At a Spring 2012 Heartland District Ministers’ Chapter meeting, once again I presented information about the planned move from District-based service delivery and governance to Regional-based models. I’ve been talking with the ministers and religious education professionals about this for the past 18 months, and once again I asked “What are your questions?” One of the ministers sent me four specific questions. I’ll be addressing each of them in a separate blog entry.
Here’s the second one: What role does a region play in the Ends of the UUA?
Here’s the heart of the answer: There are two aspects. From the service delivery side, the District/Regional staff (Ian, Nancy, Nancy, Dori, Phil and Lisa) are charged with fulfilling the Ends of the UUA—the difference that the UUA hopes to make in the world. One of the delights is that when all three District Boards (Central MidWest, Heartland and Prairie Star) reviewed the UUA Ends in the fall of 2011, they were pretty much seamless with the various ones the Districts had created. So it was easy for the Boards to say “make the District Ends the same as the UUA Ends.” That will continue in the future.
And then, there’s the governance side. For the governance side, I’ve discussed these issues with the Steering Committee (the three Districts’ presidents!), and they agree that this answer is at least a partial answer. They’re still working on the design of the new governance structure, and so some of this might change. They are still early in the design phase.
One of the possible outcomes of a downsized UUA Board (moving from representatives from each district to fewer at large elected members) is that the UUA Board may have a harder time being in touch with the congregations other than those in their immediate geography. For those who aren’t familiar with Policy Governance, the job of the UUA Board is to “link” with the “owners,” who are, in our case, our congregations and affiliated bodies. From this linkage, the UUA Board then determines the Ends, or the major goals/objectives that they charge the staff with accomplishing. Ends are often an articulation of what difference the work of the body should make, for whom, and at what cost.
As a result of the reduced size and changed nature of UUA Board composition, I believe they will be turning more and more to district/regional Boards to make the connections and provide feedback to the UUA Board. This feedback will in turn influence the Ends of the UUA. So I believe that the district/regional boards may take on an even greater role in helping the UUA Board know what’s happening “on the ground.” Will the Board have more input as a regional body than they would as a district body? Since the transition away from District Trustees on the UUA Board hasn’t happened it, we don’t know. However, the UUA Board has already formally partnered with District Presidents’ Association to collaborate on linkage, and I believe that would include Region Presidents, too. I believe that reliance on folks outside of the UUA Board will only increase as time goes on, if they want the linkage to be done well.