Rev. William Sinkford was the main speaker in the opening ceremony. He first joked that UU's always have an identity crisis that is about to happen. Then he got serious and spoke of how there's always an identity crisis happening, deciding who we are, what needs to change, and what we can rely on.
One quote that stood out: " How we practice the faith must enable us to address the challenges of today."
He spoke in broad terms of some of the history of the UUA and how there have been wasted opportunities and pushback against change. How often the pushback took the form of wondering whether the approaches to change were UU enough, a quest for perfection that is impossible to achieve.
He reminded us that perfectionism is about power and who gets to define what is good.
He charged us to renew our covenant and recommit to a transformation of our faith.
Then he led us through a very powerful meditation where we envisioned ourselves in a room full of diverse UU's of all ages, colors, genders, and other identities, approaching the altar for blessing in whatever form we needed. He really had us feeling ourselves being there, being drawn to the front by the music and the other people. I can't do it justice, but it invoked for me the powerful feeling I had when I attended a service at the GA in Boston and I was in an arena (was it Boston Garden? I can't remember) full of UU's. I had until that moment only experienced UU within the confines of my small church so it was amazing to feel the power of UU that way. Anyhow, Rev. Sinkford invoked that. He ended the meditation on a note that left us with the feeling that our life mattered and excitement for what transformation could be like.
Another quote that impressed: "You can know the truth of the world and still believe in the power of love."
The opening service was mostly about the worshipping together. There was just one vote to take: to approve the Rules of Procedure. Which I voted to do.
As far as voting goes, the UUA has changed procedures so that delegates know what will be voted on each day and all votes are done by ballot, with votes reported the following day. This delays results a bit, but it also ensures that delegates know when they need to be voting, AND that delegates are ensured that they won't miss a vote because of a computer or physical glitch, which could happen when delegates were voting in the moment.
Part of the opening ceremony included introductions to some of the UU organizations. I learned that the UUSC has been working on refugees and Haiti and that the Hungarian UU church has been active in helping Ukrainian refugees, as well as other refugees to Europe.
Voting for UUA positions is open all week, but I placed my votes today so I wouldn't forget. Mostly it was just affirming those who had stepped forward to serve.
Board of Trustees positions #9 and #10 had just one nominee each, and GA Planning Committee, Nominating Committee and Presidential Search |Committee had only as many nominated as needed (3 of 3, 3 of 3, and 5 of 5, respectively).
There were two competitive posts up, Board of Trustees positions #7 and #11. I was excited to be able to cast my vote for our old friend Rev. Justine Sullivan
for BoT position #11.
That's it for Wednesday. As some of you know, the first day is a lot of ceremony and just enjoying coming together. We get down to the real work on Thursday.
On the agenda:
Discussion of Thursday’s Ballot of Amendments
Commission on Social Witness Report and Admitting AIWs to the Final Agenda
I'll try to write reports at the end of each day to keep you up on what's going on.
Your delegate at GA.