Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thoughts While Staying Home from GA

Unitarian Universalists from all over the country have headed off to Salt Lake City this week for our annual General Assembly, which starts tomorrow. The twitter reports, blog posts, and facebook status updates are already pouring in, and I'm enjoying reading them, for I will not be at General Assembly this year.

General Assembly is where we vote on the business of the association, and it's an important year this year, for two major reasons. The first is that it's our first contested presidential election in eight years. (In case I forget this fact, there are about eight e-mails from the two candidates that pour into my inbox daily, despite the fact that I've already mailed in my absentee ballot.) During all this time I did not endorse a candidate. I believe that both candidates are good and worthy people. The lists of endorsements are so long that an endorsement of a small-town minister like myself wouldn't even merit an e-mail anyway! I haven't seen in any of these e-mails, however, something like "group of small-church ministers endorses the Rev. ...." which would be interesting. I know who large-church ministers endorse. I know who famous ministers endorse. I know who religious educators, district executives, and former UUA presidential candidates endorse, however, and that's just going to have to be enough information to go on. The presidential election is the only thing that can really be voted on by absentee ballot, as by-law changes, actions of immediate witness, and the like cannot be voted on, and other officer elections are uncontested.

The second big issue is that there will be a resolution voted on from the Commission on Appraisal which will, they explain, if passed, give us a year to study the Principles and Purposes before voting again on their resolution to change the Principles and Purposes next year. I can usually only go to GA every-other year, finances being what they are, and Minneapolis being more convenient than Salt Lake City, and wanting to be there for that second vote if needed, I thought I would go next year instead of this one. I disagree with the way they are presenting the Principles and Purposes vote, as well, however. I believe we've already been studying this issue, and this vote should be one of two votes needed to change the by-laws. I would not vote for a resolution I disagreed with simply to give more time for discussion. Especially since, in this case, discussion doesn't do anything to change the situation based on the discussion. After the first vote, it cannot be amended before the second vote. My advice: make up your mind now and vote your conscience. Surely there's enough information on it out there that this vote can be a meaningful one, not just a rubber stamp for the process.

I'm sad that I can't be at General Assembly this year. I miss seeing my colleagues from other districts. I feel more out of touch with the latest ground-breaking events of our association and the newest books or creative thoughts. Every year I've missed I've planned to watch videos or live feeds of it, but I rarely do. Perhaps this year will be the first. They're certainly making virtual attendance at GA more possible. Hopefully soon we'll be able to vote from afar on more than just the president.

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