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The Compass, June 26, 2024 - News From General Assembly

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At All-Virtual GA, Unitarian Universalists Center Love and Pledge Bold Social and Climate Justice Action

More than 3,400 Unitarian Universalists came together to explore the faith’s underpinnings, take consequential votes, and be in community with one another.

ELAINE MCARDLE - 6/22/2024 - UUWorld

Unitarian Universalists in Rochester, New York, spent time with each other during the fully online UUA General Assembly. The annual multi-day event connected UUs from all around the world.

With love centered as a core value of the faith, more than 3,400 Unitarian Universalists from around the country and world gathered for an all-virtual Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly 2024, June 20–23.

The assembly’s theme, “Love Unites, Stories Ignite,” celebrated the profound impact of love as a binding force that transcends boundaries and divisions.

In that spirit, delegates decisively adopted a new statement of shared UU values ( passes-general-assembly-result-unitarian- universalism-bylaws-vote-values-statement) that places love at the center. With 80 percent of voting delegates choosing to adopt changes to Article II of the UUA bylaws, the new stated values of the faith are Equity, Generosity, Interdependence, Justice, Pluralism, and Transformation, centered around Love.

A two-thirds vote to change Article II was required under UUA bylaws; the new statement was approved by 80.2 percent of voting delegates (2,025 votes) to 19.8 percent (499 votes), with 21 delegates abstaining (0.8 percent).

The vote came after a multi-year process of discernment that involved thousands of UUs around the country, including a majority vote at GA 2023 to continue the process to a final vote at GA 2024.

Only one of four proposed amendments to the new statement of values passed, to amend the description of the shared value of Equity to read, “We declare that every person is inherently worthy and has the right to flourish with dignity, love, and compassion.”

Two proposed amendments to incorporate additional values—Peace and Reason, and the Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning—and a proposal for an alternative description of Equity, did not pass.

UUs Make Space for Difficult Conversations on Gender- Expansive Rights, Middle East

One of GA’s most powerful and moving moments came during a charged discussion of a proposed Business Resolution, “Embracing Transgender, Nonbinary, Intersex and Gender Diverse People is a Fundamental Expression of UU Religious Values.”

As the final speaker in favor of the resolution, the Rev. JeKaren Olaoya used her allotted 90 seconds to affirm repeatedly and emphatically to transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse people: “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Her heartfelt expression was quickly circulated widely online, as a way of reiterating the centrality of love as a core value of the faith.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly with a 91.8 percent vote in favor.

The tragedy of the ongoing war in the Middle East loomed large over the General Assembly, from the president’s report by UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, who expressed “the profound horror and loss of these latest rounds of violence in the Middle East,” to a Q&A with renowned Beacon Press author and Middle East expert Rashid Khalidi, whose latest book is The Hundred Years’ War on Palestinians.

An Action of Immediate Witness, “Solidarity with Palestinians,” passed with a 73.5 percent vote.

A Responsive Resolution, “UUA General Assembly Support for October 7 Hostages,” offered in response to the UUA President’s Report, called for the immediate release of all Hamas-held hostages and acknowledged “the real suffering of Jews within our Association and beyond.” It passed with 77 percent of votes in favor.

All-Virtual GA Connects UUs from Around the World

GA is the annual gathering of UUs, where, in addition to conducting official business of the UUA, they join in community, explore the faith’s theological underpinnings, and emphasize the Association’s mission, values, and principles. It is the largest gathering of UUs annually worldwide.

GA 2024 took place virtually, which increases accessibility and the number of UUs who can attend, promotes the core value of democracy by increasing attendance, and promotes environmental sustainability, since delegates aren’t required to travel and consume resources.

Many UU congregations across the country held “watch parties,” where they streamed the online GA together.

Next year, to continue to foster increased accessibility and enhance the democratic process, GA 2025 will be multiplatform, held both online and in person in Baltimore, Maryland.

In recognition that spending hours a day in front of a computer screen can be challenging, GA 2024 was a day shorter than usual, starting Thursday rather than Wednesday, and ending on Sunday.

For the second year in a row, GA 2024’s extensive programming of workshops and lectures were available on-demand starting a few weeks before GA and the full on-demand library (https://ga- will remain available to registrants through August 31.

GA 2024 had 2,757 credentialed delegates from 734 congregations in fifty states; Washington, D.C.; Canada; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Mexico, France, and the Philippines.

Almost 200 delegates queued up online to speak during the four-day event, and more than half of them ultimately got to address the Assembly, according to the UUA’s Business Team.

“This is the most votes we’ve seen in a single general session since we started using electronic ballots,” Larry Strit of, the UUA’s director of Information and Technology Services ( , said of Saturday’s business participation, which included final discussion of Article II, the AIWs, and the Responsive Resolution.

In a reflection of the UUA’s commitment to democracy and anti-oppressive work, this year’s GA implemented for the first time a technique during business sessions called “progressive stack,” to give marginalized groups a greater chance to speak. Tellers also prioritized voices that hadn’t already spoken.

Also new was a team of process observers whose role was to help ensure business discussions remained constructive and respectful.

Another innovation this year: daily cohort gatherings—groups of like-minded peers such as religious educators, lay leaders, and UUs interested in climate justice—who met to foster a supportive community and share common goals and interests.

In her President’s Report, Rev. Dr. Betancourt, who was elected UUA president at GA 2023 ( , acknowledged the challenges that many UU congregations face post-pandemic, including budget deficits, while noting that in the past year, 418 of the faith’s 1,000 congregations grew in membership, 278 congregations saw increases in religious education enrollment, and 341 congregations reported increases to non-member friends.

“Growth,” she said, “is not the only indicator of health and vitality. And this is a time to learn from congregations and communities that are successfully trying new approaches to worship, to faith formation, to organizing, to making our faith accessible and relevant to as many people as possible. We have the power to innovate in this liminal moment if we are able to be responsive and creative in meeting the most urgent needs of the moment.”

From the Ware Lecture to Service Awards: More General Assembly Highlights

In addition to “Solidarity with Palestinians,” delegates affirmed two other Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs): “World on Fire: Humanitarian Work and Climate Change” (95.6 percent of votes), and “Centering Love Amidst the Ongoing Impact of COVID-19” (86.1 percent).

AIWs are statements about a significant action, event, or development in the world that necessitates immediate engagement and action among UU congregations and affiliated groups.

Sunday worship, led by Rev. Dr. Molly Housh Gordon ( housh-gordon) , minister of the UU Church of Columbia ( , Missouri, and others, also centered love and interdependence.

“We live in a vast and shining web of organizing relationships, where we stay connected, where we prize our interdependence, where we turntoward each other, and yes we are heartbroken together, and there we find our power,” she said in her sermon, “Weaving our Lives.”

The annual Ware Lecture was given by Julia Watts Belser , a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, and a professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University and core faculty in its Disability Studies Program. Her latest book is Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole.

“Ableism hurts all of us,” she said, adding, “Disability politics can be a catalyst for radical cultural transformation.”

Rev. Dr. Betancourt presented the 2024 President’s Award for Volunteer Service to the UUA to the Pink Haven Coalition, a project of frontline trans organizers working with progressive faith groups and mutual aid networks to create a network to house and provide welcoming communities to those directly impacted by anti-trans legislation, including those needing to permanently relocate or travel to access gender-affirming care.

“Their work exemplifies the commitments Unitarian Universalism has made to manifesting our values in this life-saving work,” she said.

Jacqui C. Williams, a longtime UU who dedicated her life to combating racism as an educator, trainer, and community activist, and who died in 2023, posthumously received the 2024 Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism, the UUA’s highest honor.

Rev. Mykal O'Neal Slack , community minister for worship and spiritual care for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism ( , praised Williams as “an incredible Black woman elder who did marvelous and unconscionably hard work to help make our Unitarian Universalist faith better for more of us more of the time.”

In other business, delegates:

Approved a bylaw amendment to Section 7.13 allowing the Religious Education Credentialing Committee to increase the number of members of its committee, if needed, making the language consistent with that of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

Elected to the UUA Board of Trustees for three-year terms Emily Jaworski Koriath, John Simmonds, and Rev. Sam Trumbore.

Elected to the Commission on Appraisal for a one-year term Rachel A. Feltner.

Elected to the Nominating Committee for three-year terms cristy cardinal and Andreas Rivera Young.

Additional reporting from Kristen Cox Roby, Sonja Cohen, and Maryann Batlle.


Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and attends the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, New York. An award- winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.


The countdown to the end of the church year is on!

Pledge statements have been sent out via email. We currently have over $2000 in unpaid pledges, so please make sure your pledges are fulfilled by June 30.

Thank you for supporting the church, it's ministries, the minister & staff, and all the amazing things we do for our community.

You can make an online payment here:


Sermon for Epilogue Service by Tonianne Wong, June 23, 2024

Happy Epilogue service everyone! As the Summer Solstice drops by to mark this chapter of our Church’s history in the books, we’re so glad that you all could make it here to celebrate the Social Justice Committee’s first full year in operation. Like a sapling tree taking shape from its soil, witnessing this committee discover its own identity has been a journey like no other. Along our journey to address the systemic issues within our country, we’ve covered lots of deep, powerful, and even uncomfortable territory.  As both the SJC and as our Church in general, our efforts this year have been but a microcosm of the experiences that larger society faces in the struggle towards social justice: Not only full of victories, celebrations, connections, and all the little snippets of progress that continue to spark hope; but also a constant reminder that there is much work still left to do. So let’s take a minute to reflect on our successes and transformation this year, as well as set expectations on what is still to come. So join me as we partake in a stroll down memory lane, and then build the next lane into the future.

We began the year, not quite sure yet of who we are, nor how we would conduct ourselves. Our slate was relatively clean, with only one or two notable events under our belt since our inception in Spring of 2023. Back then, the original members were Izzy, Eileen, and myself (Toni), led by Ely, the founder of this group who got everything started. Though we lacked much experience as a whole, Ely did have a vision already in mind: To teach ourselves all that we could about institutionalized racism, in order to educate the Church about how to become anti-racist. This kicked off the regular, weekly Wednesday night meetings that still continue to this day. In those meetings, we got to know each other better, listened to each other's ideas, and created plans that eventually led to our first teach-in, as well as the Paula Cole Jones event that helped pass the 8th Principle. Those first few victories not only set the stage for what was to come, it showed that the SJC really did have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of the Church. 

As the winter holidays came and went, this committee underwent some major, unexpected changes that altered the scope of what it was meant to cover. At first, we were caught off guard by how sudden Ely decided to step down from his position as chair of the committee. I’ll admit that the first few weeks didn’t feel quite real, knowing that a keystone member was no longer showing up. When I was appointed to be the new chair, I honestly didn’t feel prepared at first to fill such big shoes. Despite the Impostor Syndrome, I knew that our cause for forwarding social justice was bigger than any one member. What matters most is that we continued to fight for our mission, all while fostering a group of people who could all step up to become role models of civil discourse and action. 

Our scope could no longer cover just one topic, nor only one person’s set of ideals. Social justice encompasses such a vast range of cultures and backgrounds, that our committee has to address them all. Soon, our services branched off from topics of racism, to other oppressed and marginalized groups. In the latter half of the year, the SJC had Kristin from the Women’s Center be a guest speaker for women’s struggles. We covered Asian and Pacific Islander Month with a dumpling party and service. We’ve hosted multiple Pride events, some even in collaboration with our sister church across the bridge in Fairhaven. Speaking of them, in February, our two churches finally met and talked with each other after years of silence. We’ve had even more guests like Lee Blake and Alison Noyce from TTAR. We’ve collaborated with Yasmin for her Justice League service with the kids. And with the help of our newest member David –who has been acting as our BID liaison– we are actively working towards gathering our New Bedford community in protecting our amazing city against the greedy clutches of the BID. Social justice takes on many different forms, so it’s only natural that our duties expand to match that demand. 

That leads us to the present day, not only to reflect on our accomplishments, but also to come up with ideas on what to do tomorrow. Recently, I learned about a writing technique used by author Earnest Hemingway, dubbed the Hemingway Bridge. Towards the end of a writing session, he would think about what story idea he’d write about next, and then call it a day. That open bridge functions as a launchpad for your next session. As June comes to a close, and this Church goes into hibernation for a while, let’s build one last bridge, allowing ourselves in the Fall to transition gracefully into another round of learning, building, and connecting with others. We have so many plans that we can’t wait to work on in depth this September. On the surface, we’re getting a more professional look with a Google Workspace account, business cards, a dedicated SJC e-mail, and a more robust catalog of our notes and resources. Our services are going to expand even more on their range of topics. We’re planning on talking about the homeless, Muslims, the disabled, Native Americans and indigenous people (not in November), mental illness, and the intersections between them all. We also have projects like building a solar-powered bench, creating videos for our Church’s YouTube channel, and once we smash the BID into pieces, we’ll continue to protect our city against any future schemes like the BID from tearing our community apart ever again. These projects are ambitious, so we need all your support to get them done. By working together, and daring to be bold –even if you don’t live to see the fruit it bears– the seeds we plant today will become a forest of prosperity for everyone in generations to come. 

In summary, this SJC has had a wild journey this year. From our humble beginnings, stumbling around to find our identity, to ironing out a solid foundation, from which we have become ready to tackle greater endeavors. Come Fall, we’ll announce these projects, and then we’re going to ask for your help. We’re going to need volunteers, extra hands, training sessions, and your unique voices, in order to achieve these goals. So take up each other in your arms, Church, because we have a beautiful world out there to enjoy; we just got to start building it.


Sunday Summer Spiritual Soirée Schedule

Thank you to the following individuals who are signed up to host in July. There are a few dates in August that are still available if you are interested. You don’t have to run a service, just make coffee and conversation. There will be a sign-up sheet in the Parish House.

July 7 Host: Ashley Correia, Tea Party

July 14 Host: Mari Fay-Martin, Mari's Baby Shower Coffee Hour

July 21 Host: Mary Rapoza, Garden Party (and work)

July 28 Host: David LaBrie, Soul Mattersa


See everything happening at UUNB on the website calendar!


Registration is not required for the following events.

Comming Soon! 5:30 AM Yoga Class & 6:30 AM Meditation, Monday - Friday, with Chris Swanson. $5 donation suggested for each class. 🧘🏻‍♀️🧘🏽🧘🏾‍♂️

More details coming soon!



Karen's last day in the office is June 27. If you need to reach her after July 1 the best way is by text message. She will be back in the office on September 3.

The office will be open on Tuesdays from 10 am to 1 pm during the summer.



If you are able to donate baked goods for the bake sale (we don't mind store bought) please have them at the church for 10 AM on June 30th.



If you are volunteering for the Jazz Service on Sunday and can make it to the volunteer meeting on Thursday, please do.


The Jazz Service is HERE!

Vendors 10 am - 3 PM

  • Crafts by Donna - crochet bags and purses, jewelry, and more

  • Anomaly Poetry - Custom, original poetry made-to-order, typed on a vintage typewriter

  • WeeHa Co. - Crochet stuffed animals

  • Green Cottageworks - Soy candles in found objects

  • Lisa Elliott - Handwoven apparel

  • Susan Gelotte - Woodblock prints

  • Cards by GG - Handmade greeting cards

  • Caribe Creations

  • NEW! New Bedford Pottery

  • NEW! League of Women Voters SouthCoast


  • New Bedford Basket: Silmo Coffee Syrup, stickers from New Bedford Barber Co., a framed print by Ryan McFee, 4 Guest Passes to the RJD Museum, T-Shirt from the NB Whaling Museum, The Ways by Everett Hoagland, and more!

  • Health & Wellness Basket: 5 FREE Yoga Classes, Yoga Journal, Lavender Tea, Stress Release items from Bath & Body Works, and more!

  • Foodie Basket:

  • Bird Basket: All things birds! Valued at $150

  • Breakfast for Two Basket

  • Italian Basket

  • Cat Basket: All things feline!

  • $50 Gift Certificate to Newport Restaurants

  • $100 Gift Certificate to the Wamsutta Club

  • Season Pass to Your Theater (valued at $250)

  • Two tickets to NBFT's summer production of Nunsense (valued at $80).

  • MORE!


Social Justice and Action!



Our Mission is to encourage diversity and mutual acceptance and work for positive change in ourselves and our community.

"We envision a congregation in which we practice the principles of our faith. We seek to enjoy peaceful reflection and inspiration in intellectually and spiritually satisfying church services. We aim to embrace the people and efforts of our church community by supporting our children and their programs, our committees and their goals, our staff and their efforts on our behalf, and each other."


Our Promises

  • Each person is important.

  • Be kind in all you do.

  • We help each other learn.

  • We search for what is true.

  • Each person has a say.

  • Work for a peaceful world.

  • The web of life’s the way.

  • Build the beloved community, free from racism and oppression.


First Unitarian Church in New Bedford

71 8th Street, New Bedford, MA 02740

(508) 994-9686

Administrator ext. 10

Minister ext. 13

Karen cell: (508) 441-9344

Thrift Shop ext. 12

Board Members & Officers

Steve Carmel, President

Charles Morgan, Vice President

Deborah Carmel, Treasurer

Cora Peirce, Clerk


Committee Chairs


The Thrift Shop is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

(508) 994-9686 ext.12

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