There are currently five members on the CMwD Women & Religion Committee:
We have all worked hard to make 2010 a successful and productive year as we have had to reconfigure ways in which we work. The committee has undergone some leadership and functionality changes and has had great success. Many factions have been reconfigured and the committee is strong, efficient and effective currently and is growing in our proficiency.
As the two major functions of this committee are the summer and winter retreats we have focused on making these retreats successful in theme and attendance and offers diversity and spirituality to the women that attend. We have had smaller than usual planning committees; however, they have been effective in delivering outstanding programs and retreats for the many attendees. The Winter WomanSpirit 2010 conference was held in February in Wisconsin and was well attended. A number of workshops were presented as well as a keynote address by Starhawk. Approximately 250 attendees attended and enjoyed the entire weekend event full of shopping with vendors, attending workshops and lively rituals.
The Summer WomanSpirit 2010 retreat again was held at Ronora Lodge, in Watervliet, MI with a warm and lovely weekend. The retreat had enough attendance to support itself and the energy level was as high as usual with women connecting for spirituality and camaraderie. At the end of the retreat a planning committee gathered to volunteer to work on another retreat for the next SWS2011!
CMwD Woman and Religion hold two major face to face meetings each year, one in May and one in October. May 2010 we welcomed Jessica Hunsberger onto our committee and Laura Cass become chair as Nancy Irons became past chair. We were joined by the SWS2010 planning committee as well as the chair and co chair for WWS2011. We welcomed Karen Books to the Wise Women and thanked her for her work on the committee. Our budget, goals and meeting schedule was set for the coming year.
In June Nancy Irons attended General Assembly in Minneapolis, MN. She expressed that she was not sure how effective it was for CMwD W&R to attend. In August Laura Cass attended Midwest Leadership School in Beloit, WI. She brought home many tools and skills in leadership that she has been able to use within the committee but also within her life and her church.
October brought us to our next face to face meeting in which many new ideas were presented and decisions were made. Denise Tracy opened her summer home to the committee for the meeting and it provided us an opportunity to bond and work in a relaxed environment. After much research and contemplation on moving our summer retreat to another location that could allow more woman the opportunity to attend by lowering our price we chose to remain at Ronora for the time being while we continue to research our options. We chose to accept Lee onto the committee at the Winter meeting rather than waiting until May as customary and therefore setting precedence for two entry points onto the committee; May meeting and Winter meeting, though all members will retire from their term at the May meeting when it has been served. Denise Tracy was nominated to be the next Chair and she accepted. A decision was made to reconfigure our May meeting to include just the committee members and no longer hold the May meeting at Ronora Lodge to help cut costs and be more efficient. The summer planning committee will hold their spring meeting at Berrien Springs UU with a lunch provided by W&R and the availability to visit the Ronora Lodge for planning purposes if necessary.
Shortly after our October meeting Gretchen Ohmann, the office manager resigned with 2 weeks notice. Laura Cass and Jessica Hunsberger met with Gretchen to be trained in some of the functions she had performed for the committee and after some trial and error and reconfiguring the CMwD Woman and Religion are functioning well and effectively on its own!
In the autumn and winter months the committee has been working towards joining with the district and is working hard to come into alliance with the policies and regulations as well as banking methods of the District to make the merge easier. Denise Tracy will be taking over much of the details of this as she becomes Chair in May 2011.
Looking into the Future, the SWS2011 retreat is coming along well with anticipation for another wonderful summer retreat. WWS2012 is being planned and will be held in Rockford Il.
Chair, Women & Religion Committee
MidWest Leadership School (MWLS) is a cooperative undertaking of the Prairie Star (PS), Central Midwest (CMWD) and Heartland Districts (HD) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). It is officially sponsored by the Central Midwest District (CMWD).
The mission of MWLS is to develop leadership skills, framed by the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism, of members of congregations, and seminary students not yet in Candidate Status, within the three sponsoring districts.
“Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.”
[Rost, Joseph (1992). Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praeger.]
MWLS served 36 students from across the Midwest in July 2010. Districts were comparably represented with CMD = 10, Heartland = 13, PSD = 12, and Ohio-Meadville = 1. The session commenced on Sunday afternoon, and closed the following Saturday at noon.
Sessions covered the gamut of topics on leadership, working in organizations, small group dynamics, organizational change, and so forth. Significant time was spent exploring the origin and history of the Unitarian Universalist community and its theology and culture. Each participant was involved in a variety of small group activities. In addition to education on the meaning and preparation of worship, participants were involved in eleven worship service experiences during the week.
Participants worked in six OD groups to expand their organizational and leadership skills, seven Credo groups to share and clarify personal and spiritual values, and nine worship groups (in participation with Youth School members) to better understand the worship experience by preparing and delivering a worship service.
We were able to take advantage of the new Science Center at Beloit College for many of our activities as well as other facilitates at Beloit College. Participants and staff are housed in residence halls at Beloit and eat in the college dining hall.
REV. THOM BELOTE, History and Theology Presenter, has served as the minister of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kansas.
REV. IAN EVISON, Organizational Development Presenter, is Congregational Services Director for the Central MidWest District.
REV. THEA NIETFELD, Chaplain, serves her Fellowship in Salina, Kansas.
MARGIE FRY, Group Facilitator, third year staff member, is a member of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church of Louisville, Kentucky.
PAUL GODDARD, Group Facilitator and Bookstore Manager, is Worship Chair of the UU Church in Rockford, Illinois.
BARB GUTSCH, Group Facilitator and Technology Coordinator, is a member of the UU Fellowship of Salina, Kansas.
GENEVIEVE O’MALLEY KNIGHT, Group Facilitator and Assistant Treasurer, has been attending the UU Congregation in Oxford Ohio.
MARK MATUSZEWSKI, Group Facilitator, a third year staff member at MWLS, and treasurer emeritus and general gopher, is a member of the UU Fellowship of DeKalb, Illinois.
JEFFREY REED, Group Facilitator, Treasurer and Secretary, is a second year MWLS staff member and member of the Open Circle Fellowship in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
KELLY RINEY, School Dean and Group Facilitator, is the Director of Religious Education at the UU Church in Rockford, Illinois.
NOEL ROZUM, Group Facilitator, is a first-year staff member.
JAN STEINMARK, Registrar, is a member of the UU Church of Evansville, Indiana.
JENNIFER TODD, Chair and Group Facilitator, is a Wiccan Minister and Pagan practitioner who facilitates the Lake Spirit CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter and member of Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, Wisconsin
In 2009, The Youth Leadership School was initiated to provide a Midwest Leadership School to high school age youth. Housed in separate facilities at Beloit College, collaboration between the Adult and Youth schools has involved shared participation in and preparation of worship services.
I gained a greater confidence in my leadership skills & a greater understanding in the leadership skills & ways of others & how they inter-relate (positively or negatively and ways to make negatives better).
I learned a lot about variety in worship, not only from the services by from the excellent worship education sessions, the covenant-based behavior concepts will be very useful, as well as what I learning from the exercises in general in the OD groups.
I’m really happy to be here! I AM ON BOARD! The bus!
I so appreciate how this has changed how I will lead @ my church, and even @ home.
I see our Leadership School realizing the importance of the state of our individual churches. More and more conversations around this and questions are coming up. It is healthy for us all.
I feel that I’m really becoming comfortable in my leadership, stepping into my power, and communicating much more clearly. Thank you staff for being such good models for that!
Worship group is A++. Also…regardless of how our Worship Team’s service turns out Tuesday evening at 7 pm, I have an amazing experience during the planning/prep phase.
It's given me a wider network of people to connect with within the UUA. I'm on the Ministerial Search Committee, and it was great to get to talk to others in the same process.
I value the connections made throughout the region. The biggest gain was to be able to look at my congregation in a more objective way.
I gained a greater appreciation of putting together a worship service. My worship group had a few challenges (with the teens), but I wouldn't change it, because it gave me an appreciation of working with teens.
The combination of learning about group dynamics, nonviolent communication/conflict resolution skills, and Meyers-Briggs personality types was amazingly helpful. I am more facile and skilled in group environments and I am better able to prevent conflicts, as well as to defuse and work through conflicts when they occur.
The thought that this invaluable resource for church leadership training was almost not held last summer chills me to the bone. UUs are fighting the uphill battle as it is as far as preserving our denomination and individual churches as it is. Without this incredible experience and training it is difficult to comprehend how our longevity and liberal voice would be preserved let alone in a healthy manner.
MWLS is a self-supporting, self-managed, non-profit training organization, sponsored by CMWD, in collaboration with PS, and HD of the UUA. It is one of several UUA leadership training entities. MWLS Staff include lay personnel, ordained ministers, and representatives of the three sponsoring UUA districts. On an annual basis, staff set tuition and fees for participation, approve a budget, and contract for services required to operate the training experience. Staff members are responsible for marketing and recruitment of participants. Staff select officers and define roles needed to operate MWLS. Staff meet as needed (at least quarterly), to plan future MWLS training institutes and evaluate previous training institutes. Operation of MWLS is governed by policies contained in the MWLS Staff Handbook.
|2010 Budget||2010 Actual||Variance||% of Budget|
|On Site Expenses||4.145||3.812||-333||0.92%|
|Income – Expenses||-6,565||-5,975||-591|
Members of the MWLS staff endeavor to create a stimulating and safe environment in which personal boundaries are respected, and participants can share their personal religious paths, challenging themselves and others to experience spiritual growth. Participants attending MWLS can expect to increase their understanding of how their faith informs their active participation in congregational life, developing personal, interpersonal and organizational skills. During a one-week intensive learning experience, MWLS offers programming and resources that:
• enable participants to utilize skills in creating and strengthening shared ministries;
• develop skills in communication, organizational development, leadership, conflict management, decision making, implementation, and evaluation;
• encourage a sense of connectedness among Unitarian Universalists;
• build trust in group processes and dynamics;
• impart knowledge of and appreciation for Unitarian Universalist history and theological issues;
• encourage a sense of denominational awareness;
• develop skills in working effectively with boards of trustees and committees; and
• encourage exploration of issues of personal spiritual growth.
• Make policy decisions
• Develop and update job descriptions for staff
• Select a dean, registrar, small-group facilitators, treasurer, public relations coordinator, bookstore coordinator, and presenters in organizational development, UU theology & history, and worship
• Approve the annual MWLS budget
• Take care of publicity and recruitment
• Evaluate MWLS and make recommendations for future schools
• Include religious/spiritual components in each meeting
• Foster ministerial participation of staff and students
• Select and invite new members to attend the fall meeting
• Assist with set-up and clean-up before and after School
MWLS 2010 Treasurer
The past three years in our district have been a tough time economically for the Midwest, including our member congregations and district. All of us have had to make hard choices regarding what we can afford and what we can’t. In making these choices we have reinvented our work using less paper and less hydrocarbons and using technology more—and for the district office itself letting go our brick and mortar office and creating an entirely virtual office. Now we are post recession but not out of the economic woods; early signs are appearing of new energy. Congregations are talking about capital fund drives. When you recertified this Spring, you reported growth of one per cent after two years of trimming the rolls. This is slight growth but still like having one additional congregation of 177 people.
While we hope that this growth will continue, we expect we will still need to hold in tension our vision for liberal religion in the MidWest and what we can sustain in resources. Our region and the congregations of our district likely face the prospect of many years of deep change as has been described in the NPR series of the past few months, www.changinggears.info. We will need to raise money in new ways. Grow in new ways. Develop leaders in new ways. Grow our souls in new ways. And refocus our missions from just providing liberal religious spaces, to also providing a progressive religious voice in the public arena. As I write our UU congregations in Madison are seeking to do just this regarding the rights of public workers in Wisconsin. There will be many instances where we will need to figure out what it means to Stand on the Side of Love (www.standingonthesideoflove.org) and then do it--individually and collectively.
For the district, deep change will mean working more sustainably and at the same time being more agile. Key to this will be increasing partnership with Prairie Star District to the West and Heartland District to the East. The necessities of economics and the possibilities of technology drive us to ask how to do more together over longer distances while also understanding more profoundly the realities of local context and personal connection. We don’t know where asking these questions will lead us. But we expect that the change it will bring to district work will be as profound, or more profound, than our shift to a virtual office three years ago.
Our current basic district structures were invented in a more prosperous era when the only way to do office work over a distance was to physically move paper; and when making a long distance call was a big deal. Likewise the only way of us having an event together was for us all to get in our cars and drive. It was also an era when we could better afford to do that and none of us had heard of a carbon footprint.
In the next few months, the staff our three districts will put forward a proposal for us to discuss—and improve--for a new unified structure for the administrative and programmatic side of our district work. Our district boards will lead separate a discussion with you of what governance structures will be most appropriate to the newly emerging realities.
Greetings of the occasion of our District Assembly! I join the clergy and lay leadership of the Bloomington-Normal congregation in welcoming you to this annual event, which offers much in the way of inspiration, challenge, and leadership development opportunities. Since our last District Assembly in Wheeling, IL, your district board has worked, diligently in my view, on refining our policies and by-laws with a view toward facilitating the transition to a potential regional partnership with our neighboring districts. Indeed, the "Statement on Regional Cooperation" below offers specifics on what the board wishes to achieve through this partnership.
The board has suggested several by-law changes which we believe will lead to greater fiscal accountability and transparency, and a higher level of participation in our democratic decision-making process. Please take a moment to review these changes as outlined in your Annual Report packet.
Let me also recognize those individuals who conclude their service on our board this April: Justine Urbikas, our District Trustee to the UUA Board, Meredith E. S. Beckman, our board vice-president, and the Reverend Emmy Lou Belcher, Ministerial Trustee to the board. Justine, Meredith and Emmy Lou, individually and collectively, have made significant contributions in advancing the work of our governance, and we are in their debt.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, hopes and aspirations for our religion, as we work together in the geographical center of our country to realize the Reverend Morales' vision, as noted below, to make Unitarian Universalism "the religion of our time."
1. To follow those district boards who have agreed to end the present co-employment status of staff between the UUA and the district. As of July 1, 2011, the UUA will assume responsibility for all normal employer managerial roles for those now co-employed, including hiring and supervision. N.B.: this change will have no material effect on the Board-approved FY 2012 budget, but will likely have an effect in district or regional budget processes in succeeding years;
2. To set aside our own district "ends" statements in favor of those adopted by the UUA Board of Trustees, in part since the "ends" of our district do not contradict UUA "ends";
3. To continue a period of collaborative research and assessment with our partner districts -- Heartland to the east, and Prairie Star to the west -- as we discern whether, or when, our present administrative and program collaboration should be deepened to include shared governance. This would eliminate our current district governance structure, perhaps in favor of a regional board.
It is the hope of this governing board that these actions and others that follow will result in improved service delivery to local congregations while reducing the significant cost, in time and resources, of district governance. In this time of transition and experiment, we know there are few easy, and no final, answers. We are not proposing a formula for every district or every region. But we want to use the best information we have at the moment to take measured steps, along with our friends in Heartland and Prairie Star, toward the possible formation of a "Mid-America" region.
Our denominational President, the Reverend Peter Morales, frequently refers to Unitarian Universalism as "the religion of our time." We believe the time for constructive change, and the time for growth, is now. The CMwD Board joins all those who, once inspired by the liberating message of our democratic faith, will lead others in building strong congregations and in the holy and necessary work of healing our broken world.
Warmly, in the Spirit,
President, Central Midwest District of the UUA