It is always amazing to me, that first day of General Assembly. I seem to spend most of that first day in the hallways, greeting friends not seen in awhile. Those who have been there awhile point others in the right direction to get to the myriad of events and places to check in, and we stand in the hallway, greeting one another.
Two things were different this year… the first was all the congratulations from colleagues and friends, on my ordination and graduation. Others wanted to know my plans for next year, and still others came by to share with me theirs. So much of our faith is about that “meeting” – the relational dynamic that is one of the core elements of this faith we call Unitarian Universalism.
At this General Assembly which has the potential to be quite contentious, we need to be reminded of the importance of the relational dynamic in our Liberal Faith.
I attended a dinner for Military Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates, where we were able to share our love for and say goodbye to Rev. Beth Miller, the outgoing Director of Ministry and Professional Leadership of the UUA, and more importantly to us, the UUA Military Chaplain Endorser. Never have we UU Military Ministers had such an amazing advocate and friend, always willing to make time in her busy schedule for one of “her” ministers. We visited with one another, shouted some inter-service rivalry across the room, and said some hello’s and goodbyes. It was wonderful to see all my military chaplain colleagues.
I then briefly attended the CMWD / Heartland ingathering… and then switched into my dress uniform for the opening ceremonies. If you want to be noticed at General Assembly, wear a U.S. Army Class A Uniform. Any friends and colleagues who had not found me before found me then… I was also amazed at how many people I did not know wanted to come up and shake the hand of one of our faith’s military chaplains, and do the UU version of “Thank you for your service” (the UU version is often much longer).
What shocked me was when the denizens of the Celestial Lands began to find me and tell me how much they loved the blog and website… I write Celestial Lands for myself… and it never fully sinks in as real that others read it, until someone comes up to you at GA with a whole collection of their favorite articles printed off, looking for a signature. Amazing… and thank you.
I loved the banner parade, especially seeing banners of congregations I have preached at, have served, or will be serving soon (yes, I saw the Midland banner). Seeing Peter Mayer perform live was wonderful, as was all of the music. The Chalice Lighting raised a few Freudian eyebrows… and I have yet to decide if the innuendo’s within the reading were intentional or not… a mystery for the ages.
But above all else, the Opening Ceremony of GA serves one purpose… to remind us that our Liberal Faith Movement is more than just our one church, or our small cluster of churches. It shows us that we are not as isolated as we sometimes feel, or as we sometimes make ourselves seem. It reminds us we are a faith with a vital, necessary, and noble purpose… no less than the salvation of the world, in this time, in this place, for us all.
And, as one colleague invited me to an after-party, another colleague said “No, David will go back to his hotel room and get some sleep… he’s the responsible one.” As I was beginning to feel good about that, another said “No, it’s just that he’s married”. Also true.
And so begins the 2010 General Assembly of the UUA.
Yours in faith,