Monday, May 10, 2010

Apologies from a not historian

With thanks to Larry Ladd for his information and graceful way of providing it and apologies to Gini for misrepresentation

Sometimes when one is not familiar with the details of a situation, they are still able to capture its essence with the key facts being correct. And in other cases they -- well, don't.

I did not, in summarizing Gini's comments at the governance change workshop at the PCD District Assembly. Though history is always open to interpretation, I misrepresented some key facts about our early formation:
  • Districts WERE originally set up for service delivery, not to elect trustees. In fact, trustees were elected at large until 1969.
  • As Gini mentioned, districts were pre-dated by Unitarian area conferences and Universalist state conventions. These conferences and state conventions often had their own source of money. The new UUA leadership's task was to combine them into districts -- whether that was "gerrymandering" or paying attention to "identity, money, and jobs", as Larry suggests, depends on your point of view. My understanding is there is a substantial difference in perspective between those who came to our faith as Unitarians versus those who came as Universalists.
  • Per Larry: "The important point here is that the muddled mixture of funding began in 1961-64, far earlier than the blog indicated and for very different reasons." He goes on to describe a complex set of negotiations in terms of where the funds from the existing conventions and conferences would to (which Gini also described). "So when the financial problems of the UUA emerged in 1969-70 many districts already had their own sources of funds (I served on the Connecticut Valley District Board during that period and we were glad to have the Connecticut Universalist Convention money!). The reduction in direct UUA support certainly created incentives to raise more funds but not a lot could be raised by the churches, by and large, were in decline during the 1970s. Ironically, the financial problems also led to the creation by the UUA of InterDistrict Representatives [the field people mentioned by Gini], who were regional service delivery people very similar to the structure that is emerging now (except that now there’s more money and staff)."
One of the Board's "Sources of Authority and Accountability" is "the heritage, traditions, and ideals of Unitarian Universalism". This is a living example of why that is important, and how historical context needs to inform our decisions.


Robin Edgar said...

It's always a pleasure to see a Unitarian*Universalist leader responsibly acknowledging having made a mistake and taking steps to correct it. If only *more* UU leaders would do so. . .

AJU said...

We've been here before:

I believe that it was about 1970 that the UUA went through a financial crisis and laid off many of the district execs. As I recall, the UUA wanted to have one staff person serve the PCD and the PSWD. These districts didn't agree, and hired and paid for their own district execs. Other districts had to share staff.

My memory might not be exactly correct.

Donald O'Bloggin said...

Also interesting: The Heartland District was created 10 years ago by the consolidation of UU District of Michigan, and Ohio Valley UU District, who had long been served by an Interdistrict Office.

We'd been the Michigan/Ohio Valley District when the districts were made, but early on (I've actually found differing dates on this), the larger, richer, SE Michigan churches became annoyed that the District was spending all its money supporting the smaller congregations south of here, and not on the civil rights struggles of the time.

Thus, those SE Michigan churches bullied the other MI churches to form a new district. The UUA said ok to this, and each got their own UUA Trustee in '69, but we always had to share a district office.

Another side effect: Toledo had been part of this district, and when the district split, gave the finger to both Ohio Valley and Michigan and joined Ohio Meadville instead.