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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Changes to UUA General Assembly plenaries.

Okay, Unitarian Universalist denominational politicos, here's something to sit up for: In the tentative agenda [pdf] for this summer's General Assembly, Moderator Gini Courter announces two major changes to our denominational business process. Yawn!, I hear you say. (Yes, I especially hear yawns from my clergy friends, who rarely attend plenary sessions.) No, no, the idea here is to cut down on G.A. yawning. We all want that. Keep reading.

First, Courter writes:

Our business sessions are often irrelevant and boring. But they do not have to be that way. Many of our leaders have felt that we need more consultation on the state of our member congregations in GA plenary sessions. We need broad discussion of issues common to many of our churches and fellowships. This feeling has been growing for many, many years. . . .

As your Moderator I hope to preside over two or three hour-long plenary discussions of issues in our congregational life at this General Assembly. These are not issues that we will vote on. Rather, they are issues on which we need to share some good sound thinking. . . .

I ask you to help choose two or three issues of most concern to leaders of our congregations. Here's how you can help:

Please go to the Board of Trustees page on the UUA web site . . . You'll find two links: a link to a print version of the GA Issues survey, and a link to the online survey. Make copies of the print version. Talk about it and fill it out as a group of leaders, then have one person fill out the online survey for your congregation. Survey responses will be accepted until April 17; the UUA Board will review the results at their meeting later that week. You'll find the final list of topics on the Board web page by April 25.

Here's how these plenary discussions will work: We need informed discussion, so I will ask a small panel of persons with varied views and experience to address each issue selected. Then I will open the microphones to the delegates. What happens then is up to each of you.

Talking about congregational issues at the meeting of an association of congregations? I can't wait!

The second big change involves another aspect of G.A. plenary sessions that I have yet to develop a fondness for: the social justice resolutions. Courter writes:

The Commission on Social Witness has proposed Bylaw amendments to modify — pretty radically — our handling of Study/Action Issues and Statements of Conscience. The enclosed Tentative Agenda includes these proposed amendments. I ask you to discuss these proposed changes together, at home. Please don't wait until the week before General Assembly. Any changes we approve at GA need to be thoroughly understood and approved by the people in our congregations.

Mind you, I haven't digested the proposed changes yet, and I certainly don't expect even a modest change of course in the political slant to the resolutions, but this is still an important new development because it is oriented toward improved congregational participation.

If you're a congregational leader, please pay attention to this material. If you're not a leader in your congregation, make sure to ask whether the leaders are paying attention. Only you can prevent plenary yawns. I'm obligated to attend every plenary session and I know you don't want me to be bored.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 21 March 2006 at 10:09 PM

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