Boston, MA October 19- 23, 2011
Boston is lovely and always lively at this time of year. Leaves are just beginning to change and the out-of-doors environment continues to be very green; the swans were swimming on the pond, and children in great numbers were playing on the Robert McCloskey “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture, both in the Public Gardens. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
New Trustee Orientation
New Trustee orientation was held for 10 new Trustees, facilitated by me. As 2nd vice-Moderator I planned and conducted orientation on Wednesday morning. Each of the three times I have been charged with new Trustee orientation I have found the new Trustee group to be increasingly informed and ready to serve the Association Board; this time was no exception. All terms for current Trustees will end in 2013, which includes the newly elected ones. In 2013 the number of Trustees will consist of eleven Trustees, the President of the Association (without vote), the Moderator, and Financial Advisor. Because the BOT will be substantially smaller, all elected at-large, (see the resolution passed at GA 2011) there will be a different-type of orientation and I will no longer be a UUA Trustee.
BOT Retreat and Governance Training
When a new group of Trustees joins the Board time is spent in getting to know one another, both returning BOT and those elected in June, and learning more about governance together. This retreat featured Rev. Margaret Marcuson, American Baptist pastor, Marcuson Leadership Circle. She has a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion and studied with Edwin Friedman. Her work focused on how we as leaders, increase our leadership clarity, skill, and effectiveness as we manage ourselves in relation to those we lead. She focused on not changing others, but how the BOT steps up to the important task of facing challenges, inertia, and resistance.
The time spend on governance training/re-training focused the paradigm shift in the BOT’s Association governance. Briefly, Susan Radwan, owner of Leading Edge Mentoring, a consulting firm specializing in governance and leadership issues and the governance consultant with whom the BOT has been involved for several years, asked if the BOT has adopted too many policies; can some of them be eliminated, can we do with less by better articulating what is needed?. She focused on our next steps in monitoring, evaluating ENDS, how the UUA is framed, the nature of the BOT’s governance model, the basic nature between the BOT and UUA President, the spirit of presidential limitations versus non-compliance. The BOT will continue to work on our governance by policy through whole-group conference calls and smaller groups who have been identified to bring forth issues and suggested changes.
Moderation Election: Contested or Non-contested?
Our current Moderator, Gini Courter, will complete her term in June, 2013. The Moderator serves as the Chief Governance Officer of the Association, presides at GAs and meeting of the BOT and represents our UUA on special occasions. The BOT-appointed Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC) received seven applications for Moderator position by the October 15th deadline, will evaluate them, and submit two or more names to the BOT for consideration. The BOT determined the election will be contested, by indicating two names will be put forth. In addition, a candidate may run by petition. The report of the BOT will be announced by February 1, 2012, as required by election rules. At this time four BOT members (including me) will be determining, with input from the entire BOT, the questions to be asked of potential Moderator candidates.
UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales
Peter spent some time talking about what it means to be a UU. He asked us if we knew people who is UU in values and beliefs but does not attend congregation-based services, stressing it is our form (parish based) that has contained us for maybe 200 years, We have always been more than just who are in our congregations. Data shows that about 5% of regular attendees on Sunday are not “members” of the congregation. The question becomes, “how many people do we, as congregations and an Association, serve? He suggested we think of ourselves as a religious movement, and re-define what makes a UU (a shift from dues-based mentality). During a discussion the BOT was informed with data about mega-churches advice which included eliminating barriers found in by-laws that inhibit growth. The BOT has a direct accountability to congregations, finding out “where they are” and how to help them.
Linkage with UUA member congregations
This is the joint initiative of the BOT, the District Presidents Association (DPA), and UUA Administration in which we will invite all UUs to discover and talk about our common aspirations and faith through one-on-one and small to large group conversations, aptly named Gathered Here. Much of the initial work has already been done and the whole process will hopefully conclude a year from now. The BOT and Administration are looking to develop a compelling shared vision for our UUA future. Linda Laskowski, chair of the BOT Linkage Working Group, led a discussion on the importance of this initiative and requested BOT help as facilitators in our respective districts. You can read more about becoming a congregational facilitator on the UUA website by linking in to Gathered Here.
Report from GA 2012 Design and GA Planning Committee (GAPC)
At the 2011 pre-GA meeting the BOT passed a policy which called for the BOT to convene a task force to facilitate regular communications and issue a resolution among the BOT, UUA Administration, the GAPC, and the GA 2012 Accountability Group. A GA 2012 Design Meeting was held in September which included the GAPC, UUA staff and Administration, the GA2012 Accountability Group, and the Arizona Immigration Ministry (AZIM). During the September meeting it was made clear from our Arizona partners that doing large scale service projects would over burden the local community’s resources and only serve to make UUs feel good about ourselves. So GA 2012 will offer ways to be of service, including witnessing, which may not look like what might be expected; we want to engage in ways that will be truly helpful.
Plenary time will be decreased by 40% and not all will be unopposed time. It will be important for GA attendees to gather together in one body at least once daily to foster community and communication. Worship will be offered multiple times daily, and be infused into all that is done at GA. Saturday will be designated a National Day of Witness and Service and may include voter registration and a citizenship fair. Congregations will be encouraged to imagine how they might participate in this event in their own communities, involving congregants who are not able to attend GA.
The importance of continued communication between all groups responsible for planning and executing GA will be tantamount. The GAPC meets again in January, April, and June; included will be the AZIM and GA Music Coordinator. There is a BOT liaison to the GAPC who reports back to the BOT following each meeting, in addition to a GAPC BOT observer. The BOT’s Right Relations Monitoring Committee will also be involved.
The GAPC meeting included the participation of Moderator Gini Courter who was asked how the BOT might assist if there is a gap in funding for AZIM/GA for local partner scholarships, partner exhibitors, etc. These issues will be handled by the Administration and BOT. Gini also indicated the BOT will be responsible for the business agenda and plenary time. The AZIM requested the BOT consider a resolution calling on President Obama to adopt the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People. The BOT has checked protocol of a resolution related to the Doctrine of Discovery on the agenda for GA. Congregation must be informed about this before coming to Phoenix; resolution will need to be published in the tentative GA agenda along with related mini-assembly.
President Peter Morales expressed a need for more frequent communication than in previous GAs between himself and the GAPC. He also indicated there are not large amounts of money available in UUA budget and there is a need to encourage and inspire congregations to raise funds to support their members in coming to GA 2012.
Information Technology Services (ITS) Director, Mark Steinwinter reviewed results of the 2011 offsite voting project and present the budget request for offsite voting at GA 2012. There will be continued development and operation of this endeavor with a vision for future GA experiences that extend beyond support for just delegate voting.
The BOT accepted Monitoring Reports 2.8.4, 2.8/8, 2.8.9, 2.8.10, 2.8.11, and 2.8.12 from the President, with some clarification of Policy 2.8.11, and incorporation of our newly developed BOT covenant. The BOT adopted a new policy to allow the Vice-President for Ministries and Congregational Support to participate in Executive Sessions along with other staff who serve as officers.