Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conversations at Starr King

Meeting with students at any level is interesting and stimulating, and gets more so as the intensity and depth of what the students are studying goes up. This was certainly true yesterday in my discussion with Dave Sammon's class on UU polity at Starr King School for the Ministry. In addition to policy based governance in general and as the Board is working on it, we talked about the Independent affiliate issue and funding for theological education. Unfortunately (for me) I had to leave the last part in Art Ungar's capable hands, who is steeped in the history of funding as well as a variety of governance projects around the UUA board.

Part of my role is to insure the views of the people I represent within the Pacific Central District are understood and heard by the UUA Board - and that the Board views are understood (even if not agreed with) by the members within PCD. I suspect on the latter I was only partially successful. Though I think the focus on serving congregations is understood, to a person (or at least it appeared) the class of about 15 did not agree with the new paradigm for Independent Affiliate status. I am hoping the class members will post some of what they expressed, but much of it fell into these general areas:

- disagreement that organizations such as those with a religious focus did not directly serve congregations, often based on personal experience within a congregation
- a belief that focusing only on directly service congregations ignored the larger needs of "the institution of Unitarian Universalism" (to quote Art Ungar).

Our District Executive, Cilla Raughley, addresses it this way:

"The UUA Board seems serious about the move to reestablish the UUA as an association of congregations, and that's surely a good thing. But I also really believe our congregations want to be part of a **larger movement,** and these affiliated/disaffiliated organizations are such an important part of what that larger movement is. They represent causes and interests that need a national platform to get a critical mass that can't happen at a congregational level, and is incomplete at a district level."

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