Boston, MA, October 14 – 17, 2010
If your interest includes reading the reports of your Trustee you know the first paragraphs are pretty much the same so here goes. As the Florida District Trustee My views do not necessarily speak for our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees (BOT). This report will be some of what went on at the meeting (from my perspective) and other information. The monthly column, Trustee Tidbits, will continue as planned. As always if you have questions or comments in general, please email/telephone me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813-931-9727. The October 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. Please go to the October BOT packet for information because it is impossible for me to relate adequately the BOT’s activities and deliberations. The Board meeting occurred over five days with approximately 60 hours of meetings and activities. I always come away with a mixture of tiredness and aliveness; this time was no exception.
Your UUA Board of Trustees (BOT) is a full year into Policy Governance but we are still learning and dealing with the details of what is and is not BOT work. We continue to wrestle with detail that may not entirely be board work and we are focusing on different topics than when I joined the Board. Some of these include regionalization of service delivery, planning for the 2012 Justice General Assembly (GA), potential bylaws changes, Board accountability to itself, and more conversation about further linkage to those Sources to whom we are accountable.
UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales
The BOT is aware that the members in our congregations are interested in Rev. Morales’ report to us, and the BOT’s relationship with Peter. We are working together on making sure monitoring reports are results based as opposed to activities based. There is a three-person team of BOT members working with Peter and the Staff on the monitoring reports expectations operating under policy governance©. In his report to the BOT Peter outlined his programmatic priorities which include growth, communications, public witness, partnering with congregations and clusters on the local level, and an administration/staff shift to be a part of mission building and visioning at the congregational level. It is a critical time in our movement. He stressed the Staff’s work and activities are completely linked to our shared ENDS and our UUA Staff is an energized, collaborative, and capable team, who are poised to let go of things that no longer serve us.
On Saturday Amanda Trosten-Bloom, Principal with the Corporation for Positive Change, presented an Appreciative inquiry proposal to the BOT to develop a three-year strategic plan and corresponding operating plans to follow, which are rooted in and responsive to, our congregations’ most compelling vision for the denomination’s future. Among the plan’s outcomes would be: establishment of healthy relationship and strong sense of partnership between the BOT, our UUA staff, and congregations’; enhanced communications and mutual support among local and regional congregational clusters; and the facilitation of coordination and collaboration across staff group boundaries with a focus on Boston-based and field staff. The BOT has not made a decision regarding the proposal. We are looking at budgetary implications and how the structure of the proposal relates to policy governance©.
Linkage with Our UUA member congregations
“What Were They Thinking?” is the name of the summary report presented to the BOT by the Linkage Working Group. I have written about the BOT’s linkage with randomly selected congregations over the past 8 months, both in past Trustee Reports and Trustee Tidbits. The BOT had substantive conversations with 64 congregations. The findings indicate there is a real longing for two-way conversations between the BOT and congregations. In addition a number of congregations describe themselves as feeling alone. During the six conversations I experienced there was a perceptible excitement concerning their positive feelings about the possibility of a strong Association with common goals. This was mirrored in the report. I see a future where their “us” and “them” feelings can be replaced with a “we”. I expect the report to be available soon on our UUA web site. If you would like it sooner please let me know.
District Presidents Association (DPA)
The BOT approved a “charge” to the DPA (meets early in November) seeking assistance in areas in which we will be proposing bylaw changes. The BOT will submit a bylaw change to end the election of UUA Trustees by the denomination’s 19 districts, the options are varied and range from geographically based elections to electing all Trustees at large. We have also charged the DPA to re-envision the way district staff are co-employed by our UUA and districts. We are also asking the DPA to start thinking about a future in which districts are no longer the way services are provided. The Staff had formed a system of five regions and several districts have begun to share services; this is being pursued denomination-wide. I will be at the November DPA meeting.
General Assembly 2012, Justice GA
The BOT began preparing for the Phoenix GA 2012 by approving a plan which includes spending up to $75,000, to permit off-site participation with video streaming and other technological support for off-site delegates. The system will allow delegates to listen, speak, stand in line, and vote. There will be a trial run at GA 2011, although off-site votes will not be counted in 2011. The BOT will submit a bylaw amendment at GA 2011 to this effect; it will require a two-thirds majority to pass and would go into effect at GA 2012. The BOT has pledged to offer a GA 2012 that transforms individual and congregational capacity for effective public witness and influence on issues of justice. The groundwork for this Justice GA will be started at GA 2011, to be held in Charlotte.
Additional Information of Interest (hopefully)
• A few months ago the finance committee decided that the decision about APF “asks” was a staff function rather then the Board of Trustees. Next year the APF suggested share will be $58 rather than the current $56.
• After administering the Board Compliance Monitoring Tool (3.0) to ourselves we prioritized a list of areas we are not in process compliance with our governance process. The highest priority is the BOT must design and implement a process to nominate candidates for the Moderator position. There will be an appointed task force to develop this process. Another area we are not in compliance is there needs to be a review of BOT appointed committees for evaluation of purpose and appropriateness of BOT involvement.
• The BOT passed a motion to authorize appointment (by the beginning of December) of a “right relations monitoring team” for 2012 GA. This team will work on safety issues, accessibility, programming, and plenary business. There will be UUA Trustees as well as representatives from the Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries and the Latina/o Unitarian Universalist Networking group on this team.
• The Congregations Working Group remains interested in the basic question of what constitutes a congregation, which is connected to policy and governance issues. It is time to rethink the current definition of a congregation in our UUA bylaws. Can a congregation be organized in other ways besides geography? Also is it too narrow to define member congregations as necessarily being “churches and fellowships” as currently defined. We need to remain open to the large questions of what is a congregation, what makes for healthy congregations, and make suggestions for changing executive limitations and ENDS.