Delegates donate $16k to New Orleans congregations

© 2013 Nancy Pierce/UUA
© 2013 Nancy Pierce/UUA

© 2013 Nancy Pierce/UUA

In Plenary Friday afternoon, a special collection raised $16,994 for the three New Orleans-area congregations, still recovering from the damage of Hurricane Katrina and broken levees in 2005.

“As an association, we have made a promise to New Orleans to walk with members of our family and faith” in the difficult process of rebuilding, said the Rev. Erik David Carlson. Minster of the UU Church of Stockton, Ill., and a member of the UUA board of trustees, he served as an intern minister in New Orleans. “This collection is another important step in reaffirming our promises,” he said.

The Rev. Jim VanderWeele, minister of Community Church UU in New Orleans, thanked people in advance for their assistance in the lengthy – and unexpected – rebuilding process.

The Rev. Deanna Vandiver, community minister and executive director of the Center for Ethics and Social Justice Renewal, a joint program of the three congregations, thanked people for taking part in healing the world through their contributions.

Courter urges assembly to set the UUA’s vision

Gini Courter

Gini Courter delivered her last moderator’s report Sunday afternoon, an impassioned plea to the delegates to be the visionaries for the Association.

“You hold the power of this Association in your hearts and hands,” said Courter, in her 10th moderator’s report to the General Assembly. “You are the power in Unitarian Universalism. And when you forget, things get broken.”

Courter spoke to delegates about three topics: growth, inclusion, and accountability.

She expressed concern that growth initiatives are not adequately funded and that past initiatives have come and gone without measurable data to show whether they were successful. “The small amount of money we spend on growth is trivial to what we spent 18 years ago,” she said. “I believe that when you quit funding growth, you might stop growing.”

Courter said “the kind of non-growth we’ve had for the past six years” is not acceptable.

She cautioned against delegates electing leaders to set the vision for the association. “Vision comes from the people. Without a vision, people perish,” she said. The long-term vision of Unitarian Universalism should be set by the people, she said, “And we have not been doing it lately.”

“You cannot elect a personality and have them tell us what to do. That’s not congregational polity.”

Courter told the UUs in plenary hall that they should be setting vision in discernment with the UUA Board, which has been out meeting individuals, congregations, and districts, about the newly crafted Ends, or goals, of the association. She urged people who had not read those Ends, finalized at the pre-GA board meeting, to read them.

Elected officials of the association, Courter said, implement vision in the short term. Congregations and individuals are charged with setting the long-term vision of the association, she said.

For the first time in 52 years, Courter said, the board has turned its focus on holding the administration accountable for measuring what is working and what is not. “The board is responsible under the bylaws to make sure the resources of the association are spent in the direction of that vision. . . . The board is asking the kids of questions I see congregational boards ask all the time.”

“Your UUA board is finally doing its job after long silence,” Courter said. “I need the GA to wake up, too. Without a vision the people perish.”

She expressed concern that the association is not directing adequate resources to anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multicultural training. “If we’re going to be the people of promise, we better remember what we promised.”

Courter said the moderator role has been a bigger honor than she could have imagined. She asked delegates to afford her successor, Jim Key, love and trust. And she asked they extend that love and trust to UUA president Peter Morales, too. At the same time, she asked delegates to demand accountability. “I need you to demand more,” she said. “You don’t demand enough.”

In conclusion, Gini said, “If we are to fulfill our promise, if we are to be the religion for our time and for all time, you will have to learn to love in a way you have not yet learned. You will have to vision in a way you have grown unaccustomed to, and you will have to preach and demand accountability in a way that is uncomfortable. But if you can do all those things, my friends, in addition to what you do today, there is no power between the atom and the stars that will slow us down. Go well and go loved.”

The delegates rose, responding to Courter’s 10th and final report with a standing ovation.

Ministry fund created in Courter’s honor

Announcing a fund to honor Gini Courter that supports experiments in UU growth. (© Nancy Pierce)
Announcing a fund to honor Gini Courter that supports experiments in UU growth. (© Nancy Pierce)

Announcing a fund to honor Gini Courter that supports experiments in UU growth. (© Nancy Pierce)

In honor of the service of UUA Moderator Gini Courter, who retired from that position at General Assembly, a fund has been created to support innovative ministry. The fund, named Faithful Risk, is available on the website of the Clara Barton/Massachusetts Bay District.

Courter got the idea for the fund from work being done by Peter Bowden and the Rev. Naomi King, who are active in bringing UUs together through social media and in promoting Unitarian Universalism through electronic means. Bowden, a ministry and media consultant, explained that the fund will allow “innovative ministries to connect with innovative UUs.” The first $10,000 will be used to create a website. Additional funds will be made available to applicants who apply.

Bowden emphasized this fund does not replace the Chalice Lighter fund that many districts have to support ministry projects. “This is crowd-fund sourcing to promote innovative projects that might otherwise have difficulty in finding support,” he said. Added the Rev. Sue Phillips, the district executive for the Clara Barton/Massachusetts Bay District. “This is the future of Unitarian Universalism. This is synergy at work. We are about to launch the only denominationally funded crowd-funding platform, that we know of, in the world.”

The website will be available for anyone to browse, to follow projects under development, and for supporting them.

Gini Courter

Courter urges assembly to set the UUA’s vision

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gini Courter delivered her last moderator’s report Sunday afternoon, an impassioned plea to the delegates to be the visionaries for the Association. “You hold the power of this…

Announcing a fund to honor Gini Courter that supports experiments in UU growth. (© Nancy Pierce)

Ministry fund created in Courter’s honor

Sunday, June 23, 2013

In honor of the service of UUA Moderator Gini Courter, who retired from that position at General Assembly, a fund has been created to support innovative ministry. The…

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3,426 people participated in Louisville GA

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A total of 3,426 people participated in the 2013 General Assembly, Trustee Tom Loughrey reported during the final plenary session Sunday night. Of those, 1,732 were on-site delegates,…

Responsive resolution presentation

Recommitting to antiracism, thanking Gini Courter

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Delegates introduced two responsive resolutions during Sunday’s final plenary recommitting the Unitarian Universalist Association to antiracism, anti-oppression, and multicultural work, and thanking Gini Courter for her years as…