Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Creating New "Ends"

Third in a series of posts about the October 2012 UUA Board meeting

 I walked into this board meeting with a different set of expectations around crafting "Ends".  This was confirmed by the training with Susan Radwan, who stated flatly "ends are not about your theology, philosophy, or vision -- they are instructions to your President", echoing John Carver.

What is the net added value of the Association?  What impact does it have that a single individual congregation could not do alone?

I would maintain that a single congregation could do an excellent job of helping its members "develop a personal spiritual practice, participate in meaningful worship, learn and practice empowered leadership and generosity", and "find their ministry in the world" (Policy without the UUA. I have no doubt they exist already.  What they likely could not do is develop a library of resources for their professional and lay leaders to weather the inevitable changes and storms that are part of congregational life.  So perhaps the End is about "congregations with the resources they need to live their missions" (one of the preliminary draft ends written at the meeting). 

Likewise, an individual congregation could also be "embracing and struggling with issues of oppression and privilege" (Policy with the UUA, but it would be more difficult for an entire system of congregations to do so, or to be  "congregations engaged and effective in focused, sustainable social justice work done collaboratively....with UU components, inter-faith and other partners" (another initial draft policy).  For example, would UU congregations be so widely supportive of the BGLTQ community without such programs as becoming a Welcoming Congregation

Teams of UUA board and staff are in the process of writing draft Ends in four teams based on the purpose statement of the Association:  1) serving the needs of its member congregations, 2) organizing new congregations, 3) extending and strengthening Unitarian institutions, and 4) implementing its principles.  A smaller team will craft these into a more cohesive framework for the Board to adopt in January.  The Ends will then be taken to our Sources of Authority and Accountability for feedback.  A final version is expected to be adopted in June.

Part of me still wants the poetry (and that may still be possible).  I hold the poetry partly responsible for the difficulty board and staff have had in evaluating our progress towards Ends that are not only difficult to measure, but probably not within the Association's direct "circle of influence"

Next post:  You want to talk to WHO?  Operating definitions for non-congregational Sources

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