our calling

From the President
 Contents: UU World Back Issue

Calling all congregations!

W e want your president. W e want your president to come to General Assembly this June.

Last June 7,515 Unitarian Universalists from 687 congregations came to the General Assembly in Boston, the largest GA in our history. The previous General Assembly in Boston, in 1978 , drew only 1,211 UUs from 421 congregations. The difference is surely a sign of the growth and vitality of our movement. The reason we want your congregational president to join us this year is that we think it will help further build this vitality.

What is General Assembly? Is it a convention? A pep rally? A leadership training opportunity? A public witness event? A tribal gathering?

It is all of these things, but none of them is at the heart of General Assembly.

“General Assemblies,” our bylaws say, “shall make overall policy for carrying out the purposes of the Association and shall direct and control its affairs.” General Assemblies are the coming together of the representatives of our congregations to do the business of the Association and to make real the covenant that binds us.

But who represents our congregations? Delegates tend to be people who have the time and the money to devote to spending the better part of a week at GA. Few congregations offer much financial assistance for delegates, and then usually cover only a fraction of the cost. And I don't know of a single congregation that makes its president's attendance at General Assembly an expectation.

Other denominations have different approaches. The United Methodists, for example, meet only in alternate years. And they pay all the expenses for delegates to attend. All of them. It's expensive, but it clearly communicates the high priority that faith community places on having its leaders present at their General Assembly, regardless of their financial circumstances.

In our congregational polity, it's clear to me that our congregations should set the expectation that their presidents attend and that the congregations should make it possible financially. Congregational budgets take time to adjust, and so do congregational expectations. But it's time that we make having our elected congregational leaders present at our annual business meeting a priority, that we put our money where our priorities are.

This is why I have asked for the funds for the UUA to cover registration for the presidents of all congregations this year at the General Assembly in Long Beach, California. The Board of Trustees has approved the request. I know registration is a small part of the full cost of attending GA, but I hope it will help.

I would therefore like to personally invite all of you who are congregational presidents to come to Long Beach next June, or arrange for your successor to attend if your congregation will have a new president by then.

And I hope you'll take me up on the offer. We have important work to do. I want to use this GA to set priorities for our Association of congregations. We have now been operating for three years on priorities articulated during my campaign for president. It's time for us to look at those, to see what needs to be adjusted, what needs to be added, and what we have perhaps completed. And our congregational presidents need to be in that conversation.

So let's have more of our 1,041 congregations represented at this GA than ever before. Please come! We need you in Long Beach this June.

In faith,
President, Unitarian Universalist Association

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
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