…and another update from GA

June 27, 2014

It would be powerful just to be in a worship service with thousands of other UU’s. But the quality of worship at General Assembly is just off the charts. Our best preachers. Our most gifted musicians. Liturgies that somehow make us feel ‘as one’ with those thousands of UU’s. It really has to be experienced to be understood. Each service is a peak experience. I think, “it can’t possibly get any better than this.” But then the next service comes along, and I’m just as moved.

The worships at this GA seem to be building on one another thematically in a more coordinated fashion than I’ve seen in previous years, and so the effect is cumulative. Though all the services are livestreamed, they are, of course, on East Coast time, and so it’s probably a little early for most of you. But tonight’s “Service of the Living Tradition” will be at 4:30 PDT, and Sunday’s worship is a little later (11 East coast, 8 am PDT.) Here’s the link so that you can watch if you’d like: http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/index.shtml

One of the challenges of attending General Assembly is that there are so many different workshops and programs, you can’t possibly attend everything you are interested in. Each of the program slots has literally 20 different options. So you can imagine the odds against bumping into Peggy Jenkins, the one other UUCP member able to attend this assembly in Portland. But that’s exactly what happened!

We both chose to attend a workshop led by “AWAKE Ministries.” Sponsored by the Annapolis church, this is a cross-denominational ministry that worships in a really compelling way. First of all, they have a praise band. yes, you read that correctly…a UU praise band, made up entirely of incredibly gifted African-American musicians. They were AMAZING.

In between rockin’ songs, there was a talk show type interaction, where they pulled someone out of the audience, spun a wheel, and when it landed on “hope,” had a little conversation about what that volunteer knew about hope. It was pretty cool. There was also a time when a long row of ministers stood up and people were invited to go, take the hands of one of the ministers, and be prayed for. There were a lot of tears.

The service closed with “We Shall Overcome” and “Lean on Me.” It was uplifting and emotionally powerful, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was clear that some people had finally found what they are looking for. A young adult attendee commented, “Please, let this be part of the future of our faith!”

The Thursday evening service is the “Synergy” service. This is a bridging service for youth from across the nation. It seemed like about 100 of them were there. There was also a huge crowd of young adults welcoming them on the other side of the bridge. I had a vision of our congregation supporting next year’s bridging seniors in attending GA so that they can all participate. What do you think?

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