Minister’s Report on the UUA General Assembly, held in Pittsburgh, June 21 – 25, 2023

Unitarian Universalists from around the country and abroad recently gathered for their annual General Assembly (GA), held in Pittsburgh’s downtown Convention Center. Joining me in attending in-person were UUFD’s Faith Formation staff, Harrison Wendt and Nikki Bauer. UUFD was also represented by two online participants, Coordinator of Faith Formation, Sharon Mignerey; and Lisa McCorry. Lisa and I served as official delegates for the various voting matters during the Assembly’s five business sessions. As is the tradition, UU ministers came together in the same location two days prior to GA for Ministry Days, an important time for professional development and seeing friends and colleagues socially.

A few days ago, I received the July newsletter from the UUA Pacific Western Region. The cover article, by the Regional Leader Rev. Carlton E. Smith, includes a lovely summary of many of the important actions and activities at GA 2023, especially his report on the affirmative vote to continue study of “Article II,” the new statement about UUA values and purposes. With his permission, I want to offer Rev. Smith’s summary of GA, and invite you to read more about regional activities in the July PWR newsletter.

The theme of this year’s GA was “Faithfully Becoming”. To me, it pointed to the idea that we as individuals, congregations, and an association are constantly evolving, but in that evolution, we endeavor to be true to our best and highest ideals. It ties into the concepts behind Theodore Parker’s famous sermon on the “Transient and the Permanent in Christianity.” We seek to retain ways of being we wish to pass on, and to release those that seem to have served their purpose.

Of course, none of us has a list of things we’d choose to hold onto that’s identical to anyone else’s. Each of us emerges from distinct periods of time and particular place and unique circumstances, such that the meanings we bring to our lives and our culture will be specific to each of us individually. Not all of what each of us loves will be part of the future of our faith. There will be loss associated with letting go of some of what was familiar as we bring our focus to the path that lies ahead.

At this GA, we said farewell to Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray in her role as UUA President after six very challenging years in the history of our Association, of the United States, and of the world. I am so grateful to count her as a friend, and to have been part of her extended team during her historic, impactful tenure.

We also joyously welcomed Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt into her new role upon her election as the next President of our UUA. Rev. Dr. Sofía has close ties to the Pacific Western Region, as a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry and as a former member of its faculty, in addition to having served as minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton and interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.

With regards to the work of the Article II Commission, the process of revising our statement of purpose goes forward…The General Assembly delegates voted to continue the conversation for another year. A final vote on Article II will take place at 2024’s online General Assembly. We invite you to engage with the process on the Article II Commission pages.

For further reading of other regional news, click here. Finally, remember that Rev. Sarah Gibb-Millspaugh continues as UUFD’s primary contact with the PWR Regional Staff. I look forward in the fall to sharing leadership on the topic of Covenant with Rev. Sarah.

Rev. Barbara Coeyman