News from UUA General Assembly 2024

News from UUA General Assembly 2024

UU Asheville had 7 voting delegates attending the 2024 UUA General Assembly (GA): Nancy Bragg, T Kay Browning, Susan Foster, Shawn Gibson, Bernise Lynch, Anna Martin, and me, Mara Sprain. GA was virtual this year, meaning we each signed-in remotely from our homes or wherever we were comfortable. I opted to sit on my back deck, under the gazebo (shade!), where I could stream the proceedings via YouTube to a larger TV screen and use my laptop for viewing documents and monitoring other events.

Major news first: Article II to the UUA Bylaws (formerly Principles and Purposes, now Purposes and Covenant) was amended and approved by the Assembly by an 80.2% majority vote. One amendment was adopted and incorporated into the wording of the “Equity” section. Three other amendments were defeated by the Assembly: a second amendment in the Equity section, and adding Peace and Reason as separate individual values; these amendments did not get the ⅔ support required for adoption. 

Other significant news was the adoption of 3 Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs). (An AIW is a statement about a significant action, event, or development in the world that necessitates immediate engagement and action among UU member congregations and groups. These also require approval of ⅔ of the voting body.) After discussion and amendment following mini-assemblies (pre-GA and non-voting events), and further discussion in the General Assembly sessions, the following AIWs were approved (supporting percentage):

    • World on Fire: Humanitarian Work and Climate Change (95.6%)
    • Centering Love Amidst the Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 (86.1%)
    • Solidarity with Palestinians (73.5%)

We also passed a UUA Business Resolution: Embracing Transgender, Nonbinary and Intersex People is a Fundamental Expressions of UU Religious Values (91.8%). (A business resolution directly involves the administration and structure of the UUA–guiding how the association does its work.)

Some of these discussions (pro and concern) were painful for many members and we were reminded to keep LOVE at the center of our interactions. GA Care Teams had several break-out rooms available for those who needed support during and following these discussion sessions. Beautiful demonstrations of our faith in action!

Also passed was a Responsponsive Resolution declaring GA support for release of the October 7 [2023] hostages in the Middle East (77%). A Responsive Resolution is made in response to a substantive portion of a report by an officer or committee reporting to a regular General Assembly, in this case, the Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt’s President’s report on Saturday at General Session III.

For more information, the text of these documents, and to read some of the discussion on these issues, head to https://discuss.uua.org and look under “General Assembly 2024”. You cannot provide additional comments, and this is not a transcript of discussions at GA, but many people who spoke at GA also provided similar comments in the online discussion threads.

Several of the GA events are available to non-delegates, including general session recordings and Sunday’s worship service. See UUA General Assembly for links and details. (For those attending our annual congregational retreat at The Mountain this fall we hope to have a session on GA so you can hear more about it.)

And mark your calendar: The 64th UUA General Assembly will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, June 18–22, 2025. Details to follow.

Mara Sprain

UU Asheville Board President

The Purpose of Joy in the Midst of Turmoil

The Purpose of Joy in the Midst of Turmoil

Recently I have been struggling to celebrate and find joy when it feels like the world is falling apart, when there is too much to mourn on this little blue speck. It seems I have lost some of my emotional elasticity.  I can’t move from fear, and grief, and outrage to amusement and joy so easily. Maybe this is just what being in your mid-thirties is like. Maybe it has something to do with an infinitely more connected world that our brains originally evolved to process. Whatever the reason, I am wearied by the constant need to feel all there is to feel about our world, and be present to the very real things I can do anything about. Yesterday I was at another rally for Mission Nurses United, who are still bargaining for a fair contract from HCA.

Tomorrow, I begin travels for the rest of June, heading west to attend two weddings: my brother’s as well as two close friends. I love weddings! I love the anticipation, the rituals and decor, and I love the celebration. And I love dancing! Dancing for me is giving over to joy in a way that feels effervescent and that connects me deeply to the divine spark of life. And, while we are dancing and celebrating, we are staring down a scary election in the United States. Then there are the ongoing wars in Palestine and Ukraine and Sudan. And there’s the Asheville housing crisis. And… It gets hard to feel all of it at the same time. But this is the case all the time and not just when the facts themselves are overwhelming (i.e. dancing at a wedding while there’s war on the other side of the world).

We don’t even have to go as big as the whole of earth. There are enough people in our community for us to always have reason to celebrate and reason to mourn, reason to rest, and reason to stand on the corner and shout. So then why rest or celebrate when the mourning and shouting feels so much more pressing? Because we burn out if we don’t rest, our anger boils dry without joy and love in our lives. Or at least it does for me.

That is joy’s purpose for me. When I feel the rough and ragged edges of my own emotions, it is a time to weave in threads of love and hope. It is time to store-up that love and hope, letting it feed my own strength and stamina. I hope that the effervescent joy and love of my dancing allows me to march that much longer and to shout that much louder when the time inevitably comes. And I hope that it may be true for you as well.

Trevor Johnson

Connections Coordinator

2024-25 Religious Exploration is Now Open!

2024-25 Religious Exploration is Now Open!

I’m pleased to let you know that registration for our 2024-25 year is open! I know it seems a little soon, but doing this early is tremendously helpful for us as we plan for the coming year. You can find out what we’re planning to offer, including info about Coming of Age and OWL in the registration form, which you can find here: https://forms.gle/3nSCY45qnjDcwE6E6 We can’t wait for another year of exploring and learning with you all!

Banned Book Summer is underway! Most Sundays this summer we will explore a book that has been banned or challenged. We’ll have our chalice lighting and check in, followed by a story and discussion and an art project!

This summer we are exploring banned and challenged children’s books at UU Asheville. The idea for this came from a Worship service offered by Rev. Audette that you can find here! I was inspired by this service to spend the summer exploring banned and challenged children’s books with our children. Since then, I have learned a lot about the conservative book banning movement in this country. There are coordinated efforts by groups all over the country to ban any books that deal with race, equity, difficult truths about history, gender, LGBTQ+ history, sex, perceived “witch craft” (the beloved Strega Nona!) and other important topics. Many parents and non parents who are calling for the banning of books have been provided with lists of books from these outside organizations. In most cases, the people calling for the banning of books have not actually read the books. In many cases, the books with “sensational” material that they read out loud at school board and library board meetings are not even in the libraries that they seek to ban it from. You can read more about this movement here.

We love to learn here and we have some big ideas about how people should have access to information in order to make up their own minds about things. We also believe in listening to people’s lived experiences in order to understand the world more fully.

In faith, Kim Collins LRE

Introducing our new Director of Administration: David McKaig

Introducing our new Director of Administration: David McKaig

David comes to UU Asheville with a lifelong love of reading, bookselling, classical music and great film, most notably CITIZEN KANE. Born in coastal Texas, he grew up among oil refineries and the Gulf of Mexico before attending college in Houston as a performance bassoon major.  David’s love of books took him into retail bookselling where he managed stores for 30+ years
until online sites shuttered traditional bookstores.  He transitioned to senior customer service positions, including Thermo Fisher Scientific where he managed European and Latin American accounts for laboratory products during Covid-19.  David enjoys gardening, reading biography and history, watching British television series and shares his home with cats Squirrel and Dongle.  
Meet David this Sunday at our Annual Meeting! 

 

Spotlighting Environmental Action

Spotlighting Environmental Action

Greetings Friends!

I was invited by Rev. Claudia to write a  blog about what the Environmental Action Team has been up to. And since I am chilling at home resting a wounded shoulder, I thought “Why not, it’ll keep me from getting bored and I can brag about this amazing group that I’m in”. 

So, a quick introduction, I am Venny Zachritz and, along with Kate Jerome, we co-lead both the Environmental Action Team and the Landscape Group. EAT has been active for several years but, as with all our programs, things slowed to a crawl during the Covid years. Now we are back and active and looking for new ideas and energy. This group is committed to helping the congregation live more sustainably upon the Earth. We strive to accomplish this goal through education, service and programming. We just hosted a program on the Inflation Reduction Act presented by Blue Horizons. You can find out about the IRA and potential tax credits/rebates here Inflation Reduction Act. And in September we will be hosting a Climate Justice Revival!  Watch the eNews for details of this event and others sponsored by EAT.

   We are also very proud of our past accomplishments over the years which include, the recognition of UU Asheville as a Green Sanctuary in 2008 (we are currently working towards recertification); spear-headed the solar panel fundraiser to place over 100 panels on the roof of Sandburg Hall; and developing a comprehensive  Environmental Sustainability Policy (part of being a Green Sanctuary) which was adopted by the congregation in 2008! Yep, WE have a policy. Recently the team reviewed the policy and, I am pleased to report, that with your help, UU Asheville is doing really well operating within the guidelines. But…. (you knew that was coming), there is one item that we felt needed to be shared with the congregation and ask for your support to make this happen more frequently. And that is, 

Policy Item #8 states: (we strive at) Being environmentally conscious when planning and serving food, refreshments, or snacks at meetings and events:

  • Supporting choices for foods that are sustainably grown, local, and organic
  • Limiting inclusion of processed and overpackaged foods
  • Using glass, china, and cutlery instead of throwaway paper or plastic, recognizing that the size or location of the event may preclude this option (if so, consideration may be given to compostable products).

Please, take a few minutes and read over our Environmental Sustainability Policy and share your thoughts with us. We meet on the last Thursday of the month to coordinate our work for environmental justice. Please join us! FMI:contact Venny

In Gratitude,

Venny, Kate, and the members of the EAT.