Wednesday, June 21, 2023
The longest day of the year. And yes, it was long.
I was up early at my home in Cincinnati and realized I had forgotten some things. So, I made a quick shopping trip before I hit the road.
I got to Pittsburgh at about noon. I was able to check in at my hotel immediately.
While unloading my car, a woman stopped and asked about my Savethe7 Principles tee shirt. She was from a congregation in California and shared that she didn’t know much about the Article II issues. I talked with her for several minutes.
I am trying to draw people’s attention to the whole of Article II and to raise questions beyond the Seven Principles. A proposed amendment 61 suggests inserting the Seven Principles as a historical reference. This is a very dangerous amendment! I fear that if this amendment is accepted, the low-information delegates will be satisfied that the Principles are still included and vote yes.
In addition to the Principles, this California delegate and I discussed the Purpose of the Association and Freedom of Belief clause, which will become Individual Freedom of Conscience. Of course, the Sources will be lost, too.
Because of the serious nature of this amendment, and the short time frame, I asked Lincoln for help to get the word out. Lincoln and the website editors of Savethe7Principles.org did an excellent job writing and posting comments.
Thursday, June 22 at 12:30, a mini assembly will be held to discuss and prioritize 15 amendments. These will be the subject of the formal general session at 2:30. We will vote on amendments to the proposal tomorrow night.
More of My Day
After a quick e-mail alert to Lincoln, I registered at the Convention Center. I was able to speak to a couple of people in the dining hall. I tried to make them aware of concerns about the proposal. I gave them the website address and let them explore it themselves.
From there, I went to the Building Management offices and looked up Brian, the Director of Security. He was quite accommodating and introduced me to the Security Manager, Shannon, who would be available when Brian was out. Our area in the parking lot was marked off with cones. It’s a good central location, but unfortunately, it’s on the wrong side of the street for connecting with delegates, but we may have another use for it.
Face masks are required to attend General Assembly in person. Many people are very unhappy about that. I posted a message in their Whova community that they are welcome to attend GA virtually by sitting in our free-speech zone with their own internet-enabled device. I brought a carload of folding camp chairs. Of course, that means they have to sit under our Savethe7Principles banner. We’ll see if anyone takes me up on that tomorrow.
Three people helped to put QR code stickers on the flyers and cards we will distribute. Then we went out to the sidewalks and tried connecting. We got a late start. People were rushing to the banner parade, so few lingered to talk. Most people took the card with the QR code and website address. One person ripped the card in half and gave it back to me. Some people said they were glad to see us.
As we were wrapping up the card distribution, Shannon, the Security Manager, stopped by with two of her security staff to see how things were working out. I appreciated their professionalism.
General Assembly Banner Parade
The General Assembly banner parade started at 6:00 PM. In the past, this was a very festive event. Delegates walked or danced around the assembly hall, waving their congregation’s banner. The parade took about 30 minutes. This year was different. A photograph of each church’s banner was displayed on the big convention screen. While music played, the Delegates carrying the banners entered from a side door and went to the back of the room, where the banners were collected to be hung for display.
Despite the low-key banner parade, the evening had a positive feel. Although the choice of music reflected struggle, there was more of a sense of shared community. This mood differed greatly from the disquieting music and angry vibe generated last year in Portland on day one. Last year’s music underscored our differences
As the business meeting started, Charles DuMond, UUA co-Moderator, introduced himself first. He acknowledged the many contacts he had in connection with the Article II Proposal and submitted Amendments. Despite the workload, he was grateful that members were so involved. He said that as last year’s GA was starting, he felt quite crispy. He, too, was noticing the difference in the energy in the crowd.
Rev. Meg Riley, UUA co-Moderator, was not feeling so positive, however. She said she was encouraged by the discussions the Article II Proposal had generated and wanted to see those discussions and that engagement continue. She said, “A no vote simply stops the discussion, and we will not return to it for years.”
The leadership is blatant about their support for the proposed Article II language. They speak of it in glowing terms. There is no room for a balanced discussion.
End of My Day
The General Session ended promptly at 9:00 PM. It was a long walk back to the hotel. Lunch had been long ago, and now few restaurants were still open. I found one, ate quickly, and then headed to my room to write this Diary Entry.
My apologies for this uneven diary entry. I am exhausted, and tomorrow is another long day.
Thanks for your interest.
Visit the Savethe7Principles Website
The Savethe7Principles’ GA23 Recommendations web page is an excellent resource for understanding the details of the discussion of the proposed Article II language.
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