As I have discussed here before, your Florida District Board met a year ago with the three other District Boards in our Region: Mid South, Southeast, and the Southwest Conference. Out of that meeting, we developed The Orlando Platform.
The Orlando Platform gave expression to two compelling opportunities:
• Enhancing the impact of professional staff by deepening & sharing expertise, taking advantage of new technologies, and improving organizational efficiency.
• Better engaging our volunteer leadership to build a stronger faith capable of meeting the religious challenges of our times:
1. Working across congregations in new ways and with an unprecedented level of collaboration to advance our faith and values.
2. Offering direct support to our individual congregations in becoming the vital and visible community institutions that our faith demands.
Your Florida District Board and the Boards of our sister districts within our Southern Region, together with our Regional staff have been working for the past year, taking steps to implement the Orlando Platform. Each of us has moved forward, creatively imagining and implementing new ways to be true to our Unitarian Universalist faith, cooperating, collaborating and building on each others ideas and steps through this process.
In the Florida District:
• The Board has been re-visioning the role of the District and the district board in growing our faith, in supporting our congregations, in serving Unitarian Universalism now and in the future. We are broadening our vision to serving the faith in addition to our Congregations, including the many thousands of self-identified Unitarian Universalists who are not connected to our churches.
• The Board has adopted the Unitarian Universalist Association Ends as its own Ends, aligning its work with the Unitarian Universalist Association.
• The Florida District Board, along with our Mid South and Southeast District Boards, has entered into a covenant with our District Staff and our Unitarian Universalist Association Director of Congregational Life regarding the employment of our District Staff. Together we have agreed that the employment and management of our staff will be the responsibility of the Director of Congregational Life. This change provides for professional management of our staff and leadership that is consistent across our region, to better facility the staff collaboration that is already occurring.
• Regional staff has been broadly collaborating, recognizing and developing areas of expertise that can be utilized to great advantage across the Region, providing webinars, district, cluster and congregational workshops, direct assistance to congregations, and significant professional and collegial support to each other.
• We are creating vision of a Circle of Elders, leaders of all ages committed to our Unitarian Universalist faith as a whole, who would assure the overall “Wellbeing and Expression” of Unitarian Universalism across the Florida District. They would lead cross-congregation faith and justice initiatives, and serve as expert adjunct staff in specific functions such as transitions, congregational governance, and stewardship.
As a part of this work, the Florida District Board is proposing to reduce the size of our Board to five members. The Board retains the fiduciary responsibility for governing the Florida District consistent with Unitarian Universalist Association ends and in collaboration with regional staff. The Board will have primary responsibility for appointing members of the Circle of Elders. The Board will encourage and specifically support the visionary work of the Circle of Elders.
We will be proposing at Florida District Assembly in March bylaws amendments to authorize reduction of the Board membership, providing for a period of transition.
We are excited about these changes, and believe they will provide the foundation for broader vision, growth of our faith and opportunities for significant meaningful service to the faith for committed lay and religious leaders. Watch for more information about these proposed changes. Contact your District Board members. Talk about it within your congregations.
Rachel R. Christensen
President, Florida District UUA Board of Trustees