GA ends in celebration, installation of new leaders

Chalice flame

At the closing ceremony at General Assembly Sunday night GA participants welcomed a new moderator, Jim Key, who was elected to that position Saturday. They also welcomed back to a second term UUA President Peter Morales.

Both were installed in a worship service that included the GA choir and other musicians.

Key was installed by UUA Secretary Susan Ritchie, who reminded Key that the moderator’s role is to “offer special leadership” to GA delegates and the board in developing a long term vision for the association.

In brief remarks Key said that GA was where “the bug bit me many years ago. I am humbled and energized by your support.” He urged GA participants to go home and share what they’d learned at GA. For himself, “The hard work starts tomorrow,” he said.

Outgoing Moderator Gini Courter acknowledged Tamara Payne-Alex, who lost the moderator election to Key by 40 votes. “The conversation about our future was richer with Tamara and Jim than if Jim had only spoken alone. Tamara’s vision was also a fitting one.”

In a break from tradition, Morales conducted his own installation. And he acknowledged that he would need help in the years ahead. He said, “Alone I can do very little. We all need one another in this faith. Thank you for trusting me to serve as your president. We are on a wonderful spiritual adventure together.”

The General Assembly in 2014 will be in Providence, Rhode Island. Beth McGregor, chair of the Ballou Channing District coordinating committee for that event, formally invited those in the hall to Rhode Island.

Part of the closing worship was also dedicated to a continuation of a GA-long lovefest for Courter, who was ending more than ten years as moderator. Trustee Joan Lund compared her to a “skilled juggler” and referred to her “masterful leadership of the board.”

Jackie Shanti, first vice moderator of the board, said, “If you have Gini by your side, the force is with you.” Courter, who had given a lengthy report to GA that afternoon, simply said, “It has been a lifetime honor to serve with all of you. Thank you.”

New board members were also installed. Outoing UUA Secretary Tom Loughrey led a celebration of retiring board members and a welcome for new ones, noting that from this point forward board members will be elected at-large rather than from specific UUA districts. The change is part of an ongoing effort to streamline the governance of the association.

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