June 19, 2012
This week at least 78 FLD members will join over 3000 others in Phoenix at the annual General Assembly of our Association. “Justice GA” should be an historic gathering as we engage issues of justice at a very deep level, learning about immigration issues and human rights. For the first time, much of our time together will include conversations with partner organizations about the justice issues around immigration. Additionally, delegates are invited to participate in daily reflection groups to share learnings and experiences.
Of particular note, on Saturday, delegates and Unitarian Universalists broadly will participate in the national Days of Witness: No Human Being Is Illegal. Here is the plan:
We will shine a light on the culture of cruelty perpetrated in our name by state governments that pass anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 that lead to racial profiling and discrimination; and by a federal government whose practices both at the border and via an increasingly for-profit system of mass detention and deportation have created a culture of fear that terrorizes entire communities, makes us all less safe, and simply does not reflect our nation’s values.
Suggestions for local action and the full explanation of this Days of Witness is eloquently present at the UUA’s “Standing on the Side of Love” website:
Many of GA’s events will be available for live-streaming on the internet. This, along with more participation in off-site balloting, increases the sense that GA is for all of us. Several congregations are even having GA participation parties. Here’s some events you can “attend:”
Opening & Closing Celebrations
The Service of the Living Tradition
To learn about the technical details, including instructions for hosting an event at home or at church, or to include GA in next Sunday’s worship, go here: http://www.uua.org/ga/30754.shtml
Details of the Business Agenda can be found at: http://www.uua.org/ga/business/13300.shtml
Highlights of General Assembly programming are listed here: http://www.uua.org/ga/programming/index.shtml
Whether in person or remotely, I hope you’ll engage in the larger conversation of civil rights, justice and its ties to love as the cardinal teaching of our faith.
Changes and More Changes
“Change at the speed of church” usually suggests that congregations can be … well … slow to adapt to emerging issues and challenges. Our Association’s broader work turns that around: we are moving very rapidly to new ways of conducting our many ministries. Remote live-streaming is just one illustration. Nearly everything our UUA publishes these days is on-line for free use by our congregations. Audio & video conferencing have become as commonplace as the telephone and e-mail.
The good news is that emerging technologies free us up to do our work in ways never before dreamed of, with increasing accessibility and less expensive delivery of services. As some of you may be aware, our Florida District is now part of the Southern Region, a new strategy for uniting the delivery of services across four districts. The practical meaning of that is instead of one District Executive and a very partial time Lifespan Program Consultant, the Florida District has six (with a seventh to be added in the next year) talented people upon which to draw for all kinds of consultation.
In the coming months, you will learn more the direct applications. For now, anticipate seeing our district e-mails and Connections e-news taking on a broader focus. Before summer’s end, we hope to have a regional website in addition to the Florida District’s. We are in the midst of merging administrative offices for the four districts. And the field staff each will be the direct contact for a similar number of congregations, more equitably and responsively providing direct support to our over 230 congregations and 30,000 Unitarian Universalists.
I am honored to have been chosen to the the Regional Lead Executive, working across District boundaries. My colleagues will serve generally and specifically portfolios for faith & leadership development, evangelism & strategic planning, administration & stewardship. I will coordinate professional religious leaders transitions work. This fall, we will hire our first regionally based staff person, a emerging faith communities director to give us concentrated staffing for new congregational work. We’ll introduce you to all these good people in a future dedicated communication.
These developments are a direct outgrowth of The Orlando Platform (2010). In the next year or two, we will more fully develop our “Smart Church” consultants and the newly conceived Elders Leadership program. So, more changes are yet a’coming.
All this is exciting if often baffling. Rest assured, you can always call me or the District Office directly to obtain the assistance you seek.
Meanwhile, one immediate change is the Reverend Randy Becker’s service as the FLD acting Program Consultant comes to an end this month. He has provided wonderful service to our congregations and has been an exceptional colleague to work with. We thank Randy profoundly for his gracious and wise service these past two years.
Randy will honor all commitments that go into the next year; he also will continue to be available as one of our consultants as we move ahead with these many changes. For any future engagements, please call me directly.
Feel free to write or call as you have questions or comments. I look forward to our new ways of serving you, our leaders and our congregations.