Endorsing Responsible Consumption,
UUA Evaluates Economic Globalization
After two years of congregational review, the General Assembly passed a Statement of Conscience calling for responsible consumption. Affirming an "ecological ethic" that "values conservation, demands frugality, encourages saving, and emphasizes connectedness and community," the statement declares that "becoming responsible consumers means putting into action our religious principles of the inherent worth and dignity of all people and the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part." [Click here for the full text.]
The Rev. Meg Riley, who directs the UUA's Washington Office for Faith in Action, asked delegates how many remembered last year's Statement of Conscience, which committed UU congregations to understand and combat the links between racism, classism, and poverty. A few hands went up. Moderator Denny Davidoff expressed dismay. "This is an expensive process," she told the delegates. "There must be something flawed if all the work that we did last year gets paid attention to only by the Washington office."
Delegates started a new resolution on its way to becoming a Statement of Conscience by selecting economic globalization as a two-year study/action issue for congregations. Already the subject of considerable interest and the topic of multiple workshops at GA, the study/action issue asks how UUs can respond to the "unprecedented opportunities and potentially dangerous environmental, political, and quality-of-life challenges accompanying economic globalization."
The Commission on Social Witness, which shepherds study/action issues through the two-year process leading to a Statement of Conscience, also coordinated discussion of six Actions of Immediate Witness submitted by delegates for consideration by the General Assembly. The Assembly passed four of the statements, advocating debt relief for poor countries; opposing U.S. government aid to faith-based programs; endorsing reparations for the 1921 Tulsa race riots that killed 300 blacks and leveled 40 city blocks; and encouraging U.S. and Canadian participation in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances in September 2001. [Click here for details.]
THE STATE OF THE UUA
Total adult membership rose only slightly last year to 155,449; since 1990 it is up 8.8 percent. Religious education enrollment, now 61,482, is 22.4 percent higher than ten years ago. There are now 1,051 member congregations, up 32 since 1990. The total population of UUs is growing in every region, but UUs remain only 0.08 percent of the U.S. population.
The UUA's investments, which enjoyed returns of 22.2 percent in 1997-1998, earned 7.2 percent in fiscal year 2000 comparable to the S&P 500. Financial advisor Larry Ladd observed that "we are now entering a period where it is likely that we will 'give back' a modest amount of the extraordinary gains we experienced in the past decade." The UUA's total assets in FY00 were $175.2 million, up 2.1 percent over 1999.
The $21.4 million budget for 2001-2002 represents an incremental increase from last year. The UUA operated with a surplus for the fifth consecutive year. Beacon Press, whose budget is independent from the UUA operating budget, showed a $348,000 deficit.
Click here for complete financial reports. Other reports released at GA:
The Commission on Appraisal released its report on congregational membership, calling for greater attention to expectations of members. The report, Belonging: The Meaning of Membership, is available from the UUA Bookstore ($12; 1-800-215-9076). Click here for more.
The Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee, charged by the General Assembly in 1997 to monitor the UUA's transformation into an anti-racist, multicultural institution, presented its final report, Continuing the Journey, during Saturday's plenary session. The report will be mailed to all congregations in September.
The Safe Congregations Panel report, Restorative Justice for All: UUs Responding to Clergy Sexual Misconduct, is available on-line. Click here.
Christopher L. Walton
UU World XV:4 (September/October 2001): 37.