Tuesday, June 28, 2011

General Assembly (GA) Weekend!

      We had an amazing weekend.  We got up at 3am Saturday morning to drive up to Charlotte, NC for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (GA), and it was sooooo worth it.  It was exciting, uplifting, fun, intellectually stimulating, heart-warming, and exhausting.

      GA is the annual get-together of all (or most) of the UU congregations in the US, and some international congregations join in as well.  There are classes and workshops and talks and a wonderful Exhibit hall where you can hook up with all sorts of UU groups (like the UU Animal Ministries - ie, UU Vegegetarians, Vegans, and Animal Activists!! How excited am I about discovering that group?!?).  I can't even begin to list all the awesome groups that were there: human rights groups, GLBTQ rights groups, UU Jews, UU Christians, UU Buddhists, UU Humanists, UU PAGANS, prison ministries, numerous ecological and environmental groups, fair trade/equal exchange groups - and so very, very many more.  It was amazing.  We could have spent two days in the exhibit hall alone. 
      Plus there was UU jewelry.  MacGyver, Punky, and I each got a Chalice pendant.  Punky's is a little one just like the one pictured.  MacGyver and I got larger pendants that had more of a "rough hewn" look to the pewter.  There is a different one that MacGyver fell in love with, but it was too expensive, and I have designed my own that I can't WAIT to have made, but for now these are great!

      One thing I think really captures the type of gathering this was: the trash cans.  There were cans marked "Landfill," "Glass," "Mixed Recyclables," and my personal favorite, "Compost."  Yes!  There were compost bins all over the building!  Plus displays showing what could go into each bin (Compost those Starbucks cups, folks!).  You could add a carbon offset to the price of your admission based on how far you traveled to get there and they handed out pamphlets about the healthiest (vegetarian and vegan friendly) places to eat in the area.  Could this BE more my kind of place?!?

      Our congregation was honored as a "Breakthrough" congregation for very rapid growth over the last few years, and we listened to some wonderful speeches and presentations.  I particularly enjoyed the annual report of the UU United Nations Office (the UU-UNO).  I didn't even know the UU-UNO existed, let alone how many AMAZING things they have been setting in motion!  Seriously unbelievable and truely heartening.  For instance:

         The UU-UNO proudly maintains the only faith-based sexual orientation/gender identity
advocacy program at the United Nations...a sad commentary on the deafening silence of
other denominations on this critical issue.
        UU-UNO leadership resulted in 23 countries changing their vote at the UN General
Assembly in December 2010 to include sexual orientation into the UN resolution against
extra-judicial killing.
        The UU-UNO hosted a ground-breaking conference to empower women and promote the
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,
which was launched increased UU-UNO advocacy for women’s rights.

      And that is barely the beginning.  If you're interested, you should totally check out the annual report

      Saturday evening, we went to a wonderful Solstice Ritual led by Phaedra Bonewits, a very well known Pagan Priestess who has even been featured in some well known comics.  The ritual was short and simple, but powerful and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  From there, we went to the CUUPs annual meeting and banquet where there was lively discussion, an outstanding sermon on the spirituality of compost, and where MacGyver was chosen as the East Coast representative for the CUUPs Nominating Committee.  He will be helping choose next year's national CUUPs leaders.  I came away with a long list of very exciting ideas for the future of our local chapter.

      We didn't come away with many pictures, and the ones we did get I haven't uploaded yet.  But I do feel like this one picture, taken with my phone, captures how we all felt after GA:

      We came away revitalized and inspired with mountains of information and lists upon lists of new ideas.  MacGyver wants to start a Backyard Chickens organization in our area - among 100 other, more ambitious, plans.  I am going to be starting a group that gets a post all it's own.  I have a feeling our CUUPs chapter is going to take off after this based on everything my friend WiccaMan and I picked up, and I'm excited to get in touch with a congregation that has an Animal Ministries group only an hour away.

      And now I'm back at work, staring down ever growing mountains of work, but I'm in a good mood and have been receiving really flattering compliments left and right.

      Happy Week, All! 

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