Memories of this year’s General Assembly Meetings

Sara Robertson reports on the provision for young people at the GA

Going to a church AGM doesn’t instinctively feel like an enjoyable thing to do with children. It has, however, become one of our family highlights of the year. This was our third GA and I know it will not be our last. Although not voting delegates, we weren’t stuck for things to do nor did we feel out of place.

There is a full creche/Youth Programme for children. Under 5s and 5-12 year olds have separate leaders, but do most activities together. The teenage section is more flexible, allowing for some self-guided activities, and time for relaxation and revision for those who have the pressure of imminent exams.

Before we even arrived, Fergus, aged four, was eager to catch up with his friends from previous years, insisting we headed there before our hotel room. He had a great time and was disappointed every time I arrived to pick him up.

The children are not tucked away out of sight though. Meals are taken as a whole group and they are welcome at any of the evening events. In general, people like to see children being a part of things. The children are also an integral part of the Anniversary Service on the final evening, acting out the story for all the attendees. This is rehearsed the day before and they get to wear costumes, one of Fergus’s favourite things. The teens were challenged to raise money for a charity of their choice. They split into two groups and made things to sell to the GA attendees. They raised over £300 in total for Dementia UK and Stand Up To Cancer.
All the business meetings were in the morning and, as not able to vote on any motions, I dipped in and out of these. I find the debates really interesting and like to know what’s going on, but they are not why I go to GA. After a late night chatting with an old or new friend, it is nice to have a relaxing morning.

The afternoon sessions were more seminar style, small group presentations. Some from societies, such as the Women’s Group or Psychical Society, others are from projects such as Simple Gifts or 2020 group. These are great to see what others are doing locally and to take ideas home from.

The most important aspect for us all is meeting Unitarians from other congregations. I get a great boost from feeling part of a national and international movement and have made friends from all over the country.