GA Sunday: AIWs survive, offsite voting approved
On the last full day of the 2011 UUA General Assembly, the Sunday morning worship service was followed by six hours of plenary business and a closing ceremony. (See UU World‘s previous daily summaries—Thursday, Friday, Saturday—for quick guides to this year’s GA, or see the complete guide to our coverage.) Here’s what we covered on Sunday:
The Assembly did not approve the Board of Trustees’ proposal to eliminate Actions of Immediate Witness from GA business, a proposal the board had made in order to clear away business for next summer’s “Justice GA” in Arizona. In the only manually counted vote this year, the motion to end AIWs failed to reach the two-thirds threshold with 508 in favor and 406 opposed. Delegates overwhelmingly approved a second proposal, however, that drops AIWs in 2012 but restores them in 2013.
Delegates approved without debate changes to Article XV that govern how the Principles and Purposes may be amended. The changes make it possible for the General Assembly to refine a proposed amendment to Article II in the first of two years in which the GA is considering the amendment.
The Assembly also approved a series of amendments that keep the bylaws up to date with changes that the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Religious Educators Credentialing Committee, and the UUA staff have made.
Finally, delegates amended the bylaws to allow off-site delegates to vote in GA business. In 2010 and again this year, test groups of delegates participated in GA from their homes but were not authorized to vote. This year the off-site delegates addressed the Assembly during debates and cast votes on GA business, although their votes weren’t formally counted.
Social witness resolutions
The Commission on Social Witness deemed only four proposed Actions of Immediate Witness eligible for consideration by the full Assembly, although the CSW could have approved up to six. Delegates agreed to vote on all four, but passed only three: AIW 1, which protests Rep. Peter King’s “Muslim radicalization” hearings in Congress; AIW 2, which supports California supermarket workers in a labor dispute; and AIW 4, which opposes “corporate personhood” and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
For the second year in a row, a proposed AIW expressing opposition to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan failed to achieve a two-thirds majority.
[Updated 7.6.11:] In the closing moments of GA, delegates approved three responsive resolutions, offered from the floor in response to a report of a committee or officer. The first celebrated the New York State Legislature’s decision to approve same-sex marriage. The second called on UUs to learn Spanish in preparation for next summer’s “Justice GA” in Phoenix. The third called for a youth and young adult “action ministry” in preparation for the Justice GA. Delegates also reaffirmed a responsive resolution adopted in 2010 that called for a “covenant of right relations.”
[Correction: We initially reported that four responsive resolutions were adopted, but one simply reaffirmed a resolution passed last year. No new text was introduced regarding a "covenant of right relations."]
The Commission on Appraisal offered a report on the progress of its review of ministry and authority in UU congregations. UUA President Peter Morales and the UUA’s environmental justice staff reported on congregational and denominational environmental work, in response to last year’s “Green Revolution in Religion” resolution. The final credentials report announced that 2,059 delegates attended GA this year, and that total registration was 4,082.
In her annual Moderator’s report, Gini Courter told delegates that in congregational polity, “there’s no higher authority, there’s only deeper down.” She discussed the complexity of planning for next year’s “Justice GA” at length. “If we’re going to build the GA we need in Phoenix,” she said, “we can’t look to someone else for a vision. . . . We need the wisdom of all of us.”
Peter Bowden continued his series of short video interviews, profiling the volunteers supporting off-site delegates, highlighting a new film about UUSC founders Martha and Waitstill Sharp, sharing growth tips from a Florida congregation that gives away its Sunday offering, introducing a UU addictions ministry, and profiling the crew that streamed video of major events.
The UUA website, meanwhile, offers on-demand video of plenaries and major events, as well as scripts, transcripts, and workshop materials from other events.