By Bob Gordon
The annual Assembly of the American Ethical Union concluded on Sunday, June 23. It was the best of the 15 or so I have attended. The business issues are always foremost and included a well-worded resolution on defending the right to vote, several by-laws changes (to reflect reality today vs what used to be reality), the budget, which showed a sub-account for Momentum, a PR firm we are using, but with no money allocated, because the intent is to find the resources in the next two months to keep Momentum on after September, and election of the Board of Directors.
The presidency has changed hands with an enthusiastic welcome to Sonya Kueppers (Washington) and heartfelt thanks to John McCormack (Philadelphia) as he leaves office, but stays on the board for one more year. Sharon Stanley (Long Island) became the secretary, Ken Novak (the Chicago circle) is vice president, and Tom Castelnuovo (Brooklyn) is treasurer. I remain as member without portfolio, as do Liz Singer (NYSEC) and two newcomers: Liz Collier of the Riverdale-Yonkers Society and Casey Gardonio-Foat from St. Louis.Bart Worden continues as executive director.
Other reps who vote on the board are L. Miller, AEU administrator (also representing FES), and two members of the National Leadership Council, Randy Best and Hugh Taft-Morales, plus alternative council rep, Anne Klaeysen.
The Board has set an ambitious series of meetings this year, including more than were held last year, and its annual retreat will happen in September, running three days. Any Ethical Culture member may attend a board meeting.
Of course, there were workshops and awards ceremonies. The Felix Adler Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ed Ericson, leader emeritus, who recounted some of his history in the movement. Anna Garlin Spencer presentations were awarded to several people, as well as our own Peter Kelley, who died last October. Joe Chuman provided the comments.
A featured guest was openly gay Carlos Guillermo Smith, of the Florida House of Representatives, who succeeded in his election from a very blue constituency. Florida just might be in play for the next national election.
The Elliott-Black Award was conferred on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The school was represented by two students, two parents, and one faculty member. The emphasis in their articulate remarks was on the “system” and its failures, especially regarding the gunman, and how protections are needed. We also heard how the students are coping (remarkably well). It was a moving address as emotions overcame some. The entire talk is available at:
One last piece of good news: there was a contingent from the new circle formed in Albuquerque after last year’s Assembly in that city, and 10 people who may just be the founders of a new Tampa circle, if they follow through. This may be the most exciting news of all as it verifies the worth of having Assemblies in “new markets.”
Bob Gordon is a member of the AEU Board of Directors, vice president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County and our Society’s liaison to the AEU.