8:59 p.m. The opening service is over. Now it’s the GA equivalent of social hour — time to look for people whom we haven’t seen for a long time.
8:51 p.m. “We look forward to being a part of a vibrant and vital Unitarian Universalism fifty years from now,” the children say. Listening to, and watching, the children and youth speaking to us it occurs to me that while they might be around for the one hundredth anniversary of the UU, I most certainly won’t be there.
8:48 p.m. Anthem is going on. I’m looking around at people here in the hall. I see a couple of babies, and one boy that looks to be about 8. Now the anthem is over, and a group of children, youth, and young adults are speaking. “As children we are the youngest members of our communities,” say two children. “We are often the reason why our parents seek a Unitarian Universalist congregation in the first place.” And their words are greeted by applause and laughter — for after all, it’s very true.
8:41 p.m. Peter Morales is offering a prayer first in English, then in Spanish. No captions for the Spanish version — guess the people doing the captions don’t know Spanish. Huh.
8:38 p.m. We just sang a new hymn by Thomas Mikelson, commissioned for this occasion, with tune by Thomas Benjamin. It grew on me as we sang it. Not bad at all — might even be a fun one to sing on a regular basis.
8:30 p.m. We got to sing “As Tranquil Streams,” a hymn written for the consolidation of Unitarians and Unviersalists — in a singable key for those of us with lower voices! — what fun! And how fun it is to sing with thousands of other Unitarian Universalists.
8:24 p.m. Former UUA presidents John Buehrens, William Schulz, and William Sinkford are giving interesting historical tidbits about the accomplishments of the UUA. Interfaith outreach — publishing the Pentagon Papers — the Women and Religion movement — comprehensive sexuality education — early affirmation of equal marriage rights….
8:12 p.m. Denny Davidoff and Leon Spencer are giving us a little capsule history of how long it has taken us to address racism within the UUA. It’s embarrassing how long it has taken us. Sigh.
8:00 p.m. Long introductions of youth caucus, young adult caucus, and right relations team. I have to admit that I’m kind of spacing out on the announcements — just as I do on Sunday morning — oops, did they just say something important? Gini Courter declares an end to the first plenary session, and it’s time for the evening’s worship service.
7:48 p.m. Moderator Gini Courter is explaining “Adoption of Rules of Procedure for the Assembly.” As usual, she is being firm but funny. To give you an idea of how far away she is from where we’re sitting, below is a photo of the hall. Beyond the sea of people, you can see her image projected up on two big screens, and at far right of the photo you can see a little blurry white person-shaped thing — that is Gini Courter.
7:37 p.m. Gini Courter, moderator of the UUA, called this GA to order at 7:35. The words for the chalice lighting were read by a retired minister, an active minister, and a youth leader. Passing down through the generations — yeah, I know it’s corny, but I got kinda weepy to see that.
7:33 p.m. The banner parade is finally just leaving the hall. It was the longest and best banner parade in some years — more congregations participating, and brighter, better designed banners. The last banner going out was one commemorating the 50th anniversary of the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. Looks like there are lots of congregations sending people to GA for the 50th anniversary celebrations.
7:25 p.m. The banner parade is still going on. Roy pointed out a banner from the Phillippines Universalists. Prettiest banner yet (in my opinion) is from Billings, Montana: beautiful image of a Western landscape. Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts — then finally a banner from a northern California congregation
7:14 p.m.: The banner parade is in process — here’s a view across the sea of people here in the Charlotte Convention Center: