General Assembly Diary – Wednesday, June 21

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  A proposed amendment 61 suggests inserting the Seven Principles as a historical reference.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.

Mini-Assembly

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

Business Meeting

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.

Two Important Things

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Anne Schneider
Anne Schneider
7 months ago

Thx so much webmaster! I tried to give you a 5 rating but it wouldn’t go higher than 2! Good job. Keep it up

Julie
Julie
7 months ago

Thanks so very much for the hard work that you and your associates are doing spreading flyers and cards and talking to those who are willing to talk about the need to keep the 7 Principles. You are the shining stars of UUism, even while you are exhausted. Many of us are with you in spirit, even though we are unable to attend in person.

Mary Ringer
Mary Ringer
7 months ago
Reply to  Julie

“All of you there working to save the 7 Principles are the “shining stars of UUism”. I agree with all that Julie has stated. Good luck to you and know there are many thinking of you and looking forward to your reports. Take care.

Jay Kiskel
Jay Kiskel
7 months ago

From Anne Schneider (posted with her permission) Here’s my report from the GA mini assembly this morning. Weird  Well. This was wierd. No discussion of any proposed amendments. No votes. No nothing! Mine isn’t quite even described accurately as the description focuses only on freedom of conscience whereas mine actually says we remain committed to congregational freedom, Freedom of belief and right of conscience. Mine started out as #6 but somehow got moved to #8 without any discussion or reason given At the general session today they expect to only have time for the first five or six. And… Read more »

Connie
Connie
7 months ago
Reply to  Jay Kiskel

Thank you for passing this along, and pass a thank you for the update back please.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
7 months ago

Just a quick note. The mini assembly on the proposed amendments to the Article 2 Proposal was a complete waste of time. There was no discussion on the amendments. More than 600 “screens” were on the call. People were gathered in groups for this discussion. Instead we learned that the amendments had already been prioritized. The updated priority list was provided. We’ll meet in General Session in 20 minutes to start the discussion. There were no amendments to the Business Proposal on Divestment and Reparations, so some of the time alotted to that discussion has been reassigned to the discussion… Read more »

Connie
Connie
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

Thank you for this update

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
7 months ago

Appreciate your report. I was able to view Tues Gen Session today, via You Tube, thanx to Lincoln B’s recent posting. Please be aware there are “Care Teams” circulating on the convention floor (wearing blue stoles I believe) to comfort & address any harm/infraction attendees may experience. Sounds like a type of sergeant of the guards to me ! I am concerned your outreach to some might get received in a negative manner.

Judy
Judy
7 months ago
Reply to  David Willkomm

The outgoing president did say UUs should be negative towards efforts to remain a liberal (aka. openminded and inclusive of many perspectives) religion.

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
7 months ago

The total of 90 amendments was unwieldy!!! I understand why they decided to prioritize them. However, who and how it was done was left quite unclear, and, as a result, appeared completely undemocratic. My understanding is that the ones that never get discussed or voted on will still be significant over the next year as input to the Article II Study Commission– if they are allowed (by a majority vote Sat. night?!? before 10:00) to continue their work for the next year. My hope is that they will not get a majority, but the applause pattern today (may have been… Read more »

Merridy
Merridy
7 months ago
Reply to  Margot Haynes

When asked, they explained that the moderators, the UUA Board, and the Study Commission talked among themselves and chose the ones that, well, if you compare what they selected to what was proposed, presented the least possible changes to the Proposed Revision, in any material sense. They completely abandoned Roberts Rules of Order, giving the excuse that they (engineered the platform) set things up to only be able to vote after the sessions closed. So no points of order, or information, or friendly amendments, or…. The Interconnected Web of Which We Are A Part forbid!.. we call the question, end… Read more »

Merridy
Merridy
7 months ago

Thank you for all the work that you have done, along with your daily diary!