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

Why This GA Will Be Different

This year will be the first year in the last three that I will be able to attend the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, held this year in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Last year I was at the U.S. Army Chaplain School, and the year before that I was in the midst of my Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital chaplaincy) program at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Every time I had been to General Assembly in the past, it was either before or just after I had begun seminary. I was a congregational leader and a church administrator, but there were few requirements on my time. I was able to go to GA, attend the plenary sessions, go to almost a dozen workshops, attend worship, and even find some time to relax with friends and acquaintances. In those years, attending General Assembly was my summer vacation.

I have had to do a bit of a mental shift this year, and realize that the last thing this General Assembly is going to be for me will be a vacation. As I set out my schedule for GA, every hour is blocked with meetings, staffing a booth, co-leading a workshop, and then more meetings. The only workshops I am attending I am either co-leading or I am part of the organization behind the workshop. Most of my meals are reserved for meetings.

Now, I’m not complaining, I swear! I set up these meetings, and in every case I am happy for the opportunity to sit down in person with people I have been working with through phone and email the last two years. Most of the meetings revolve around UU Military Ministries issues and programs, and a few around the new book coming out that I have a chapter in.

As my wife and I were driving up to the Great Lakes Naval Station yesterday (to pick up something for GA) she asked me if I would be willing to take a driving vacation to visit her sister later in August. Before, I was thinking of my “Summer Vacation” as going to Ft. Lauderdale … but now, I think I will need a vacation from the vacation… So, a sixteen hour car ride each way to Cullman Alabama it is, to see my new nephew-in-law.

Yours in Faith,


2 Thoughts on “Why This GA Will Be Different

  1. Patrick McLaughlin on Sunday June 22, 2008 at 22:13 +0000 said:

    Ah, it’s funny how things work.

    For the previous three years, GA was business for me. I was coming onto the board, or on the board and busy going to anything and everything that might offer me skills, knowledge and insights to take home. And that was good; there was a lot I took home that benefited the congregation and altered our board reorganization plans, among other things.

    This past year was the first “just for fun” GA… and I ended up in seminary because of it.

    I’m planning to be there for the next four — for a variety of reasons both UU and personal…– but the funny thing is that they look like less work and more fun (this, I think, may be the last year that I accept being a delegate, however… despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed that role).

    But I can see that the time comes when it won’t be just for fun, and a break.

  2. I’m sure we’ll all be richer for your work! Thanks for attending.

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