Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference & Midwest Unitarian Universalist Foundation

2017 Annual Report to the MidAmerica Region & the Mountain Desert District

Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference

History: With the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association (AUA) and the Universalist Church of America (UCA) in 1961, the Midwest Universalist Conference and the Western Unitarian Conference formed the Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference (Conference) and the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Foundation (Foundation).

Purpose: The purpose of the Conference is to further the interests of Unitarian Universalists and their institutions in the mid-continental states (i.e., MidAmerica Region and the Mountain Desert District); to promote, foster, and encourage the interests of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA); to support those institutions to spread the message of Unitarian Universalism; and to distribute income generated by funds held in trust by the Foundation, a subsidiary corporation. The purpose of the Foundation is to hold those funds received from the AUA, UCA, and other sources in trust, and to invest, administer, and safeguard those funds.

Funds: There are four funds for which the Conference and the Foundation are responsible:

  • the General Fund, which provides an annual grant to the MidAmerica Region and the Mountain Desert District, and which can fund other initiatives;
  • the Ryder Fund (1888): the income is used to provide emergency financial support for retired ministers and their partners;
  • the Iva Laughlin Fund (1903): the income is used to provide emergency financial support for elderly Unitarian Universalists.
  • the Colchester Fund (1926): the income is used to provide an annual scholarship that is awarded by Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago to a Unitarian Universalist theological student.

Effective June 2016, the MidAmerica Region became the fiscal agent for the Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference. This role is limited to the distribution of funds from the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Foundation related to the Ryder Fund and the Iva Laughlin Fund as well as limited funds to support small grants.

The Conference Board has developed materials to publicize the funds available from the Ryder Fund and the Iva Laughlin Fund. The Board also sent $5,000 from the Ryder Fund to the UUA for distribution to retired ministers and their partners through the work of the Rev. Richard Nugent, Church Staff Finances Director, for distribution based on the guidelines of the Ryder Fund.

Work on developing a website for the Conference and Foundation has been a focus of this year. Board member Barb Gutsch has been serving as the Webmaster.

Committees: The Conference has several working committees/sub-committees: the Nominating Committee, Colchester Sub-Committee, Laughlin Sub-Committee, and Ryder Sub-Committee.

A distribution in the amount of $5,225 from the Colchester Fund was sent in March 2016 to Meadville Lombard Theological School to be awarded by Meadville to a theological student as the Colchester Scholarship.

Interim Meetings: The Conference directors and the Foundation directors work separately during the year via tele-conference.

Annual Meeting: The Boards of the Midwest UU Conference and the Midwest UU Foundation hold their annual meeting in Chicago in early May, where they meet separately and jointly. The 2016 meeting was held on May 6-7, 2016. The 2017 meeting will be held May 5-6 in Chicago.

Distribution from the General Fund: Part of the agenda at the Annual Meeting was to determine the annual grants for 2016-2017 to the MidAmerica Region and the Mountain Desert District. These grants are based on a formula that takes into account the number of congregation members (weight = 45%), the number of congregations (weight = 45%), and the geographical size (weight = 10%) of the region or district. The number of members and congregations was based upon UUA certification data as of February 1, 2016.

The maximum amount available for distribution is 4% of a rolling 13-quarter moving average of the Foundation’s General Fund. The distribution for 2016-2017 represented the 4% maximum, and was as following:

$80,778.57 to the MidAmerica Region and $21,521.43 to the Mountain Desert District

Please note that the Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference requires an annual report from both the MidAmerica Region and the Mountain Desert District to confirm that the work of these two organizations continue to be aligned with the purposes of the Conference as listed above, and Conference’s interests which are as follows:

  • Section 1a. To facilitate the vitality and growth of Unitarian Universalism in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states (e.g. Mid-America Region and the Mountain Desert District).
  • Section 1b. To strengthen Unitarian Universalist congregations, districts, regions and organizations and institutions, including the Unitarian Universalist Association and Meadville-Lombard Theological School.
  • Section 1c. To invite congregations to effectively serve the communities in which they are located in accord with their mission and the principles, purposes, and ends of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • Section 1d. To administer donor-directed funds in keeping with the purpose of the fund (e.g., Ryder, Colchester, and Laughlin Funds).
  • Section 1e. To encourage outreach and support of Unitarian Universalists living in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states who do not live in communities served by Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Conference Board of Directors (seven members) (three-year terms) (one director represents the Mountain Desert District, six represent the MidAmerica Region)

  • Rae Jane Araujo, Heritage UU Church, Cincinnati, OH, (2017)
  • Jeff Reed, (Secretary), Open Circle UU Fellowship, Fond du Lac, WI, (2017)
  • Allan J. Lindrup, (Vice President), First Unitarian Society, Chicago, IL, (2018)
  • Michael May, First Unitarian Society, Madison, WI, (2018)
  • Kathy Wire, First UU Church, St. Louis, MO, (2019)
  • Barb Gutsch, UU Fellowship, Salina KS (2019)
  • Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland, Denver, CO (President), (2019)
  • (Treasurer: Hillis Howie, see the Foundation Board of Directors below)

Bill Elwood completed his service on the Conference Board in May 2016. We thank him for his service.

Midwest Unitarian Universalist Foundation

The fiscal year is from April 1 to March 31. The total assets of the Foundation have grown from about $200,000 in 1962 to $2,923,555 as of March 31, 2016.

The financial statements are audited annually. The auditor of record for a number of years continues to be Wilkerson, Guthmann, and Johnson, Ltd. of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The audit report, November 28, 2016, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 determined that the financial statements of the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Foundation presented fairly, in all material respects, its financial position, and the changes in its net assets and cash flows in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

The investment distribution as of March 31, 2016 was as follows:

Mutual Funds 18.0%
Exchange Traded Funds 32.3%
Corporate Bonds 9.3%
UU Common Endowment Fund 40.4%

Foundation Board of Directors (seven members) (three-year terms)

  • Katherine Brewin, Chicago, IL (President) (2017)
  • John Saphir, Chicago, IL (2017)
  • Hillis Howie, Evanston, IL (Treasurer) (2018)
  • Erich Zuern, Brookfield, WI (Assistant Secretary) (2018)
  • Max Grefig, Wauwatosa, WI (Secretary) (2019)
  • Brian Hellmer, Fitchburg, WI (Assistant Treasurer) (2019)
  • Rebecca Pace, Cincinnati, OH (2019)

Katherine Brewin was appointed by the Conference Board as its registered agent in the State of Illinois. Sally Seiberlich completed her term in May 2016 following approximately 17 years of service to both the Foundation Board, and earlier, to the Conference Board. We thank her for her extraordinary commitment and service.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Conference and Foundation,


Kirk Loadman-Copeland, President
Midwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference