General Assembly Diary – Saturday, June 17

Introduction

Below is the first “diary” entry from Rebecca Pace that the Fifth Principle Project will publish regarding the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) 2023 General Assembly. Given the significant decisions before General Assembly, especially a vote on the proposed language of Article II, we feel it is important that Fifth Principle Project members have access to real-time information.

We offer a big thanks to Rebecca. To contact Rebecca, use this website’s Contact Us page. We will forward your email to Rebecca.

We expected another diary at the end of Wednesday, June 21.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

I hosted a preparation Zoom meeting for the “Seven Principles” team.  Fifteen people attended. The meeting conflicted with the monthly North American Unitarian Association (NAUA) worship, so some of our team members had to miss this Zoom meeting.

Some of us had previously met on Zoom, but most of us had never met at all. We discussed how we would approach the voting decision. Did we have a charge from our congregations, or were we to vote our conscience? Even if we represented our congregation, was our vote proportional or in the congregation’s best interest? Of course, as the UUA Board of Trustees tells us, how can we know how to vote before General Assembly starts since we don’t know the final proposed language?

After introductions, we forged ahead into a lengthy agenda.

I thought it was important to warn everyone that this would be stressful. Last year, from the podium at the first plenary session, GA delegates were advised that the people protesting outside the convention center had a right to be there. But it was also offered that “they wanted to block progress.” I reminded people about the use of Oops and Ouch in Zoom chat sessions.

Technology Requirements

We briefly reviewed the technology requirements. Voting is secret from the online delegate platform. A few computer-savvy members had looked into the process after the mini-assembly vote on the Business Proposal. They reported that the voting system is hosted by a third party and seems secure and private.

Using the General Assembly Whova app is still challenging for some of the team members. I pointed out how to “flag posts” from the home screen. Last year a couple of my posts about UUMUAC were flagged and deleted.

Last Thursday, I hosted a Whova “meet-up” promoted through the “Seven Principles” community. Ten people attended; some wanted to learn more about the proposed Article II language, some were for it, and some were against it. Overall, the meet-up went well, but Whova’s functionality is very limited. It cut us off abruptly after 60 minutes. I will not be able to host more “meet-ups” because I have limited time.

Whova’s “social media” function is the only way to reach virtual delegates. Business-only delegates do not have access to Whova.  Next year, when we are 100% virtual, Whova will be the only place to hold discussions outside of the formal General Sessions.

At this point, some virtual delegates left us, and we turned the discussion to actions on the ground in Pittsburgh.

Distribution of Literature

The GA Program Book clearly states that no one can distribute literature inside the Convention Center. This was confirmed by an email from a UUA staff member. This is not in the Rules of Procedure—that we could challenge with an amendment.

After many unsuccessful attempts to contact the Convention Center Management or Security, I gave up and applied for an “Event Permit” from the City of Pittsburgh. The city said a group the size of our team didn’t actually need a permit and copied the Convention Center Management with their email response.

The Center’s Director of Security was very apologetic when he learned how much trouble I had reaching anyone at the Center. He promised to clear out a parking lot for a free speech zone and sent me a map.

The team reviewed the map and talked about where we would be most able to connect with delegates on their way to the center. The free-speech zone is across the street from the center’s main entrance, so we expect our team will have access to the sidewalks near the hotel to reach people individually as they approach the Center.

We discussed the various material we would have—flyers, stickers, buttons, and cards. I showed off the branded tee shirt, which some team members had already ordered, and our banner with the QR code. The QR code on the banner is large enough to be captured by a cellphone from across the street. It directs people to Savethe7Principles.org

Discussion Sessions

I provided everyone with the schedule for the UUMUAC Conversations during GA. Community Zoom conversations will help manage stress. We need to support each other. These Zoom sessions are open to all.

Gathering Together

Those in Pittsburgh by Wednesday afternoon can meet in the lobby of the Marriott Courtyard downtown (945 Penn Ave) to make signs and add QR code stickers to the flyers and cards. We plan to reach out to delegates each afternoon before the general sessions and perhaps at other times as well.

Someone checked the weather report for Pittsburgh. It should be pleasant for the first few days. We reminded everyone to bring water bottles, sunblock, and a wrap for the chilly assembly hall.

One final reminder. “Bring your face masks. They are required inside the building.

We are also planning an outdoor presence. If you are driving, please bring a picnic canopy, lawn or camp chairs.

I’ll leave my home on Tuesday, so I’ll be fresh when things start on Wednesday.

Amendments to Article II

Amendments to Article II have been gathered from the nearby 500 ideas submissions collected in April. To see the details of the prioritized amendments, visit Discuss.UUA.org and select General Assembly 2023.

Here are the amendments ordered by the sections in the bylaws. This list has been filtered by the Article II Study Commission.  I believe these are the amendments we will review in the mini-assembly, and prioritize which ones make it to the general session on Thursday.

Amendment Bylaws Section Lines
Amendment 30 Section C-2.1. Purposes 6
Amendment 26 Section C-2.1. Purposes 6
Amendment 11 Section C-2.1. Purposes 8
Amendment 61 New: Section C-2-2 Historical Principles New
Amendment 25 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant 14-16
Amendment 52 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant 23-26
Amendment 13 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant 33
Amendment 19 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant 40-43
Amendment 32 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant addition
Amendment 70 Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant addition
Amendment 5 Section C-2.3. Inspirations 45,46,48,49
Amendment 1 Section C-2.3. Inspirations addition
Amendment 51 Section C-2.3. Inspirations 45-49
Amendment 68 Section C-2.4. Inclusion 54
Amendment 6 Section C-2.5. Freedom of belief 59

Two Important Things

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Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
9 months ago

Why does the picture beside “1 comment” say “delete all my comments”?

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
9 months ago

I am glad my last comment was not deleted in spite of what that picture said ! I wanted to comment that my after-service meeting about Article II resulted in a straw vote by about half the membership that we should stick with the current Article II, rejecting the revisions.

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
9 months ago
Reply to  Margot Haynes

Note, the meeting was attended by about half of our membership. The vote AGAINST the Article II proposed revisions was unanimous. People want to keep the current version of Principles and Sources!

larry lunt
larry lunt
9 months ago

Is there a link to article 2?

Bek Wheeler, UU in Virginia
Bek Wheeler, UU in Virginia
9 months ago
Reply to  larry lunt

Much of the Article II material is on the A2 Website. There you will find the Report of the Article II Study Commission to the UUA Board of Trustees, Dated January 2023. Discussion on amendments happened on discuss.uua.org, starting in April. Then in May, nearly 500 amendment ideas were submitted. Between June 1 and 5, 86 Amendments were officially submitted by delegates. And then last week, the Co-Moderators of the UUA posted semi-finalists — 15 prioritized amendments. The proposed Article II with line numbers is here:

larry lunt
larry lunt
9 months ago

Thank you.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
9 months ago

Excellent! Thanks Rebecca!

Connie
Connie
9 months ago

Will the business meetings be livestreamed for those who haven’t registered to be able to view? If so, where do I find the link?

Walter vom Saal
9 months ago

Thank you for doing this. At least a couple of members of the Unitarian Society of Oneonta, NY (including me) are glad you are raising questions and advocating for open discussion of your concerns. I am quite sure most of the other members of our congregation have no awareness of the issues you raise. I personally think it is very disturbing (and symptomatic of deeper problems) that there is no “free speech zone” where literature can be passed out inside the convention itself. – Walter vom Saal, Oneonta, NY.

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
9 months ago

Glad you are keeping a print record of your upcoming GA experience. My local UU board partially funded my viewing of GA from my home & I posted an invite for fellow members to view the event, in a group setting. Was thinking what an impact a video of Rev. Eklof’s ordeal at Spokane GA would have revealed the suppression of UUA leadership critiques !

Morkill
Morkill
9 months ago

At the GA and in the spirit of MLK, all rules regarding the dissemination of papers, books etc. should be ignored and purposely violated.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
9 months ago
Reply to  Morkill

Yes. What better time to get into some good trouble.

George Kimmich Beach
George Kimmich Beach
9 months ago

George Beach

I assume there will be a motion to present the proposed Article II text for discussion and amendment–to get it on the floor as official business. If so, there should be a vote, yes or no. I urge voting to submit the proposal to the congregations BEFORE G. A. action. Otherwise, the proposal–perhaps modified here and there–is a fait acompli. The proposal has never gone to the congregations, as congregational polity would require of this foundational text such as this.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
9 months ago

The Rules of Procedure do not allow for a motion to cut off debate. It ends after the time limit has been reached or if no one else wants to speak.

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
9 months ago

From France, I am following as best as I can. I am grateful to Rebecca for her courage, clarity, importance of her timely reporting. You remind me that I can be proud of our UU spirit and engagement.
Deep thanks.

John Eichrodt

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
9 months ago

Kim Beach observes that the proposed amendment and rewrite?) should first go to congregations and fellowships presumably to retain or not our principles and sources. I agree. And in any case, the prior motion should be to ascertain if the UUA wishes to preserve our principles and sources in general. That would seem to me to be fair and equitable to vote on that first. But even before that, as Kim Beach suggests, to make sure that the members of our congregations don’t want to maintain our principles. I am personally vexed and frustrated that my own congregation , the… Read more »