Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What does this have to do with us?

Second of a series of posts about district governance

"How will this help the PCD?", the PCD board member asked. Gini Courter's response was not necessarily appreciated.

"It's like health care," Gini answered. "We have a lot of people who are happy with what they have, so are unwilling to change a broken system because what they have is working fine for them."

If I had been able to come up with a brilliant set of reasons why the PCD directly benefited from governance changes, I would have done so a long time ago. I have combed through the reports, looking for inequities in how our congregations are served, and although I don't have access to a lot of the data, I find no glaring disparities that would suggest we are not getting our "fair share". Sure, I would love to have more staff, who could then go deeper into their expertise and not need to do it all (not to mention not have to work 24/7, which our staff appears to do), but that is more a function of being one of the smaller districts. Then I decided I was probably missing the point.

What we are doing in this district is not sustainable in the long term if the entire Association is not healthy. Just like health care, there are systemic issues that need to be fixed to have a viable denomination. I am not looking for just a church with a great worship service that attends to my pastoral needs (though I have that) -- I am looking for something that connects my faith to something much larger, to really make an impact on the world around me.

I have friends who view people without health care as somehow bringing it on themselves -- I wonder sometimes about the parallel when I hear a certain smugness about how membership in New England, the bastion of 25 Beacon and all that represents, is declining.

Should I care if their side of the boat is leaking?


Bill Baar said...

The so called reform creates 111 commissions and panels to push sundry regs upon us. It means contracts aplenty for the next generation of Ross Perots (he having made his fortune on Medicare billing systems). If that's Gini's frame and what's going on with UUA, we're in deep stuff.

Robin Edgar said...

There's nothing quite like a well placed rhetorical question. :-)

Steve Caldwell said...

Linda wrote:
"I wonder sometimes about the parallel when I hear a certain smugness about how membership in New England, the bastion of 25 Beacon and all that represents, is declining."

I don't know if you've seen my speculation about what is happening in New England:

In terms of demographic "tipping points," I wonder if we'll see the same New England negative growth demographic trend on the Western UUA Districts in a few years as the percentage of the "None" religious affiliation demographic increases above 30% (assuming this demographic trend keeps moving in this direction).

While the growth in the Western UUA Districts has been increasing overall over the past decade, it's been flat in the Pacific Central District based on the graph in Peter Morales' report. I wonder if the PCD is running into the same trends that has already hit New England.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda:

Point of information: PCD became a 501(c)(3) in 1963, when the paperwork started after the IRS approved the 1961 consolidation. Both of the other west coast districts are 501(c)(3)'s, and I'm pretty sure that they did this at the same time. We were already in relationship through the Pacific Coast Unitarian Council, started by the Rev. Thomas Starr King, and revitalized by Rev. Charles Wendte in 1886.

I see a reference at :
that Ray Manker was District Consultant for the Pacific Southwest District of the Pacific Coast Unitarian Council in 1960, so I would "assume" that the council, through its three districts, had been providing services to our congregations for some time.

This led to the west coast districts refusing an Inter-District Rep in 1970 and splitting those funds three ways to maintain the three district offices.

Onward and Upward,

Chuck Rosene