Our UUA Trustees Endorse Regionalization
Rev. Erik David Carlson, Central Midwest: In the last two years that I have served on the UUA Board of Trustees and the Central Midwest District Board of Trustees, we have begun work towards two unique but related shifts in the way our governance works. The first is the change of the makeup of the UUA Board of Trustees, replacing representation from each district with elected at-large trustees, effectively reducing the size of the Board while at the same time attempting to create more diversity within our Association’s leadership. The resolution that changes the makeup of the UUA Board was passed at GA 2011 and the change begins to take effect at the end of June of this year.
At the same time our Association is shifting its overall governance model, the Central Midwest District is going through a similar restructuring, partnering with staff from our neighboring districts, Heartland to the East and Prairie Star to the West, to consolidate resources to more effectively serve our congregations. The three District Boards have been meeting together and separately to determine the future makeup of our governance and oversight of staff. Given the shift that is happening at the UUA level and at the level of our own district staff, a new service delivery model is appropriate.
At the upcoming District Annual Assemblies for each of our three districts, we will be considering a proposal to effectively merge Prairie Star, Heartland and Central Midwest into a single MidAmerica Region of the UUA. More information about the MidAmerica consolidation process and proposed bylaws for the new region can be found at www.MidAmericaUUA.org.
It is my sincere hope that we in the Central Midwest District can look towards the future of service delivery for congregations and come out in support of the MidAmerica Region at the same time we celebrate the long work of our District for the advancement of our congregations and our faith.
David Jackoway, Heartland: As our Association embarks on its next fifty years we have been identifying ways we need to evolve so we are best able to address the challenges of the future. At General Assembly in Louisville we will be reducing the size of the Board of Trustees and have it focus more on vision, planning and policy. We are in the process of rewriting our Association’s Ends, our statements about what we want to accomplish together. And just last month we decided to move our headquarters to a new home that is better suited to meet the needs of a modern workplace and to promote our UU values.
Regionalization, combining three or four districts into a single governing entity, will also help our Association be better positioned for the future. By combining our resources we eliminate duplication of effort and reduce administrative tasks, thereby freeing people to pursue other opportunities to live out their faith. By utilizing technological solutions that were not available ten years ago, much less fifty, we are able to reach across district boundaries and partner with neighboring congregations to help achieve our common ends. By leveraging our combined numbers we are better able to make our UU presence felt and have a greater impact on the world.
As a native Midwesterner I am proud that the three districts in the MidAmerica region are blazing the trail for the rest of the Association. It goes to show that the best ideas don’t always start on one of the coasts. I urge the delegates from Prairie Star, Central Midwest and Heartland to vote in favor of the creation of the MidAmerica Region, and then go to General Assembly in Louisville this June and vote to amend the UUA bylaws to recognize the new MidAmerica region. Together we will lead the UUA across the bridge into a New Era in Unitarian Universalism.
Graham Kreicker, Prairie Star: As my two colleagues have stated so well, major changes are underway at all levels of the UUA. I commend the hard work of the professional staffs in our three districts and the dozens of volunteers that have worked so hard to get us prepared for regionalization. These evolutionary changes will save us badly needed dollars that can better be spent on delivering service to congregations, both old and newly forming. For example, two districts have already given up their offices in favor of “virtual offices” at home and the third will soon do so.
Our new structure will cut the administrative duties of our professional staff by about two thirds, giving them more time to provide actual service to our congregations and our volunteer leaders. Likewise, fewer volunteer leaders will be involved in governance and administration, freeing them to help congregations and to grow our faith. In one sense, today’s economic situation calls for regional consolidation; in another sense it will permit increased levels of support to our congregations. So, I urge you to become an informed delegate for your congregation and to give regionalization your full support at your annual district conference.
Staying Connected in a “New Era in UUism”
The proposal to merge three districts in the geographic center of the U.S. (Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star) into one MidAmerica Region has raised one central concern – how do we stay connected to other UU congregations, to other UUs, and to UU staff?
As the regionalization conversation has unfolded, the intention to stay connected has been the North Star in developing governance and staffing models. We have sought ways to ensure that congregations will continue to have opportunities to make their voices heard. As an example, 26 different gatherings to discuss regionalization, either in person or via Skype (an online visual/audio tool) have taken place in Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star congregations. All congregations have received print materials to provide information early enough to prompt conversations. Early on, the UU Ministers’ Association chapters in each district voted in support of regionalization. The support of ministers has been a step toward interactions with congregational boards, small gatherings of congregants interested in understanding the efficiencies of regionalization, and pulpit presentations to congregations where invited.
Relationships always take active participation, and in the new era of UUism our local congregations will continue to be invited to participate with each other in collaborative work, in sharing information, in meeting with one another locally and in gatherings that cover larger areas of the region. We will experience some new ways of connecting in addition to ways we already know to be effective. Most of all, if our delegates vote to regionalize, we will step through the discomfort of newness and change to enter together our new house, right-sized to become our new home.
Linchpin*, the transition committee to keep UUs in the loop regarding Regionalization