Home from General Assembly 2018

Whew! We’re recovering from a long week at General Assembly in Kansas City, MO. As this publishes, many of your CER staff are traveling home from Missouri and wading back through our email inboxes. We’ll be back in our offices and caught up by next week.

One of the highlights of the week was the Ware Lecture by Brittney Packnett. So we’ve provided the video here for those who might have missed it.

For all the highlights, news stories – like what happened when Westboro Baptist protested us again – and more, check the UU World’s GA page. They have covered General Assembly in great detail once again.

If you missed something, or want to revisit something much of General Assembly is online. Additional resources, such as the amended texts of the Actions of Immediate Witness and the accepted Congregational Study Action Issue will be published to the UUA website in the coming weeks.

Everything that was streamed live is now available on the UUA website. Here you can watch the Opening Ceremonies and Banner Parade, all the business sessions, the Ware Lecture, the Service of the Living Tradition, Sunday Morning Worship and the Closing Ceremonies. If you visit the UUA’s YouTube Channel you can also find the individual reports that were given during the different business sessions.

The UUA is in discernment about how to conduct business at General Assembly and we had a time of discussion in smaller groups around four main questions:

  • What is essential to you about being a Unitarian Universalist?
  • What do our purposes and principles capture well that is essential to who we are and what we must do as Unitarian Universalists? What do they leave out?
  • How could our mission, purposes, principles and bylaws more accurately convey our vision of a future for our faith that compels us to act on our deep commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression?
  • In what specific ways are we asked to transform lives, communities and the world in these times? How does our shared life in our congregations and covenanted communities prepare us to do this?

The report back to the full group can be found in this video clip. Additional details and information will be sent out to the delegates after there is more time to analyze the answers. The delegates were asked to bring these questions home to their congregations. How might you answer them? Might your congregation discuss these questions? How would the congregation answer them?

May we continue to work together to strengthen our faith
Beth Casebolt, CER Operations Manager and Communications Consultant

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Can’t Be In Kansas City? You Can Still Participate in General Assembly!

If you are unable to attend General Assembly, the UUA’s annual business meeting in Kansas City this year, you have other options to participate, including being a delegate. It’s not too late to decide to do any of these options!

If you are a delegate for congregation and can’t attend in person, you can fully participate in all business meetings including mini-assemblies for General Assembly. Your congregation is still represented and you can help with the decision making process of the association. Others who are not delegate can also register to participate as registered attendees. This allows you to participate and view a select set of workshops in addition to all the public events. You can see the full list of workshops that will be live-streamed on the GA Live-cast Workshops webpage.

Not able to participate as a registered attendee or delegate but still want to participate when you can? Much of GA is live-streamed including all the general (business) sessions, worship services and many of our celebrations. The full list includes the Ware Lecture with Brittany Packnett and Sunday Morning Worship with Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. See everything that is being live-streamed on the GA 2018 Online webpage.

We encourage congregations to consider live-streaming some of the bigger events for their congregants. If your congregation is interested in doing this please check the UUA’s Projecting GA Video at an Event guidelines to help you get it all set up. Some events to consider are the Sunday Morning Worship, which will be Sunday at 9 am Central, 10 am Eastern and the Ware Lecture on Saturday at 7:30 pm Central, 8:30 pm Eastern (when looking at the GA listing of events, do note that all times are Central Time Zone). If your congregation’s minister, religious educator or musician is being recognized in the Service of the Living Tradition, you may want to celebrate with them on Thursday at 7 pm Central, 8 pm Eastern. If you have a youth who is bridging to young adulthood, the Synergy Bridging Service is Friday at 4pm Central, 5 pm Eastern. We are the only denomination that recognizes its youth as they bridge at our national meeting, so this is very special event. The opening and closing ceremonies are also streamed.

This year’s public witness event is available to off-site folks as well. You can view the live-stream of the “Anatomy of a Bailout” Panel Discussion on Thursday and you can help with the on-site project by purchasing items from the Amazon wish list (not many are left, thanks to all of those who already participated!) and shipping them to the nearby congregation.

Did your congregation do something different? Host a watching party? Team up with the rest of your cluster to have your delegates participate together? Let us know! We’re interested in unique ways to participate in GA from off-site.

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Delegate at General Assembly? Look Here!

Attending General Assembly can be an overwhelming experience even for those who have attended several times. Being a delegate and needing to understand what is happening in plenary is even  more challenging.

Your Central East Regional team has some help for those who are delegates (and those who are not) for this year.

  • Attend a General Assembly Orientation Webinar. The Central East Region is offering an orientation for those attending GA on June 13 at 8 pm ET. The webinar is free but you do need to register. Attending from off-site? We held our off-site orientation webinar in May and the video is now available if you missed it (see below).
  • Learn about the Business Items You’ll Be Voting On. You can read all the agendas and documents for the general sessions (aka plenary sessions, aka business meetings) in the Final Business Agenda at the UUA GA website. In addition, the UUA Board is offering a webinar titled What Delegates Can Expect at GA 2018. There are four sessions being offered, each will be about 75 minutes long and they will cover the same material. Dates are June 5 at 8p ET, June 7 at 8p ET, June 9 at 4p ET and June 10 at 5p ET. Learn more and get the webinar info at their webpage. Do note that this is for both off site and on site delegates. If one of those dates doesn’t work they will record them and post it to the webinar webpage.
  • Make Sure You Have Your Credentials. All delegates need their credentials which your congregation can provide to you. The UUA has an online system for congregations to access those credentials. Need more information? Check out the Credentials page on the GA section of the UUA website. Don’t leave home without them!
  • Visit the Delegate Page for General Assembly. This page on the UUA website has links to important documents such as the General Session Participation Guide, an FAQ for delegates and information about being an off-site delegate. Learn more at the delegate page of the GA section of UUA website.
  • Learn about this year’s Public Witness BEFORE you leave home. This year our prophetic ministry at GA will not include a demonstration or rally. Instead we will kick off our #EndMoneyBail work and materially support local Kansas City organizing. So instead of your marching shoes, please bring a gently used purse or bag and generously support the Wish List of items for the care package build. This is an evolving event, so check the Public Witness page of the UUA GA website to learn more.
  • Download the GA App to your Smartphone. This app will allow you to network with other attendees and receive notifications and access documents such as the final business agenda and daily documents like the CSW Alert. It also contains the schedule, a list of exhibitors in the exhibit hall and information about the Public Witness plans.  The app allows those who have smartphones to be greener than having as much paper at GA as well as allowing for networking and feedback. Learn more at the UUA website or search your app store for UUA GA.

New This Year!

  • Networking Sessions – This year there are two opportunities for individuals to network with others along different topics during time set aside just for this purpose. The first session is Wednesday at 4:30-6 pm and will be led by UUA staff and include networking, introductions, resources and information on the topic area and highlights for other GA programs related to the topic. The second session is Friday at 7-8:30 pm are organized by affinity groups. Please check the program book for the extensive list for each session to see what interests you.
  • Poster Sessions – This year there are two opportunities for individuals to showcase projects or programs in a poster display during GA. The three sessions are Thursday at 12:15-1:30, Friday at 12:15-1:30 and Saturday at 12:15-1:30. The list of presentations for each session is listed in the program book.
  • Workshop Lengths – This year the GA planning committee offered workshop presenters the option of having different time lengths of workshops. When you check your program book or app, please check the start and end times of the workshops you are interested in. Some workshops may run through two or three time slots this year.

For everyone attending, do check out the GA Prep materials to help you prepare for this year’s General Assembly. All the activities and a downloadable pdf can be found on the UUA website.

Plan ahead what you want to do by checking out the schedule of workshops and activities but be prepared to change your mind if you hear information about activities that make them sound more interesting that you initially thought. You can view a pdf of the program book or look at the activity listings on the GA App.

Are you a singer? The choir is currently registering online and is filled on a first come, first serve basis.

Questions about GA? Please ask them in the comments below or contact your congregation’s primary contact.

See you at GA!

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Resources for General Assembly 2018

Attending General Assembly is a whirlwind of activity. Attending for your first time can be overwhelming! Your Central East Region team wants you to feel prepared. Here are some resources we think you might find helpful. Several are good for off site attendees as well as on site attendees.

As a note, early bird registration ends on April 30 – you need to register today if you want to catch the lower price!

The Central East Region is hosting a GA Orientation webinar on Tuesday, June 13 at 8 pm ET.  This orientation is recommended for everyone attending GA but especially first timers and especially delegates. If you are attending as an off-site delegate, don’t worry we have you covered too! The GA Orientation Webinar for Off-Site Delegates will be Wednesday, May 24 at 7 pm ET. Rev. Darcy Laine will share how her congregations used this opportunity to create a community event.

New to GA? Not sure what to expect? There are two resources we recommend.

  • The GA Forums has a number of discussion boards you can ask questions on. There is a topic specific for questions from first-timers, those who are participating off-site, delegates and GA business, information about the elections and more. You must have an account on the UUA website and be logged in to participate.
  • And download or access the GA App. The 2018 update will be live in early June. You can download the app to your phone now. It’s available from iTunes, Google Play and as a mobile enhanced web app for others. I highly recommend you use the app at GA to track your calendar, look at workshop options in advance and find maps. You can also provide feedback and connect with others attending GA.

One suggestion we make is to look at the program schedule ahead of time and make some preliminary choices about what you want to do. You’ll make changes on the fly once you are there but it helps to have a starting point. The preliminary schedule is already up on the GA Webpage, so you can start planning now.

The UUA has provided a series of resources to help individuals prepare for General Assembly this year. You can find the full list of resources at the UUA website. There are readings, videos and actions individuals can do to prepare themselves fully for the GA experience in Kansas City and complete several actions and you can even earn a ribbon. Those attending off site can also participate and let the UUA know what they’ve done via an online form.

If your congregation does not have a full complement of delegates attending GA in Kansas City, you can opt to send off site delegates. Off site delegates have access to livestreamed video of all the activity in the plenary hall, plus any business workshops (the budget hearing for example) as well as a selection of some workshops. They are able to speak on the floor during meetings and to vote in real time, including the election. Learn more about off-site delegates and general off site participation.

Those attending GA will receive an email from us highlighting CER events during General Assembly in June.

We’ll see you in Kansas City!

Beth Casebolt, CER Communications Consultant and Operations Manager

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It’s Time to Think About General Assembly 2018

UUA GA 2018 logoGrounded in a deep belief that we are all prophets, Unitarian Universalists ask, “How can we faithfully meet the demands of our time?” The call to witness and act for justice in our society and in the world is clear. So, too, is the call to examine our structures and practices, dismantling and transforming those which fail to recognize the full humanity of all people and to honor the interdependent web of life. Join us in Kansas City as we dive deeply into questions of mission for our Unitarian Universalist Association, for our congregations and communities, and for each of us as individuals. Together, we’ll ask:

  • Who and how are we called to be at this time, individually and collectively?
  • How are we called to act and to live?
  • How does our Unitarian Universalist  legacy strengthen us in living out our mission? In what ways does our legacy present challenges and impediments to answering our call?

The call of our faith has a place for each of us. Join us in Kansas City to build courageous, collective leadership with tools, skills and connections.

For General Assembly March 1 is an important date – registration and housing reservations open on that date. Financial aid can only be requested from March 1-31. So now is the time to start thinking about if you want to attend. Housing does tend to fill quickly so do check that out if you want to stay in the hotels near the convention center. Registration rates go up on May 1, so do pay attention to that date as well.

There are a few different things for GA this year and some familiar things to learn about.

  • Financial Aid for General Assembly – Financial aid for General Assembly is available in the form of working volunteer positions as well as registration scholarships and travel grants. GA Volunteers exchange a set number of hours of work at GA for a full-time GA registration. There are several different funding sources available via the General Assembly Unified Scholarship Application, including additional funding committed by the UUA Administration to the 2018 budget to facilitate the participation of People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Persons at GA. Anyone with a relationship to a Unitarian Universalist congregation or UU organization (covenanted community) is encouraged to apply. Financial Aid applications are accepted March 1 through March 31.
  • Registration opens March 1.
  • Housing Reservations open March 1 at 10 am.
  • NEW – Host a Networking Session! – You are invited to submit a proposal to host a networking session at General Assembly. Time has been set aside at GA on Friday evening for networking among affinity groups within Unitarian Universalism, for people to connect around identity, role, interest or any other dimension. Proposals are due Thursday, March 15.
  • NEW – Present a Poster at GA! – You are invited to apply to present a poster at GA on an inspiring story, best practice or a resource of interest to other GA attendees. Sessions will be selected based on how they address equity, inclusion and the GA theme. If chosen, you will need to be present for one 75 minute session where attendees can drop by to discuss with you the topic of your poster. Poster session will be scheduled daily in the GA Exhibit Hall. Proposals are due Thursday, March 15.
  • The Ware Lecture, Banner Parade and Service the Living Tradition will all take place during General Assembly. You can see the programming highlights and schedule of events on the UUA website.
  • Not sure if you want to be a delegate? Read the Delegate FAQ to find out what is required of delegates. Remember, that congregations select their delegates and every congregation has their own process for selecting them.

Can’t travel to Kansas City? No problem, you can be an off-site participant. Much of what happens in the plenary hall is live streamed via YouTube. Off site participants are also given access to additional materials. Congregational delegates can attend from home as well as off-site delegates. Learn about participating from off site and what the requirements for that are at the GA website.

Learn more about General Assembly on the UUA website and we hope we’ll see you there!

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Churches come together to celebrate GA “virtually”

Virtual delegates Becca Boerger and Ally Freyre

UU Congregation of Athens and Sheshequin is one of those congregations that hadn’t sent a delegate to General Assembly for several years, so when the opportunity arose to send “virtual” delegates, it was a great way for us to make our voices heard. 2017 was our 3rd “virtual” GA, and we participated not only with our 2 lay delegates Ally Freyre and Linda Rossi and 1 ministerial delegate Rev. Darcey Laine, but Wyoming Valley UU’s delegate Becca Boerger traveled to be with us for the whole weekend.

Our Multi-Congregation GA began on Wednesday Night with an Opening Celebration (Solstice Bonfire and Potluck) at the Big Flats UU Fellowship, then we gathered in the sanctuary for Thursday morning general session over coffee and fruit salad to be part of the action. In a community where not all homes have high speed internet, the church provided a critical hub of accessibility. It was helpful to be together to share to give each other technical support, and to share the ups and downs of GA with one another. The Virtual Assembly remained available to members and friends in the sanctuary all weekend, and ended up with a live-stream of GA worship for the whole congregation.

Congregations and clusters around the region might consider similar set ups for the 2018 General Assembly. If you have questions about this idea please reach out to your primary contact or Beth Casebolt, our communications specialist, at [email protected].

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From Your Regional Lead: Prepping for General Assembly

One of the things I’ve been doing to prepare for General Assembly this year is to work through these excellent preparatory materials provided by the Planning team. As the GA webpage puts it, “General Assembly in New Orleans will awaken and deepen the commitment of Unitarian Universalists to the power and possibility of working in solidarity with those on the margins. [Here] are resources to help you prepare to enter fully into that experience.” Now that the UU conversation about white supremacy has intensified, preparing for GA in this way seems even more important. I’m doing as suggested, exploring the resources in each of the five sections (Encountering New Orleans; Understanding Intersections of Race, Class and Economics; Enhancing Capacity to Build Relationships; Centering the Experiences of People of Color; and Examining Whiteness) to get a broad overview.

I’m personally invested in centering the experiences of people of color. As a leader in Unitarian Universalism, I’ve had no shortage of opportunity to immerse myself in white culture and a white orientation to the world. I get really animated when I can participate in opportunities where the experiences of people of color are centered, instead. I learn more from those times than I would from reading ten books!

What is your next step in “awakening…the power and possibility of working in solidarity with those on the margins”? You aren’t going to dismantle white supremacy in yourself or in the world all at one time. Where’s the right place for you to start? What can you learn about this week that will make a difference? Seeing the world with new eyes can be enormously rewarding. Your efforts will benefit us all. Plus, if you bring your completed resource list to the UUA Expressway at GA, you can get a ribbon to commemorate your learning!

Megan Foley
CER Regional Lead

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GA Preparation Materials Available

Prepare your heart, mind, and spirit to enter into the Resist and Rejoice experience in New Orleans, arriving at General Assembly ready to learn what the people, culture, history, and geography have to teach! Check out these resources to help you prepare. Before heading to GA, print the READY booklet and tell us what you did. Turn in your list at the UUA Expressway to receive a READY ribbon to affix to your GA name badge!

General Assembly in New Orleans will awaken and deepen the commitment of Unitarian Universalists to the power and possibility of working in solidarity with those on the margins. The activities that have been prepared fall into five categories:

  • Encountering New Orleans: People, Place and Stories
  • Understanding Intersections: Race, Class, Economics
  • Enhancing Capacity to Build Relationships
  • Centering the Experiences of People of Color
  • Examining Whiteness

In each category there are recommended books to read, videos to watch and ways to apply what you have learned in a variety of ways. Those who are attending GA can print the pdf, record what they did and present that at the UUA Expressway to receive a ribbon. Those not attending GA can email what they did to [email protected].

Download the entire booklet or review what activities are recommended at the UUA website.

This year’s Ware Lecture will be presented by Author Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption, the 2015-16 UUA Common Read. Learn more about Bryan Stevenson and the Ware Lecture.

Want more preparation or experiences? Then register for the Pre-General Assembly Conference, Undoing Racism on June 20-21, 2017. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the General Assembly Planning Committee (GAPC), and the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (CELSJR) are partnering together in bringing this unique custom workshop offered by The People’s Institute, a New Orleans-based, national, multiracial, anti-racist network dedicated to ending racism and other forms of institutional oppression.

The Resist and Rejoice! theme of this General Assembly calls us to embody a more antiracist, anti-oppressive and multicultural faith. This two-day pre-GA training is intended to:

  • prepare and equip UUs to engage in the justice work organized for this GA
  • encounter other GA participants in less oppressive and more inclusive ways
  • bring an antiracist equity and intersectional lens to the justice work in congregations and communities

Learn more at www.uua.org/getready. Reduced registration rates for this pre-GA event available through April 30th.

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General Assembly Registration Opens March 1

GUUA GA 2017 logoeneral Assembly 2017 will be held in New Orleans, LA on June 21-25. Registration and housing for the general public open March 1.  Here is some basic information you need to know about GA. The theme this year is Resist and Rejoice!

Every year General Assembly includes plenary sessions where congregational delegates vote on the business of the UUA, workshops on a variety of topics, a public witness event, the Ware Lecture, this year by Bryan Stevenson, and worship services. This year is an election year and includes the election of the UUA President. Please see our blog post two weeks ago for details on that process.

To learn more about General Assembly, please visit the UUA GA Pages. Of particular interest are:

March 1 is the date registration opens for everything. You can register for the Pre-GA Racial Justice Training, Youth Registration, Children’s Programs, Off-site registration, Choir Registration, Financial Aid requests, Accessibility Services, and Housing. Click the registration link above to get to all registration pages, click the travel and housing link to make housing arrangements.

Important Deadlines:

  • March 1 – all registration, financial aid and housing opens for registration
  • March 31 – deadline for financial aid applications (including to volunteer)
  • May 1 – registration rates increase

As you start choosing your congregational delegates, some may have questions. This UUA page explains what delegates need to do to prepare and how congregations are determined to be eligible to send delegates and how many.

Get Ready to Resist and Rejoice: Undoing Racism is a Pre-General Assembly Training for racial justice and community organizing at the New Orleans Convention Center June 20-21, 2017. The Unitarian Universalist Association, the General Assembly Planning Committee, and the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (CELSJR) are pleased to partner together in bringing this unique custom workshop offered by The People’s Institute, a New Orleans-based, national, multiracial, anti-racist network dedicated to ending racism and other forms of institutional oppression. Learn more at uua.org/getready. Registration opens March 1.

As always, if you have questions about General Assembly please contact your primary contact and we’ll point you in the right direction. And please watch our newsletter, where we’ll include updated information as it becomes available.

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GA Round Up – What Happened in Columbus?

General Assembly 2016 in Columbus, OH is over and many decisions were made. Here is a short summary of what happened. For details please visit the UU World coverage of GA.

 

To find video of the plenary sessions, Ware Lecture and worship services, please visit the UUA’s Virtual GA page. The Sunday morning worship service and the Ware Lecture with Krista Tippet were excellent presentations and left attendees buzzing. The Public Witness event with Rev. William Barber is also available and was excellent.

 

The three candidates for President of the UUA participated in the President’s Forum and you can watch that presentation.

 

The Study Action Issue “Corruption of Our Democracy” was selected for congregational study for the next four years. The Commission on Social Witness will be send out updated materials on this topic in the next few months.

 

The business resolution for “Screening Out Investments in Corporations Complicit in the Violation of Palestinian Rights,” as amended during mini-assembly and General Session III, failed to be adopted.

 

The business resolution on reconsidering Thanksgiving was adopted as amended during the mini-assembly.

 

Three Actions of Immediate Witness were selected and adopted for congregations to take immediate action. Detailed information on this actions will be released soon. They are:

  • Build Solidarity with Our Muslim Neighbors
  • Some Guns, All Guns: Legislating Appropriate Restrictions
  • Stop the Hate: Protect and Support our Transgender and Gender Non-Confirming  Family

 

Because the General Assembly in New Orleans is intended to be a justice focused GA, it was voted to suspend Actions of Immediate Witness for 2017.

 

Details on all the actions taken at General Assembly will be released in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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