Trustee Reports

Monthly reports and columns from the District’s UUA representative.

Trustee Report

Joan Lund
Boston, MA, April 17-21, 2013

Boston was experiencing a tragic and sad time while the UUA Board of Trustees met at 25 Beacon Street. There was a surreal aura about our time together as we watched the various law enforcement teams “manhunt” the grounds of the Massachusetts State House while all of Boston was on lockdown. When the security measures were lifted I was able to take a night walk around the Boston Common with a Board colleague. On Sunday evening I visited the memorial set up by Bostonians and friends near the finish line of Boston Marathon. Of note early during this meeting we welcomed Katie Rigdon, Youth Observer, to fill out the term of Katherine Allen who is a Trustee-at-Large.
What follows will be some of what went on at the pre-meeting and meeting (from my perspective) and other information. As always if you have questions/comments in general, please email/telephone me at jlund@uua.org or 813-931-9727. The April Board of Trustees Packet was posted before the meeting and can be found at www.uua.org through the BOT link. The UUA Governance Manual can be found at http://uua.org/aboutus/governance/policy/index.shtml.

As those of you who routinely read the Trustee Report following a UUA Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting already know, the actual BOT meetings are on the Saturday and Sunday time we spend together. This time our meeting was spread over several days and although we met for several hours on Sunday all of us attended Arlington Street UU Church (3 blocks from the bombings during the Boston Marathon, for worship. I returned to Tampa on Monday.

UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales
Pres. Morales had submitted two reports to the BOT before the meeting. These can be found on line in the April BOT packet. One titled UUA Strategic Plan, April, 2013 outlines the proposal for our new UUA headquarters in the context of implementing our UUA larger vision as expressed in the Ends. The strategies for realizing the Ends are: Engage the religious affections and aspirations of our people; unleash, guide and resource our people; develop leadership that is entrepreneurial, courageous and grounded; help our movement cross the borders of race, class, and culture; and be a national and international voice for compassion, peace, justice and equality. According to Rev. Morales we live in a period of rapid and unpredictable cultural upheaval. This means our UUA will have to do two critically important things both in the short term and over the next generation: Partner with our member congregations as they face cultural and demographic shifts now underway, and explore ways that UUism can expand beyond its base of traditional congregations.
In the next five years key initiatives are currently underway: The implementation of the recommendations that came from the Strategic Review of Professional Ministries; continued nurturing and support of increasing number of people of color who serve UU congregations; positioning our UUA as a key leader in progressive religion in the U.S.; nurturing new forms of congregational organization; continue to complete the process of regionalization of field staff; a focus on harnessing creativity and initiative throughout our movement; expansion of social justice and public witness efforts collaboratively; and the development and implementation of new models of stewardship and support for our Association.
In the next ten years and beyond it is not possible to predict what cultural shifts will affect UUism. Also it is hard to predict size and configuration of our Association. However two main strategic directions will continue: supporting member congregations and the exploration of new ways to engage persons who share our values. There will be major budget priorities driven by the Leadership Council strategy: continued direct service to congregations through field staff; preserved efforts to create communications strategy designed to reach beyond walls of current member congregations; implementation of Strategic Review of Professional Ministries; and the launch of a comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Membership in our UUA is flat in 2013. If data from the Philippines is excluded, the numbers show a decline of 181 members, or 0.1 percent.

Linkage with UUA member congregations
Detailed data regarding the linkage work completed over a period of time was included in the April Board packet. The Linkage Working Group recommended two types of staff support for the smaller UUA Board: a paid administrative staff person who sets up interviews and manages materials, and a volunteer skilled in sample selection, crafting surveys and interview guides, and analyzing results. The BOT received a memorandum from the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Carey McDonald. Guidelines have been developed to meet policies 2.14.10(a) and 2.14.10 for UUA staff interacting with youth and minors in multigenerational settings, and how youth lead. Thursday evening the BOT, under the direction of the Linkage Working Group, met to review the years of linkage and make recommendations for the work ahead for the smaller BOT. This includes a re-vision of our UUA Ends

Fifth Principle Task Force 2009 Report (5th PTF BG) and Related BOT Work
The BOT will not be submitting by-laws changes around GA, but rather continue what is a complex conversation. Saturday evening was devoted to work on, and as a result of the Administration’s response to a proposal to Staff submitted in March asking for ideas for making GA economically accessible. In the Staff response the history of, and current efforts to insure an economically accessible GA were documented. The Administration offered two ideas: Virtualization of GA, and GA scholarships.
Saturday afternoon of GA 2013 will be devoted to “How We Gather” and “How We Govern”. The 5th PTF BOT ad hoc group will be finalizing the plans for this time which will include questions for breakout groups and how this information will be used. Making GA equitable for delegates will continue as a goal for the BOT after this Trustee’s term ends in June.

Treasurer’s Report
Tim Brennan, UUA treasurer and CFO presented information which included a $279,000 projected shortfall in the FY 2013 budget. There has been decreased congregational revenue, fewer bequests, and decreased individual giving. This meant the UUA laid off the equivalent to10 full-time employees. There were not staff reductions in the districts or regions.

Additional Information
1) Two of the three mid-America districts (Prairie Star, Central Midwest and Heartland) have voted to become one regional entity, MidAmerica Region (since the Board meeting the third district in the region agreed to the merger).

2) The BOT was informed of the launch this summer of a $100 million comprehensive capital campaign over the next five to seven years.

3) The BOT proposed money be added to the FY 2014 budget to hire a consultant to work with the BOT and the Administration to insure connection between the Administration’s strategy (with the budget) and Association Ends. This came after an executive session without the Administration and a lengthy discussion about remediation reports and the fact that the UUA By-laws require the BOT to approve a budget and present it to GA each year.

4) The BOT approved a letter to the New Orleans congregations in the wake of the Trustees’ time with those congregations, January, 2012. The congregations were thanked for their hospitality, and there was acknowledgment of the pain and trauma resulting from the Katrina catastrophe. The BOT expressed regret over what happened as a result of UUA decisions that added to that pain. The plenary offering at GA 2013 will be collected for the Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists.

5) The 2013 Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism will be given to the Rev. Mel Hoover.

6) The April BOT meeting was the final Boston meeting for Executive vice-President, Kay Montgomery, who is retiring at the end of June. And it was the last BOT Boston-based meeting to be presided over by Moderator Gini Courter.

My plan is to write the final Trustee Report following GA 2013. Until then thanks for reading these words.

Trustee Tidbits

UUA Trustee Report
Joan Lund
Philadelphia, Pa., January 16-20, 2013

The UUA Board of Trustees (BOT) decided a year ago to meet in Philadelphia in January for good reasons, not among the least, the area has a very strong young adult (YA) community and this is a definite plus in our faith. We were treated to an excellent dinner at First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia followed by several YA speakers highlighting their justice and community work plus an open microphone entertainment. What follows will be some of what went on at the pre-meeting and meeting (from my perspective) and other information. As always if you have questions/comments in general, please email/telephone me at jlund@uua.org or 813-931-9727. The January Board of Trustees Packet was posted before the meeting and can be found at www.uua.org through the BOT link. The UUA Governance Manual can be found at http://uua.org/aboutus/governance/policy/index.shtml. As those of you who routinely read the Trustee Report following a UUA Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting already know, the actual BOT meetings are on the Saturday and Sunday time we spend together. This time our meeting was spread over several days and although we met for a couple of hours on Sunday most of us attended First Church Philadelphia for worship. I headed home after that but about half the Trustees stayed over to participate in Martin Luther King activities on Monday.

UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales
The Board Policy Governance structure requires the administration to submit monitoring reports about how the Staff is adhering to the ENDS of our Association. Some weeks before the January meeting President Morales sent us An Incidental Report to the Board of Trustees, Monitoring UUA Policies, dated December 5, 2012. In it he wrote about the difficult and sometimes divisive process of writing the reports, and the Board’s subsequent monitoring process. In gathering the information for his report Rev. Morales asked the Staff who have researched and drafted the monitoring reports how much time they spent doing so; and to reflect independently on the value found in the process, with some other side questions. Rev. Morales’ report to us indicated “most the senior staff find the process to have very little value and resent doing them” which should concern both the Board and Staff. His findings included, “They (the staff) find doing the reports a waste of time, frustrating, demeaning and a distraction from their other work”. He also stated that it should “also concern the Board that the process clearly has contributed to a serious deterioration in the relationship between the Board and the staff”.  He recommended jointly reviewing the monitoring reports due between now and GA; and suspending all monitoring reports not essential. Also he noted that there is broad agreement that there are too many policies, suggesting we work together to make the required reports be manageable by the staff.

In twelve of the nineteen reports the Board found non-compliance citing lack of proper “Operational Definitions” and/or it could not be determined if/how the Administration’s priorities were a result of the ENDS. The Board is very interested in Administration strategy of how performance will improve. It was noted that the quality of monitoring reports has improved over the last couple of years; and that better collaboration during the process of writing may be needed. But no definite conclusions were reached except there is a small group of Trustees working on the important focus of monitoring and accountability.

Fifth Principle Task Force 2009 Report (5th PTF BG) and Related BOT Work
Friday afternoon the 5th PTF BG met for conversation with invited UU constituency groups to discuss the implications of the 2009 Report. Any action by the Board had been postponed much in part due to the focus on Justice GA last June. The group I convened was tasked with re-starting the conversation about whether the recommendation(s) of the 2009 Task Force Report should be implemented. We had written two documents, “How We Gather”, and “How We Govern” to be discussed with GA Planning Committee, Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUM), UU Ministers’ Association (UUMA), and the Continental UU Your Adult Network C*UUYAN). There were many interesting perspectives voiced including how important it is at GA to be able to network and get together with persons who are in the same identity group, and meeting with folks who are interested in a similar justice work or multigenerational activities/events. A cautionary note was expressed that because the Board has made changes to our governance process we might not want to move too quickly. The 5th PT?F BG will continue working on all the information we have gleaned and report at the April Board meeting.

Linkage with UUA member congregations
The Board has been involved with congregational and constituent linking for some time now. We are currently working on “Flash” linkage, a quick way to get meaningful information about values and outcomes from one of our Sources. There are seven open-ended questions to elicit information to be captured and used by the Board in our deliberation. Each question is asked alone and takes about 10 minutes of the “questioned” individual or group. The process does not replace the larger and more formal linkage. The questioner takes notes and submits information to a SurveyMonkey. Feedback is easily sorted for district/Board or regional use. The questions are:

  1. What is the most important difference UUism could make?
  2. What are the challenges your congregation or UU community faces, and how could a neighboring congregation help you with this?
  3. If we were meeting 3 years from now, looking back, what would have happened within UUism for you to be proud of the progress made by our UUA?
  4. If there was only one need, that if it could be met, could immediately assist you or your congregation or UU community, what would that be?
  5. If your congregation had an extra dollar to send to our UUA, what would the Post It note say where to spend it?
  6. What would be different in your congregation’s relationship to our UUA if GA registration were free for delegates?
  7. Recent conversations with the UUA Board and Administration have included the phrase “covenanted communities in addition to congregations. How important is if for UUism to focus on more than our member congregations? Do you consider “covenanted communities” part of UUism? What might be some examples of “covenanted communities”?

Additional Information
Citing health reasons, Charlie King, Trustee-at-Large, resigned in December 2012. In executive session the Board selected seventeen year old youth observer Katherine Allen to serve the rest of Charlie’s term, making her the youngest Trustee to serve our Association.

Due to the Allen appointment there is no longer a youth observer position with the Board. The Board as long as I can remember has included a GA elected youth-at-large Trustee and congregational youth group elected youth observer because no one youth must be in attendance at Board meetings. The discussion included:  having two youth observers with staggered, overlapping two-year terms. The Board will continue the conversation at the April Board meeting. The Board asked Staff to select for the Board names of youth who could complete the youth observer term.

The Board voted to put bylaw amendments on the 2013 GA agenda, including:

  • The creation of the MidAmerican Region to include Prairie Star, Heartland, and Central Midwest. This bylaw change will be contingent on the three districts approval at their annual meetings.
  • Elections practices bylaw which would permit off-site GA delegates to vote electronically in denominational elections.
  • The Southeast District brought an amendment which if it is approved will change language in a C bylaw to say that our UUA is a voluntary association of “free, self-governing local churches and fellowships which have mutually chosen to pursue common goals together.” This reintroduces language that had been removed at the 2012 GA removed.

Motions were passed which included changes to Articles V, VI VII, VIII, and IX of the Bylaws, and to Rules G-9.10 and G-9.13.10, to be put on the 2013 GA agenda, subject to review by legal counsel.  Please contact me if you wish further information about these changes.

Official minutes will be available soon and there are several articles published in the electronic UUA World which will further inform you of the Philadelphia meeting. I can be reached at jlund@uua.org and by phone 813-931-9727.

UUA Florida District

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