Tuesday, April 21, 2009

GA 09: Day Four

I managed to agree to do the 7.30am worship on this last day of the Annual Meetings. Urgh. It was a shame I couldn't enjoy the last night of GA but had to go to bed reasonably early. I was suprised that a good number of people actually turned up. The crazy idiots, they should have been in bed like any reasonable person.

Last day of Business

Emergency motion came from my district where Unitarians have suddenly been banned from a state-funded Church of England school: passed.

A motion calling for a set of "behavioural principles" I guess what they mean is something like the Seven Principles of the UUA. But just observing the debate about the revision of these in the blogosphere has got me feed up of it all. I can't be bothered with arguments about words. And I don't think we should be directing our energy at this when we could be investing in practical mission and spiritual renewal. I voted against. The motion passed.

A motion calling for the Scout Association to allow atheist leaders. I was undecided and abstained. The motion passed.

A motion calling for the results of the Executive Committee elections to be published. At the moment only the three-member electoral panel know the results. We only get names not numbers. I voted against and the motion was defeated. That's the first time in the four years I've been going to GA that a motion has actually been defeated.

Overall there was a lot more debate, and a lot closer votes this year than any other year I've been to before. Instead of voting for motherhood and apple pie these motions actually represented a debate, and personally I voted against more motions than I ever have. But I found the debates to be cordial and good-humoured and I enjoyed them.

It's also worth saying that the youth got a proper voice this year too. Horah!

Procedural and ceremonial stuff:

The new Executive Committee were installed. Bob Wightman became the new President, Derek McAuley became the new Treasurer.

Joyce Ashworth as retiring President gave a very moving address.

Overall not the most exciting Annual Meetings: no stand-out talks by anyone. No really amazing worship. No great clarion-call or great commission. Sorta luke-warm. Not bad, not great.

Right, I'm off for a week now. Tara.


Blogger Rich said...

No late night would have made me miss your Saturday morning service, and I'm sure many others felt the same. It was very moving and inspiring - I can safely say I've never been to another service anything like it. I guess "spiritual equivalent of a hangover cure" is the best way I can describe it.

(Just one comment, at the risk of sounding like Jane Dwinell... I actually didn't know the chant you asked everyone to sing, although it was pretty obvious after I'd heard it through once!)

8:52 am  
Anonymous A said...

I think I worked out what school that is in Bolton. Assuming that I'm correct, I strongly dislike their admissions criteria, but I think my decision to vote against the motion as worded was right (i.e. in line with what I think about faith schools).

To get Unitarian kids into that school, the best/easiest way would be to persuade them that *Christian Church* should mean church belonging to Churches together in Britain and Ireland, or any church subscribing to the same set of beliefs or or any church belonging to Churches together in Bolton town centre.

If it's really a protest about religious discrimination, then that's different (and the motion could have been worded differently) but it would appear that they feel a Christian school should give priority to Christian families/children. They are highly unlikely to change their minds on that issue.

Your service was a bit like a hangover cure. But I think we do have to be aware, even amongst Unitarians, that not everyone knows every common chant/song. I'm working on getting the words to the Lord's Prayer into the backs of our red hymn books at church.

10:05 am  
Anonymous NUFer said...

Thanks,Stephen, for being the only real source of any reports of what went on at the GA.
I'm glad you abstained on the Scout motion and disappointed that it passed - its appearance at all gives completely the wrong impression about the denomination IMHO - the Scout movement has flourished across many different religious/racial backgrounds,including areas where Buddhism (non-theistic)prevails. A church with Christian origins supporting such a motion will strike the 'outsider' as turkeys voting for Christmas.

Can you supply some further information about the discrimination of the C of E school against admitting Unitarian pupils ; is this a one-off case of an over-subscribed school trying to find justifications for its admission procedures ?

1:01 pm  

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