Sunday Morning at GA

The Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship has been negotiating to bring Kathleen Norris to General Assembly in Portland next June. And they have made that agreement and gotten GA Planning Committee co-sponsorship for the event. But along the way, the Planning Committee revealed that the Sunday morning worship service was being moved to later in the day and combined with the closing ceremony of General Assembly. Amidst our celebration of working this deal out about Kathleen Norris, this revelation almost slipped by unnoticed.

No Sunday Morning Worship at GA?

Sunday morning used to be set aside for the Service of the Living Tradition, at which ministerial transitions were honored and celebrated. Recently, the decision was made to move the Service of the Living Tradition to Friday night and reserve Sunday morning for a big UU seeker friendly service and make a strong effort to invite the hosting community to the service. I think that last summer was the first time that this was fully implemented, perhaps the second. And last year, Gail Geisenhainer a wonderful sermon in that service. I could see the logic and potential power of the decision.

But to move the Sunday morning worship to later in the day and combine it with closing ceremony? A closing ceremony is not necessarily a worship service. The closing ceremony is not when you invite guests. And an Association of Congregations, almost every one of which worships on Sunday morning, ought to worship on Sunday morning as well.


  1. I noticed that when I received word that the PC agreed to go with KN as one of the Featured Presentations.

    I don't know what's gotten into the PC's mind. (this even after working with them for over a year) It's bad enough that affiliates only get one program spot, but to get rid of the Sunday service seems to me to be the height of stupidity.

    Aren't we talking about growth in the association right now? Somebody better tell that to the PC, 'cuz it seems they don't know.

    (sorry about the rant LT, but this really got to me)

  2. jinnis4:54 PM

    Wow! Thanks for the post, LT. I'm much more interested in more worship, not less. I have attended few closing ceremonies, but the Sunday morning worship is a priority - for my own desire for worship and as part of inviting people to get to know us.

  3. I always like to ask the question: why do you think they have made or are considering making this change?

    What would its advantages be?

    Off the top of my head, based on why other churches do this, and I haven't been in contact with any PC members about this so I have no idea officially:

    1. Attract people who worship elsewhere on Sunday morning?
    2. Be more youth and young adult friendly?
    3. Encourage people to worship with the UU churches in the Portland area Sunday morning?
    4. Change a lackluster more secular closing celebration into a worship time as an addition to the GA program rather than a subtraction, hoping that the spiritual practices and hymn sing scheduled for that morning would be beefed up?
    5. Focus on GA as plenary business of the assocation and not as a "supra-church" worship service?

    Realize I am speculating here, and not endorsing, just like to take this move first....

  4. Of course, the last day of GA is always the least well-attended -- which helps to explain why the Actions of Immediate Witness and other tail-end business get so little serious attention. Holding the major worship service late on the last day guarantees that many GA-goers will already have headed to the airport, as many have been doing shortly after the Sunday morning service.

    On the other hand, perhaps they think it will inspire people to stick around to the end.

  5. What is the source of this information? I have looked at the GA Planning page on the UUA website and don't see anything related to it. I have written my friend Judi McGavin, who is the chair of GA planning, but haven't yet heard back from her.

    What substantiated information do we actually have?

  6. Beth McGregor10:28 PM

    There will be a full Sunday Worship Service, complete with a sermon by Rev. Josh Pawalek and music by the 1st UU Portland choir. The difference is that it will be in the afternoon. We will end with closing worship instead of the usual closing ceremony. Sunday's schedule will include morning spiritual practices, a pre-plenary hymn sing, a plenary session, a GA choir concert, a workshop/featured presentation session, and the closing worship service. (Local folks can attend their own congregation's service in the morning and the GA one in the afternoon.)
    Closing worship will be the last event, 4-6 PM. In response to feedback from 06 attendees, we're trying to give people a chance to stay for all of GA and still get home to get to work Monday morning. We think that ending with a worship service actually elevates the importance of communal worship, not diminishes it.

    The decision to shift items in the Sunday schedule was just made a few days ago--we haven't had a chance to get meeting minutes or web page material up yet. More info will get sent out shortly.

    Beth McGregor
    GA Planning Committee

  7. Our UU Fellowship of Visalia ALWAYS meets on Sunday afternoon (5 PM), rather than Sunday morning. Although at first this originated due to our use of a rented meeting house where a Quaker meeting meets in the morning, now we feel that even if we had our own building and could choose otherwise, we would continue doing the Sunday evening worship services instead of the morning! Not only does it allow for more visitors who might still be attending other churches (we know that is true based on visitor comments) but it is a wonderful and inspiring way to end the weekend. It allows people to go away for the weekend, and still be abnle to attend church late Sunday afternoon. And what's more, we have a weekly potluck after every service which aids in building our community! I would encourage more congregations to try it! I applaud the GA for moving the service to Sunday afternoon!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Complicating the Great Reformation: Dialectical Theology (Part 11 of many)

the difference between "principles' and "virtues"

The 8th Principle

The Great Reformation (Dialectical Theology, Part 10 of many)

"What Time Is It? Questions from James Luther Adams to Unitarian Universalists of Today."