2022 General Assembly Report by Debbie Bieber

21 July 2022

2022 General Assembly, Portland, Oregon 

Hi Everybody,  It’s coming up on the end of July and well into the summer.  The UUA General Assembly is over and folks are back in their homes and offices.  So, it seemed a good time to report back on this year’s GA, the first in-person GA after two years of fully virtual GAs caused by COVID restrictions.

General Assembly is the annual gathering of the Unitarian Universalist Association where delegates from member congregations conduct the business of the Association, explore the theological underpinnings of our faith, and lean fully into our UU mission and principles.

My first GA experience was at the 1988 Palm Springs GA which was originally planned for Arizona but moved to California when Arizona failed to adopt the Martin Luther King Holiday at the state level.  MLK Day was first observed in 1986 but it took until 2000 for it to be observed by all 50 states.  I have attended 28 of the 35 GA’s held since then representing congregations as either a delegate or alternate at 22 of them.

Attendees at GA represent members from congregations and related organizations mainly from North America but also include attendees from around the world.  Participants come to partake in the various GA programs and to conduct the business of the UUA.  As well as to reconnect with colleagues and friends to Have Fun and buy stuff in the Exhibit Hall.  

Anyone can sit in on the business meetings which are conducted over the 5 days of General Assembly but only delegates are credentialed to discuss and vote on action items.  Delegate status bestows the rights and responsibilities of both voting at the General Session business meetings of the Association and vote in the election of representatives to UUA Board and committees of the association.

This year more than 3,300 UU’s gathered for the first multiplatform General Assembly.  Almost 400 delegates used the new business-only registration option to participate in General Sessions during GA.  More than 1,500 more joined in as full virtual participants, using the online GA app, and an additional 1,400 more gathered in-person in Portland, Oregon, including nearly 100 youth and children.

I will admit that GA had a smaller feel to it than past GAs what with the many programs held online, only 1,400 attendees on site and a much smaller exhibit hall.  But those of us who were able to gather in Portland enjoyed connecting with old and new friends from multiple UU congregations across the country.  With the online GA app, we were also able to connect with virtual participants, a great advantage for those who couldn’t travel to GA for a variety of reasons.  

At the General Sessions, the delegates dealt with the business of the Association including:

  • A business resolution asking GA to endorse the board’s plan to do a comprehensive rewrite of the UUA bylawsto remove overly complicated and inefficient governance passed overwhelmingly, with 951 yes votes (95.5 percent), 45 no votes (4.5 percent), and four abstentions.
  • Another business resolution, to re-envision the role of the GA Planning Committee (GAPC), also passed overwhelmingly, with 958 yes votes (95.9 percent), 41 no votes (4.1 percent), and one abstention.
  • There were two contested Board of Trustees races. 
    • For board slot number 11, the Rev. Justine Sullivan, nominated by the Nominating Committee, was elected with 1,766 votes (90.8 percent) over the Rev. Beverly Seese of the UU Fellowship of Kokomo, Indiana, who ran by petition and garnered 178 votes (9.2 percent).
    • For board slot number 7, current trustee the Rev. Suzanne Fast, nominated by the Nominating Committee, was re-elected with 1,735 votes (89.6 percent) over Rebecca Mattis, a member of the UU Church in Rutland, Vermont, who received 202 votes (10.4 percent).
  • Three Actions of Immediate Witness passed: “We Do Not Consent: Rejecting Legal Challenges to Abortion (PDF)” (99.7 percent of the votes in favor); “Antiracism and Reparations via Restorative Justice (PDF)” (95 percent); and “Stop the Privatization of Medicare (PDF)” (77 percent).

The GA Program Book, which you can find at https://www.uua.org/files/2022-06/program%20book%202022.pdf, is 100 pages of information about General Assembly and the many programs available during the 5 days of GA. Program listings start on page 23.  Over 85 of these programs and workshops are included in an On-Demand Video Library which is available to registered GA participants and can be viewed and reviewed.  General Sessions can go for several hours but most of the workshop are 75 minutes long.  Let me know if you see something that interests you and I’ll check to see if it is available in the library so we can set up a time to get together and watch it. 

You can also catch a glimpse of what GA was like in this short 2 minute Video from GACS Multi-Media Consultant, Marilyn Nieves, with Suspended Image Photography 

Next year the 62nd General Assembly will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 21 - 25, 2023.  The announcement of the 2024 GA site will be made this Fall.  It’s never too early to begin planning to be there on-line or in-person.

Submitted by Debbie Bieber