Today began with a chalice lighting that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, acknowledging as making a difference not just for full participation of women in college sports, but in all academic life (e.g. women used to be routinely barred from graduate programs because of their gender) and recognizing Rep. Patsy Mink for writing Title IX and holding her up as an example for us to follow today.
We learned that the Rule of Procedure (yesterday's vote) passed by 98.5% vote.
We also learned that credentialed delegates came from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines. 771 people are registered to attend virtually. Some 400 are attending in person. And another 200+ are attending as business-only registrants, a new form of registration that allows folks to attend only the business portion of the Assembly and "pay what you can" to make the Assembly more accessible.
Dan McKenna of the UU church in Medford, MA led a reflection on Freedom of belief, which he describe as being free for the sake of conscience and community. Since non-UUs often say we can believe anything we want, he put that in perspective as "We are free to believe what our consciences call us to believe." He also pointed out that we cannot make a conscious choice without learning from the perspectives of others. Hence, the multiple sources of wisdom we recognize.
Next we had an introduction to the Article II Study Commission. Article II of the Bylaws and Rules of the UUA covers the Principles and Purposes of the UUA.
Because we consider UU as Living Tradition, our bylaws require that we review them periodically to ensure that they keep up with the times, in language and in content. The Commission is charged to "review Article II of the UUA Bylaws, and propose any revisions that will enable our UUA, our member congregations, and our covenanted communities to be a relevant and powerful force for spiritual and moral growth, healing, and justice." Any proposed changes must be presented to the Board of Trustees by January 2023 in order to be considered and placed on the agenda for first vote in the 2023 General Assembly. More on the charge can be found at https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission/charge . More on the Commission and its work can be found at https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission .
Article II( has 4 sections:
- Principles and Sources
- Purpose of the UUA
- Inclusion Clause
- Freedom of Belief
- The Commission started its work in 2020. Its work is to be informed by
- the purpose of the UUA
- shared UU values
They hope to engage more people in the work.
Draft language will be submitted in January of 2023. Mini-assemblies will propose amendments to be considered for vote at GA 2023.
If a majority of delegates vote against the draft language and amendments in 2023, the process will end. If a majority approve, the work will continue, with a final vote in June 2024. The final vote requires a 2/3 vote to be approved.
There is a FB page on article 2, as well as the web pages cited above.
The Presidential report lifted up the strides the UUA has made in diversity, with almost 40% of important positions now held by people of color vs. 5 years ago. As President Susan Frederick-Gray said, "We are called to anti-racism work" She also lifted religious education and called for more investment in the form of scholarships for students, resources for congregations (e.g., online libraries), and beefing up UU the Vote.
The Commission presented the 3 Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW) that will be voted on later in the Assembly. The AIW process allows Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to social issues deemed urgent. Adopted AIWs are used by congregations in local efforts and empower the Washington Office for Advocacy to take action and recommend action through other departments of the UUA and other UU groups. An AIW does not carry the full authority of the Unitarian Universalist Association; rather, it expresses the conscience of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. AIWs are initiated by individuals and move through their entire creation and adoption process during one GA.
Eight AIW's were submitted. 5 were accepted (there are language requirements that must be met). A vote before GA started narrowed it down to 3 (we can only have up to 3 on the agenda) that we would be voting on:
- Rejecting legal challenges to abortion
- Addressing anti-racism work through restorative justice
- Stop privatization of Medicare
(I'll have more details on those later.)
One other AIW, dealing with actions to address climate change, missed by one vote. Because the vote was so close, those who sponsored that AIW will be presenting their AIW along with the 3 that we will be voting on.
Note that the final list of AIW's did not include the one about Northwest fisheries that I wrote about earlier. But that does not mean you cannot take the individual actions recommended.
On the agenda for Friday:
- Article II Study Commission: Values and Sources of Inspiration
- Co-Moderator and Board Report
- Discussion: Business Resolution 1 - Renewing UUA Bylaws for Theologically Grounded and Mission-Focused Governance
- Discussion: Business Resolution 2 – General Assembly Planning Committee*
- Discussion: Proposed Bylaw Amendment to G-9.13.10 – Election Campaign Practices
Resolution 1 recognizes that the by-laws have not kept up with times in terms of how things need to get done and in terms of the nature of volunteerism today. It calls for the creation of a task force to conduct a thorough review and rewrite of the UUA Bylaws, with regular reports. The resolution says "annual" reports, so this is envisioned as a multi-year process.
Resolution 2 calls for a suspension of the rules incorporated into the Bylaws for the General Assembly Planning Committee. The Commission on Institutional Change, in their report, “Widening the Circle of Concern,” recommended that the Board of Trustees examine the bylaws of the Association with the purpose of
streamlining and clarifying the Association’s governance structure. The Board of Trustees has proposed a multi-year process to rewrite the Association’s bylaws.
One of the guiding principles of the proposed bylaw revision is to separate the governance responsibilities of the elected Board of Trustees (and their committees) from the implementation responsibilities of the Association staff and staff volunteers. Over the decades, the planning and implementation of General Assembly has required professionalized staf. The General Assembly Planning Committee has not held a governance role in many years. Increasingly, the General Assembly Planning Committee has focused on questions of implementation rather than governance. As such, the GAPC no longer appropriately belongs in the bylaws.
This Resolution suspends the membership and activities required by the bylaws of the General Assembly Planning Committee, for a period of up to three years, while new GA planning structures are tested, revised, and adopted. This action empowers the current leadership and collaborative efforts of the UUA volunteers and staff who are responsible for GA activities, events, and programs to fulfill these functions.
The Bylaw amendment is a minor change to rectify an error that occurred when renumbering sections during previous Bylaw changes.
I intend to vote for all 3 business items because changing times do require changing procedures in order to adapt and be able to move more quickly
I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.
Your delegate to General Assembly