Today I am a bit blurry-eyed, somewhat exhausted, and yet, at the same time energized by the events of the week now past. I arrived home last evening from the General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). This annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists took place this year in Phoenix, AZ.
A good, short synopsis of the week, along with a link to more details, can be found on the UUA website.
It is always good to be with several thousand Unitarian Universalists for worship and workshops, for fellowships and a sharing of experiences. This year, however, took on a special poignancy as it developed into a Justice General Assembly. Our time together included opportunities to deepen our understanding of immigration issues and to witness to the civil and human rights abuses taking place in Arizona.
Two years ago at GA, delegates faced a challenging decision. The locations for our gatherings are chosen several years ahead of time and Phoenix was on the agenda for 2012. Then, shortly before GA 2010, Arizona passed SB 1070, anti-immigrant legislation that prompted calls for a boycott of the state. Some Unitarian Universalists wanted to honor the boycott. Others wanted to respond to calls from justice groups in the state urging us to come and join in their work. After much conversation and reflection, the decision was made to go to Phoenix… but… it would be a Justice GA in which we suspended “business as usual.” Instead, we focused on partnering with those working closely with the communities most impacted by the anti-immigrant sentiment which is sweeping our nation and for which Arizona is the poster child.
For me personally, it was a powerful experience of what is possible when we open ourselves to seeing the injustices of our world and commit to working intentionally with others to tip the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1U) had a delegation of 14, which included a community partner from the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka. Six of us served as delegates. One of us served on the Witness Team that kept us safe and beautifully organized in our public witness events. Another of us served on the Remote Delegate Team, overseeing the technology that allows those unable to be present at General Assembly to participate remotely.
As we return, we have much to share. This will take place over the weeks and months ahead… on this blog, in worship, in classes, in meetings, and in informal conversations. Two specific opportunities for sharing include our worship this Sunday, in which my sermon will be inspired by my experiences. Later, on Sunday, July 29, our adult religious education session at 9:30 am In the Library will feature GA attendees sharing from their experiences.
I look forward to sharing with you and to discovering ways in which we, as a congregation, can continue to expand our vision and deepen our commitment to building the peaceful, just, and sustainable world of which we dream.