General Assembly Diary – Saturday, Jun 24

Post General Assembly Townhall Forum

The Fifth Principle Project will host a post-General Assembly Townhall Forum to provide a venue for people to share their thoughts about this year’s General Assembly.

  • Date: Wednesday, July 5, 2023
  • Time: 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Duration: 75 – 90 minutes

Pre-registration is required. All are welcome.

Voting Results

Voting results announced today, Sunday, June 25.

  • Preliminary approval of Article II language: Passed (1,816 (86.3%) to 289 (13.7%))
  • Business Resolution Divestment and Reparations: Failed (1,412 (68.3%) to 654 (31.7%))
  • Dick Burkhart did not win a seat on the Nominating Committee.
  • All AIWs: Passed

For complete results, see this link.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

I started the morning with a music-filled, meaningful worship service led by Reggie Harris, a black musician, and Greg Greenway, a white musician, who collaborate under the name “Deeper than the Skin.”  Their birthdays are three days apart, but their experiences are from different worlds.  Their music blended with their personal stories of growing up with deep Virginia roots and finding common connections through music.

Interview with Religious News Service

At 1:00 PM, I joined an interview with Kathryn Post of Religious News Service.  Kathryn had found us through the Savethe7Principles.org website.  She reached out to Lincoln Baxter, who quickly put together a small group (Pat Mohr, Anne Schneider, and James Anderson) to help her understand our issues and the situation with the UUA.  Her article will be published on the website on Monday and released to the wire services.  There’s a possibility that it could get picked up by major news organizations.

Note: On June 21, 2023, Kathryn Post published an article on Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray.

A few of us got together for lunch.  We didn’t have a full table, so an “unsuspecting couple” joined us.  We learned from them that, even at this late date, not everyone understood the Article II discussion.

General Session

Rev. Sofia Betancourt

At the General Session, they announced Saturday’s vote results.  Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt received 95.5% of the vote, and 4.5% voted against her.

Article II Pro/Con Discussion

I discovered that I was incorrect about the agenda for this general session, thinking that we would discuss two more Article II amendments.  Instead, we started with a 30-minute Pro/Con discussion on the Article II Proposal.

There was still confusion even among the people at the Pro/Con lines.  Disingenuously, the moderators claimed that a No vote would end the discussion, and a Yes vote would allow the discussion to continue.   They should have said that a No vote would retain our current Article II language, and a Yes vote would provisionally accept the amended Article II language.

One woman in the Pro line said her congregation had instructed her to vote No, but she wanted to extend the time for conversation. She indicated that she would follow their instructions and vote No.

Even I was confused about what happens with a Yes vote.  I thought that the proposed Article II language with the adopted amendments would be voted upon at the 2024 General Assembly, where a 2/3 vote is required to be adopted.  However, there is a chance the Article II language could be further amended. Fifteen congregations can agree, by Board resolution, to present another amendment.  This amendment would have to pass with 75% of the vote.  There is only a slight possibility, but there could be new amendments.

Several people at the Con mic said we are not a white supremacy culture.  This comment was met with derision by many delegates.

Seventy-two people spoke at the Pro/Con microphone.  Another delegate provided this profile of those who spoke.

Demographics Pro* Con
White 10 11
BIPOC 2 1
Cis-male 4 7
Cis-female 6 5
Non-cis 2
Young adult (<35) 1
Middle age 7 2
Senior (65+) 4 10
*Pro = for the Proposal to change

The Pro/Con discussion moved along without incident.  It was pretty dry.

Complete Divestment / Reparations

Next was the Business Resolution for “Complete Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry and Subsequent Reparations.”

This Resolution was submitted by petition by the Unitarian Universalist Young Adults for Divestment, and the sponsors were able to explain their reasoning.  After a few Pro/Con speakers, the lines closed.  Charles DuMond, the UUA co-Moderator, then approached the podium, preparing to move on to the next order of business.

Immediately young people leaped up from their seats and shouted a responsive chant waving signs and moving forward.  One quickly got between the podium and the camera and held a sign reading “Divestment Now” before Charles.  Another sign read, “Reparations Now.”  They continued their responsive chant for a few long minutes and then marched toward the exit.  The cameras caught all the action.

After a pause, Charles resumed the agenda without comment.

Other Business

The Actions of Immediate Witness were then presented.  There were no Responsive Resolutions that met the criteria. Still, Charles noted that action would be taken on a recommendation made by Dick Burkhart that the Congregational Study/Action Issue be resumed after several years of suspension.

The program came to an end, and Susan Frederick-Gray returned to the stage with four members of the executive team.

Youth Program Associate Fired

At the beginning of the General Session, the young adult members of the Care Team made a statement that the young people were grieving due to the firing of (name withheld) a Youth and Young Adult Program Associate for Lifespan Faith Engagement.  Their room key was canceled, and they were told to change their plane ticket and leave immediately.  Apparently, this was connected to the Business Resolution for Divestment and Reparations.

At the end of the business day, Susan Frederick Gray confirmed that they had been terminated.  She said that the termination was in keeping with our values, our policies, and our procedures.  She said there was a lot of context that could not be shared.

Note: In the original publication on June 25 of this post, we provided the name of the fired UUA employee. Based on a request, we removed the name.

Ware Lecture

Imani Perry delivered the Ware Lecture. It was a warm and moving presentation referencing our ancestors, Thoreau, Emerson, and Francis Harper.  She urged us to listen to each other and hold a deep respect for different voices.

My Evening

As the evening closed, I joined the UUMUAC Zoom conversation.  We are regrouping for another long year ahead to defeat the Article II Proposal.

After the worship service, they will announce the voting results and hold the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

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Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
7 months ago

I am surprised and troubled that only 2109 (44.3%) of 4765 electors voted in this ballot!

Judy
Judy
7 months ago

Shockingly 55.7% of the electors did not bother to vote. Maybe boards didn’t enlist anyone.

It was free to vote as delegate online, if you couldn’t afford the $100 donation. You had to login and vote between 5:30 and 10 PM last night. It didn’t take much time or money to vote.

To me that means it is likely a lot of people and congregations were unaware of the article II proposal vote.

Mary
Mary
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy

My congregation was aware of the Article II proposal and was against it, but didn’t have any delegates until I started asking questions. I was very surprised that even though people felt very strongly about the proposal no one had stepped up to be a delegate until I did.

Molly Plunkett
Molly Plunkett
7 months ago

What is the difference between an elector and a delegate? Are electors the number of delegates that a congregation can send to GA?

Rebecca M.
Rebecca M.
7 months ago
Reply to  Molly Plunkett

Molly, I believe that “electors” include all eligible voters: delegates, ministers, ministers emerita, and (possibly) Religious Educators.

Janet Leavens
Janet Leavens
7 months ago

Here is an explanation as to why the turnout appears to be so low: https://discuss.uua.org/t/answered-about-numbers-electors/1405?fbclid=IwAR2Abbk8_wgGS_IP15kSdjDz1I89m_uER4kT0IzIXCzfYGURUkbDFom_VCc

Apparently, only about 2,700 of those 4765 possible delegates were indeed actually delegates. So, there’s that. Plus apparently some delegates partied so hard they accidentally missed the 10pm vote deadline. Ooops! 😊

John Helmners
John Helmners
7 months ago
Reply to  Janet Leavens

Regarding missing the voting deadline, perhaps there were a number of online business-only delegates who, like myself, were misled as to the time the ballots closed. I received uninformative error messages when trying to vote — namely that I had voted and I could review my recorded votes after the GA or that I was not registered to vote. After daily contact with tech support and then the GA Secretary, I finally was able to vote the ballot of the Saturday general session. I am currently abroad so live participation was out of the question but I watched the videos… Read more »

Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
7 months ago

Regarding the Senior statistics above, the choir rather pointedly sang these lyrics:
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

That was stunning, all right!

Judy
Judy
7 months ago

I missed these lyrics. This is the first time I have watched GA business meetings online. I am so disappointed to see all the manipulation tactics; lack of consideration and respect for speakers; and musical encouragement to discount the voices of people over what 50? While making everyone state how old they are just to be sure everyone knows who’s comments should be ignored.

Dr Teresa Goodell
Dr Teresa Goodell
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy

I’m truly amazed that they asked people to state their age. Gobsmacked. There’s no possible reason for that other than discrimination.

Carol Reich
Carol Reich
7 months ago

I think perhaps ask people their weight ? And with honest full disclosures, I would proudly state my age. It was clear it was expressed that olders are …. Not of value. Sad times, nonsense comes…. Jabberwocky?

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
7 months ago

They did not request specific age, just ballpark (40s or 79s, for example)

MaryArri
MaryArri
7 months ago
Reply to  Margot Haynes

and I wonder what difference does age (or weight) make?

larry lunt
larry lunt
7 months ago

Wow!

Judy
Judy
7 months ago

Are the choir songs listed online somewhere or did you just transcribe what they sang. If the latter what day was it on?

Judy
Judy
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy

I just went to view the choir in yesterday’s recording. The recording is no longer there. A post says it will be posted soon.

Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy

They sang The Times They Are A’Changin. I copied and pasted those pertinent lyrics from a website.

Robert Hedeen
Robert Hedeen
7 months ago

That thumping sound you hear is Bob Dylan spinning in his grave. Wait … well, anyway.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  Robert Hedeen

No, Bob Dylan is not dead yet. He’s 82. That song was an anthem of the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 60’s. I don’t know about you but I well remember my passionate rebellion against the “establishment” and the old “mothers and fathers” who couldn’t understand my righteous knowledge of so much more than they could understand… heh… I like what G.K Chesterton said: For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy. So, I try and remember how pure and righteous I was when I was an angry young… Read more »

Mary
Mary
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I agree, the issues and responses frequently reminded me of the Vietnam era.

Janet Leavens
Janet Leavens
7 months ago

Wow, they really sing that? When was that?

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
7 months ago

I think there are simple reasons for the low counts of votes.
1) Lack of transparency in HOW to vote
2) Deliberate restriction of voting times
3) Lack of publicity of the voting times

I think it was made as difficult as possible to vote.

Judy
Judy
7 months ago

Here is the UUA answer. Answered about numbers electors – General Assembly 2023 / Questions & Answers – UUA General Assembly Business

Even if only 2700+ were attending as delegates, 600+ didn’t cast their vote.

Janet Leavens
Janet Leavens
7 months ago

Actually, I didn’t think voting was difficult at all, I imagine it was considerably easier than in previous years when one didn’t have hours to cast one’s vote.

Patty Page
Patty Page
7 months ago

This was my first time as a delegate to GA. I was remote, not in person. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, technically, to vote, and how clear were the instructions about when the “polls” would close.

MaryArri
MaryArri
7 months ago

Your experience was not mine, for me at least, voting as a virtual delegate was not difficult.

Last edited 7 months ago by MaryArri
Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

Please consider removing the name of the young person who was fired from UUA staff. There’s no need to include their name or link to their UUA page. Whatever personnel matters are involved, they are private to this individual and they are probably going through a hard enough time as it is without their name and this rumor being linked to this website.

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

The information provided still makes it abundantly clear who the individual is, but thanks for responding to my feedback.

This is a personnel issue and a sensitive matter in the young adult community in particular. I see no good, but rather potential harm, from sharing about it here.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

The name was announced more than once during the General Session. The recording of that General Session has recently been taken down, perhaps for editing. We will follow suit and edit this post.

I would like to point out that this abrupt action, by the UUA, seems to be part of a pattern.

Last edited 7 months ago by Rebecca P
Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

Again, I don’t think public speculation about a personnel matter is helpful here, even if it seems to fit a narrative.

Kathleen M MacLeod
Kathleen M MacLeod
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

It seems the UUA, doesn’t have a policy for progressive discipline and procedures for the respectful treatment of staff. Our church hasn’t provided due process (a right under our 1st amendment) to employees or terminated congregants elected to church leadership.

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

Kathleen, you are speculating. We don’t know any of the circumstances of the incident. And we are unlikely to find them out, as they are a private personnel matter.

Delsin Wood
Delsin Wood
7 months ago

Due process is a right under the 5th and 14th amendments. But it is a right that applies to individuals interacting with the government. It doesn’t apply to private institutions like UU.

However, the national and local organizations may have granted certain rights and procedures. Though the present national leadership seems to feel neither bound nor even guided by them.

Rev. Kate
Rev. Kate
7 months ago

Rebecca… given my experience with the UUA it could very well be that the secrecy is a coverup for UUA conduct.

Connie
Connie
7 months ago
Reply to  Rev. Kate

The name was announced at GA. The recording is now down, maybe they are cutting all that. They did say he was on admin leave so all UU contact methods, account, work, etc were taken away before he was even told. And, others were likely told they were no longer allowed to contact him. At least this is what happened to our minister when placed on admin leave. No reason was ever given.

Kathleen M MacLeod
Kathleen M MacLeod
7 months ago
Reply to  Connie

Perhaps they should be invited to the Fifth Principle Project’s July 5th Forum to find out whether they received due process, a democratic value.

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

This quote from the Religious News Service article is with me today:

“Michele David, a UU of Haitian descent, said that at times in her 31 years as a UU she’s wanted to leave the faith because she hasn’t felt truly part of it. The [Article 2] new proposal, she said, is “the first time I feel seen in the bylaws.”

Delsin Wood
Delsin Wood
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Huh. The inherent worth and dignity of every person didn’t apply to her? Now we are leaving that out. No longer can I find myself there. The inherent worth and dignity of white people is now being replaced with presumed racist bias, with the taint of original sin. Can’t say I find myself there. Like many commentators have suggested, I think anti-racism and the like is a new fundamentalist religion. It does not tolerate dissent. It is fact-averse. It discourages or even forbids hearing from people with other perspectives. As a fundamentalist religion, it does not jive with Unitarian or… Read more »

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
7 months ago

Due to some misdirected communications, my Sunday entry was not posted. It was pretty uneventful. Here it is : Sunday, June 25, 2023 First I want to thank all of you who have commented on my posts. Many of you have thanked me, some even in person. There are too many for me to respond to each of you, but I truly appreciated your encouragement.   The last day of General Assembly, is usually light on business. This was true this year.   By now you have heard the results of the vote. We will have to work to save Article II another… Read more »

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
7 months ago

This is getting as mindlessly ridiculous as Monty Python at its best. Do I have these facts straight? Sofia Bettancourt is elected president. She was the only candidate. She was asked about her thoughts about being elected as the only candidate. Matthew Johnson intruded into a conversation that didn’t involve him, to opine that the question was inappropriate. How would Ms. Bettancourt know her own thoughts? Johnson suggested the question should have been directed to the Presidential Search Committee. Why would the committee know more about Ms. B’s thoughts than Ms. B herself? Did Johnson”s position imply that Ms. B… Read more »

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
7 months ago
Reply to  Burton Brunson

Yes, the interview, in which Rev Matthew Johnson chastised the delegates for asking Sofia Betancourt about being the only candidate did happen. The video is here: General Session III

https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2023/business/iii

Olive Coy
Olive Coy
7 months ago
Reply to  Burton Brunson

That is Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt to you both. Rebecca, your omission of that but applying the title of “Rev” to Matthew Johnson is palpable, as is the continued use of “Ms. B” by Burton.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
7 months ago
Reply to  Olive Coy

My apologies for not using Rev. Dr. Betancourt’s proper title. It was not intentional.