Having had the privilege to attend over ten General Assemblies, I like to think I’m getting the hang of it. Here are some tips and resources to help you get the most out of your General Assembly experiences.
UU World will provide timely reports and articles on their GA Blog, illustrated by some striking selections from their Photostream on Flickr. Follow UUWorld on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news during major GA events. General Assembly also has an official Twitter hashtag: #UUAGA.
I recommend downloading the GA Mobile Ap. And for those of you staying at home who would like to participate virtually, there are events being live-streamed. Some congregations organize GA viewing parties complete with popcorn.
Stefan Jonasson and I will be holding “office hours” at the Congregational Life booth in the Exhibition Hall. Sign up for a time slot at the booth. I will be especially delighted to have a “Sweet Spot” consultation with you or help you create your own Innovative Learning Circle.
- Pack comfortable shoes, ear-plugs, and a re-usable water bottle. Bring a bag or backpack with room for snacks to keep you going. I’m always surprised with how packed the schedule is. Stay physically fueled and try to get good sleep. Do pay close attention to self care!
- Attend your regional ingathering Wednesday evening to connect with people from your area. Find congregations that are similar in size, and make a list. At the General Assembly, seek out people from those congregations who are in similar leadership roles as you and compare notes. What is working well? What are challenges? What are possible solutions? Swap contact information and keep in touch.
- If you are going with members of your congregation arrange regular meetings (breakfasts?) to debrief the experience and start plotting collaboration and support once we’re back home.
- Be extra-friendly to the folks working the General Assembly – they are all volunteers and our UU siblings.
- Sing out at the Opening Worship and let the rush of celebrating with thousands of Unitarian Universalists from all over our continent sink into your bones. Let our collective energy feed your spirit. After each worship service ask what you liked best and how you can bring that nugget home to your own worship.
- Seek out district board members and your Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations trustee and tell them what your greatest hopes are for our religion and your congregation. Our boards set the vision for our collective ministry with long range dreaming. Tell them what your priorities are.
- Seek out UUA staff with your questions. Tell us your joys and challenges of building a vibrant, thriving religious community. During Plenary staff sit in a block to the front-left when facing the stage. Feel free to find us there!
- Go to a workshop that speaks to a need in your congregation. Before you leave General Assembly, create a plan for how you will apply what you learned back in your home congregation.
- Go to a workshop that speaks to a personal passion or interest. Before you leave General Assembly, create a plan for how you will apply what you’ve learned back in your home congregation and/or your personal life.
- Keep some extra room in your suitcase for the wonderful Unitarian Universalist clothing and jewelry available in the Exhibition Hall. Everyone should have at least one piece of UU jewelry to wear.
- Keep the energy going! When you return to your congregation, schedule some coffee time with key folks to share what you learned. Give them copies of the hand-outs and your notes. Write an article for your congregation’s newsletter. Make yourself available at coffee hour for people who are interested. Seek out the next group of leaders who should go to General Assembly 2014 to represent your congregation and bring back inspiration, perspective, connections, and ideas to help your religious community be all that it can be.
Tandi Rogers’s favorite part of General Assembly is putting faces and names together of all the congregational leaders she follows throughout the year. She hopes people will run up to her to share good news from their part of world.
Great tips, Tandi. You’ve covered all the bases. Sleep, however, is a premium with so much to experience. I advise folks to skip a workshop or two and get a power nap back at the hotel.