General Assembly (GA) is a hallmark of our association of congregations as a covenanted body. It serves many purposes and audiences. If you haven’t been to a GA, or not lately, here are some things for you to learn or recall.
Just like many denominations, UUA holds an annual convention which does the business of the Association. Elections are held, recognition ceremonies happen, and people from all over the country join in fellowship activities. Additionally, there is a worship service every day, workshops and seminars for your learning and skill building, and exhibits showing the products and wares of many vendors. There’s evening entertainment and special events, too.
It’s larger than just meetings, of course. Over the years many professional groups have tied their annual get-togethers to this event. Ministers, Directors of Religious Education, seminary alumnae, Leadership School grads, and volunteer leaders in districts and regions come together as well. This includes the opportunity to convene our Pacific Northwest District Annual Business Meeting. Plan to join your district board, staff, and the congregational delegates on Saturday afternoon. Watch the PNWD site for additional details and posting of business meeting materials.
In short, there’s something here for you…and everyone else! Our opening event is the colorful banner parade with banners from 400 churches marching together as one community. Take our annual public witness event, for example. This year UUA’s Commission on Social Witness will lead a witness event on the Issue of Climate Change. We will collaborate with other organizations in a campaign to Commit2Respond.
Each year, we reach out to the local community with a GA Service Project. This year’s special opportunity features Reentry Transition Center, a local Portland agency working to enable and facilitate the return to productive society some 2500 people yearly who leave incarceration (federal, county and city) and must find housing, employment and worthwhile lives. Site visits are being planned and a tool kit with examples of program materials will be available.
Another not-to-be missed high point is the Ware Lecture. This year’s speaker is noted author, Cornell West, addressing the theme of racial justice in today’s America.
Your registration (scholarships are available) also covers entry to the Exhibit Hall and the Evening Entertainment —this year a dance and a concert by the 150-year-old First Unitarian Church’s choir —Songs of Hope and Freedom.
Should you attend this meeting? Of course you should, along with as many members of your congregation as can come. Come first as a delegate to represent your church or fellowship in the business decisions and social justice statements our Association carries to the public. The arc of worship throughout the week is inspiring and supports this year’s theme, Building a New Way. Friendships are here to be made, and renewed.
Go to the UUA General Assembly website for a complete guide to registration, volunteering, and housing opportunities at convention rates.
Online registration opens March 2. Applications for volunteers are being accepted through March 31. (The registration fee is covered for volunteers.)
Looking forward to seeing you in Portland in June!
Pacific Northwest District GA Coordinator