Roundup – General Assembly (GA) 2016, Columbus, OH, June 22-26
Unitarian Universalists come together annually at General Assembly to do the business of our association, to learn from one another and from presenters, to worship and witness together, and to focus together on questions and commitments facing our faith today. Voting delegates also make policy for the Association through democratic process. While anyone may attend the GA, congregations must certify annually to send voting delegates.
GA delegates consider and vote on a number of business items, including proposals for Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAI), Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW) and Resolutions.
UPDATE: Full text of The Corruption of Our Democracy CSAI is now available on the UUA website. The AIWs and Resolutions from this year’s GA have also been publicly released by UUA. View the full text of these Social Witness Statements on their website.
Updated on 10/3/16
The social witness process is the method by which the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) comes to understand and act on the social issues of our times, finally bearing witness through statements adopted as Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) policy by the delegates of a General Assembly (GA). The process has been an integral part of our faith the since the merger between the Unitarians and the Universalists in 1961. This process is congregationally driven and is facilitated by the Commission on Social Witness (CSW).
The UUA makes two different types of social witness statements: Statements of Conscience (SOCs), which arise from Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs), and Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs).
CSAIs are initiated by congregations, districts or specified UUA sponsored organizations. Proposals for Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAI), which may eventually result in a UUA Statement of Conscience, go through a process of consideration and support by congregations (submitted through a congregational poll) before presentation to the GA.
An AIW expresses the conscience and carries the authority of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW) do not carry the full authority of the UUA but emerge at the GA and express the conscience of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. AIWs are initiated by individuals, congregations or partners and move through their entire creation and adoption process during one GA. This process allows Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to social issues deemed urgent.
All congregations are encouraged to participate in studying and acting upon that year’s chosen Congregational Study/Action Issue and Actions of Immediate Witness. Learn more about how to participate in these social witness opportunities…
Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAI)
GA 2016 delegates were presented with the four proposed CSAIs and tasked with approving one by majority vote. These proposals were initiated by congregations, districts or specified UUA sponsored organizations. An approved CSAI completes a four-year period of study and action with opportunities for congregational and district comment. At the GA in year four, a vote is taken by the GA to adopt the CSAI as a Statement of Conscience. The following year is a year of implementation and action. Learn more about the CSAI process.
Download the program book, which is referred to in the presentation.
The four proposed CSAIS were:
- Climate Change and Environmental Justice (subsequently withdrawn in support of proposal #2) (minute 5:05 in the video)
- A National Conversation on Race (minutes 7:50 and 16:08 in the video)
- Ending Gun Violence in America (minutes 10:33 and 24:00 in the video)
- The Corruption of Our Democracy (minutes 12:55 and 32:00 in the video)
Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW)
AIWs do not carry the full authority of the UUA but emerge at the GA and express the conscience of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. AIWs are initiated by individuals, congregations, or partners and move through their entire creation and adoption process during one GA. This process allows Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to social issues deemed urgent.
GA 2016 considered six proposed AIWs and adopted three. These require a vote of two-thirds to be adopted.
Watch the video of the presentation of the six proposed AIWs (minutes 26:48-50:45).
Watch the video of the debate, amendments, and votes on the final three AIWs (minutes 15:10-1:36.23). Minutes noted below:
- Build Solidarity with Our Muslim Neighbors (minute 17:10-34:05)
- Some Guns, All Guns: Legislating Appropriate Restrictions (minutes 34:25-1:01.25)
- Stop The Hate: Protect and Support our Transgender and Gender and Non-Conforming Family (minutes 1:02.37-1:36.23)
The three AIWs that were not adopted are:
- Halt Drone Warfare
- Stop the TPP
- Support HR 40: “The Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act”
The GA adopted two of three resolutions. These require a vote of two-thirds to be adopted.
Thanksgiving Day Reconsidered (adopted)
Watch minutes 1:12.35 and 1:14.18-1:43.30.
This resolution encourages UUs to enter a time of education, careful reflection, and healing, for the years 2016-2021 with special attention to the suffering, indignity, and loss that native peoples have suffered since the early 1600s and requests reports on the plans for observance of several significant anniversaries.
Reaffirmation of the Commitment to Racial Justice (adopted)
Watch minutes 1:54.14-2:18.30.
This Responsive Resolution calls on the Board of Trustees to “issue a multi-year report on the board, staff, congregational, and denominational responses to Black Lives Matter, and particularly examines the year-to-year growth in these responses, at General Assembly 2017, 2018, and 2019.”