General Assembly. Portland, Oregon. June 24-28. Imagine 4000 Unitarian Universalists gathered in one place to worship, to sing in the choir, to learn together, to listen to amazing speakers, to connect with others who share our faith tradition, to shop at the vendor tables and the UUA Bookstore, to see our national staff and lay leaders in action, to understand the business aspects and work of the UU Association, and to immerse one’s self fully in the UU Universe for 4 days! And because it is fun!!!
I remember attending my second G.A. in Long Beach, California. It was my second year as an official UU minister. As I approached the convention center where the assembly as held, I was greeted by a huge banner that read, “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right.” I nearly burst into tears. I had worked on GBLTQQI issues throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s when acknowledging the “inherent worth and dignity” of my queer community was not held by the mainstream or even the liberal Christian Church I was serving. And now, here was Unitarian Universalism, my adopted faith, proclaiming my right to love who I love and have that recognized by both the church and the state.
I have also had the privilege of being part of the witness team for the social witness events that were held at the Phoenix G.A. The focus that year was immigration and we were bussed to the site of an infamous “tent city” deportation center. I greeted each bus that came and gave folks instructions on where to walk to join the rally. I stood with other colleagues behind the barriers that separated “us from them:” those protesting our presence, the ones who supported the deportations and arrests of undocumented persons. We sang and kept watch as the police placed themselves between our two groups. It was quite a sight that met my gaze when I turned away from the barriers and police and protesters: there was a sea of yellow shirts (the “standing on the side of love shirts”) lit by candles held high by the UU crowd. We had showed up. Just as we had in Selma all those years ago…
If you decide to attend G.A.- which I hope you do- you can be kept busy from 7:00 a.m. until midnight every night. You may find somewhere into day 3 that you have hit a wall and need to take a time out to nap or poke around downtown Portland. This is all part of a G.A. experience. If you decide to go, know that meals are on your own. In addition to the $350 registration fee, you need to secure lodging as well. Chuck Bean has been scouting around for cheaper digs rather than the official G.A. hotels and has come up with the Econo Lodge at Port of Portland which is near the convention center. One group of folks found a house to rent. There is a great light rail system that is stops at the Convention Center from all directions that it runs.
So, go online to the UUA website and check out the links to this year’s G.A. This may be the closest G.A. ever gets to us as they tend to chose “second” tier cities that are not so expensive to hold G.A. There are also options to “attend” via live streaming if you cannot get down to Portland to be there in person.
I hope to see many of you there!
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,