Monday, January 28, 2013

Third in a series of posts about the January UUA Board meeting

This was the fourth -- and last -- report from the President on the "ends" adopted by the UUA Board in 2009.  This report did what the Board has asked for:  establish a "reasonable" standard for compliance and then measure to that standard.  Mostly using a standard that at least 50% of the respondents to two nation-wide surveys (one of which included Youth, Young Adults, and People of Color) would rate their perception of whether or not that outcome was actually happening, the result was that half of the outcomes showed "non-compliance".

Surveys have their own set of issues, but it's a start.  Interestingly, most of the non-compliance by this definition was not about what was happening within congregations, but rather in the intersection between congregations and the outside world, UU or not. Non-compliant areas included whether or not our congregations were perceived as multicultural and "struggling with issues of oppression and privilege", active participants in ministerial preparation and development, growing in membership, and "living their mission in their communities", as well as all of the outcomes that are part of living "in covenant with other congregations in our Association".  Also included as non-compliant was the outcome of congregations involved in "national or international efforts", and working in interfaith partnerships or alliances.  So far is anyone surprised?

What was not included in the report was a plan to address the non-compliance, which the board has asked for in the next few months.  This as an excellent opportunity to have meaningful discussions about serious issues within the Association, and what the Administration has been doing to address those issues.

The Board has been resistant to doing that in the past because it was not linked to data-driven standards.  In the not so distant past, board meetings would be filled with presentations from staff around programs being developed and implemented.  The board has pushed back, refocusing on the differences we want to make as an Association.  How do we know that these are the right programs, and that we are spending our resources in a way that will move us closer to the kind of outcomes board and staff agree on?  It's a little like having a house with structural problems that you want remediated, and the contractor brings you a list of projects that could be done on the house without any connection to whether or not this will enhance the structural integrity of the house.

For example, the Administration has been doing excellent work with a number of organizations around a strategic review of ministry. What part of moving to our shared vision does this address?  How can we determine if what we are putting in place is moving us toward "living in covenant with other congregations in the Association", or "working in interfaith partnerships or alliances"?  We understand these are long term goals, but being accountable to our member congregations and other Sources means achieving some indication that the programs are working -- or when we will know if they are.   

No comments: