Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Thursday at General Assembly: Day 4 in Minneapolis

I had a sighting of Doug Kraft, second-hand sighting of May Tucker, and a voice mail from Carole Czujko, and I ran into our delegate Seya. She had enjoyed the Young Adult Worship after opening ceremonies Wednesday night.

My first session of the day was fascinating and fun:  a worshop led by the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (which helps newly-forming groups of religious liberals around the world get support and make connections) and the UU Partner Church Council (which promotes international church-to-church partnerships like Sister City relationships).   We heard from a man who has founded a UU group in Mexico City and whose ministry takes him into prisons.  We heard from two partner ministers:  a young man from a village in the Transylvanian region of Romania and an older woman minister from Boise.  By webcam we heard from a man who leads the new group the Christian Unitarians of Indonesia and then from a woman who is part of the UU congregation in Bujumburra, the capital city of Burundi.  Lots of exciting stuff going on.  I’ll know more after the ICUU ministers’ conference in July in the Netherlands.

Late morning I spoke at a workshop about the various grant funds that are part of the UU Funding Program.  I serve on the grants panel for the Fund for a Just Society.  I also attended a meeting with members of the Board of the UU Veatch Program, a major foundation owned by the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, on Long Island.  The UUFP is a re-granting program, so the Veatch board decides how much we can give away.   After a quick lunch I attended a workshop about recent health-care reform legislation.  Speakers included leaders of state UU Legislative Ministries in Maryland, Michigan, and of course, California.

In the late afternoon I attended a “Mini-Assembly,” which is where delegates go to propose, debate and edit amendments to major items of business in advance of the plenary session.  This keeps plenary business from getting bogged down in haggling over and rewriting multiple amendments, so we only debate the motions on the floor that come out of a Mini-Assembly.  The topic Thursday was how best to oppose the anti-immigrant law in Arizona, which creates a climate of fear and promotes racial profiling.  The GA of 2012 is scheduled for Phoenix, and many people have agitated that we should boycott and forego the $500,000 deposit the UUA has made.  (Slogan: We will not meet in a state of fear.) Arizona UUs want us to come and support them and their community partners in their stand for racial justice.  However, there is concern that UUs from other states who are undocumented immigrants or who are not white could be at risk.   It  is likely now that we will not pull out of Phoenix, but the final resolution likely will commit us to a major public witness and education while we are there.  Voting on this is Saturday.

The highlight of the second day of GA is the evening Service of the Living Tradition, the annual occasion when our ministry is celebrated:  the procession includes ministers retiring from full-time service (which this year included former UUSS minister John Young and next year will include Shirley Ranck), those who have died in the past year (including author Forrest Church, my former study group member Marjorie Newlin Leaming). We received word of the recent passing of Paul Sawyer, who has served the Berkeley Fellowship, Pasadena’s Throop Universalist Church, and most recently the Chico Fellowship).  Also recognized were new ministers granted Preliminary Fellowship (or credentialing) with the UUA and those receiving Final Fellowship after three years of work, evaluation,  development, and monthly meetings with a mentor. Ministers from Napa, Grass Valley, and the UU Community Church of Sacramento all received their final fellowhip Thursday night.  Speaking of mentoring, late Wednesday night my mentee and I had a beer on the sidewalk on the Nicollet Mall–think K Street but wider and filled with restaurants and people.  The preacher for the Service of the Living Tradition was Page Getty, a young minister in Columbia, MD, and mother of a one and four-year-old.  Her lectionary texts were from The Velveteen Rabbit and a sentence by Annie Dillard.

I had a very quick dinner at a Vietnames restaurant Thursday with a friend I haven’t seen in over two decades.  He lives here with his wife; we all three worked together as budget analysts back in 1985.  I hope to see the whole family after GA.  He asked about my career change  and caught me up on his life.  He told me that this morning at 9 on the local Public Radio news station he heard an extended interview with the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  Take a look at the intro and picture, and listen to the whole thing if you want, at this link.


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