June: In Praise of General Assembly
I attended my first General Assembly (GA) in 2007, held in Portland, Oregon. I had very little idea what “General Assembly” was supposed to be about, but a group of friends from my church was going, so it seemed like a fun thing to do.
I remember those five days in Portland as a very fun time, with lots of laughter. I couldn’t tell you now even one workshop that I attended, though I attended many. I wasn’t a voting delegate, so I paid very little attention to the plenary sessions, where representatives from our Unitarian Universalist congregations come together to conduct the business of our UU Association. I meant to attend the Ware Lecture, always one of the highlights of General Assembly, but dinner ran long, and so I missed it.
But for all that I didn’t do and don’t remember, attending General Assembly was still absolutely transformational, a pivotal experience in forming my identity as a Unitarian Universalist.
Before General Assembly, my understanding of Unitarian Universalism began and ended at my church, with the 800 or so congregants there. But in Portland, I was suddenly with thousands of Unitarian Universalists, from all over the country, from all over the world! It was joyous. No wonder I laughed so much.
I have attended General Assembly several times since that first time, and have grown in appreciation for what a wonderful event it is. Just as our individual congregations gather once or twice a year for important business meetings (Chalice’s next congregational meeting is June 9, by the way), so too our collective congregations gather at General Assembly for our important business meeting. It is a time to worship together, to learn together, and to celebrate together the beauty and gifts of our liberal faith tradition.
It’s also kind of expensive.
This year’s General Assembly will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. If you are able to take five days away and can pay for the flight, the hotel, the meals, and the registration costs of the event, you should definitely go! I would certainly be going this year if I weren’t so worn out from travel. In the past nine months, I’ve travelled out of town for three ordination ceremonies, two conferences, and our UUA Regional Assembly, and I’m beat.
Fortunately, the UUA leadership has long realized that travelling to General Assembly limits who is able to attend, and they have made strides in making GA more accessible. It is possible to watch many GA events online; there is a schedule posted at www.uua.org/ga. It is also possible to participate in Association business as an “offsite delegate,” with a registration cost of $150 due by June 7. This is how I will be attending GA this year.
We need more delegates, so if you would like to participate and vote on Association business (including the election of our new moderator), let me know!
And on Wednesday, June 19, those who are interested will gather in our chapel from 5-7 p.m. to watch the General Assembly opening celebration together. For those of us who can’t attend in person, gathering together in our smaller community is the next best thing. I hope you’ll join me.
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