By Craig Bennett, UUCF Leadership Development Team Chair
The pandemic has brought challenges and new opportunities for engagement with our faith. Last year, just weeks into the lockdown the decision was made to shift the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) annual gathering, General Assembly (GA), to an online experience. At first, I was skeptical. How could a virtual GA compare to the joy and connection I’d experienced at past GAs? But as 2020 GA delegate Barb Dutchak said: “The virtual experience lessened the physical demands of travel and tramping from session to session in a huge convention space, which considerably reduced the overwhelm and exhaustion, while it still provided inspiring experiences, access to phenomenal speakers, exhilarating interactions, powerful music, creative and expansive worship and exciting opportunities to connect with our larger faith community in action.”
My experience of the virtual GA in 2020 was that it was a much more inclusive event, something the UUA has been trying to achieve for some time. The virtual GA meant that people who had been unable to attend because of cost, time and travel could now participate and have their voices heard. As first-time delegate Stacy Casey said: “As part of a virtual assembly, I could see both the ‘typical administrative structure’ that GAs used to be … but also the ‘new and changing world’ that GAs were trying to reflect and become. It felt like being part of a bridge, an exciting time to experience a changing UUA environment.”
When I heard the decision was made to have another virtual GA in 2021, I was excited. I knew the UUA would draw on the experience of 2020 to make 2021 even more engaging. I hope you will consider joining me, our ministers, staff members and congregants in attending GA this year. It will be held Jun. 23-27 and anyone can register and attend. I’d like you to also consider applying to be a delegate and representing UUCF by engaging in the governance and social justice statements that are voted on at GA. The Leadership Development Team provides an orientation and preparation for being a delegate.
For me, being a GA delegate is a way of serving UUCF that has enriched my spiritual life, deepened my understanding of the UU faith and history, exposed me to the beauty and diversity of UUs and helped me see myself as part of this broader movement doing so much good in the world. As delegate Ann Wood said: “This impressive event, staged virtually at the last minute, opened my eyes to so much that is evolving in our denomination, through speakers and presentations, workshops, services, music and business sessions. I found it inspiring to meet UU leaders from around the country, and hear what they have to say and where they see our denomination going.” You can see statements from other GA attendees here.
You can learn more about GA at uua.org/ga. You can learn more about the delegate selection process at uucf.org/about/denomination/delegate-selection. You can apply to be a UUCF GA delegate at uucf.org/about/denomination/ga-delegate/.
Reach out to me with any questions, I’m always happy to talk about GA!