Election adds to General Assembly's excitement
by Christopher L. Walton
A record number of Unitarian Universalists is expected at this year's General Assembly in Cleveland, Ohio, June 21 through 25, where delegates from hundreds of congregations will elect a new president and a new moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association -- but more than an election will draw UUs to Cleveland.
Part business meeting, part "trade show" for congregational leaders, and part festival of liberal religion, the General Assembly is the largest gathering of Unitarian Universalists in North America. Last year's GA drew over 4,000 people to Nashville, Tennessee -- a record that this year's GA is expected to surpass.
Every four years, delegates elect a president as chief executive officer of the UUA. They also elect a moderator -- who conducts the business sessions of the General Assembly and chairs the Board of Trustees -- and a financial advisor.
Two ministers who currently work for the UUA are vying to replace the outgoing two-term president, the Rev. John Buehrens: the Rev. Diane Miller, who heads the Department of Ministry, and the Rev. William Sinkford, director of the Department of Congregational, District, and Extension Services. (The Rev. Lawrence Peers withdrew from the race in March.)
Patsy Sherrill Madden of St. Louis, Missouri, and Diane Olson of Scottsdale, Arizona, are seeking to replace Denny Davidoff, who has served two terms as moderator. Lawrence Ladd, the incumbent financial advisor, is running unopposed.
Many of the 25 candidates seeking office submitted brief position statements to UU World, which appear on the following pages as mandated by UUA Board policy. More news about the candidates can be found at www.uua.org/elections/.
Congregational delegates will also consider a handful of proposed amendments to the UUA's bylaws and will select one of five "study/action issues" prepared by the Commission on Social Witness for a two-year review by congregations. The study/action issue adopted two years ago and ready for final consideration as a Resolution of Social Witness this year is entitled "Responsible Consumption Is Our Moral Imperative." See www.uua.org/csw/ for more.
Program highlights among hundreds of workshops, lectures, and events:
- "Religious Pluralism in America Today," a discussion with UUA President John Buehrens and Harvard Professor Diana Eck, founder of the Pluralism Project.
- "Recruiting Human Race Activists," the Ware Lecture, by the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., renowned preacher and senior minister of The Riverside Church in New York City.
- "The Echoes of the Black Empowerment Controversy" and "The Black Empowerment Controversy Video History Project" look back at the 1968 General Assembly in Cleveland -- at which controversy erupted over how the Association should best address racism. (Read UU World's March 2000 article on the Black Empowerment Controversy.)
- Sessions on working spiritually; green architecture; globalization; healing grief through storytelling -- and much more.
Also planned for this year's GA: a protest outside the Cleveland Indians' Jacobs Field to condemn what many UUs believe to be a racist stereotype perpetuated in the baseball team's mascot, "Chief Wahoo."
Planning to stay home? The UUA's Web site www.uua.org/ga/ will cover many events -- with audio and video of key programs as well as daily written updates of many more -- throughout the General Assembly. UU World's GA coverage will appear in the September/October issue.
Christopher L. Walton
is senior editor of
UU World XV:3 (July/August 2001): 41.
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