Thursday, January 22, 2009

Governance as Holy Work – Part III

Second in a series of posts about the January UUA Board of Trustees meeting

By far the greatest amount of time at this and the last Board meeting was around the development of values and ENDS for the Association – “Association” meaning the entirety of the Board, administration, and the 1000+ congregations that have covenanted to be together to form the Association. Those of you familiar with Policy Governance will recognize that ENDS is not an acronym, but rather a Carver branded term for the broad vision and strategic directions developed for a non-profit organization. Based on the Open Space sessions at GA2007, the Appreciative Inquiry of GA2008, and conversations with the UU Ministers Association, District Presidents Association and others, the Board has created initial language for the values, vision, and strategic direction of our Association. I have been meeting with a number of congregation boards to get feedback on these, and will be doing so much more in the next three months, including “webinars” online that will allow all of us to discuss them in the comfort of our own homes.

Here is the “Global End”, or mission statement created at the October Board meeting:

Grounded in our covenantal tradition, the UUA will inspire people to lead lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, thereby transforming themselves and the world.

The following (draft) strategic directions just developed are the broad directions that the Board gives to the President:

Our ENDS are growing Unitarian Universalist congregations that. . .

Unlock the Power that Transforms Lives
• In our congregations, people deepen their spiritual lives. They:
  • Develop a personal spiritual practice
  • Participate in meaningful worship
  • Learn and practice empowered leadership and generosity.
  • Find their ministry in the world
• Our congregations are:
  • Vibrant—joyful and excited about their ministries
  • Intentionally multi-generational and multi-cultural.
  • Networked with each other
• Congregations are:
  • Active participants in ministerial preparation and development
  • Shared ministries
  • Agents of mission and extension

Invite people into congregations that live out covenant through:
• A strong, articulated sense of UU and community identity
• High expectations of their members
• Full participation in Associational life
• An open and inclusive outreach and welcome
• Embracing and struggling with issues of oppression and privilege

Move toward sustainability, wholeness and reconciliation through ministries, partnerships, and alliances.
• Our congregations answer the call to ministry and justice work:
  • Grounded in the communities in which they live
  • Nationally, internationally
  • With interfaith partners and alliances
• The public engages in meaningful dialogue and takes action informed by our prophetic voice and public witness.

These are all at equal priority and are to be achieved within a justifiable cost.

Does this reflect your dreams for Unitarian Universalism? Post a response and/or take the survey on the right.

Next post: Musings from the Mall

5 comments:

Jane Middleton said...

Just a couple of thoughts here. Unless I missed it, I didn't see the word "love" anywhere. One thing that's been troubling me is a sense that we UUs are more comfortable talking about love in the abstract than in the here and now, that we'd love humanity a whole lot more if only those pesky people wouldn't keep getting in the way. I'd like us to consider some reference to a congregation as being a place "where we're encouraged to connect with one another more fully, with intention, compassion, and love."

Also, Linda, your posts on this blog are tagged UUCB Coordinating Team -- I'm thinking it should be PCD Rep or something, no?

Robin Edgar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Query said...

I haven't processed this fully, particularly for what is NOT there (e.g., love, which is a very good point); however, I would like to mention one thing that I saw immediately.

The piece that begins "Invite people into congregations that live out covenant through..." is really trying to say two separate things, and it is confusing to conflate them. Rather, say something like:
- Invite people into congregations
- Congregations live out covenant through...

If you don't separate them, it looks as if the UUA will invite people into a congregation only if that congregation is living its covenant in these particular ways. Would the UUA not invite people into a congregation which isn't fully participating in the UUA because, for example, it doesn't send delegates to GA? As a mother cat will push aside a kitten she perceives as defective, would the UUA push aside a struggling congregation? I hope not.

Query said...

I haven't processed this fully, particularly for what is NOT there (e.g., love, which is a very good point); however, I would like to mention one thing that I saw immediately.

The piece that begins "Invite people into congregations that live out covenant through..." is really trying to say two separate things, and it is confusing to conflate them. Rather, say something like:
- Invite people into congregations
- Congregations live out covenant through...

If you don't separate them, it looks as if the UUA will invite people into a congregation only if that congregation is living its covenant in these particular ways. Would the UUA not invite people into a congregation which isn't fully participating in the UUA because, for example, it doesn't send delegates to GA? As a mother cat will push aside a kitten she perceives as defective, would the UUA push aside a struggling congregation? I hope not.

jda said...

A couple of initial thoughts. The vision statement states "...the UUA will inspire people..." - as an association of congregations this seems like a big shift. How and by who will this shift be implemented? Through empowered shared ministries among professional and lay ministers I hope!

I like the word humility - root word humas, meaning earth. And I'm especially delighted to see "Grounded in our covenantal tradition."

I've reviewed the report on Open Space results and divided the statements among the three ends statements:

14 - Transforming lives
3 - Congregations living in covenant
3 - Sustainability
I also noticed 9 which don't seem to be specifically reflected in the language of the three end statements, though perhaps implied:
6 - specific to the earth and interdependent web
3 - mentioned children, youth, and young adults.

I'm especially curious about the lack of language around the earth as this is one of the largest areas of agreement for UU's, reflected in theology, the success of the 7th principles projects, and GA study action/resolution items in the last few years. It is especially important to youth and young adults.

I was in Portland and participated in the Open Space Technology groups. I'm glad to see what has happened with the results. My overall impression of many of the groups I attended was that people, especially lay people were ready to begin training and taking on more of the responsibility of shared ministry. They were asking for resources and more dynamic partnerships with the professional ministry. This is evidenced by the success of UU University. I hope that making this kind of training will be made more assessable to people in our congregations who cannot attend GA.

It is interesting to me that among the language of the GA statements "love" is only mentioned 4 times where as "just" or "justice" is mentioned 8 times. Covenant, love, and justice all require deepening relationships to withstand and learn from the natural conflict that will arise - maybe we need to consider the words mercy and/or grace.