GA 08: Day Two (Thursday)
Nothing too contentious going on. A new innovation via the Denominational Support Commission is to 'celebrate our congregations' through a two minutes slot for one congregation per district. I like to see this kind of thing which should showcase our most successful and innovative congregations, though clearly through the presentations some are more innovate than others.
Mortions (in roughly the order they came) And I'm paraphrasing.
The General Assembly congratulates the Women's League on its 100th anniversarry. Well duh. Non-contentious.
The Ministerial Fellowship is recognised as an affliated body to the General Assembly. Not every minister was in favour of this, I don't think anyone else cared about it very much.
We believe prison if often inneffective and encourage other more effective rehabilitation. Another social justice motion that is entirely worthy but entirely ineffective as a way for us to do effective social justice work as a community.
Constitutional amendment. Partly this was a tidying up of the constitution, but it did represent some changes. The number of members a congregation needs to send two delegates to the Annual Meetings has changed from 50 to 30. A sign of our decline I'm affraid. The other change was a rolling system for the Executive Committee elections. Now instead of a whole new committee every 3 years (although you can serve two terms), now 4 people will be elected every two years, so only half of the committee will change in an election cycle. The next election will be 2009.
What I find in some ways horrifying and in some ways fascinating is the need of some people to spend so much energy trying to correct grammar and English in something like a constitution. We're so nit-picking as a movement! It's a depressing thing being stuck in a room of 200 people arguing about grammar. Why do people get so engaged with that? Is this the thing we ought to be concerned with??
This was a presentation by David Usher, who the Hibbert Trust have paid to create a 'liberal alternative to the Alpha course.' This seems now to be called 'A Course in Practical Spirituality.' The first DVD for this has been produced and it's planned that there will be five more. It was very professionally done. I'm not convinced myself that professionalism is the most important thing myself. Plus I would really like to see something that is distinctly Unitarian, and this is not.
International Association for Religious Freedom
My mate Simon Ramsay did a time of meditation using readings from various traditions. The problem of course with meditation is that I became aware of how tired I was. I'm not getting much sleep.
Michael Dadson told the story of the publicity material used in our Macclesfield congregation.
Also at this meeting my new book, The Unitarian Life, was officially launched. I'll write more about the book in a post very soon. But I'm very pleased that we managed to get it out in time for these Meetings, and I'm also very pleased that we have sold out of the book after two days. Fifty copies were delivered directly to Hatfield and they've all gone. Good good.