This is Rev. Catie, reporting in on the second day of the all-virtual 2021 General Assembly (GA)!
I have been so impressed by how the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has designed their online interfaces for General Assembly, finding them fairly easy to navigate — not that I haven’t at least twice struggled to log in to an event or portal! I feel so much gratitude for how the conference has been brought online, and excitement that this technological part of what we’ve learned in the pandemic era as a national denomination can be carried forward as tools for future multi-platform participation. Online participation greatly improves accessibility to our national meeting.
I’ll pick up where Jenna left off yesterday: General Session, the GA version of our Annual Meeting. I was particularly impressed and convicted by words from our national president, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray; executive vice president, Carey McDonald; co-moderators, Rev. Meg Riley and Charles Du Mond; and leaders of the Article II Commission and Commission on Institutional Change. With all the stress and trauma we’ve experienced during the pandemic, I’m amazed how much great work has been done to dismantle white supremacy culture at our UUA headquarters and in the way General Assembly functions, and the deep ethical and theological reflection brought by the Article II Commission and the Commission on Institutional Change.
After listening to a fabulous panel from UU climate activists from the BIPOC caucus of the UU Ministry for Earth, I settled in for the gorgeous annual Thursday night worship, the Service of the Living Tradition. This service honors “fellowshipped and credentialed religious leaders, remember those who have died, recognize those who have completed active service, and welcome those who have received fellowship or credentialed status in the past year.” It was wonderful to see folks previously affiliated with First Parish included in the honorees (Rev. Sally Fritsche! Rev. Sarah Lammert!), and I was lifted up by the sermon from Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore, who also came out of the UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA (my home church). Rev. Dr. Fenimore spoke at length about the fears she carries with her every day; she did not ignore the real grief and anxieties we are experiencing in our modern world. Yet, Rev. Dr. Fenimore implored religious leaders to “not neglect joy,” that joy is a “central pastoral practice in faithful and committed ministry,” and she offered an inspiring litany of her personal spiritual practices. I deeply appreciated her reminder that fear, grief, and rage are transformed into effective and courageous prophetic witness through interconnection, covenant, and faithfulness.
Though Jenna and I are no longer posting a weekly “Ministerial Moment of Joy,” you all can rest assured we are striving each day to cultivate joy, and we hope you are too!