Monday, February 9, 2009

Owners and sources of authority

"Ownership" is a useful concept in the non-profit world - analogous to "shareholder" in the for-profit world, it implies a level of accountability not present in words like "stakeholder", or "customer".

It is also an uncomfortable word. My ancestors were never "owned", at least not in the past 300 years. So the UUA Board has opted for the term "Sources of Authority and Accountability" and made some minor changes to what we had created in October at our January meeting. So who are these "sources of authority"?

The obvious answer is the member congregations of the UUA. But we did not stop there - I think the longer list is intriguing, and a more accurate portrayal of who or what we are accountable to or from whom or what we get our authority.

• Our member congregations
• Current and future generations of Unitarian Universalists
• The heritage, traditions, and ideals of Unitarian UniversalismLink
• The vision of Beloved Community
• The Spirit of life, love, and the holy

What is more intriguing is how we would actually demonstrate that accountability/source of authority -- which makes for a great discussion.

[See also Governance as Holy Work, Part III]


AJU said...

The question of authority is related to the use of Policy Governance. For a critique see:

Anonymous said...


Your blog about the UUA board trying to define its Sources of Authority and Accountability is interesting. The first three items on the list are OK but the last two seem ridiculous to me, especially the "Beloved Community" item. This is an illdefined concept and has no place on such a list. I can see no way in which the UUA Board could get authority from or give accountability to the "Beloved Community". My advice: keep it simple and keep it clear and stay out of the new age weeds.

A South Bay UU