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MidAmerica UUA Region: Consider Our Future Together

Why are you writing this blog?

The boards of the Prairie Star, Heartland, and Central Midwest districts voted unanimously last Fall (2011) to propose to our districts that we move from district governance to regional governance. We will discuss this at our District Assemblies this Spring (2012). We will vote at the DAs of 2013.

We advise congregations to prepare their congregations for important decisions by communicating proactively and encouraging full discussion. The staff of the region, with invited guest bloggers including our district presidents, aim to do this with this blog. We need your wisdom to create our future together.

This is more than a conversation about district and regional structures. We are all learning to minister in a very different emerging world. We need to figure out how to do this together. We invite you into a conversation about these things.

So How Do You Really Feel about Regionalization??

Nancy HeegeI am asked this question quite frequently, and I'm sure the other MidAmerica Field Staff are getting it, too. I know it's coming from a place of concern or perhaps a place of curiosity. "How are you holding up in the midst of all this change? How will it be for you once this is over? How do you really feel about regionalization?"

I have to say that I'm feeling fine. And we're feeling fine. And we want to encourage delegates to our District Assemblies to vote in favor of the change in governance that's being proposed. We've worked hard to support our three District Boards in their discernment process, and we hereby endorse the proposal to create the MidAmerica Region.

As the Field Staff person with the longest tenure, I remember the days of riding my horse across the prairies from place to place, showing up in congregations a la The Lone Ranger – where I'd find expectations that I could solve every problem in less than 30 minutes, because the theme music would soon begin. Okay, so there was no horse, no quick solutions, and no theme music. But the work was quite lonely, with one District Staff person to plan and do it all. Our team of six [Ian Evison, Dori Thexton, Lisa Presley, Nancy Combs-Morgan, Phil Lund, and me] enjoy working together to provide services for our congregations. Our skills are complementary, and we like each other. We have a strong team. What we are able to offer is stronger because we work closely together.

Our programs and our administrative structure are becoming regional, and we'd like to see a regional governance structure in place to support our work. If you are a delegate to your District Assembly next month, please vote in favor of the proposal to create the MidAmerica Region. Your staff encourages you to vote yes.

-- Nancy Heege, Prairie Star District Executive

Does My Vote Really Matter?

Nancy HeegeA 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.

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Results of our “Thoughtful Conversations” in Youth and Young Adult Ministries

thought-balloonFor the last 16 months regional youth, young adults, and adults have been invited and encouraged to share their dreams, direct needs, and goals for their work in youth/young adult ministry. Dori Davenport Thexton, Phil Lund, and Nancy Combs-Morgan, the MidAmerica staff, have listened closely to our leaders and we are thrilled to report that we have many congregations who endeavor to realize and maintain robust and sustainable youth and young adult ministry.
Some of you may have taken part in our series of virtual and face to face visioning experiences, which we framed, “Thoughtful Conversations.” There were 5 virtual conversations in November and December 2012, and at 5 youth conferences and trainings we had focus group conversations and workshops asking the same questions. The questions, in essence, directed leaders to reflect on what their needs were to create and sustain youth and young adult ministries that are transformative, multicultural, which provide a deepening of spiritual practices and growth in our faith.
Here is what we have heard thus far:

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Will We Still See You?

Ian-Evison-11-2012Rev. Ian Evison, Congregational Services Director, Central Midwest District; Lead Staff, MidAmerica Region
One question we on staff get about regionalization is — more or less — "Will we still see you?"
The very short answer is "yes, of course." We staff are not moving anywhere as part of this process. We all on staff take great joy in all the relationships we have developed with congregational leaders and we look forward to continue to deepen and broaden these relationships. Our hope, in fact, when we no longer are maintaining three district administrative structures, is that we will have more time and resources available to work with the congregations. This will include both time and resources to be face-to-face with you. There is no substitute for that. At the same time, we do plan to work increasingly across old borders and by electronic means. Keep in mind here that so far the most frequent reason for mixing up old divisions of who works with whom has been the request of congregations for a new perspective or a different personality. And frequently the largest driver for doing more work electronically is that congregations find it difficult to gather leaders for the long working sessions that might have been possible earlier. Even when we do work face-to-face we find that the congregations prefer shorter meetings. What was an all day session becomes a morning followed by lunch together. Follow-up is increasingly electronic. Our staff will have more periods when they focus on special projects—like perhaps having a staff person spend a few weeks revamping our system for supporting you through transitions in professional leadership. During such special projects, that the person might be temporarily unavailable. Yet, overall, we all look forward to making new connections. We are grateful to those of you who have reached out to us to do that across old district boundaries. We also do plan to continue to learn together how to use the plethora of emerging technologies of connection and communication.