Friday, June 24, 2011

GA days 2 and 3

Busy, busy, busy!  This will be a cursory overview... Details to come at a later date! (Picture to left: Mass Bay District banner in the convention center.)

First, I'll tell you about the rest of my day yesterday, Thursday.  In the afternoon, I went to a discussion by the UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales, called "Our Future Depends on Three Things".  What are the three things, you ask?  He believes that we must 1.) Get Religion. 2.) Grow Leaders 3.) Cross Borders.  By "get religion", he means figuring out what we're passionate about, using our experiential tradition.  When people experience something together, it can be very powerful.  "Grow leaders" is fairly self-explanatory.  And "cross borders" means crossing borders of class and culture, intentionally.

Next, I went to a lecture called "The UU Great Commission", by Rev. Howard Dana and Tandi Rogers, both very dynamic.  Rev. Dana is the senior minister of the congregation in which I grew up, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA (UCH).  He made me proud.

The day ended with the Service of the Living Tradition, a time to honor religious professionals.  I was moved when, among those UU ministers who died last year, there were two that I knew and loved.  One was Rev. Jean Cook Brown, who was the chair of my intern committee.  The other was Rev. Nancy Haley, with whom I attended Harvard Divinity School.  They are missed...  May they rest in peace.

This morning (Friday), I started out in plenary where we passed the Ethical Eating Statement of Conscience.  That was good news!  Then, off to a workshop called "Views from the Pews: Race and UU-ism".  The panel was moderated by Rev. Clyde Grubbs, and the speakers were Jacqui Williams, Karin Lin, and Gregory Boyd (who is a member of the UCH!).  Their stories were very moving and powerful... a powerful reminder of the importance of anti-racism work in our congregations.

Next, I went to "Theology in Practice for a Multicultural World", moderated by Gail Forsyth-Vail (our neighbor in Andover, and one who has preached for us a few times), with speakers Dr. Sharon Welch and Dr. Kat Liu.  They were both excellent.  Dr. Welch has long been a theologian that I have admired. 

Dr. Welch (pictured here) was also one of the speakers at the next workshop I attended, "Implementation Year for Creating Peace Statement of Conscience".  This workshop was put on by the UU Peace Ministry Network.  I learned a lot about what some other UU congregations are doing.  I wonder if the UUCiA could work toward becoming a Peace Advocate Congregation....  something to think about!

But wait, there's more!  It was time for the public witness at Marshall Park in Charlotte. Many, many UUs (with yellow "Standing on the Side of Love" t-shirts, pictured) walked over to the park to "Stand on the Side of Love with LGBT People Everywhere!"  According to the organizers, "In North Carolina, the only state in the south that has not written discrimination against LGBT families into its state constitution, proposals to ban marriage equality -- as well as civil unions or any legal relationship between same-sex couples -- have been introduced and could reach the ballot in November."  We gave witness on the side of marriage equality, and against any discriminatory proposals.  There were local clergy members from other faith traditions (including Jewish, Unity, and Lutheran, among others) who stood with us (and spoke), too. [Addendum:  Here's a link to a news piece and video on the rally.  Here's a link to the front page article in the Charlotte Observer.]

Phew!  I'm beat!