff. We all wore UUCWC T-shirts (to help us find each other) and received several compliments on them and our new banner! Thank you, Lori O’Neil and Jim Sanders.

GA 2023 included 2,593 credentialed delegates representing 715 congregations in fifty states; Washington, D.C.; Canada; Mexico; and the Philippines. Of those delegates, 1,317 were onsite, 827 were online, and 447 were business only delegates. A total of 2,109 credentialed delegates (81 percent) participated in the final round of votes, more than twice the engagement of GA 2022. “We have been very pleased with delegate participation in voting this year,” said UUA Secretary Bill Young.

This was a historic GA. In addition to electing a new president, delegates voted to move forward with a process proposing changes to Article II of the UUA bylaws, the section that includes the Principles, Purposes, and Sources. There were 1,816 (86.3 percent) votes in favor of moving forward and 289 (13.7 percent) against. Several amendments to the proposal package were approved during GA, including adding language of mystery and wonder, while others, including retaining the current Six Sources, did not pass. A final vote on the proposed changes requires a two-thirds vote to pass next year at GA 2024.

All three proposed Actions of Immediate Witness passed overwhelmingly: “Rise Up to Stop Cop City” (83.8 percent in favor); “Organizing for Health Equity” (85.8 percent); and “Protect the Dreamers, the Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) with a Pathway to Permanent Residence” (98.1 percent). No responsive resolutions or budget motions made it onto the final agenda.

Lastly, look here for a video tribute saying goodbye to UUA President, Susan Frederick-Gray.

Business wasn’t the only thing that happened at GA. There were numerous workshops, opportunities for building community and connection, and worship, including the always popular Sunday worship, with Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti preaching on the theme “Ever Willing: Becoming the People Our World Needs,” a Friday service presented by the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) entitled “Liberation, Incarceration, and our Faith,” and the Synergy Bridging Service, which celebrates youth entering emerging adulthood. The worship services and the music were FANTASTIC.

Special presentations included The Ware Lecture, presented by Beacon author Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, who will join the faculty at Harvard University, this summer, as a Radcliffe Professor. The Ware Lecture should be available online at a later date if copyright permits. Perry discussed a number of “UU ancestors” including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a noted Black intellectual, poet, novelist, abolitionist, and suffragist. “The anti-intellectualism of the day is of course predicated on a desire to keep people from being moved deeply,” said Perry, who received a standing ovation. She added: “I do believe that this moment requires both an extraordinary amount of courage and humility of us.”

Brian Broome, award-winning author of the memoir Punch Me Up to the Gods, shared his experiences and insight as a Black gay man, joined in conversation by Rev. Michael J. Crumpler, LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director for the UUA. “Everyone should write a memoir, or at least tell your story. Because they want you to not,” Broome said, adding, to applause, “Our stories are weapons in the war against fascism.” 

What’s next for us at UUCWC? We will need to determine engagement in the discussion of Article II this year as well as whether we wish to get further involved with any of the Actions of Immediate Witness. Get materials from and engage in conversation with any of the GA attendees, or visit the GA Table at coffee hour (virtual or in person) that will be available later this summer.

Next year’s GA will be held virtually, with no in-person location. We hope to create a local GA experience at UUCWC and invite members to participate. We also hope to broadcast key events at UUCWC and bring more of the community together. GA 2025 is slated for Baltimore, Maryland.

Read more about this year’s GA here or feel free to reach out for more information by emailing DA@uucwc.org.