Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who are we? Part II: the Association

Third in a series of posts from the October UUA Board meeting

As discussed in earlier posts, the Board and UUA President are sponsoring Gathered Here, an Association-wide inquiry into what connects us to our faith, and what differences we want to make in the world. This is in partnership with a growing list of UU organizations. There are two simultaneous paths for the inquiry – one for congregations that helps them identify their own goals and outcomes, and one that builds up to districts and an Association-wide shared vision roughly a year from now.

An interesting thing happened in the very first planning team meeting for Gathered Here last February.

Gathered Here is a combination of congregational and community events and one on one Appreciative Inquiry interviews. One of the commitments from the UUA Board is that these interviews would include more than those “typically at the table” but also the “historically marginalized”. This led to a conversation about Young Adults, mostly raised UU, who still identify as Unitarian Universalists but do not belong to a congregation. Would we include them?

The answer was yes. To some degree this flies in the face of the UUA Board’s strong position that we are an “Association of Congregations” (italics mine), though the by-laws proposal from the board last summer opens the potential for congregations to be other than bricks and mortar “fellowship” and “churches”. When we look forward to what Unitarian Universalism is/shall be for our children’s children, is that enough? Is an “association of congregations” more than the sum of its parts? Are we a “movement”? Are there institutions other than our congregations that are or should be in mutual accountability within that “movement”?

There questions form the basis of a year long conversation with our congregations and other key stakeholders about who we are, starting with the District Presidents Association on November 4. What comes out of these conversations will impact how we define Unitarian Universalism.

Next post: Governance: turning a corner?

1 comment:

Bill Baar said...

What do people who ask the question Are we a movement? think a movement is?

Movements strike me as time-limited behaviors that if not given permanence in institutions, start to peter out.

I'm curious what people who ask this question, think they are.