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Report from GA: Day 3

We began the day with a very emotional and resolute chalice lighting from our President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray,  regarding the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade. Our anger was welcomed there.

Rev. Frederick-Gray's statement on the decision can be found here:

Activist Tessa Ellis gave a moving speech rallying for the fight ahead against the patriarchy and privilege, who will not be affected by the Roe v Wade decision and for reproductive rights. 

We learned that three AIW's were accepted for the agenda, to be voted on later in the Assembly:

  • We Do Not Consent: Rejecting Legal Challenges to Abortion (799/98.5% voted yes, 36/1.5% voted no)
As people who have had abortions, as co-conspirators and allies for reproductive justice, and as thoughtful advocates for family well-being, UUs have a moral responsibility to demand and ensure that abortion protections are codified into law. We side with marginalized people who are most harmed by legal and non-legal barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.
  • Anti-Racism and Reparations via Restorative Justice  (746/92.6% voted yes, 60/4.4% voted no
  • Draft text:

    This AIW will engage UU Congregations in conversation and workshops to claim truth and promote healing of our past legacies in racism, chattel enslavement and genocide, whose consciousness has morphed into this the 21st Century. The core of this AIW is the power of Restorative Justice which is needed by Unitarian Universalists as accountability required by our humanity and expressed by some as the proposed 8th principle. This AIW will put Unitarian Universalism in the forefront of healing our nation from its crimes against humanity.
  • Stop the Privatization of Medicare (724/90.6% yes, 75/9.4% no)
  • Instead of ending the Trump administration’s Medicare privatization program, Direct Contract Entities (DCE), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) has merely changed the name to ACO-REACH (Accountable Care Organization–Realizing Equity, Accessibility, and Community Health). However, that is just a friendlier name for a program that allows investment firms without medical experience to control our health care. This directly threatens original Medicare—even more than Medicare Advantage already does. This is currently planned to go into effect in January 2023—so the time to act is now! Join National Nurses United, Healthcare-NOW!, Physicians for a National Health Program in fighting for truly universal health coverage for all.

    A fourth AIW lost being on the agenda (there can only be three) by one vote.

  • Code Red for Humanity: Protect the Livable Planet We Love - Addressing the Climate Impacts of Military Emissions
  • Draft text:

    This AIW asks UUs to center diplomacy and peace above militarism and war as essential to meeting urgent climate goals that serve the most vulnerable frontline communities. This is in line with what the IPCC reports describe as CODE RED for HUMANITY and warning that it is NOW or NEVER to act to meet the 1.5℃ (2.7°F) target. We ask UUs to call for action by the Biden Administration, Congress and the United Nation to more effectively address the role of the Department of Defense as the world’s largest institutional contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. 
    Yesterday they had said it would be presented, because the vote was so close, but there was no more word on that today and with the turmoil  from the SC decision, it may not happen.
     Next there were two amazing reports from the Care Teams, which exist to acknowledge and take accountability for any harms done during GA. First, they acknowledged that when the program was running late, they automatically cut an "Energy Break" from the program. "Energy Breaks" are not just breaks in the program. They are scheduled activities, designed to energize and unwind while providing a break in the program. They are led by the Fun & Spiritual Nourishment Squad of Side with Love, which was organized to tend to the spirit and wellbeing of the UU the Vote community. The co-moderator apologized publicly to the team who was on hand, ready to lead, and summarily dropped from the program without any acknowledgement. And promised to do better. Today's energy break was included and involved a sort of moving meditation that combined what we were doing with our bodies (and most could be completed while sitting if desired/necessary) and what we were guided to imagine.

    There were also a few accessibility issues (though there is much improvement in accessibility since I first attended GA many years ago), an acknowledgement that greater police presence is part of large public functions these days and though everyone understands its necessity, it is still upsetting for folks for whom police do not equate with safety. 

    We learned that there were 2 COVID cases, but that folks were directed to a free testing site near the meeting, and that the Young Adults organized a testing PARTY. 

    The Rev. Cheryl M. Wicker reported  for the Article II Study Commission on Values and Sources of Inspiration. She said we refer to our values constantly and our covenant is based on "our values" but nowhere is it said what they are. But a survey was done and found that we do have some common values, all of which are interrelated and cannot exist without others. They identified the following as most prevalent:
    • Pluralism/diversity
    • Interdependence
    • JusticevEquity
    • Generosity
    • Evolution
    • Love, with love being central to all

    We discussed this among ourselves. Many of us on line found "Evolution" confusing. Did it mean "transformation" or was it referring to the scientific concept? We felt it needed a different word to avoid confusion.We talked about the difference between values and covenenat, where values are what we covenant to activate.


    Each day there has been a technological framing for the Article II issue of the day. Today's was presented by Dr. Elias Ortega, Head of he Meadville-Lombard School , who said there are two practices related to our values: truth and covenant 

    Notable quotes:
    "We must be in relationship to Truth to be set free." 
    "When we choose to be part of a religious community, we are making a choice about teaching and traditions to follow."
    "Welcome requires accountability."
    "Brokenness is not the last word when grace abounds."

    He talked about accountability including acknowledging where we err, and learning to do better.

    He talked about building a multicultural, multigenerational community where justice, equity and compassion are lived experiences, a reimagination of our faith.


    The co-moderator talked about efforts to make GA more accessible:

    • Business-only attendance, with no set fee (pay what you are able)
    • Using plain language to do business.
    • Simplifying processes.
    • Multiplatform is now the new normal. This allows folks without the means to travel, the ability to attend. Something from which I have benefitted a few times already.


    The Board report included several board members talking about various aspects of the Article II process.  It will include an expanded team in July 2022. In a review they identified and prioritized the types of changes needed: minor changes, substantial changes, needed removals, and complex changes that will require thoughtful input from stakeholders. At present the focus is on gathering input. There was talk of making the simpler changes and removals first and taking more time with the complex changes needed.

    This year marks the 25th year of a statement made on disability justice. The entire board demonstrated its commitment by undergoing training.

    We heard that the financial reviews include not just the numbers of our cash flow and assets and debits, but how we serve our values. 

    We have begun to identify past harms done (e.g. residential boarding schools "for" indigenous people) and consider how best to redress them.

    We learned that budget surpluses are passed to the future, to ensure that a future shortfall can be dealt with.

    Investment and Social Investment have been merged after our outgoing financial advisor (Lucia Santini Field) has worked diligently to ensure that ALL our investments reflected our values, mission and purposes.

    The Board is working on the creation of a body to monitor and hold accountable the Association, as recommended by the Commission on Institutional Change.

    They talked about the rationale behind the upcoming changes to the by-laws.  The by-laws are 60 years old, having been written at the time of the merger of Unitarians and Universalists that created the UUA. They include compromises that came from combining the by-laws of two different organizations. And they were written for a different time. While they have been reviewed and revised, they remain a patchwork that at times hinders adapting quickly to changes and participating in governance. Having been written before the age of the Internet, they do not fully take advantage of modern capabilities for communicating and participating remotely in meetings from all parts of the country. The board is therefore recommending a through review and rewrite of the By-Laws.

    We voted on

    • Business Resolution 1 - Renewing UUA Bylaws for Theologically Grounded and Mission-Focused Governance. 
    • Business Resolution 2 – General Assembly Planning Committee
      Some of this change has already been tested to make sure the general direction was correct.
    • Proposed Bylaw Amendment to G-9.13.10 – Election Campaign Practices Committee

    I explained these yesterday.  We learn the results of the vote Saturday morning.

    Saturday's agenda:

    Article II Study Commission: Covenant
    Theological Framing
    Announcement of Election Results
    Discussion of Actions of Immediate Witness
    Responsive Resolutions 

    Tomorrow night is the Ware lecture, with Ibram X. Kendi.

    Your delegate at GA
    Dee Halzack