2018 UUA General Assembly

The Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly was held this year from June 20 to 24 in Kansas City, Mo. What is GA? It’s part inspiration and spiritual sustenance. It’s an opportunity to mingle with UUs from all over the country and some other countries and engage in issues important to our UU faith. But also, it’s a time to conduct a lot of the business of the association.

This year there were 2,814 registered attendees, including 134 youth. 522 congregations from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Mexico were represented by 1,570 delegates, including 199 off-site delegates.

Our voting delegates this year were Rev. Molly, Todd Iveson, Peter Holmes, Gretchen Maune, Connie Ordway, and Steve Scott. About 15 other members of our church also attended all or part of GA, and a number of them served as volunteers performing various tasks to keep the show running, in exchange for which they received free registration for GA. For example, Maria Oropallo and Kathie Bergman staffed an information booth to answer questions from attendees, and Larry Lile assisted with the tech staff that provided audio/video services.

The business of the General Assembly takes place in General Sessions. All registered attendees are welcome at these sessions, but only voting delegates can vote.

At the business sessions there was broad consensus for aggressively challenging the criminalization of migrants, people of color, and indigenous people. Delegates overwhelmingly selected “Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy” as a multiyear Congregational Study/Action Issue.

Delegates also endorsed three Actions of Immediate Witness, which all emphasize the urgency of supporting people of color and indigenous people. The first calls for congregational action to draw attention to predatory medical fees charged to incarcerated people, who are disproportionately people of color; the UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship developed the resolution in partnership with its 870 incarcerated members.

A second resolution pledged solidarity with indigenous “water protectors,” who have been fighting the placement of liquid natural gas pipelines near Native American lands and who face federal charges for disrupting construction of the pipelines.

The third resolution demanded immediate action to improve U.S. treatment of asylum seekers and migrant families to keep families together. Among other demands, the resolution advocates the abolition of Immigration Customs Enforcement “and the implementation of a system that understands the causes of migration, provides a non-carceral solution while asylum seekers await a decision on their case, and has a fundamental commitment to keeping families together.”

Delegates also approved a group of bylaw changes to bring the UUA’s governing document up to date with current understandings of gender diversity. A proposal introduced last year to change Unitarian Universalism’s “Second Source” from “words and deeds of prophetic women and men” to “words and deeds of prophetic people” passed easily.

A second bylaws amendment changed all gendered pronouns in the bylaws to the gender-inclusive “they/them/their.”

A third bylaws amendment will allow religious educators who are active members of the Liberal Religious Educators Association to serve as voting delegates at future GAs.

The assembly also approved bylaws changes adding two youth trustees to the 11 at-large trustees on the UUA Board of Trustees; allowing the role of moderator at GA to be filled by more than one person; modifying the length of terms of service on committees; and simplifying the social witness resolutions process.