General Assembly Diary – Friday, Jun 23

Friday, June 23, 2023

Results of Voting

By now, you all probably know the results of voting on Article II amendments.

General Session II

Here are the General Session II voting results on amendments to Article II from Thursday’s General Session II. Two amendments were adopted and three were defeated.

Defeated amendments:

  • Amendment 19 inserted “affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each person” into the Equity value.
  • Amendment 61 returned the Seven Principles to the proposed Article II language.
  • Amendment 25 inserted “To dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another, this is our covenant” into the new Values and Covenant section.

Passed amendments:

  • Amendment 30 inserted “and spiritual development” as among the purposes of the Association.
  • Amendment 26 inserted “to support and encourage the creation of new Unitarian Universalist communities” as among the purposes of the Association.

General Session III

Here are the General Session III voting results on amendments to Article II from Friday’s General Session III.

Defeated amendments:

  • Amendment 51 returned Six Sources to the proposed Article II language.
  • Amendment 6 inserted “we remain committed to individual and congregational freedom of belief and individual right of conscience” into the Freedom of Belief section.
  • Amendment 68 inserted “will embrace UU [values] in their own search for truth and meaning” into the Inclusion section.
  • Amendment 70 added a new value, Gratitude.
  • Amendment 1 inserted a list of enumerated sources into the Inspiration section.
  • Amendment 13 inserted “within our congregations and the society at large” into the Justice value as it relates to the use of the democratic process.

Passed Amendments:

  • Amendment 52 added additional language to the Independence value.
  • Amendment 5 inserted language into the Inspiration section.

To see voting results for all General Sessions, visit this link.

Despite these results, it was a good day.  I took time to walk by the river in the morning.  It was beautiful.  Pittsburgh has a very nice system of riverside trails.

UUA Budget Meeting

At noon I attended the meeting on the UUA budget.  The report was made by a pre-recorded presentation. There was a short time at the end for live questions.

The 2024 budget has a $132,000 deficit.  This deficit included built-in contingencies to give the finance team some wiggle room.  The deficit will be filled by some unused funds from 2023 and some remaining Paycheck Protection Program loan money.

Drop in Annual Program Fund

Contributions from congregations are expected to be down about $150,000 from $8,125,000 in 2023 to $7,972,000 in 2024.  This drop in APF contributions (Annual Program Fund) is attributed to “financial stress at the congregational level.”  The presentation did not identify any particular reasons for this reduction—which could include a congregation’s loss of members and a corresponding decrease in revenue, congregations intentionally reducing contributions due to conflict, or congregations closing altogether.  The congregations that traditionally gave at the full Fair Share level continue to do so.

Drop in Publication Income

The UUA’s publication income is down.  In 2021 White Fragility boosted the UUA income.  The 2022 publication revenue was down to $641,000.  Income is expected to be $870,000 for 2023. The 2024 projection is $919,000.  Authentic Selves is coming online with Skinner books.  Sales of this title and others are projected to be strong.

Widening the Circle of Concern

Implementation of the Commission on Institutional Change’s report, Widening the Circle of Concern, now has its own budget line item.  The Commission issues an annual implementation progress report.  The third report should be released soon.  In 2023 the Commission anticipated it would spend $161,000 of the $507,000 that was budgeted.  In 2024 $526,000 is budgeted for 2024, which includes money not spent in 2023.

They have also added a budget line item for “Governance” for the Accountability Launch Team.

Comments on General Assembly

Before all the questions were answered, I left the budget meeting to join the rest of the team for lunch.  It was great to have almost everyone together.  Unfortunately, the food at the Convention Center is expensive and not very interesting.  Tomorrow we will order for delivery from a sandwich shop.

I saw a post on the GA Wohva app

“This is my first GA and I’m considering going home over how the seven principles are discussed.  I never thought that this would be the space where I would feel discriminated against for my faith. . .The woman who called me backward for not wanting to change my faith really hit me in a soft spot. . .If Article II gets rewritten, I don’t think I’ll stay. . .This is not the religion I joined when I came of age.”

I invited this person to join us for lunch.  He could not join us today, but he may come tomorrow and bring a friend.

General Session

After lunch, I headed for the General Session that started with the “Presidential Candidate Forum.” Sofia Betancourt answered questions that delegates had submitted.  During this forum, delegates were occasionally distracted by a small bat that swooped overhead in the Convention Center.

Rev. Matthew Johnson, from the Election Campaign Practices Committee, asked submitted questions.  He chastised the delegates for asking Sofia about her thoughts on being the only candidate. The 2021 General Assembly affirmed the UUA bylaw requirement that a minimum of two presidential candidates must be put forward.  Rev. Johnson said the question was inappropriate for Sofia and should be directed at the Presidential Search Committee. He further stated that the question was racist and sexist.

The Care Team followed the Presidential Candidate Forum.  Their report noted that there had been numerous “ouch” moments during the Article II discussion yesterday and asked delegates to be more respectful.

This was followed by a musical interlude “Though I may speak with bravest fire, and have the gift to all inspire, and have not love; my words are vain; as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.”

The message seemed to have gotten through.  Delegates were engaged, with many in the pro and con lines for all of the proposals, but the delegates were respectful and, for the most part, held their applause and expressions of outrage.

There were no amendments to the Business Resolution, so we were able to discuss eight Article II amendments in the afternoon, leaving only two to discuss on Saturday.

After General Session

Save the Seven Principles tee shirtWhen the General Session closed, several from our team went out on the sidewalk to connect with delegates and distribute flyers and cards.  We had in-depth discussions with several people.  Many people accepted our cards and flyers.  These discussions continued into dinner.

The restaurant was full, so we sat at the bar and chatted about Article II with our neighbors.  One man approached us to ask about my tee shirt.  He was from New York. Undermining the UUA Board’s self-awarded congratulation on its good job engaging UUs in the Article II debate, he shared that, before GA, he had not heard anything about the Article II proposal.

Tomorrow is the final discussion on Article II amendments.  We will also discuss the Actions of Immediate Witness and any Responsive Resolutions.  The vote on Article II will be in the evening.

Thank You

I want to tell everyone how gratifying it is to get words of encouragement from my readers.  This treatment contrasts with our reception in Portland, where we were called liars, Nazis, and shouted at.  I’m truly amazed at the number of people who come up to me on the street and say, “You’re Rebecca Pace!  Thank you for doing this!”  Well, I thank you for your support.

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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Steve Myles
Steve Myles
11 months ago

Someone should have called out Rev Johnson for saying that questioning Betancourt was racist and sexist. People can be respectful but not tolerate statements like this. The promoters of the whole Article II rewrite have been using tactics like these and coupled with the insistence for “respectful” comments serve to stifle and squelch open discussion and dissent. And Rev Cheryl Walker’s comment about needing to approve the Article II proposal so that we can continue to “discuss” it over the next year is the height of hypocrisy.

Judy
Judy
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

I totally agree with your statements. The racist and sexist comment was beyond disrespectful, negative labeling is a Trump tactic to dismiss valid questions. What would they have called it, if the candidate was a white male? Would it then have been a suitable question?

This is not a vote to discuss further. It is a vote to preliminarily adopt. That restricts any further amendments to require approval by 3/4s of delegates.

Delegates should be educated on the bylaws not misled.

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Do I have this straight? Someone asked Bettancourt for her reaction to being the only nominee. Then Johnson intruded and effectively instructed Bettancourt not to answer. Did she actually answer? Or was her non-response an example of how she plans to accept instructions from people like Johnson, in the future?

Judy
Judy
11 months ago
Reply to  Burton Brunson

The questions were submitted. Evidently a number of them on why there are not at least two candidates. Johnson started by explaining it has already been answered and will not be asked. Its about 11.5 min into the recording if you want to see yourself. General Session III | UUA.org

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

That’s a first rate observation, Stephen. It drives right to the absurd notion animating that whole technique of sitting down questions and dialogue, that reason is itself white supremacist. Did that remark by Rev. Johnson get recorded in any way?

Judy
Judy
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

It was recorded. Info and link in my reply to Burton

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

It may indeed be condescending toward her, but she has agreed to using her sexual and race to hide from legitimate questions. Her very first judgment regarding this new role, to move ahead as the only candidate, disqualifies her as a leader sullies her presidency.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Her sex. Sorry.

Amylynn
Amylynn
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

My understanding was that it was the continued questioning of Rev Sofia about the actions of the Presidential Nominating Committee (which is was not on and who actions she had no control over) that was considered inappropriate. I didn’t see the questions but unfortunately I can too easily imagine how they might have crossed over into biased assumptions.

Judy
Judy
11 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing your daily insights and on the ground intelligence

Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
11 months ago

Yes, thank you! Your reports help me feel connected.

Rev. Terry Cummings
Rev. Terry Cummings
11 months ago

I’m holding the seven principles and six sources in my prayers. If they go, there will be not very much left. sad, sad, sad.

larry lunt
larry lunt
11 months ago

I don’t have a firm grasp of what’s happening. Are you referring to adoption of the 8th principle by the UUA?

Dr Teresa Goodell
Dr Teresa Goodell
11 months ago
Reply to  larry lunt

He means abolishing the 7 Principles and 6 Sources, which is what the revised Article 2 does.

Stephen Polmar
Stephen Polmar
11 months ago

Rev. Terry, despite what the UUA decides to do, there will be those of us who will keep the 7 Principles and the 6 sources. As Unitarians, being people who believe that new spiritual insights and “revelations” continue to occur, there may be more than 6 sources and perhaps even more than 7 principles in the future. It seems clear to me that the denomination is dividing into two groups. The “Unprincipled” UUs associated with the UUA and the Principled Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists who are finding a new home with the North American Unitarian Association (NAUA).

John Helmners
John Helmners
11 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Polmar

The other thing the proposed article 2 does is change the covenant from being between the UUA and the congregation, society, or fellowship to that of a covenant between the UUA and the individual members of those congregations, et. al.

It also gives authority for holding members individually accountable. Evidently, excommunication is next.

Rev. Kate
Rev. Kate
11 months ago
Reply to  John Helmners

Some of have already been excommunicated.

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
11 months ago

The victim stance of claiming the challenge about a single candidate was coming from a racist and/or sexist attitude by multiple questioners was so offensive!!! This is not my religious tradition! Betancourt did not answer that group of questions because the moderator’s characterization intruded. She allowed this without reply, which says to me she was okay with accusing questioners in that way. She has lost my vote to be supported as the nominee!

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
11 months ago
Reply to  Margot Haynes

There is no question in my mind that this is the most blatant example of the death of democracy within the denomination. But then, we can also see that it apparently doesn’t matter to most UU’s. It makes one’s head swim to wonder what faith these folks belong to. It certainly isn’t Unitarian Universalism.

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
11 months ago

The statement about a question being “racist and sexist” is amazing. The claim of “racist and sexist” is itself patronizing in the extreme. Apparently the leash for Betancourt is short, and she is not to be trusted to answer questions as a CANDIDATE for a position of great importance.

Ron
Ron
11 months ago

Thank you Rebecca and team members for the courageous and intelligent fight to save the principles and our liberal religion. I’m curious to know if there was any comment on Wednesday at GA honoring the summer solstice and our pagan source? The shift to the new “liberating” theology seems to be complete.

Dr Teresa Goodell
Dr Teresa Goodell
11 months ago

Splattering people with ” labels like sexist” and “racist” is no way to foster communication. Its only intent is to suppress discussion and exert control, and it dilutes the meaning of these words when used to call out ACTUAL racism and sexism. This is occurring across our culture, and it saddens me that the UUA has fallen for it.

Janet Leavens
Janet Leavens
11 months ago

Yes, “racist,” “sexist” and “nazi” too! I am not sure if anyone caught this, but when Rev. Cheryl Walker (co-chair of the Article II Study Commission) spoke at the Con mic immediately after I presented amendment #51 (a revised form of the six sources), she began her remakes by quoting from the first sentence of our amendment (“the full breadth and depth of human knowledge”) then continuing “so is MEIN KAMPF a source then?” Wow. If she had just quoted a little bit more of our amendment, she would have seen that we immediately qualify that statement with the phrase… Read more »

Ellen LaRue
Ellen LaRue
11 months ago

THANK YOU Rebecca Pace and 5th Principle Project for these postings. I read them with dismay and a tightness in the midsection plus gratitude to those of you on the front lines. Meanwhile here at home in Chicago girding our loins in preparation for the year ahead.

Mark Perloe
Mark Perloe
11 months ago

Why are people hear facing to recognize that the UU that attracted is and was so meaningful no longer exists. Until the NAUA denounces the UUA’s version of this religion there is no reason to hope for change from the UUA.

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
11 months ago

Lots of love to you, Rebecca!

Laura Nagel
Laura Nagel
11 months ago

Great job Rebecca! I have been reading your daily blog and it’s helped so much in understanding what’s going on. I’ma delegate attending online and it’s not easy. One question perhaps you can help me with, I do not understand why every speaker has to say their pronouns and what clothes they are wearing. I do not find this in the rules of procedure. What am I missing? If I have free speech why must I introduce myself in some prescribed manner? This I identify as mandatory virtue signaling. It’s crazy to me that we have given up our right… Read more »

Judy
Judy
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura Nagel

Many of the pro Article II speakers seemed to be thinking this is a vote for discussion to continue. no one shared it will be harder next year. I am not sure delegates were educated on the bylaws. After a yes vote at the first GA, it gets harder to make amendments. Next year an amendment will require a 75% yes vote to pass. Here is a link to the bylaws. See line 1643. Microsoft Word – UUA Bylaws 2022 – v.3 5-22-2023.doc

Last edited 11 months ago by Judy
Janet Leavens
Janet Leavens
11 months ago
Reply to  Judy

Just a side note:

One thing that totally shocked me was that one speaker at the Pro mic tried to convince delegates who had been instructed by their congregations to vote No to essentially defect and vote Yes. I was on Zoom and protested vociferously in the concurrent chat resorting to ALL CAPS at certain points. Is democracy dead to these people? Do they have no honesty and integrity?

Sadly, I think we know the answer to that!

Joyce Francis
Joyce Francis
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura Nagel

You called it — mandatory virtue signaling. Thanks for that phrase.

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura Nagel

I think it is an attempt to include the blind or those online only auditorily and not visually—as far as appearance— and as a kind of vocal reparation to native Americans whose land we immigrants have stolen.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura Nagel

Delegates are instructed to introduce themselves this way: “Once recognized, be sure to state your name and congregation and optionally provide an inclusive self-introduction that may include pronouns, land acknowledgement, brief description of your visual appearance and surroundings, and an access check-in. The speaker timer starts after you are finished with your inclusive self-introduction. Learn more about self-introductions at disabilityphilantropy.org. ” Personally I think the land acknowledgement is virtue signalling, but I was told by a delegate that it helped them to frame their words with reverence for the sacred trust they represent. The description is intended to provide context… Read more »

Steve Caldwell
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura Nagel

Laura — I haven’t seen you in years back when we were doing youth advisor work in the Southwest District. My guess is this is done to make plenary more inclusive for those with visual impairments. And a quick search on the UUA web site confirms this:. ** Self-Description for Visually Impaired People (found on web page titled “Inclusion Guidelines for GA Presenters”)https://www.uua.org/ga/program/contribute/inclusionguidelines ** Guide to Inclusive Self-Descriptions for Presenters https://www.uua.org/files/2023-05/Guide%20to%20Self-Descriptions–UUA.pdf And here is why pronouns are used in introductions (courtesy of Planned Parenthood): https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-illinois/blog/why-are-pronouns-so-important-2 These things are just ways that we can live out the values contained in our… Read more »

Maria Figueroa
Maria Figueroa
11 months ago

PleAse watch the first 30-45 min of Session III which was recorded to view the interview to see for yourself.
https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2023

Joyce Francis
Joyce Francis
11 months ago

I am in awe that you have time to participate in GA, protest outside, corral other dissenting delegates, and keep the rest of us informed of it all. This is a gift, and I am most grateful.

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
11 months ago
Reply to  Joyce Francis

100% agree—thank you for all your efforts!!!

Mary Bennett
11 months ago
Reply to  Joyce Francis

yes, well done. thank you so much.

John Helmners
John Helmners
11 months ago

thank you so much for your daily updates, much appreciated and needed. I am an online delegate and following the action at GA has been very challenging due to poor communication and technology service,

Mary Bennett
11 months ago

So glad to have these blog posts. I’ve been watching most of the sessions available for public viewing. #notthereligionIjoined I’m now a member of NAUA and resigned my congregational membership last week. This is the direction the Canadian Unitarian Council is going in as well.

Rev. Kate
Rev. Kate
11 months ago

Sofia Betabcourt constantly uses race as a Trump card in an argument. When the UUMA bylaws were being amended her argument against allowing legal advice for clergy accused of misconduct was that speaking for legal representation was racist! (Didn”t explain) Later, she secretly wrote a letter to the MFC accusing me of racism with no specific actions to illustrate it.

Steve
Steve
11 months ago

Amid an exhaustive search, I discovered only one public comment by Rev. Betancourt re the controversy. It came at the Presidential Candidate Forum 3-18-2023 (pp. 12-13) in Arlington, VA. Her response (see half of it below) was convoluted, but she expressed no identitarian offense (“it’s fair to this question”): Rev. KC Slack: “Can you speak to the value of democracy and the reality of being a single candidate?” Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt: “Yeah. Thank you. So the value of democracy, my goodness, I mean, I am an ethicist so it’s like, to my bones, it is just an absolute. Right?… Read more »

Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
11 months ago

This is regarding Saturday’s ballot. How is it possible that only “2109 (44.3%) of 4765 electors voted in this ballot”?

Judy
Judy
11 months ago

It is hard to believe. That means 55.7% of congregations think this is not important enough to send a delegate to vote on the article II proposal or didn’t know there would be a vote on it. We heard comments from one young delegate that he hadn’t heard of this proposal before arriving. Some congregations discussed and voted on it. I wonder how many.

Amylynn
Amylynn
11 months ago

It was asked last year; apparently a lot of credentials are issued automatically to a number of religious professionals (https://www.uua.org/ga/congregations/how-delegates-are-determined) who may not be participating for one reason or another. It does make it look like a lot of active delegates are not voting.

Julie
Julie
11 months ago

A wonderful and thorough report, Rebecca. Thanks a mil for keeping us all informed and for spreading the word to so many others at GA about the need to save the 7 Principles. You deserve all the fame and gratitude you get.

Julie
Julie
11 months ago
Reply to  Julie

And you deserve even more in the future. Let us in the {Save the 7 Principles} community know if you need any support in any way, now or in the future.

I, and I am sure many others, are ready to support you, with the deepest gratitude for your work.