We Have a New President
At the recent 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans, the Unitarian Universalist Association elected as its ninth president the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, the first woman elected to lead our movement.
In electronic voting, 3,252 delegates (about 66% of those eligible) cast ballots. Susan received 40 percent of the vote in a first round which eliminated a third-place finisher. In the final round, Susan finished with 56 percent to second-place Rev. Jeanne Pupke’s 42 percent.
In her year-long campaign, Susan called the UUA “a voice for love and justice” and promoted a three-point vision of an association that is “spiritually vital, grounded in relationships, and organized for impact.”
What’s that mean? Being grounded in relationships means that, because of the limits of our social location, our work in the public square must rightfully be done in partnership with coalitions of others. Further, we must be organized for impact if we want to be more effective in influencing society by propagating our deepest values.
But spiritually vital? Surely some in our number will be rankled by such language.
Susan explains: “By vital, I mean we need congregations and ministries that invite people into greater connection across families, generations, and cultures to offer a path away from disconnection and division.” And on her website, she says we need “a vital spiritual voice that calls us toward our best selves – to articulate the power of love in the face of fear, the importance of compassion, reverence and interconnection when it comes to how we must live into the global realities of the 21st century.”
Just because she was elected president, the world did not stop. The evening previous to her installation as president, two employees of the UUA were attacked in the French Quarter. Overnight, Susan and others had gone to the hospital where one of the men lay in critical condition.
Later, after the four attackers were arrested, a group of UUs were in the courtroom as the young men were brought before a judge. “We wanted to show up for restorative justice and to advocate for a reasonable bond for all four,” one UU said. “We don’t want these young men thrown away.” Susan herself put out a press release calling for reasonable bail for the young men. Nonetheless, prosecutors and the judge agreed on a high bail for all four defendants.
Sounds like Susan is all about working for social justice in cooperation with others while remaining grounded in an inner life filled with compassion. Could the fact that Susan was named by her mother after Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton have anything to do with it?
See you in church,