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Okay, so GA isn’t a storm. But it is exhausting, so I’m catching my breath for a few minutes before the whole thing starts in earnest. So far we’ve had a lot of good preliminary programming here in Portland: Ministry Days, LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Assocation) programming, AUUA (Assocation of UU Administrators) programming, and UU University, which just keeps getting better and better. In about an hour the district in-gathering receptions will start, which is a great opportunity for folks from the various UU districts to find out who else is here from their neck of the woods, and (perhaps more importantly) find out who from their district is presenting workshops, preaching sermons, receiving awards, or being recognized. This year we have several people from Prairie Star being honored: Kerri Meyer from Unity Church-Unitarian has been named Youth Advisor of the Year; Dawn Cooley, director of Stonetree Congregational Resources, has won an award for a social justice sermon; and All Souls Unitarian in Kansas City, Missouri has been named a Breakthrough Congregation. I’ll give you a complete run down of presenters from Prairie Star later. But for now, a quick nap before the full force of GA hits. (Remember, you can catch much of what’s happening at the UUA website.)


I’ve uploaded a few new photos to my GA set on Flickr–mostly faces of Prairie Star folks I’ve run into. I’m also in the middle of two days of Pre-GA activities. Yesterday was a day-long meeting of the district staff. There’s more of us each time we meet, and always new faces: we were happy to be joined by Benette Sherman, the new program consultant for the newly consolidated district of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Benette served the UU Fellowship in Ames, Iowa as religious educator. Both Nancy Heege and I are sorry to see her leave the district, but we’re thrilled to have her as a colleague on the district staff. One of the highlights for me from yesterday’s meeting was the breakout groups on various topics of interest we generated at the meeting. I’ll share the list of topics to give you some idea of the kinds of things we discuss at these meetings:

  • National strategy for small church vitality.
  • New and emerging congregations.
  • Campus ministry at district level.
  • Services to large churches.
  • Technology/web/blogging.
  • UUMA conversations about negotiated resignations.
  • Integrating clergy leadership in district work.
  • Policy governance on the district level.

We also added “Sustainability” to our list of topics. I took part in that conversation, and I facilitated the discussion on Technology/web/blogging. A couple of good suggestions that grew out of those groups involved having specific questions for year-end self evaluation along the lines of, “What new technology did you start using in your job over the past year?” and “What changes have you made in the way you do you job to lessen the impact on the environment?”

And today was the first day of Ministry Days, the annual meeting of UU ministers for fellowship and continuing education. This year’s presenter was the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He made a terrific and inspiring presentation this morning, and he hardly mentioned Barack Obama.

Denny’s Parking Lot

Originally uploaded by psdlund

Just in case you thought that the photo I posted last night of the Convention Center in Portland was the view from my room, I thought I’d let you see the real thing. Yep, that’s the Denny’s parking lot there. And just a little beyond it is a Red Robin. Oh well, you can’t always get a room with a view.

On a happier note, I called home already. Julia tried to get Henry David to say a few words. He didn’t say much. But he did blow me an audible kiss AND he sang a pretty good rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” That makes being away from home just a little more bearable, eh?

Convention Center

Originally uploaded by psdlund

I just arrived in Portland, Oregon for the 46th Annual General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists. I flew non-stop out of Minneapolis/St. Paul on Northwest, which meant I had a good chance of seeing some other folks who were heading to Portland for the same reason. And I did: Lois Cole, the religious educator from Iowa city; and Gini Courter, the UUA moderator. Once I got to the airport, I ran into Eunice Benton and Tera Little, two of my district staff colleagues. We all rode the light rail together to our hotels (nice ride, I’m pretty sure the Minneapolis light rail is modeled after it). Tomorrow Eunice, Tera and I will join the other district staff members for a day-long meeting. After that, it’s Ministry Days, then GA itself. I’ll keep you posted!

By the way, I celebrated Fathers’ Day by making pancakes for Julia and Henry David this morning. I threw a few fresh blueberries into H.D.’s cakes. He took a bite and said, “Hmmm, pancakes good!” That’s about the best Fathers’ Day present a guy could ask for!

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