Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


GA Reflection on Inclusion and the First Principle

Author Nadine Sapirman, Written Jul 1, 2014

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We, as Unitarian Universalists, affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  A simple statement that is sometimes not so easy to put into practice.

At General Assembly, one has the feeling that everyone is accepted for who they are, and whatever they bring to the table.  Here are some examples:

*Electric scooters were available for those with mobility challenges.  Persons with vision, hearing, mobility impairment or other special needs could seek out assistance at the Accessibility table.
*There were gender neutral restrooms so people who are transgender or gender non-conforming can feel comfortable.
*Daily recovery meetings were provided by the UUA Addictions Ministry.
*Youth and young adults were called out prominently, and their input was welcomed in workshops and business meetings.  Some youth and young adults ran workshops.
*In the arena, people with chemical sensitivities could sit in a “fragrance-free” section.

I was at a workshop led primarily by youth UUs about youth and social justice.  Each person on the 8-person panel introduced themselves and stated whether they use “he/him” or “she/her” pronouns.  I was blown away by that small action to show respect for people’s gender identity.

To top it off, we were greeted daily by the Right Relationship Team, a group of ten or so UUs who were able to help hear people’s concerns and, through discussion, bring parties back into right relationship with one another.  They wore bright orange t-shirts so they could be easily identified.  Attendees were reminded to check their assumptions at the door.

Being at GA made me wish that the whole world could be so considerate of one another.  My awareness was raised about a number of issues that I had not given much thought to previously.  If all the attendees at General Assembly bring those observances back to their home congregations (and schools and workplaces and community), the practices of respect and acceptance will spread.  One more way to put our faith into action!

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