1 00:00:08,388 --> 00:00:13,776 >> Switch things up just a tiny bit here. And I am going to 2 00:00:13,777 --> 00:00:21,409 introduce to you how do I say it ? Mrs. Reverend Dr. Dr. Susan 3 00:00:21,410 --> 00:00:25,748 Ritchie. [Laughter] 4 00:00:26,002 --> 00:00:29,573 Who will talk to us on the work of renewing the covenant 5 00:00:29,574 --> 00:00:31,574 taskforce. >> Thank you for remembering. 6 00:00:32,133 --> 00:00:34,133 [Applause] 7 00:00:46,988 --> 00:00:48,740 >> On October 15, 2015, Moderator Jim Key called for the 8 00:00:48,741 --> 00:00:50,502 Board to consider 'how we might imagine moving the UUA from the 9 00:00:50,503 --> 00:00:53,072 notion of membership to covenant'. Jim Key proposed a 10 00:00:53,073 --> 00:00:55,073 Task Force, to be 11 00:00:58,644 --> 00:01:00,644 led by Rev. Dr. Susan Ritchie to take up this initiative. 12 00:01:02,531 --> 00:01:06,363 initiative.I have Miller and Tom shade and Kathy Brook 13 00:01:06,364 --> 00:01:09,936 working with us and we've also had Elizabeth mount and reverend 14 00:01:09,937 --> 00:01:16,038 David Ruffin work with us. So part of gip's charge to us was 15 00:01:16,039 --> 00:01:22,190 this. He said let's imagine, "Let's imagine, rather than 16 00:01:22,191 --> 00:01:24,984 signing the book, people entered and were welcomed into a 17 00:01:24,985 --> 00:01:26,985 covenant that could be renewed 18 00:01:30,845 --> 00:01:34,161 periodically. He also asked us to imagine, what if it were the 19 00:01:34,162 --> 00:01:36,984 same for congregations in their relationship to the association 20 00:01:37,239 --> 00:01:43,124 ? What if congregations came into covenant with each other, 21 00:01:43,125 --> 00:01:45,125 one again that would be renewed periodically 22 00:01:47,726 --> 00:01:50,256 . Jim believed very much that this could provide much needed 23 00:01:50,257 --> 00:01:56,136 energy and direction for our movement. 24 00:01:59,940 --> 00:02:03,280 We're here to tell you about our thinking and our progress and 25 00:02:03,281 --> 00:02:05,562 also here to make a proposal for your consideration. 26 00:02:05,563 --> 00:02:09,919 And it is one that we truly believe can help move our 27 00:02:09,920 --> 00:02:11,920 associations and our congregations 28 00:02:14,002 --> 00:02:16,051 into a direction of greater mutual cooperation and 29 00:02:16,052 --> 00:02:20,909 accountability. And importantly , more enthusiasm for our shared 30 00:02:22,445 --> 00:02:26,268 work. So the first question we had to answer, well, what is 31 00:02:26,269 --> 00:02:29,101 this covenant? And how would it be periodically 32 00:02:32,158 --> 00:02:34,973 renewed? I knew right away that we wanted the covenant to 33 00:02:34,974 --> 00:02:39,275 be something more than a set of rote words that we might 34 00:02:39,276 --> 00:02:43,938 periodically recite. I pledge to the allegiance to the flag. 35 00:02:44,135 --> 00:02:47,464 No. We want something more moving than that. We often knew 36 00:02:47,465 --> 00:02:52,316 that the covenant must be more than promises about how we treat 37 00:02:52,317 --> 00:02:55,658 each other, although it would include that. It must be 38 00:02:55,659 --> 00:03:00,215 agreement between ourselves and something larger than ourselves. 39 00:03:00,216 --> 00:03:04,870 And we came to believe that this something larger is the 40 00:03:04,871 --> 00:03:08,935 content between ourself and the work we share. It's our mission 41 00:03:09,199 --> 00:03:14,760 . Not our mission statement, but our mission. Along the way 42 00:03:14,761 --> 00:03:16,291 way, we have been inspired by the 43 00:03:16,292 --> 00:03:18,292 work of the 44 00:03:24,206 --> 00:03:25,231 American Baptists who engage in a form of collective 45 00:03:25,232 --> 00:03:26,003 discernment they call "the mission table." The Baptists 46 00:03:26,004 --> 00:03:27,258 have a simple clarity of their overall mission, "spread the 47 00:03:27,259 --> 00:03:29,259 gospel of 48 00:03:32,080 --> 00:03:34,642 Jesus Christ, but we've learned a great deal about how they are 49 00:03:34,643 --> 00:03:37,512 with each other, and they have this vigorous and beautiful 50 00:03:37,513 --> 00:03:41,071 process for discerning how each of their entity it at thes in 51 00:03:41,072 --> 00:03:46,382 each of their collective world, how they can work together to 52 00:03:46,383 --> 00:03:50,503 fulfill collective mission. What they do is they sit at a 53 00:03:50,504 --> 00:03:52,829 mission table and they discuss their work and their challenges 54 00:03:52,830 --> 00:03:56,642 and their obstacles, their strengths and capabilities, and 55 00:03:56,643 --> 00:04:02,517 they align that work together. So upon reflection, the 56 00:04:02,518 --> 00:04:05,072 taskforce has come to understand that if we Unitarian 57 00:04:05,073 --> 00:04:07,875 Universalists are truly to covenant together 58 00:04:11,450 --> 00:04:13,731 , they might begin with theological reflection, broadly 59 00:04:13,732 --> 00:04:20,582 defined to include humanism and ing a ritual and ag agnosticism, 60 00:04:21,342 --> 00:04:23,637 but theological reflection about what is the what and the 61 00:04:23,638 --> 00:04:27,792 why and the how of our shared work as a religious 62 00:04:27,793 --> 00:04:30,835 movement. After all, to covenant is to note that 63 00:04:30,836 --> 00:04:34,933 engagement. It's about agreeing to be mutual a countable to 64 00:04:34,934 --> 00:04:40,052 what comes of it. We must renew our covenants periodically and 65 00:04:40,053 --> 00:04:45,459 continuously. So our response to Jim Key's invitation to 66 00:04:45,460 --> 00:04:48,740 imagine moving from the notion of membership to covenant is to 67 00:04:48,741 --> 00:04:52,795 imagine all Unitarian Universalists, in all of our 68 00:04:52,796 --> 00:04:56,823 forms, actively building mutual account ability and collective 69 00:04:56,824 --> 00:05:01,505 discernment of what Unitarian Universalism is called to do in 70 00:05:01,506 --> 00:05:05,092 this world, in this cultural moment, at this time. 71 00:05:05,598 --> 00:05:08,148 Covenanting is discerning together how we can be 72 00:05:08,149 --> 00:05:17,058 accountable to that mission. Sounds fairly basic. Right? It 73 00:05:17,059 --> 00:05:23,236 is. Right? People joining together, just agreeing on 74 00:05:23,237 --> 00:05:26,514 purpose and mission and being accountable to each other to 75 00:05:26,515 --> 00:05:29,819 fulfill it. Got you wondering, why would the taskforce think 76 00:05:29,820 --> 00:05:33,630 that this work isn't already happening? Our congregations 77 00:05:33,631 --> 00:05:35,913 have a lot of regular meetings. 78 00:05:36,163 --> 00:05:38,163 [Laughter] 79 00:05:41,030 --> 00:05:46,934 And it takes so many votes here at General Assembly. After all, 80 00:05:46,935 --> 00:05:50,271 we elect our president. We elect our moderator. Well, we 81 00:05:50,272 --> 00:05:54,362 believe that elections and debates are insufficient for the 82 00:05:54,616 --> 00:05:57,703 discernment of mission that we believe we need. 83 00:05:58,210 --> 00:06:04,563 [Applause]Unitarian Universalism, by some of these 84 00:06:04,564 --> 00:06:08,858 structures and processes, can sideline theological reflection, 85 00:06:09,113 --> 00:06:12,680 and we can keep mutual accountability to a minimal 86 00:06:12,681 --> 00:06:17,050 level. In this sense, we really are a membership organization. 87 00:06:17,051 --> 00:06:24,982 We have minimal expectations of each other. It is too often a 88 00:06:24,983 --> 00:06:28,555 halfhearted religious movement. The way we do things, of 89 00:06:28,556 --> 00:06:34,956 course, it's rooted in so much of the past. The UUA itself is 90 00:06:34,957 --> 00:06:37,507 organized as a standard nonprofit enterprise and if we 91 00:06:37,508 --> 00:06:40,293 go back further, the standard nonprofit organizational 92 00:06:40,294 --> 00:06:44,632 structure, the one that, first evolved in the 19th century, 93 00:06:44,633 --> 00:06:48,472 that itself was a copy of the business corporation 94 00:06:48,473 --> 00:06:50,782 corporation. And in terms of the Unitarians, it was 95 00:06:50,783 --> 00:06:56,151 specifically the copy of the New England small business 96 00:06:56,152 --> 00:06:59,211 corporation that saw virtue in consolidateing power in a 97 00:06:59,212 --> 00:07:04,269 limited number of patrons. The 1825 establishment of the 98 00:07:04,270 --> 00:07:10,136 American Unitarian association was a part of that milieu, and 99 00:07:10,137 --> 00:07:16,036 the many changes over the years, the same core patterns of how 100 00:07:16,037 --> 00:07:18,591 we distribute power remain the same. He know deed, 101 00:07:18,592 --> 00:07:22,169 much of the structure of our UUA maintains the structure that 102 00:07:22,170 --> 00:07:27,284 was given to it by Samuel Adkins Eliot, who was president of the 103 00:07:27,538 --> 00:07:33,126 A AUA from 1900 to 1925. He know deed, some people even call 104 00:07:33,379 --> 00:07:39,017 the UUA the house that Sam built, and what Eliot did was 105 00:07:39,018 --> 00:07:42,593 work deliberately to match the structure of the association to 106 00:07:42,594 --> 00:07:46,687 match business models, especially in terms of 107 00:07:46,688 --> 00:07:49,240 disempowering the Board of trustees, because that's what 108 00:07:49,241 --> 00:07:51,290 successful banks, insurance companies 109 00:07:55,372 --> 00:07:58,980 , and males do, unphoto quote. I'm quoting directly. In doing 110 00:07:58,981 --> 00:08:00,981 so 111 00:08:03,034 --> 00:08:07,093 , he was plane ising the Unitarian association, even as 112 00:08:07,094 --> 00:08:09,415 wealthy New England families were used to operating their 113 00:08:09,416 --> 00:08:14,279 charities. Our structures -- they reduced the discussion of 114 00:08:14,280 --> 00:08:18,615 mission and the work of the association. They reduce it to 115 00:08:18,616 --> 00:08:22,438 the business of the association. We need to discern together 116 00:08:22,439 --> 00:08:27,287 what the world needs from us and what we have to offer the world 117 00:08:27,542 --> 00:08:32,933 if when we come together we meet just as shareholders of a 118 00:08:32,934 --> 00:08:38,788 nonprofit corporation, if we hear only reports and elect 119 00:08:38,789 --> 00:08:42,116 preselected slates of candidates to line up at pro and con 120 00:08:42,117 --> 00:08:44,933 microphone for resolutions, what does all this do if it does not 121 00:08:45,188 --> 00:08:48,493 address fundamental question of mission and our alignment 122 00:08:48,494 --> 00:08:53,065 around it? [Applause] 123 00:08:58,408 --> 00:09:02,518 Indeed, our present structures two, way of relating this, way 124 00:09:02,519 --> 00:09:07,643 of talking together that we have developed, it only maintains 125 00:09:07,644 --> 00:09:11,750 the supremacy of white middle-class upper class and 126 00:09:11,751 --> 00:09:14,016 male elites within Unitarian Universalism. 127 00:09:14,766 --> 00:09:23,201 [Applause]Your taskforce has come to the conclusion if 128 00:09:23,202 --> 00:09:26,002 Unitarian Universalists are to fully covenant with each other, 129 00:09:26,003 --> 00:09:29,330 we are going to need a different way of being together. 130 00:09:29,585 --> 00:09:33,938 Fortunately we actually have an example of this in our history. 131 00:09:33,939 --> 00:09:39,285 Did you know that it wasn't just that we used to have only 132 00:09:39,286 --> 00:09:41,844 general assemblies? We used to have general assemblies, but 133 00:09:41,845 --> 00:09:46,407 also something that we called general conferences. The 134 00:09:46,408 --> 00:09:50,265 General Assembly was the place to do the business of the 135 00:09:50,266 --> 00:09:55,100 association and it was the administrative body of this 136 00:09:55,101 --> 00:10:00,723 beautiful governance wing of Unitarian Universalism, but 137 00:10:00,724 --> 00:10:05,088 there was another wing to that body, Brooklyn Ecclesiastical 138 00:10:05,089 --> 00:10:08,659 body, which means we actually had delegates attend a general 139 00:10:08,660 --> 00:10:13,238 conference as representations from their congregations 140 00:10:13,239 --> 00:10:18,914 specifically to talk about theology and come together for 141 00:10:18,915 --> 00:10:21,707 the mutual strengthening of each other, the creation of 142 00:10:21,708 --> 00:10:25,999 relationships of aid and accountability, and for 143 00:10:26,000 --> 00:10:28,000 theological discernment 144 00:10:29,794 --> 00:10:33,102 . Do you believe that in 1961, when the Unitarians and the 145 00:10:33,103 --> 00:10:38,014 universalists consolidated, we completely forgot the general 146 00:10:38,015 --> 00:10:43,397 conference and in its stead placed only the General 147 00:10:43,398 --> 00:10:51,559 Assembly. And so the taskforce is calling for a general 148 00:10:51,560 --> 00:10:56,153 conference specifically. [Applause] 149 00:10:59,445 --> 00:11:02,803 About gathering, where these discussions can be had, and we 150 00:11:02,804 --> 00:11:06,100 can imagine limiting the number of congregation and the 151 00:11:06,101 --> 00:11:09,913 organizations to a small number of delegates. We want meaning 152 00:11:10,178 --> 00:11:14,285 ful conversations. We don't want too much outside a few 153 00:11:14,286 --> 00:11:17,074 large questions. And we want to make sure, of course, that we 154 00:11:17,075 --> 00:11:22,205 actively engage south, young adults, UU's of color, and 155 00:11:22,206 --> 00:11:24,206 mission tore he cannily under-represented -- historic 156 00:11:24,753 --> 00:11:27,042 ally under-represented groups. So we welcome feedback from all 157 00:11:27,043 --> 00:11:31,409 Unitarian Universalists. We are currently seeking feedback from 158 00:11:32,178 --> 00:11:34,968 all the different identity and professional groups that we know 159 00:11:34,969 --> 00:11:38,829 of and we're eager to hear what you have to say. We invite you 160 00:11:39,084 --> 00:11:43,764 to talk with us here at General Assembly, or if you need to or 161 00:11:43,765 --> 00:11:52,054 can, to. Mail your comments to SRITCHIE@UUA.org. Okay. So 162 00:11:52,055 --> 00:11:57,439 here on our summary recommendation. If for any 163 00:11:57,440 --> 00:11:59,979 reason you have been distracted, here's the core. 164 00:11:59,980 --> 00:12:03,290 [Laughter] The force recommends that the UU 165 00:12:03,549 --> 00:12:07,885 A moderator call for a general conference of UU's as soon as 166 00:12:07,886 --> 00:12:11,436 possible and no later than the fall of 2018 for the purposes of 167 00:12:11,685 --> 00:12:16,615 exploring what the UUA is called to being in today's worth 168 00:12:16,869 --> 00:12:19,152 . We further recommend that the UUA -- 169 00:12:19,662 --> 00:12:22,480 [Applause] >> That the UUA schedule 170 00:12:22,481 --> 00:12:27,017 general conferences on a regular basis, perhaps in by he knowal 171 00:12:27,018 --> 00:12:31,879 rotation with General Assembly business sessions. 172 00:12:33,160 --> 00:12:37,013 The taskforce believes it is time for this sort of deep 173 00:12:37,014 --> 00:12:41,350 reflection and consideration. The taskforce believes that the 174 00:12:41,351 --> 00:12:44,907 organization of the DNA of the UUA, that it is time to be 175 00:12:44,908 --> 00:12:49,249 reassessed, given the racist, sexist, and classist biases that 176 00:12:49,250 --> 00:12:52,050 are formed and which are reinforced by our structure 177 00:12:52,051 --> 00:12:56,353 which actually preclude the full realization of our covenantal 178 00:12:56,354 --> 00:12:59,659 relationships. We so look forward forward -- 179 00:13:00,166 --> 00:13:02,773 [Applause] Thank you. We so look forward 180 00:13:02,774 --> 00:13:05,845 to being in touch with you and finding new ways to be with you 181 00:13:05,846 --> 00:13:10,189 in the future. 182 00:13:18,401 --> 00:13:20,401 [Applause]