Dear Beloveds of East Shore,
I wanted to share some takeaways that I and other Board members and staff had from this year’s UUA General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. For those who don’t know, the General Assembly is an annual conference where UU’s gather in-person and virtually to attend workshops, worship services, and business meetings that impact the larger UU world. You can learn more about everything that went on here: https://esuc.org/general-assembly-2022-update/
For me personally, this GA was an extremely important part of my journey in the UU movement. It was my first GA, and I admit I was a little unsure what to expect. My entire UU experience has been right here at East Shore and this felt like getting called up to the big leagues. There were thousands of UUs from all over the US and beyond. And although different traditions and cultures within UU revealed themselves over time, I felt very welcome and had a great sense of belonging. I particularly loved how many queer, young, non-white and other various spaces there seemed to be. And while I can only claim one of those identities (hint: it begins with Q), it was heartening to see marginalized communities within UUism creating spaces, sharing their excellence, and leading us in becoming that multicultural community we aspire to be. Anyone who is curious or excited about UUism beyond East Shore should consider attending.
Nicole Duff shared the following: “I spent a lot of my time in the exhibit hall at the UU Association of Membership Professionals (UUAMP) booth. I’m currently serving as Vice President and am in line to take on as President next year. At the booth we offered resources to congregations, many who are too small to be able to hire a membership professional. We also offered mini booth chats with popular topics, my favorite was “Do you need a membership professional? Yes, and we have proof!” We used data collected from congregations across the country from before and after covid and looked at changes in membership numbers. There was a clear correlation between those who had membership professionals and less loss (unfortunately everyone lost members during the pandemic). What was so great about the exhibit hall was getting to talk to UUs from across the country to share ideas and help one another. The opportunity to build relationships that will in turn have a positive impact on East Shore and other UU churches left me feeling excited and energized. Thank you to the congregation for encouraging staff to participate in General Assembly, I believe it is something we should all experience.”
Louise Wilkinson shared the following: “I attended a session on how the antidotes to trauma are actually embedded in our congregations. The panelists listed the many events causing widespread trauma in our world today: the pandemic, climate change, gun violence, political events, never-ending white supremacy culture, assaults on BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people, homelessness and poverty. These certainly have different impacts on different people. And some people have resilience that enables them to, rather than experiencing crises, disasters and catastrophes as trauma, deepen their experience of life despite the real distress. Research in resilience has identified three domains that can help nurture resilience during critical incidents: 1) Caring attachments with others; 2) Reasonable mastery; 3) Meaningful purpose. They shared examples of how congregations opened up during 9/11 to create connection and caring attachments, and pointed out how our small group ministries and even our committees can provide intimacy and spiritual development in every congregation. They suggested the education provided in many congregations can help people develop reasonable mastery, as they understand situations more fully and gain a capacity to feel some agency over their environments. And most of our faith communities are deeply embedded with meaningful purpose. We come together to develop our skills and reach out beyond ourselves to help do something to relieve the suffering we see and experience. We can use these domains as a lens for our activities and communications. We are definitely a faith made for this time, and we should not be shy about letting people in our communities know that our congregations can support them as they try to cope with these difficult forces.”
One last takeaway was the great connection we had with our fellow East Shore attendees. During the very moving Service of the Living Tradition, our own amanda alice uluhan crossed the stage after completing her Credentialing for Religious Education. It is a great accomplishment and we all are truly blessed to have amanda as our Director of Religious Education. The East Shore section of over a dozen strong including amanda’s family gave a hearty cheer, and East Shore alum Aisha Hauser, who was on stage as LREDA President, gave amanda an epic embrace. It was a sweet moment to be together with familiar folks to celebrate.
This was but a sample of the great spirit that we return from GA with and we look forward to an amazing year ahead.
VP of the Board of Trustees