I am writing from Kansas City, Missouri, where I’ve been since early Monday morning. I’m glad to be here with nearly 3,000 Unitarian Universalists—including one of my own children at my side, one of our UUCC teens participating in the Youth Caucus, and four UUCC members serving as delegates to the UUA General Assembly.
From Monday to Wednesday, several hundred Unitarian Universalist clergy were together for our UU Ministers Association’s professional days, worshiping and learning and renewing ourselves and practicing democracy and working together. (Other UU religious professionals gathered during that time, too, including religious educators who are part of LREDA—Liberal Religious Educators Association.)
On Wednesday evening, the General Assembly began with the traditional banner parade, and now we’re deep into more worshiping and learning and renewing ourselves and practicing democracy and working together.
During the General Session on Thursday morning, we heard the Co-Moderators’ Report. In that report, Elandria Williams said that Unitarian Universalism needs to be leaderful—not hierarchical, but leaderful. Later I was looking at the notes Hallie had been writing, and there it was in all caps: HAS TO BE A LEADERFUL MOVEMENT! I will be carrying that admonition with me into our collective work ahead, and am so glad to have my own child hear it from others.
Last night we celebrated the annual Service of the Living Tradition, in which the Rev. Sofia Betancourt spoke lovingly and thoughtfully about what is needed in this moment from all of us Unitarian Universalists—calling us, begging us, to invest wholly in being “the most steadfast, accountable, beautiful versions of ourselves” (thanks to the Rev. Amanda Poppei for the paraphrase). You may want to watch the whole service, but I especially recommend the reading and sermon, which begin at about the 1 hour 40 minute mark here.
We’ve also heard from our President, the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, who continues to impress me with her passionate, wise, pastoral leadership. She gave her annual report this morning (look for General Session III among the livestream options), and here are a few of her comments that especially captured my attention:
- The most painful wounds are the ones that go untended and unnamed.
- She apologized to those among us—especially UU religious professionals of color—whose lives and voices have been marginalized, dismissed, and diminished. We must do better to see, hear, and respect you.
- People keep talking about fascism in America, but we need to name it more accurately: neo-confederacy. Because what’s happening in America now is deeply rooted in our country’s history. It is not foreign. (Credit to the Rev. Colin Bossen for naming this distinction.)
- In the face of all that’s happening in our world, and right here among us, we need to show up in different ways than we have before. We must take more risk, have more courage, take more care.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here and offer a closing word from one of the co-chairs of the GA safety team, quoting Assata Shakur:
We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.
See you Sunday, with love,