Joseph Lyons-Santos recalls the 1993 General Assembly and supports a move to biennial GAs.
That was my first General Assembly; I was 23, and receive a small stipend to cover most or all of my costs. To tell you the truth, if it hadn’t been for that GA, I’d probably be foursquare in the UCC today. I met real live Christians there — I had been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship for two or three years by that point — some of whom are still friends. (Now that I think of it: the very cheap student membership helped there too.)
But that was a difficult meeting. It was in Charlotte, which then was a redeveloped commercial core with few amenities, and no food options over the weekend. It was worse than Rochester. Hotel food — what little there was for the two thousand or so attendees — was out of reach; I lived on vending machine Coca-Cola and bits of “meet and greet” fruit and cheese for three days. (God help me now if I tried that.)
Yes: we need biennial meetings, though I don’t think there’ll be that much saving in UUA staff costs because the engine for planning GA can never stop. (We have a biennial convention at Day Job and are facing some of these issues.) Also, I suspect other organizations and the ministerial college will fill the gap by having an event in the off years. The UUCF’s Revival series comes to mind, which is also in Fort Worth later this year. The fellowship piece at GA is too strong; indeed, that alone will kill any prospect for reform.
That’s why I want to go this year, even though I have no business reason to go.