Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Regionalization Question

Fifth in a series of posts about the October 2010 UUA Board Meeting

Friday morning (all of it) was labeled as a "Report on the Districts (Terasa Cooley) and future direction on regionalization". Terasa had no "report" but rather opened up the space for a wide-ranging discussion on current and future regionalization issues. As reported here before, there are two very different aspects of "regionalization", governance and service delivery, though they tend to be conflated in districts (like my own, the Pacific Central District) where the governance boards are heavily involved in both.

Terasa and Peter addressed the service delivery side. From Peter's perspective "it is hard to underestimate the problems co-employment caused… we are really tripping up over that arrangement… [we are using] a one room school house model." Teresa gave the example of Mountain Desert, which has 4 staff members, and 54 congregations spread across roughly a million square miles, compared to more compact districts. Are we serving the Mountain Desert congregations in a way that does not discriminate because of their location? Sara Lammert gave the example of program consultant Tandy Rogers from the Pacific Northwest District serving as the interim director for the Youth and Young Adult office. Tandy is co-employed -- though the right thing to do, sorting out the financial and other implications is not simple.

This coming weekend the District Presidents' Association will be meeting to address the governance side. Three UUA board members (plus the board liaison and moderator) have been invited to join. As one of those UUA board members, I am also attending to discuss the linkage done recently by the UUA board, and invite the DPA to collaborate with us on whatever linkage we do next.

These are not easy issues. I do not think the same structure used for service delivery is necessarily the right structure for governance, could suggest eliminating co-employment as one of the steps in decoupling them.

The UUA Board does not have a grand governance plan for districts which both protects and damns us. The district boards need to determine their own fates. But thinking about governance takes me back to linkage -- what would our member congregations and other accountability groups answer to classic linkage questions like the following?
  1. What do you see as the role of the district board?
  2. If districts did not exist today, for what reason(s) would we create them?
  3. If this were 2020, and we were looking back over the past ten years, what would you like to be able to say is different within our congregations because the district was here?


Tom Wilson said...

Those are leading questions. So ask the same three questions about the UUA Board.

As a parable, consider the growth of the early Christian church. There were individual churches (parishes), organized into dioceses headed by bishops. This is a natural occurrence because of geographical proximity of churches. Then one of the bishops decided that he was the head bishop, and we get the Pope. In the Reformation, some people decided that we didn't need such a person and organization. Is it time for Reformation of the UUA?

Linda Laskowski said...
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Linda Laskowski said...

These questions are right out of the policy governance training manuals, and are exactly the kinds of questions any board, district or UUA, should be asking those they are accountable to. The UUA Board specifically asked the last question in the interviews with the 65 congregations, and will likely incorporate the others in future linkage.

Bill Baar said...

I'm afraid the real question is what's UUA and why do UUs need it.

I know my district. I know what it's done. I send them emails.

What comes out of UUA can seem awful and destructive... people in their own Movement doing damage to Churches shaking hands with Akmenijad and casting Love Divides.

Peter Bowden said...

Thanks Linda! I appreciate all your reporting on your UUA Board work, especially your recent video. Best, Peter