General Assembly (Unitarian Universalist Association)

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General Assembly
Date(s)June 24, 2020 (2020-06-24) to June 28, 2020 (2020-06-28)
Location(s)Virtual due to COVID-19 (2020)
Organised byUnitarian Universalist Association

General Assembly (GA) is an annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is held in June, in a different city in the United States every year. The last GA held outside the United States was in Quebec in 2002, after which congregations belonging to the Canadian Unitarian Council separated from the UUA. Member congregations (and three associate member organizations) send delegates and conventioneers to participate in the plenary sessions, workshops, regional gatherings, public witness events, and worship services. In recent years, attendance at each General Assembly has reached over 5,500.


The General Assembly opens with a parade of banners borne by members of and representing member churches and associated organizations. General Sessions of General Assembly consist of discussing and voting on Study Action Issues and Statements of Conscience; elections for Board of Trustees, officer and committee positions; and reports from the President, Moderator and other leaders of the UUA. A Synergy Bridging ceremony is held to congratulate graduates of individual churches' Religious Education programs.

In addition, the event is keynoted by the Ware Lectures, which are offered by individuals selected by the President in consultation with the General Assembly Planning Committee; they have been held since 1922 by the preceding American Unitarian Association in honor of Harriet E. Ware, who bequeathed $5,000 to the AUA. Previous Ware Lecturers have included Reverends Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, author Kurt Vonnegut and Sister Simone Campbell. The most recent Ware Lecturer was Ibram X. Kendi.

Since a 2011 trial run, the General Assembly has allowed for remote online participation for congregations who are not able to send delegates in person. In 2020, due to COVID-19, all in-person programming initially scheduled to take place in Providence, Rhode Island were cancelled and moved to an online and remote format, resulting in the third-largest number of delegates in attendance behind the 2003 and 2007 General Assemblies. The 2021 iteration, initially pre-scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was also moved to a virtual format. The 2022 General Assembly was held in a multi-platform format, with programming and participation in events occurring both in-person in Portland, Oregon and online.

Social Justice and Witness statements[edit]

Delegates of the General Assembly often passes a number of statements and guidances for social justice issues. Statements vary upon the description of weight for each statement:

  • Statement of Conscience (SoC): An SoC is a statement which has been ratified by the General Assembly after three years of study and reflection (during which it remains in the stage of a Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI), with a fourth year dedicated to implementation. SoCs hold the weight of endorsement from the UUA at large.
  • Action of Immediate Witness (AIW): An AIW is a statement which only holds the weight of endorsement by delegates for a single GA iteration.


Actions taken at GA meetings have included the 1984 decision to approve religious blessing of same-sex marriages, making the UUA the first major church to have done so.[1]

At the 2007 General Assembly the Unitarian Universalist Association announced the new five year Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign entitled: "Now Is The Time: a Campaign to Grow Our Faith". The campaign funds will support programs that will encourage growth of Unitarian Universalism as a whole. These programs fall under the following categories: Growing Our Numbers, Growing Our Diversity, Growing Our Witness, Growing Our Leadership, and Growing Our Spirit.

Locations, themes and Ware Lecturers[edit]

Date Location Theme Ware Lecturer
May 23–28, 1962 Washington, DC "The Individual in a Mass Culture" Walter Kaufmann
May 13–19, 1963 Chicago, IL "The Free Church in a Changing World" F.S.C. Northrop
May 9–16, 1964 San Francisco, CA "The Greatest Experience..." Linus Pauling
May 22–29, 1965 Boston, MA "An Essential Past...An Unlimited Future" Harry D. Gideonse
May 16–22, 1966 Hollywood, Florida "Creative Use of Controversy" Martin Luther King Jr.
May 1–6, 1967 Denver, Colorado "Responding to a Revolutionary Age" Saul Alinsky
May 23–30, 1968 Cleveland, Ohio "Determining Our Priorities" Carl B. Stokes
Jul 11-20, 1969 Boston, Massachusetts "Encounter with Change" Martin E. Marty,
Bernard Delfgaauw,
R.J. Werblowsky
June 29-July 4, 1970 Seattle, Washington "Dynamics of Diversity" Rollo May
June 25–30, 1979 East Lansing, Michigan "A Time to Grow...To Everything There is a Season" Jesse Jackson
June 13–18, 1980 Albuquerque, New Mexico "Touching Our Heritage...Enriching Our Tomorrows" LaDonna Harris
June 12–18, 1981 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania "An Urban Experience" Vernon Jordan
June 21–26, 1982 Brunswick, Maine "Coming of Age" May Sarton
June 12–17, 1983 Vancouver, British Columbia "L'Assemblee Generale" Thomas R. Berger
June 25–30, 1984 Columbus, Ohio "Being Human in an Age of Technology" Helen Caldicott
June 17–22, 1985 Atlanta, Georgia "Like the Phoenix Rising" Shirley Chisholm
June 22–27, 1986 Rochester, New York "Take Up the Song" Kurt Vonnegut
June 22–27, 1987 Little Rock, Arkansas "Faith of the Free" Anthony Lewis
June 16–21, 1988 Palm Springs, California "Touch the Earth... Reach the Sky" Robert Coles
June 22–27, 1989 New Haven, Connecticut "Bend Toward Justice" Sissela Bok
June 21–26, 1990 Milwaukee, Wisconsin "Sound the Chorus of Faith" Schuyler Chapin
June 10–25, 1991 Hollywood, Florida "Speak to the Earth and It Shall Teach Thee" Elizabeth Dodson Gray
June 25–30, 1992 Calgary, Alberta "Building the Global Village" Mel Hurtig
June 24–29, 1993 Charlotte, North Carolina "Universalism: For Such a Time as This" Marian Wright Edelman
June 23–28, 1994 Fort Worth, Texas "Facing Our New Frontiers" Holland Hendrix
June 15–20, 1995 Spokane, Washington "Building Our Future Generation by Generation" Norman Lear
June 20–25, 1996 Indianapolis, Indiana "The Future is Now" Sylvia Ann Hewlett
June 19–24, 1997 Phoenix, Arizona "Building Interfaith Cooperation: Interfaith Action for a Just Community" Joan Brown Campbell
June 25–30, 1998 Rochester, New York "Fulfilling the Promise" Amitai Etzioni
June 24–28, 1999 Salt Lake City, Utah "Fulfilling the Promise: To Help One Another" Mary Pipher
June 22–26, 2000 Nashville, Tennessee "Fulfilling the Promise: Our Common Call" Morris Dees
June 21–25, 2001 Cleveland, Ohio "Fulfilling the Promise" James A. Forbes
June 20–24, 2002 Quebec City, Quebec N/A Stephen Lewis
June 26–30, 2003 Boston, Massachusetts N/A Julian Bond
June 24–27, 2004 Long Beach, California N/A Holly Near
June 23–27, 2005 Fort Worth, Texas "Ministering to Families in Today's World" Elaine Pagels
June 21–25, 2006 St. Louis, Missouri "Toward Right Relations" Mary Oliver
June 20–24, 2007 Portland, Oregon "Choices That Matter" Rashid Khalidi
June 25–29, 2008 Fort Lauderdale, Florida "Common Threads" Van Jones
June 24–28, 2009 Salt Lake City, Utah Melissa Harris-Lacewell
June 23–27, 2010 Minneapolis, Minnesota Winona LaDuke
June 22–26, 2011 Charlotte, North Carolina Karen Armstrong
June 20–24, 2012 Phoenix, Arizona "Justice GA" Maria Hinojosa
June 19–23, 2013 Louisville, Kentucky "From Promise to Commitment" Eboo Patel
June 25–29, 2014 Providence, Rhode Island Love Reaches Out Simone Campbell
June 24–28, 2015 Portland, Oregon Building a New Way Cornel West
June 22–26, 2016 Columbus, Ohio Heart Land: Where Faiths Connect Krista Tippett
June 21–25, 2017 New Orleans, Louisiana Resist and Rejoice Bryan Stevenson
June 20–24, 2018 Kansas City, Missouri All Are Called Brittany Packnett
June 19–23, 2019 Spokane, Washington The Power of We Richard Blanco
June 14–28, 2020 Virtual (COVID-19; initially scheduled for Providence, Rhode Island) Rooted, Inspired, & Ready! Naomi Klein
June 23–27, 2021 Virtual (COVID-19; initially scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin) Circle 'Round for Justice ● Healing ● Courage Stacey Abrams and Desmond Meade
June 22–26, 2022 Portland, Oregon and Virtual (multi-platform) Meet the Moment: Reimagining Radical Faith Community Ibram X. Kendi
June 21–25, 2023* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Virtual (multi-platform) TBD TBD

*Future General Assemblies[2]


  1. ^ "Unitarians Endorse Homosexual Marriages", UPI, New York Times, 29 June 1984, retrieved on 21 June 2007.
  2. ^ "General Assembly", UUA website

External links[edit]