Report on behalf of the Board of Trustees, MidAmerica Region, UUA
May 12, 2018
Since Regional Assembly 2017, our MidAmerica Board has worked diligently to serve our congregations, our Region, our Association, and our larger movement! We have met face-to-face in August and April, and have met by conference call or computer meeting in September, October, November, December, February, March, and April. We have another face-to-face meeting scheduled in August 2018. Detailed reports of our formal business meetings are available on the Governance page of the MidAmerica Region website (www.midamericauua.org/governance).
We also do a lot of work outside of our Board meetings. Our main charge as a Board is to represent MidAmerica's congregations and other Unitarian Universalist groups, and to help ensure that the resources of MidAmerica are directed toward the most important needs and opportunities present within our Region. In order to do that, we must be in dialogue with those groups within MidAmerica, so that we can hear what is most important to the entities that make up our region. The past few years we have used several different ways to do this. We have reached out with an online survey of leaders in all congregations conducted in by MidAmerica Staff during the Spring & Summer. In the Fall, individual Board members conduct a series of phone conversations with congregational leaders and have committed to checking back in with them on a continuing basis. In addition, each time the MidAmerica Board meets face-to-face, we make it a point to connect with the congregations in the area of our meeting. We will continue to look for additional ways we can make connections and engage with as many of you as possible. We want to hear your stories. What has gone well or resonated with your congregation? What kinds of challenges and problems have presented themselves? And, how can the MidAmerica Region and the UUA serve your needs better?
These conversations and stories, and the information that comes from them, are important in helping to knit the geographic expanse of the MidAmerica Region into a whole. We also use them to attempt to identify the most significant needs and challenges that our congregations and other groups face. We then utilize what we learn in collaborating with MidAmerica Staff and the UUA to develop objectives and assess our success in achieving them.
We continue to explore what regional governance looks like, and we are committed to development of our understanding and skills of governance, as well as our individual and collective intercultural competencies, and our understanding of the relationship between the responsibilities of the Board and those of the Staff. In the course of our work this year, it has come to our attention that there are some sections in our bylaws that are in conflict with one another, or lack sufficient clarity. This is particularly evident in the sections regarding the election of officers and trustees of the Board, and how terms of office are calculated. At its April 2018 meeting the Board created a task force consisting of two Board members and two nominating committee members to review the bylaws and develop a proposal for possible revisions. If such a proposal is developed, it would be put forward at next year’s Regional Business Meeting. Opportunities for input will be provided during this process as it unfolds.
One of our most basic roles is a fiduciary responsibility for the assets of the region. We strive to make sure that financial support you provide to the MidAmerica Region is used in a manner that best serves the MidAmerica Region, its congregations, and Unitarian Universalism. The Board also feels a great responsibility for helping to ensure that sufficient assets, for providing programs and services in the region, are obtained through the fundraising process. With that stewardship role in mind, the MidAmerica Board has spent the past eight months in conversation with the UUA’s Stewardship and Development Team about the changes they are proposing for the Annual Program Fund, and how those changes might play out in the MidAmerica Region. There are two parts to their proposed changes. One, is moving to a “unified pledge”, meaning that each year your congregation would just receive a single request for your annual pledge from the UUA, which would then be split with the MidAmerica Region. This last winter the MidAmerica Board approved moving to a unified pledge and payment process, and negotiated a percentage of giving that the UUA will return to the region.
The second, and more significant change the UUA is proposing, is to change the method of calculation for what the “ask” for each congregation should be. Currently in MidAmerica honor congregation status is calculated based on a per member allocation. The new formula would base the “ask” on a set percentage of a congregation’s expenditures for the past year. This is an attempt to more accurately reflect a congregation’s current financial status in any given year. The MidAmerica Board is in conversation with our UUA Stewardship and Development team about what implementation of this change would look like in our region. In addition, the Board will be offering a number of opportunities for congregations and individuals to provide input and feedback regarding this change. You will hear about them at our Regional Business Meeting in June at the start of General Assembly, and in the coming months. The Board is working diligently to ensure, as much as we can, that any changes will not negatively affect either the congregations’ finances, nor the funding levels we currently experience, and we will also continue to look for ways they might be enhanced.
So much of the work that MidAmerica does – that of the Staff as well as that of the Board – is made possible by the very significant financial support that we receive from our congregations. On behalf of the MidAmerica Board, I thank you and your congregation for its contribution to MidAmerica. I thank all of our honor congregations, and if your congregation has not made that level of contribution, I ask you to encourage them to strive toward that goal. On behalf of the MidAmerica Region Board and Staff, I would also like to thank those of you that contribute as “Friends of MidAmerica.” If you are not a member of “Friends of MidAmerica,” I urge you to consider it as a way to contribute to the region as an individual. I would also like to remind you of the importance of the financial support all our congregations provide our denomination through the UUA’s Annual Program Fund. The demands and opportunities presented to our faith community right now will require us to do more with resources that are already stretched thin. Our covenant as a free association of congregations calls on us to share our resources in this work. We continue to look for new ways to engage in stewardship and welcome any recommendations on how we might do better.
It has been a year of some transition for your MidAmerica Board. In July 2018, our Vice-President, Doug Cauble, resigned from the Board for personal reasons. Doug was a respected voice on our Board, and his presence is missed. In August, the Board appointed David Lauth to fill the remainder of Doug’s term as Vice-President, and he has filled the role well. David Lauth’s appointment as Vice- President created an open Trustee position. With the help of the Nominating Committee, a candidate for that position was found. The Board appointed Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh to the open Trustee position in October 2017. Delegates will be asked to affirm that appointment at this year’s Business Meeting. In February 2018, Kyrie Bock resigned her position as Secretary, expressing a desire to remain on the Board as a Trustee. Trustee Tammy Lemmer agreed to take on the Secretary’s role and was appointed for the remainder of Kyrie Bock’s term as Secretary. The Board then agreed to appoint Kyrie Bock as Trustee for the remainder of Tammy Lemmer’s Trustee term. Delegates will be asked to affirm these appointments as well during our Business Meeting.
Early this year, Trustee Janis Cheney informed the Board that, due to health concerns, she will not be able to complete her term as Trustee. Janis has agreed to serve until she is replaced by election during this year’s Business Meeting. Janis has been a very hard working and reliable Board member. In particular, her efforts in communication with congregations has been invaluable. I want to thank her for her service to our Region and to Unitarian Universalism, and wish her good health.
I want to convey my gratitude for those completing their service, for those who continue on our Board, to the Staff who serve us, to the candidates willing to step forward to serve, and to our Nominating Committee who have identified a wonderful set of candidates to lead us in the years to come. Please join me in thanking all of these folks.
This will be my final report to you as President, as I complete my term this June. I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the MidAmerica Region Board from the beginning of our region, two years as Secretary and the last three years as President. It has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and thank you for all the work that you and your congregations do to make our MidAmerica Region what it is.
(signed) Eric Huffer
President, MidAmerica Region, UUA