Reflections from General Assembly

I attended my first General Assembly June 24-28 in Portland. To be honest, part of my motivation was out of a sense of duty as incoming Vice President, and I knew it would be a good learning experience. I’ve attended, planned and run enough professional conferences that I did not expect it to be exciting. I was mistaken. There were workshops of every description, sometimes eight in a given time slot. The description of the available programs ran 39 pages! You can find it on the UUA’s website if you’re interested, along with video recordings of many of the major speeches, workshops, and General Sessions. The quality of the workshops inevitably varied, but many were outstanding.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt gave Starr King’s Annual President’s Lecture. She scrapped the original focus of her talk on UU multi-religious reality, and instead challenged us to address white privilege and resulting “white fragility” in confronting the hypocrisy of our nation’s self-proclaimed post-racial society, from her very personal perspective as a black professional, UU, wife and mother in the wake of the murders in Charlotte and other racial crimes of the past year. It was unforgettable.

As one of Chalice’s delegates, I attended almost all the General Sessions, where the business side of Unitarian Universalism gets done. I really enjoyed seeing this sort of democracy in action, and was impressed to see how meticulously following Robert’s Rules of Order kept things moving along while allowing people to feel their opinions had been heard and considered. I admit to a certain level of wonkiness, but I found the process utterly fascinating. Or as Rev. Sharon described: “POLITY!!!”

Seeing Congressman John Lewis receive the UUSC’s Eleanor Roosevelt award made me weep. And the fiery electrifying talk by Dr. Cornel West made me want to give up my government job and turn to a life of activism.

Next year’s GA will be June 22-26 in Columbus, Ohio. I plan to attend and would be happy to answer any questions I can if you are interested.

Kathy Zapata-Bergamini
Vice President, Board of Trustees

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