I didn’t know what to expect from General Assembly. I read through all the delegate materials, but they were just words on a page. My imagination tried to create a picture of what I would encounter in Minneapolis, but came up short.
I knew there would be workshops. And there were. And they were pretty much as I imagined.
But the business of the assembly, the things I would be voting on as a delegate, seemed to focus on statement-making, something different from what I remembered from my days among the Presbyterians. What is the point, I wondered, of all of us coming such a distance, at such expense, to agree upon a bunch of nice words?
For much of my time at GA, I felt like I was swimming in social justice alphabet soup. AIW, SOC and CSAI swirled together in my mind and I wasn’t really clear what we were doing. But at least the words were coming alive, and the concepts were becoming clearer in my mind.
Like some of the other first-time attendees and delegates, by the end of General Assembly I was still unsure of our process, and the rationale behind it. I’m still thinking about the work we did, still trying to understand why we did it.
Here’s some info from the UUA’s website talking about the social witness process, and the rationale behind it:
The Fifth Principle of Unitarian Universalism affirms and promotes the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process. In keeping with this, the way in which our denomination arrives at consensus on various social issues is by a democratically agreed upon process called the Social Witness Process, named as such because we bear witness to social inequity.
The Social Witness Process is facilitated by the Commission on Social Witness. It currently generates two types of consensus statements, Statements of Conscience, which result from study and action on a selected issue, and Actions of Immediate Witness. For more information, see the Social Witness Process page.
After much debate, the 2010 General Assembly voted to adopt “Immigration as a Moral Issue” as a Congregational Study Action. I believe that this means that member congregations of the UUA will be encouraged to study this issue over the next four years, and a Statement of Conscience may emerge from that work.