49th GA opens with pagentry, song
The 49th annual General Assembly opened Wednesday night in Minneapolis with a rousing Midwestern welcome. The evening started with the customary opening night banner parade featuring the banners of most of the congregations represented. John Blevins, UUA trustee from the Prairie Star District, welcomed the several thousand participants, pointing out that the roots of our faith go deep in the Midwest. He noted that one of every eight Prairie Star congregations was founded before 1870 and that places like Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota had Unitarian and Universalist founders. His shout-out to Iowa for legalizing same-sex marriage last year brought the audience to its feet.
UU singer-songwriter Peter Mayer led the gathering in two of his songs, Come Rising, and Holy Now. Ann Reed, a touring singer from Minnesota, performed a song, “We Will,” that she wrote for the 150th anniversary of the First Universalist Church in Minneapolis last year. She was assisted by the Prairie Star Singers, a group organized from district congregations.
Moderator Gini Courter called the first plenary session into order, went over a few rules about making amendments and voting, then UUA President Peter Morales gave a homily, inviting participants to learn, celebrate, and dream together and to be open to how this GA could change the lives of participants. He said, “We have only begun to glimpse what is possible for us.”
UU singer-composer Jim Scott led the assembly in his song “Gather the Spirit,” Then came a parade of people to the microphone from age 76 to 12, many at their first General Assembly, celebrating the multigenerational nature of GA with brief statements about the purposes of this annual gathering. Peter Mayer’s song “Blue Boat Home,” followed by a benediction, brought the evening to a close.