Report on General Assembly 2022, Portland, OR
Mia Noren, CRE, Religious Professional Delegate
I was fortunate to attend the first in-person General Assembly in two years at a time when I needed it the most, after the shock and isolation of dealing with a difficult diagnosis process, still ongoing. I attended not as a Congregational Delegate, but as a Religious Professional Delegate, a right that credentialed Directors of Religious Education won in 2018.
LREDA Professional Days are held the day before GA begins, and features gatherings and workshops for Religious Educators. A big part of the Continental LREDA gatherings is the chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues from all over the US and Canada. Due to the virtual nature of so much of the work we do, we often said to each other, “I don’t think I’ve ever met you in person before. I’m not sure!” Pictured is the Mountain Desert District dinner.
The General Sessions were a pleasure to attend, with new procedural rules and the new limits on discussion in place. Voting through a Delegate’s Platform also felt secure and more accurate than a voice vote, my first time voting that way while attending in-person. I won’t go into details on who won positions and which items passed, except to say that my votes went with the majority opinion.
I got to attend some meaningful workshops and was grateful that almost all of them were recorded to be watched later. No scrambling and disappointment at having to pick which one I wanted to attend the most. Melissa James and Annie Scott’s workshop, was most exciting for me, as it built upon my vision for a multigenerational RE experience for our congregation. I’ll be in continued conversation with Annie Scott on this.
Another highlight was attending the youth-led Synergy Bridging Service: Replanting Interdependence, the theme exploring how communities and ecosystems rebuild interdependence after great calamity. I was asked to be a monarch butterfly in the Species Parade! Don’t the markings on these wings look like raised fists?
I didn’t take pictures during Worship or General Sessions but words that stuck with me were the Rev. Bill Sinkford’s “… covenant has skewed individualistic; it must grow to be more collective” and Dr. Elias Ortega’s “Our (UU) welcome comes with accountability”. I also got to attend the Berry Street Essay; this year presented by the Rev. Mykal Slack. I think these were his words, “We prepare for the worst possible thing that could happen. What if we imagined the most loving thing that could happen?” and “Don’t be attached to an outcome. How is this collaborative Unitarian Universalism? This is a way to practice the theological Unitarian Universalism”. The Fahs Lecture, Ancestral Wisdom and Climate Justice, given by the Rev. Sophia Betancourt gave an interesting and personal perspective from her recent book, Ecowomanism at the Panama Canal: Black Women, Labor, and Environmental Ethics. She invites us to build beloved community as an Earth honoring faith.
Even so, I could not resist a few pictures of Ibram X. Kendi giving the Ware Lecture, in conversation with UUA President the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. (fan-girling?) All I can say is that you must listen to the recording. More than once.
General Assembly is a time to re-establish connections. Here I am with the Rev. James Galasinski, and I also got to connect with the Rev. Dan Lillie. I had a great lunch with our congregant Becky Steele. I shared a room with my good friend Liz Martin, who just graduated seminary and is about to embark on an exciting internship as part of an interfaith team at a university, engaging students. Of course, Alana Rodriguez and I spent much time together, and through all these friends and opportunities, my circle was widened to include more and more colleagues and UUs inspiring and sharing my journey.
June 29, 2022