Attending the 55th Annual Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio June 22-26th was an inspiring, enlightening, and joyous experience for me. Sharing worship, singing, and participating in workshop sessions and in the democratic process of decision-making helped me grow my faith and bond with my fellow UUs (more than 3,700 were there).
The theme of the conference was “Heartland: Where Faiths Connect”—appropriate because the location was the heart of the continental U.S., and the heart is where relationships deepen. On Thursday, June 22, at the rally for racial justice, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II spoke of America’s “heart problem,” shown by injustice, inequality, and oppression. He continued that this makes the whole body sick, and UUs need to “shock the heart” and “shock the nation” to treat this illness. The rally also featured leaders from the United Church of Christ, the Union of Reformed Judaism, and the Islamic Circle of North America, pledging to unite with UUs in this struggle for justice and compassion.
Congregations and attendees pledged generous financial support for the Black Lives of UU appeal, which partly helped support the attendance of more than 70 black UUs at GA, and future Black Lives of UU meetings. However, near the end of the convention’s last business session, the majority of the youth caucus took over the stage and loudly protested the lack of action taken within the last year regarding support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, an Action of Immediate Witness which was passed in 2015. The delegates then passed a resolution to hold themselves “accountable to less witness and more action,” with annual reports to be issued by the UUA Board of Trustees to Black Lives Matter, in the next three years, regarding progress within the denomination.
Another business item that was passed was a resolution on reconsidering Thanksgiving Day. This resolution cites the year 2020 as the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the ship “Mayflower” in what is now the New England area, and “concern has been expressed by Native American tribal leaders, by human rights advocates,…and by others, about the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the colonization of New England.” The resolution “encourages all Unitarian Universalists to enter a time of education, careful reflection, and healing,” for the time between now and that anniversary, and that “special attention be given to the suffering, indignity, and loss that native peoples have suffered since the early 1600s…” Also, it is requested that UU congregations “enter into dialogue with the local Native People in their areas about the thanksgiving holiday and its history…we ask for a time of truth and reconciliation for all Americans including Native People…”
For more information and videos of the General Assembly, see www.uua.org/ga.