Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Blogging the UUA General Assembly

As I did last year, I once again intend to write an article here at Celestial Lands for each day of the General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Sandy and I are here in Charlotte, checked into the hotel suite of rooms we annually share with the Rev. Katie Norris and her family.  The coolest part of the week of General Assembly is how much time we get to spend with Jeff and Katie Norris’ son, Jeffrey… my “seminary nephew”.

For those who do not know, General Assembly is the annual congregational leadership meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  It is an event of many facets, including wonderful worship services, long but productive business meetings, elections, social justice events, and workshops on just about everything you can imagine.  There are lectures for denominational leaders and others, sermons, presentations, awards…  a year of the business of a denomination packed into one week.  It moves around every year… and this year it is in Charlotte, NC.  You can check out the GA schedule, or you can watch events live as they happen from home, if you have not traveled to GA yourself.

This year is also special, as it marks the 50th year anniversary of the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association, and the Universalist Church of America… the two denominations that came together to form the modern Unitarian Universalist Association.  Such is why we have such a horrible name as a denomination, and why we have so many puuns and not so fuuny jokes that involve uus puuting two u’s in words like juustice, Buudhist, and, my favorite, chuurch.

So, as I am attending General Assembly this year as a minister, as a reserve military chaplain, and as a delegate, I intend to write a 1-2 page reflection article on each day of the event.  Now, I will in no way claim that this is “reporting” or that it is comprehensive in any way.  In fact, I am likely to focus on only a few things that happen each day and write about those.  I’m sure there are other UU Bloggers out there who are going to “live-blog” the event… I am not one of them.

Perhaps you might consider my efforts over the coming few days to be less that of a reporter… and more that of an over-dedicated “Letter to the Editor” writer…

I have a love-dislike relationship to General Assembly.  I love seeing people, making new connections, and building on old ones.  As some fellow ministers have pointed out repeatedly to me… I am something of an expert at “networking”.  I think some of the business of the GA is genuine and important, and some of the workshops are useful and informative…

And much of what happens at GA can be described as five days of naval-gazing… or focusing on ourselves sometimes to the exclusion of the outside world… and sometimes to the point of outright narcissism.

I come to GA in part because I am required to be here.  As a UU minister serving as a military chaplain (in the reserves) I am required by the UUA to attend a major leadership meeting or training once per year as a requirement for maintaining my endorsement.  Now, this is subject to being excused if you have a good reason… like being deployed to Afghanistan or something (shout out to Chaplain the Rev. George Tyger, keep your head down.  We’ll miss you.  Come home safe brother), but beyond that excuse all of us military chaplains are expected to be at a major denominational event… preferably GA.  So, as full as this year has been, I’m here for a week…

Which is why today, the Tuesday before GA… I’m taking my one day of “vacation” this year.  I’m going to the Carowinds Amusement Park to ride waterslides all day…

GA can wait…

Yours in Faith,

Rev. David

2 Thoughts on “Blogging the UUA General Assembly

  1. My minister on a water slide might be worse that the hot tub image…lol. Have fun!

  2. The Norris familys favorite part about GA is spending time with you and Sandy as well. Jeffrey looks up to both of you so much. This week always reminds me how we live out our faith and care for each other in community. As Jeffrey’s parents, we can’t be everything for him and the more adults he has that care about him, the more he knows he is loved by that great Spirit of Love in the Universe.

    And, he got to go to an amusement park, which is a huge added bonus in his book!

    Katie & Jeff

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