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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.