General Assembly 2006, St Louis MO

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General Assembly 2006, St Louis MO

I'm still processing GA, but thought I'd share a little bit.

First, as I said in another post, this was only my second GA. Last year was my first, and last year our church was selected as one of the "breakthrough" congregations, and our senior minister was chosen to give the sermon for Sunday worship. So there was a lot of added interest and everything was novel and shiny last year. So it did feel like a little bit of a letdown this year, but I'm willing to believe that's a subjective, relative thing.

I'd say the thing that dominated my time this year was the debate over our Statement of Conscience. Every year at General Assembly, we discuss up to five Study Action Issues and then vote on one of them to be studied and acted on for the next two years. A year later we hear updates on the chosen SAI, and a year after that the Commission on Social Witness drafts a "Statement of Conscience" which we then vote to amend and approve. (Theoretically, we can also reject it but that never happens because we always want to pass a Statement of Conscience. It makes us feel good.)

Last year at my first GA, I very happily voted for "Moral Values for a Pluralistic Society" and then went home and didn't give it much more thought. Truth be told, I didn't really know how these things got implemented or by whom. I figured it was done by "the UUA" not comprehending that the UUA is us.

So as the final draft of our Statement of Conscience on Global Warming (selected two years ago) came up, I didn't really pay attention. Surely if anyone could write a good statement on global warming it would be us UUs, what with us being so environmentally concerned and full of scientists. A week before GA, my roommate at GA pointed out what we both perceived to be many flaws in the language of the penultimate draft, flaws that were so severe that we felt them to be embarrassing. I won't go into what they were, since there may be people here who agreed with the original language and the purpose of my post isn't to reopen that debate. My point is that I, very late in the game, became part of a group that felt very strongly about the wording in the SOC.

I also won't go into the chaotic process and sleepless nights and frantic strategizing that I saw the more committed members of this group engage in. Suffice it to say that this year's SOC process did not go as smoothly as those in the past. At one point, our very wise moderator (whom opensheart mentioned in another post) took an informal poll. She asked us how many of us who were sitting in the room in order to vote had actually read the proposed Statement of Conscience before General Assembly. I estimate that less than a third raised their hands. (And I was only able to raise my hand because of my roommate.) It was chilling. So basically, we delegates were trying to do in the span of a few hours what we UUs should have been doing for the last two years, ever since we voted on global warming to be our SAI. We should have been studying the issue, informing ourselves, debating...

In the end, thanks largely to the firm but compassionate guidance of our moderator, Gini Courter, and the goodwill of the delegates in general, we passed a Statement of Conscience late Sunday evening, two days late. And it's a pretty decent statement. And I think that because we spent so much time debating it, we may even take it more seriously than if we had passed an "ideal" statement without all the disagreements. But it drove one point home to me: <b>we</b> are the UUA. When we vote on these things, we're voting on what <b>we</b> are going to do, not what others are going to do for us. We can't just vote on these things and pass them left and right because it looks good on paper and makes us feel good about ourselves. We need to really reflect on what these things mean to us, how they would affect our daily lives.

When the final draft of the SOC on global warming comes out in a month or so, I'll post it here, and we can discuss how we can live our lives to reflect our statement of conscience.

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