A good question came to me recently: “Why is it that when I go to register for the Prairie Star District Annual Conference, it takes me to the MidAmerica web site to register? I thought we weren’t voting on regionalization until April. Does this mean that it’s a done deal, that my vote won’t matter?”
Short answer: “Your vote does matter.” The proposal to be voted on by congregational delegates to all three district meetings in April is to change from three districts’ governance to a regional governance structure, to go from having three district boards to one regional board. All three district boards have endorsed this proposal and are prepared to move forward on a regional governance structure, beginning July 1, 2013.
The rest of the answer is this: “Whether or not the delegates vote for a new regional governance structure, the Field Staff are already working to bring together our administrative structures and our program offerings, and have been doing so for some time.” This builds on a collaborative arrangement that dates back to the mid-80s, with the three-district sponsorship of MidWest Leadership School. Several years ago, we started offering webinars together, seeing that congregations’ needs are similar across our three districts. More recently, the Lifelong Faith Development workshops such as Renaissance modules have been offered regionally, helping to make them financially sustainable. Now nearly all of our program registrations take place on the MidAmerica web site, www.midamericauua.org, and all programs are available to anyone across the region.
A couple of years ago, we began to think about whether we could share staff, as some other UU regions were discussing. That led to our hiring Nancy Combs-Morgan as our regional Youth and Young Adult staff person, and then Gretchen Ohmann as our regional Technology Coordinator. As reported earlier in the winter, we are hiring Sarah Greene as our full time Regional Administrator I and Peggy Boccard as our half time Regional Administrator II; they have already begun to work together, and the change in their positions will begin July 1.
The Boards also voted this month to recommend a new regional budget, to begin July 1 if the regionalization proposal is affirmed in all three districts.
So while regional governance is not a “done deal,” we have been and will continue to move forward together to serve our congregations collaboratively, enhancing what we offer, and making it financially sustainable.
District Executive, Prairie Star