Here is both the transcript and the video portion. The original video is now back online, albeit without Question One.
Rev. Peter Morales gives his opening speech at the UUA Candidate forum, explaining why he is running for UUA president. The complete transcript of the June 28, 2008 debate with the other candidate, Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, will soon be available at http://uuapresidentialdebate2009.wordpress.com
Campaign website: moralesforuuapresident.org
Opening speech Rev. Peter Morales
I’m running for UUA president because I believe deeply that we are called to be something that’s a great deal more than what we are today.
We are called to be more than a tiny fringe, relatively elite, and sadly declining part of American religious life.
The need for liberal religion in our country right now is just enormous.
It’s needed at the personal level where hundreds of thousands of people are coming, are longing for authentic religious community, for depth in their lives, for a place where they can be joining with others to make a difference in the world, where they can have authentic relationships.
And we live in a society with forces of fear and ignorance and greed that lead to hatred and exploitation, marginalization and terrible destruction of the ability of our planet to sustain life. And yet, this need not be the case. We can change this. I am completely convinced that we can change this.
I want to talk about three major issues, and many of you have gotten my platform and I’m inviting you for much more detail to check the website on that. I just want to hit the high spots on three issues that interrelate to each other and that are absolutely vital to us.
The first one is growing our movement.
And I believe we need to reframe ‘growing our movement’. It’s not a nice thing to do, it’s not about numbers, it’s the moral equivalent of housing the homeless, and feeding the hungry because we’re talking about people who are spiritually hungry and religiously homeless.
And every thing that we want to do in the world, every good that we want to do in the world, depends on growing our movement to be a stronger force.
The second major area has to do with our tradition of public witness and social service and social justice work. And one of the things that I really want to honor Bill Sinkford for is to raise our visibility in the world. That has to be and ought to be the foundation for the next president. And if I’m the next president I’ll continue and expand that, I’m a former newspaper editor and publisher, I’m comfortable with speaking out. And we also have to make it a lot easier and partner with our local congregations to help them to be effective moral beacons in our community.
The third issue that fits in with that is just enormous: We must create a new ministry for a new America. Let me hit you with a couple of statistics that are just shocking. Americans that are 70 years and older: three quarters of them are white. Americans 10 years of age: one quarter are white, 3/4 are not white, are Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Pacific-Islander, African, and more.
In the next generation we are going to see a historic demographic sea change in America. On top of that we are going to lose half our ministry during the next presidency. Three out of eight of our ministers are 58 years of age or older. You throw in our regular normal churn that occurs: half of them are gonna been gone, and dispro–portionately those serving our mid-size and larger churches.
It’s a perfect storm – and a fabulous opportunity if we take it.
We need – and if I’m president I’ll immediately put together a task force of key people from seminaries, or ministerial associations, people of color – to develop a strategy for ministry for the next generation. Without it we’ll be in a terrible crisis.
The fundamental issue for us in this campaign – but it extends way beyond this campaign! – is whether or not we continue to drift and slowly decline, and add about one person per congregation per year, which does not keep up with the growth of the population – or whether we will seize an opportunity to make some changes, to make us a vital force in American religious life and in the lives of hundreds of thousands more people.
We can be, we really can be the religion for our time, and I ask for your support for becoming that. Thank you.
(Rev. Morales spoke without notes)