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Rev. Tracie Barrett-Welser

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Monthly Message – July 2018

As I write this article, I am still up north after a wonderful week in Kansas City. The first part of the week was the UU Ministers Association Ministry Days. This is a time when the UU ministers from around the country, and the world, come together for reflection, worship, and our own business meeting. It culminated on Wednesday with the Berry Street Essay, which this year was given by the Rev. Meg Riley. Wednesday evening kicked off the 57th Annual General Assembly of the UUA.

The theme this year was “All Are Called” and that was evident throughout the week. Worship services were inclusive, multi-lingual, and inspiring. The Ware Lecture with Brittany Packett called us all to rise up and use our privilege to fight systemic white supremacy and all other forms of oppression.

We also did business while at General Assembly. For those who may not know, this is the time when all UU congregations send delegates, both in person and online, to vote in matters of importance for the Association. As your minister, I attended as the ministerial delegate representing our congregation. I was honored to take this role and I was inspired by the business we did this year. To me, the theme I picked up on during the business sections was in line with the theme of General Assembly. All of us are called. We voted as an Association in ways that drew our circle wider and stated that we do believe all are called to do this work. I want to share with you a few of those items.

First, we voted to welcome LREDA members working in congregations to be automatic delegates (much like I am a delegate by virtue of being your minister). LREDA stands for the Liberal Religious Educators Association. These hard-working religious educators serve in our congregations by shaping the youth of our movement. Because of professional boundaries, they often are not members of the congregations they serve and, therefore, cannot serve as delegates. I was amazed and humbled to watch the entire youth caucus rise up and support their religious educators who can be their voice as delegates. The bylaw revision passed overwhelmingly.

The second important piece was to add two youth trustees to the UUA board. This also passed overwhelmingly. Again, watching the youth of our UUA was amazing. I cried a bit as they spoke their truth and passion for our movement. We are in good hands, my friends. Our youth are powerful and prepared and ready to take us further.

Additional actions were taken in the realm of being more inclusive. The General Assembly voted, overwhelmingly, to replace gendered pronouns with “they/their” in order to be gender neutral. Again, our youth spoke with such passion about how this shows that we understand that people are on gender spectrums and that using binary language is hurtful. This conversation was a bit fraught and at times it was a little painful to hear when people were more concerned about grammar instead of the human beings in the room. However, it did pass with an overwhelming majority. We also voted to replace “women and men” with “people” in our Sources. While these may seem like minor changes, they are visibly drawing our circle wider and they make a very large statement.

You can catch up on all of the worship and business sessions on the UUA website by searching for GA. I encourage you to do so as it is amazing to see what can happen when thousands of Unitarian Universalists get together.

I was honored to attend this General Assembly as your minister. I was proud to tell people of all the good work we as a congregation have done this year. I now go into my summer leave with my heart full, my soul nourished and looking forward so much to being with you again in August.

Have a wonderful summer,

…Rev. Tracie