Are clergy votes at UUA General Assembly a class-privilege “extra”?
On the facebook group “UUs for Class Awareness“(Working group for examining classism -within- Unitarian Universalism) page the other day ( i wrote: “UUism … promotes the clergy/laity class system … that [includes] collective Christian privilege … in extra votes at General Assembly”. One person replied: “clergy do not get extra votes at GA.”
Let’s look at the evidence. The UUA holds an annual “General Assembly” of congregational representatives called “delegates”. The number of each congregation‘s delegates is determined proportionally, starting at 2 delegates for the first 1-100 congregational members, increasing by 1 delegate per every additional 50 members. There is no rule that precludes clergy from being a congregational representative. That’s the regular congregational representation/delegate system of the UU Association of Congregations found in the UUA Bylaws IV General Assembly § 4.8 Delegates. a. Member Delegates.
The ‘extra’ is covered in the same section, part b: “Additional Delegates – The following religious professionals serving/affiliated with certified congregations may also be delegates”
Minister Delegates and Religious Education Director Delegates. Each certified member congregation is also entitled to be represented at each General Assembly by the ordained minister or ministers in ministerial fellowship with the Association settled in such congregation, and by the director or directors of religious education having achieved Credentialed Religious Education – Master Level status by the Association and employed in such congregation. – UUA Bylaws IV General Assembly § 4.8 Delegates. b.
The term i use, ‘extra’, is a valid synonym for ‘Additional’, the term the UUA uses.
Congregations have always had the choice of sending any of their member staff to General Assembly as delegates. But the UUA, as the AUA & UCA before it, has always incorporated clergy class privilege as voting delegates at GA in addition to/apart from regular congregational “lay” representation.
Attention is called to the fact that in the U.C.A. all ordained ministers have the voting privilege, whether settled, retired, in other positions, or currently without a church or a position, while in the A.U.A. only ministers settled in churches can be members.
– An Information Manual for the use of Unitarian and Universalist Churches, Societies and Fellowships in Considering The Question of Merger or Alternatives To Merger, Prepared Under the Auspices of the Joint Commission on Merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America, Massachusetts 1958, chapter VI, National Organization of the Two Denominations
In an association of independent organizations, it is logical for organizations to elect their voting representatives to annual national gatherings. It is equally reasonable for the association to qualify additional voting delegates through some other process. But if the election of representatives is regular, the addition of other voting representatives is irregular and should be explained. In the case of the UUA, the addition of clergy voting privilege is explained by historical precedent (ie, grandfathered in from the American Unitarian Association and Universalist Church of America that merged in 1961).
Clergy are “additional” to proportional congregational (“lay”) representation, hence “extra”.