The First Responsive Resolution was in 1983: The Answer to Today’s Trivia Question

OK, time for the answer to today’s question.  Kim Hampton guessed that the first Responsive Resolution was in 1968, and that it related to black empowerment.  That’s a very good guess, though it doesn’t happen to be correct.  In 1968 there were two resolutions that related to issues of black empowerment, but neither was of the recently popular, far more streamlined Responsive Resolution type.  Rather, one was a Business Resolution and the other was a General Resolution.

In fact, the very first Responsive Resolution was passed at General Assembly in 1983; that is to say, it was not until twenty-two years after the creation of the UUA that this type of motion was exercised. It didn’t catch on very quickly: the next one wasn’t until 1996, then 2001. But starting in 2002 they suddenly began to spread like wildfire: there have been fourteen Responsive Resolutions issued in just the past six years, and more are expected at GA 2008. Thus while they were slower to get going, Responsive Resolutions have begun to outstrip Actions of Immediate Witness, and together they represent a dramatic sea change in the type of proclamations being issued by the GA today, compared to a generation ago.

That first Responsive Resolution back in 1983 was about “A Call to the Nation,” which involved social justice issues on the twentieth anniversary of the March on Washington, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Newer resolutions also sometimes deal with national political issues but they also have a noticeable tendency to refer to UUA-specific matters, perhaps in part because they are only allowed in response to official denominational reports.

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1 Comment

Filed under Liberal Religious History, Unitarian-Universalism

One response to “The First Responsive Resolution was in 1983: The Answer to Today’s Trivia Question

  1. I think that the reason the Responsive Resolutions are catching so much fire of late, is because there’s nothing else for the GA to do.

    The Study Action Issues and the Actions of Immediate Witness are primarily (or solely) Social Justice/Social Witness devices, and are thus externally directed, whereas many of the REsponsive Resolutions have been more internally focused, comments by the GA to our Congregations and related organisations about how we are in community with each other.

    There’s really nothing else the GA can do. Business resolutions might be preferable as we could then make changes to our organisation or hold the Board and Officers to them, but those require a much longer view before GA, and an understanding of How Things Are that many people don’t have until we have the discussions we have AT General Assembly itself.

    Maybe we’ll see a Responsive Resolution that directs the Board or some other entity to bring something to the next GA, in coming years.

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