GA is a chance to renew spirits, learn and make stronger connections between what we do in our own lives and the larger movement. It’s a chance to meet people from other congregations and share experiences, challenges, ideas and encouragements. And, it’s a time to reconnect with old friends, acquaintances and religious professionals from congregations we’ve previously attended. Quick updates and continued well wishes are par for the course!
This year’s GA is a bit of a surreal experience as we assemble remotely. I’m attending pre-recorded services pieced together by worship leaders across the country. And listening to pre-recorded workshops that move into live discussions with the panelists answering questions submitted in the chat function. Resources and hand-outs are a keystroke away, with no paper to lug around! Unlike an in-person large workshop, where I might be craning my neck to see who else is in the room, there’s the list of other participants to scroll through. My phone buzzes every now and then with a text message from an old friend or colleague … “Hi, I see you!”
GA’s General Sessions are the plenaries where the business of the Association is done. Agendas are being followed, reports delivered, motions made and debated, Responsive Resolutions and Actions of Immediate Witness proposed, votes called for, cast and tallied. Delegates are busy submitting their credentials beforehand so they may speak from the floor and vote. As you can imagine, minor glitches are popping up and adjustments are being made on the fly to accommodate this new way of assembling and conducting business electronically.
Yet, for everyone who has opined about the high cost of attending an in-person General Assembly somewhere in the continental US, and the massive carbon footprint this entails, this first Virtual General Assembly presents a golden opportunity to step up to the challenge and practice the art of “Acting ourselves into new ways of thinking.” No Business as Usual.
What happens when we show up with our values firmly in place, committed to adapting to new realities? What assumptions will we challenge? Can we be co-creators, not just receivers on the other end of our screens? Regenerative, not just consumptive? Participants, not just spectators?
It remains to be seen what we will make of the possibilities before us for transformation, for radical inclusion, and for making unimagined strides. No doubt we’ll read about General Assembly’s highs and lows some months from now in the UU World. But, what, I wonder, are the stories we’ll we read someday about Fourth UU committing itself more fully to bringing the saving message of Unitarian Universalism into the lives of those who hunger for an inclusive, loving and justice-seeking spiritual community?
Blessings for the journey,