Over 500 enthusiastic Unitarian Universalists attended the 48th annual gathering of UU congregations in the Pacific Northwest District. Although many of us continued to bungle the name by calling it “AGM-oops-District Assembly”, it didn’t matter. Overwhelmingly, attendees raved about the weekend. The lament heard repeatedly was, “If only I could clone myself!” Choosing only three workshops from the thirty available proved, for many, to be the most difficult decision of the weekend.
Our annual business meeting, required by the PNWD bylaws, was held Saturday morning. In spite of the early hour, 45 of our 59 congregations sent delegates. The congregations, district board, and associate member organizations were represented by 123 certified delegates. These delegates approved the proposed bylaw amendments, and elected Elton Hall (Boise, ID) and Dave Cauffman (Whidbey Island, WA) to the district board. The Rev. Margaret Keip (Grants Pass, OR) was elected to the district nominating committee.
Grammy-award winning musician and storyteller, Bill Harley, delivered the (quite non-traditional!) keynote address. Harley kept the packed house engaged while using story and song to take us on a journey through the common life we share. His tales and original songs evoked howls of laughter and tears of nostalgia. Later in the day attendees had an opportunity to attend his workshop on “The Power of Story.” The free family concert he presented Saturday afternoon was open not only to District Assembly registrants, but to the general public.
Where can you hear versions of the music of Freddie Mercury, Duke Ellington, and Harry Belafonte all in one sitting? A Sunday morning UU worship service, of course, thanks to the creativity of Music Director Robert Kechley. The 700 Unitarian Universalists in the room used their collective presence to light an innovative chalice. (Think Tinkerbell and fairy-believers.) UUA President, the Rev. Peter Morales, delivered the sermon urging us to remember the past, but not allow ourselves to become trapped in it.
The Sunday morning offering is traditionally collected for a fund of the Pacific Northwest UU Growth Foundation. The Rev. Joan Montagnes made the call for PNUUGF’s Hewett-Hopper-Raible Fund for Ministerial Internship. (And also led a 700-voice round of “Happy Birthday” to the Rev. Leon Hopper!) The collection of over $6500 will be available for grants to assist congregations in funding ministerial interns.
Whether you call it the Annual General Meeting (AGM) or were around prior to the early ‘80’s and still call it District Annual Meeting, we hope you were able to join us at District Assembly. This annual PNWD gathering was one of only four to bring in over 500 attendees. Our enormous thanks go to East Shore Unitarian Church and to the scores of volunteers who made this event possible. Chair Kerri Lauman and her team worked tirelessly to present an excellent weekend, and we are grateful.
Given cost considerations, changing culture and the burden of putting on an intensive three-day event, we’ll be trying some new formats in the future. Next year, a single-day District Assembly will be hosted by First Unitarian Church of Portland. Mark Saturday, February 19, 2011 on your calendar for this gathering. As details develop, we will post them here.
And for those of you with 2012 calendars handy, mark Anchorage, AK in May for the 50th District Assembly. The first 49 gatherings cover Washington (24), Oregon (13), former members British Columbia (9) and Idaho (3), but none in Alaska . With their gold rush reputation, what better place to celebrate our golden anniversary!