Convocation VII (1989)

Convocation VII

Minutes of the Plenary Session

Convocation VII
The Convocation of Christian Churches
Within the UUA
October 14, 1989
at the First Parish Church,
Weston, Massachusetts

The meeting was called to order in the Sanctuary at 1:05 p.m. by the Clerk, the Reverend Mrs. Andrea L. Anastos, of Deerfield; Mr. Tare Newbury, of the host church, was unanimously elected Moderator of Convocation by voice vote (1) following his seconded nomination by the Reverend Mr. Kenneth A. Clarke of Wilton Center, N.H. The Moderator asked the delegates to review the Recommended Rules of Procedure for Convocation VII enclosed in their registration packets, and entertained an seconded motion by the Rev. Mr. W. Scott Axford of Walpole, N.H. that these Rules be adopted; this passed unanimously.

The Registrar, Mr. Lawrence Coburn of the host church, reported a total attendance of 73, comprising 28 churches and four organizations. Following the appointment of Mr. Axford as Recording Secretary of Convocation VII with the assent of those present by the Reverend Dr. Harry H. Hoehler of the host church (on behalf of the Planning Committee), the Clerk asked the delegates to review the minutes of the Convocation VI Business Meeting (25 April 1987 in Lincoln) included in their packets, and, there being no proposed changes, it was moved, seconded, and voted to approve said minutes.

The Convocation unanimously elected the Reverend Mr. George C. Anastos of Deerfield as Clerk and Mr. G. West Saltonstall of Chestnut Hill as Treasurer, each following seconded nominations by the Dean, with terms beginning at the adjournment today and extending till the end of Convocation VIII.

Old Business

It was moved, seconded and unanimously voted to approve Reports presented from our participant in the Massachusetts Commission on Christian Unity and the Consultation on Common Texts, the Reverent Mr. Joseph A. Bassett of Chestnut Hill.

New Business

Mr. Clarke moved and spoke for the first of the three New Business Motions, with a second by the Rev. Dr. Carl R. S covel of King’s Chapel, Boston. (The text of each such motion was before the delegates in their registration materials) Text of first moved:

Moved that the Council of Christian Churches within the Unitarian Universalist Association become an ongoing council operating between convocations by establishing a Coordinating Committee appointed by the Clerk, Treasurer and the Dean of this convocation. It shall be the function of this Committee to oversee the business and programs of the Council until the next convocation and report its work at the next convocation.


Mr. Robert Doane of Marlborough-Hudson, while supporting the motion, expressed a caution that adoption of a fully wrought structure would be inappropriate without a prior announcement to the participating churches. The Rev. Mr. Duke T. Gray of Malden spoke strongly for the motion, noting it may be if anything too temperate, and observed that the morning’s discussion showed the need for a solidified structure of Christian churches and for such a structure to be ongoing.

The Treasurer pointed to the change between current format of Convocations which cease to exist between gatherings, and the proposed ongoing Council of Churches, calling this change both dramatic and wanted. Miss Elizabeth Curtiss, M. Div. III at Harvard, of the Universalist National Memorial Church, D.C., supported the motion while seeking materials to take back to her church which would help convey the substance of the day’s discussions, and of the work of prior Convocations. The Moderator mentioned the documents and minutes available and offered assistance with them. Mr. Bassett called the question, seconded by Mr. Gray, and it was voted to call it. The motion was then voted as rendered.

The Rev. Dr. Judith Hoehler of the host church moved and spoke for the second motion, seconded by Dr. Scovel.

Moved that the Coordinating Committee of the Council establish a subcommittee to work with the UUA Department of Ministry and others to formulate a supplemental settlement program which will be helpful to Christian churches seeking ministers. The sub-committee will report on its work at the next convocation.

Mr. Bassett rose to support the motion, but, citing his eight years as Ministerial Settlement Representative for the Massachusetts Bay District, warned of the need to be careful how this motion would be seen, and that the Council not be short circuiting the UUA Settlement Process. Reminding the delegates of the Beacon Street Settlement officers’ willingness to work with the Christian churches, he noted the past workshops given under Convocation auspices by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Higgins of Malden and the Rev. John Nichols of Wellesley Hills (this last at Convocation VI in Lincoln) which were poorly attended by the UU Christians. Mr. Bassett advised of the importance of Christian churches working within the structure between settlements — i.e., before a crisis hits. Dr. Judith Hoehler agreed with this, as well as the previously-articulated concerns of morning panelist Mr. G. West Saltonstall, of Chestnut Hill about Christian churches being able to secure Christian clerical leadership in the future; she added that the motion did not see the settlement process as adversarial with the Beacon Street staff.

    The motion was then voted as rendered.

The Treasurer moved, and the Clerk seconded the third motion:

Moved that the Coordinating Committee of the Council establish a subcommittee to work with the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship in developing an “in care” program for UU Christian seminarians and to report on its work at the next convocation.

The Dean responded to a lay question about what “in care” means, explaining that the Council and UUCF would keep in touch with UU Seminarians identifying themselves as Christian, personally through mentors and through quarterly meetings. Miss Curtiss voiced her concern that UU Christianity have a profile in the seminaries among more than just UU Christians.

    The motion was then voted as rendered.

Other New Business

Mr. Gray commented that, given the morning Panel’s focus on resources for Christians, the Council ought to consider fieldwork, reaching out to potentially Christian LTU churches who did not send delegates to the Convocation, possibly through confusion, misinformation, or ambivalence about the nature of its work and meaning of “Christian Church.” Asked by the Moderator to respond, Mr. Clarke explained that the first mofi on (above) would allow for such an undertaking.

The Dean, speaking for the Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Wintle of Lancaster, moved that the Council have a semi-annual newsletter, observing that the Council needs to be in communication with its churches and others, providing information on our available resources, and disseminating word of our meetings. Mr. Allan Shaw of

Concord seconded the motion. Miss Curtiss asked who would do it, and the Dean responded that he thinks the Council has the money and that Dr. Wintle would do the work. This the delegates heard gladly. The Rev. Mr. James E. Chase of Charlton asked who would receive such a newsletter, and the Dean said they’d use the current Convocation mailing list, (containing those churches who’ve had attendees in the past, plus those who might be inclined to come, plus the Federated Churches), which allows for some outreach. The motion was then voted.

Dr. Judith Hoehler moved that the Council contribute when feasible what it can, up to $100.00, to the Consultation on Common Texts, in the name of the Council of Christian Churches within the UUA. Following Mr. Gray’s second, she conceded it to be a minimal amount, but, underlining Mr. Bassett’s CCT report, it would show the importance the Council gives that dialogue. The Treasurer explained some difficulties of establishing an account without a tax ID#, and that the Council has no funds as of the Malden Convocation (they having been spent legitimately) – but expressed confidence a procedure could be worked out. The motion was then voted.

There being no other new business, the Dean announced an invitation from the First Church in Westwood to host Convocation VIII, on Saturday 28 April, 1990. Mr. Clarke rose to express a general thanks to the Weston Church for hosting today’s meeting, observing that they had also done so for the first Convocation earlier in the decade.

Following Dr. Scovel’s motion, and a second by Mr. Peter La Sonde, M. Div. II at Harvard, of Lancaster, to adjourn, it was so voted, and Convocation VII adjourned at 1:40 p.m.

(1) All subsequent votes were unanimous and by voice.

    A true record.

    Faithfully Submitted,

The Rev. Mr. W. Scott Axford, Recording Secretary for Convocation VII.

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