The final Plenary session of General Assembly 2012 was the longest, and promised to have the most "meat and potatoes" of UUA business. Even while conducting only the minimum amount of necessary business, I hoped for lively discussion on the items brought to a vote.
However, I was rather disappointed. As Sean said in his last report, the By Laws changes that we agonized over in 2010 were calmly presented without opposing words from the "Con" microphone and passed quickly and handily.
This made me a little sad. Being so isolated from other UUs means that I rarely have a sense of what is important to individuals in the movement. Without coffee hour to hear that someone was moved by the sermon, or energized by their social action witness, or passionate about a budget line item, I've come to really look forward to GA plenary hall debate to take the temperature of the group. Without that debate, I don't have any detailed sense of what the crowd
thinks or what it wants. We voted in some important and necessary changes, so the Yes vote was good; however, to me, "Yes, but..." would have been so much better.
Fortunately, the discussion around the Responsive Resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery helped. It's good to see fellow religious liberals in the throes of argument. Puts a nice glow on their cheeks.
Other business items that caught my attention: UUSC President Bill Schultz, whom I admire greatly, announced a joint venture with the UUA called the College of Social Justice, starting with a single $1M donation. Wow, that really came out of left field! Obviously, there has been a lot of work done to get to this point, especially to get such a large financial backing already. How did this come about? Is the UUA Board empowered to set up this sort of thing? We were not asked to donate, yet, even though we are regular UUSC supporters.
Several times in the course of the on-line delegate chat, folks mentioned parts of the country where finding other liberals is difficult. These areas (Arizona and Alabama were mentioned specifically) were explicitly labeled "bad," which saddens me. In our travels, we have visited each of the 50 states, and spend quite a bit of time in areas that aren't typically full of UUs. Counties with a great deal of poverty, or low levels of education, or with many conservative mainline churches. Truly, in our experience, there are good people everywhere and to label their homes so negatively struck me as deeply disrespectful.
Overall, though, the experience of attending GA via teleconference was pretty good. Not great, but okay. Not nearly as stimulating and rewarding as being there in person, but certainly much better than missing GA altogether. My ongoing commitment to attending GA is reaffirmed, and I look forward to being in Louisville, KY next year if at all possible. Thank you for trusting me with the important role of delegate; it was an honor to serve.