Wednesday, 14 April 2010

My GA UK experience

At the weekend, I went to the Unitarian General Assembly event. It was a great opportunity to see old friends and make new ones, and find out more about other Unitarians and their spirituality. There were a number of business meetings with votes on various issues (none particularly ground-breaking this year, though they were important, and there have been some very important motions in the past). The sense of participating in the democratic process of the Unitarian movement is quite important to me - it means that there is a mechanism for change.

There was the opening ceremony (I am afraid the drumming in the opening ceremony was too loud for me, but I appreciated its energy); and the Anniversary Service, which was excellent and I experienced a genuine sense of the divine in it.

I also attended some of the fringe meetings. The Unitarian Earth Spirit Network meeting had Prudence Jones as its guest speaker (an excellent choice). Perhaps ironically, I see her Enlightenment-inspired version of Paganism as being much closer to Unitarianism than to the views expressed by most Pagans these days. But then that's why I am a Unitarian, because I agree with most of her views.

I also attended the Unitarian Christian Association session, which was holding a launch of a new book by David Doel, entitled The Man they called the Christ, which embraces the mythological view of Jesus, which regards the whole story as mythology along the lines of other dying-and-resurrecting Middle Eastern vegetation gods. This does not make the story any less valid; it just sets it in the context of other similar mythology and allows us to experience it as the death of the ego and the resurrection of the larger self as we turn towards the Divine in the experience of metanoia.

Another really great session was the Labyrinth Walk. The labyrinth is a metaphor for life's journey; it twists and turns towards the centre, but you never know how close you are to the centre until you get there. You meet people on the way, and pass people, but each journey is an unique experience, even though we're all travelling on the same path. This is the second time I have walked this labyrinth, which is based on the Chartres Labyrinth.

The Nottingham University campus, where the event was held, is lovely - lots of water and modern wooden buildings, and a very tame heron. The food was quite nice, the rooms comfortable, and the staff were very friendly and helpful.

It was fantastic to see old friends and make new ones, and I look forward to more of the same.


Rev. Andy said...

Thanks for highlighting the positives of the event. It is too easy for me to focus on the many aspects that really grated...

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Yewtree said...


I think the secret was to attend the fringe meetings as well as the business meetings. I also went to the Q&A with Derek & Alex, which was interesting too.

I'm going to write another blogpost - maybe a sermon - about the Enlightenment, cos that's a huge issue. I guess you'll have seen Stephen's GA post?

Andrew Bethune said...

It was my first GA, but I came away feeling very positive about the Unitarian movement. Maybe it was just being in the presence of several hundred other Unitarians. But more than that, the chance to take part in such a variety of activities and listen to so many different voices. I think we should expand the 'fringe' meetings, and especially to have more creative and experimental events.

Yewtree said...

Hi Andrew - thanks for commenting - yes, good idea about expanding the fringe meetings, and maybe also have sessions where people can try out different ritual/liturgical styles to take away.