Sitting Out GA 06
There was a time when I would attend what I could at GA, then leave at the last possible minute to honor my obligations (even though I moved 1700 miles 2 weeks ago) and then wonder later in the summer why I was so exhausted. I don’t do that any more.
However, I am sorry I’m missing UUGA06. I usually have a love/hate relationship with General Assembly, I don’t like crowds (even Ministry Days seem overcrowded to me – when GA begins, I go into total overwhelm); I feel bad about the money that it’s costing me (usually I’m running out of professional expenses by that time); and for the past few years, I felt like the UUA was running the same agenda and programs over and over. That angered me when I feel that there is so much hunger for the liberal religion that I love so much. I often feel that we as gathered UU community are missing the boat by refusing to really look at who we are and what the world needs from liberal churches.
This year many programs look interesting. I would love to hear Mary Oliver. And Sharon Salzberg during Ministry Days. I would like to hear Gail Geisenhamer preach as well as Judith Meyer. Some people whom I care for will be walking in the Service of the Living Tradition – I’d love to share in their proud moment.
I would be attending the Young Adult worships each day. I truly want to learn about what kind of worship they will be planning – I seem to fill needs of the young adults of the congregations I’ve served, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t. I have a lot to learn about what young adults want and need in church. I would like to hear colleague Rob Hardies give the John Murray Distinguished Lecture on Hospitality and Grace. And the UU Buddhists’ Zen and Unitarian Universalism ( I always attend many of the UU Christian events, because they are always top notch). And since I’m entering an area that is doing intentional regional growth work, I would attend the workshop on growing UUism regionally.
Since I have a strong interest in leadership development and governance, there are several workshops along these lines that don’t sound like the same old tired stuff. There’s a workshop on ‘Growing UU Congregations in a Post-Denominational World’. Wow, I thought. I didn’t think that the reality that we are in a post-denominational world was on the UUA’s radar screen since we are still sprouting ‘The Uncommon Denomination’ bumper stickers. Turns out that James Wind, the President of Alban Institute, is leading it. Of course.
I would want to hear colleague Alma Crawford in Preaching and Public Ministry. And David Korten, someone I read from the alternative press. So there seems to be a lot to like about this GA. I’m sorry I am missing it, but I still would make the same choice – it will be such a delight to officiate at this wedding with people who populated my life a decade or so ago.
OK, one rant: I don’t know how they are publicizing the Seeker Service on Sunday morning where they invite the St. Louis community to learn about us. But in the publicity online, they advertised it thusly:
On Sunday morning, we will be inviting residents of the St. Louis community to join us for worship. The service will convey the Good News of Unitarian Universalism, a faith of open minds, loving hearts and helping hands.
If this is how they are advertising to the wider community, I find this to be a totally inadequate way to publicize our faith. I find ‘open minds, loving hearts and helping hands’ to be insipid. Not to mention that GA gives plenty of opportunities to find that we also have people with closed minds, closed hearts, and closed hands. I’m tired of insipid. I’m tired of the superficial approach that really says ‘maybe we’re a religion but maybe we’re too afraid of what that might really mean’. Where is our fire and our passion? I’ll bet Gail Geisenhamer will give it to those present, but this advertisement is hardly an enticement to come check out what Unitarian Universalism has to offer a hurting world.
End of rant: enjoy GA! I will truly miss you.