And I thought Wednesday was busy!
Our opening worship was led by folk from the UU Church of Spokane, with a sermon by local Baptist minister, the Rev. Happy Watkins. Rev. Happy spoke of his partnership with local UUs, and the work they did together on marriage equality and marijuana legalization. The service reminded me how “we” can’t just mean “we Unitarian Universalists.” After all, the second “U” in our name by definition means our circle has to be always drawn as wide as possible.
After worship we had our first formal business meeting. In an attempt to get fairly uncontroversial items out of the way, so we’d have time to truly discuss and vote on a formal statement, as a faith, on the current corruption of democracy, there was a first-ever attempt to have a “consent agenda.” In UUFF, we have a consent agenda in our monthly Board meetings. It seldom takes longer than 5 minutes to pass, and is a real time saver! However, our consent agenda at GA took almost our entire morning business time to pass! What could have been a fairly quick process became a slow slog of seemingly endless parliamentary and procedural questions. Even after going over time a half hour (well into lunch) we failed to get to the real business of the day. When we finally had a chance to vote, the consent agenda sailed through with an overwhelming majority vote.
So what happened?! Well, our current system of governance makes it relatively easy for one or two people to gum up the works. In my opinion, what we witnessed this morning was a sign that we still have a lot of work to do to improve our system. When matters of social justice have to wait for almost an hour of procedural debate over minutia, then something clearly isn’t working. I feel like this morning was also a testimony to how much distrust many of us still have. A consent agenda requires trust, as does any healthy community, for that matter.
In the afternoon, we had breakout sessions in order to talk more deeply about the future of our association, especially around racial justice and greater inclusion. These sessions reminded me that the people in this faith long for equality and justice, and it sparked hope in me that, together, we can create a better system. It was a refreshing afternoon given the frustration of the morning.
In the evening, we were all blown away but the breathtaking poetry of Richard Blanco, our Ware Lecturer. The Ware Lecture is an annual lecture series which in the past has included the likes of Howard Thurman, Cornel West, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Richard Blanco’s poetry dug deep into his identity as a gay latino immigrant, and reduced many of us (myself included!) to tears. His poetry pivoted on the theme of our GA: “The Power of We.”
Here in our own Fellowship, is the way we do our democracy as inclusive and flexible as it could be? How could we make our system, by-laws, and polices more just? In what ways are rules and traditions and habits blocking us from doing the work we need to do?
What changes could we make to be more radically welcoming of all those needing a spiritual home? What partnerships could we make on the Upper Cape to advance our values in the world?
What does “the power of we” mean to you?