Moderator Candidates Forum, General Assembly 2013
General Assembly (GA) 2013 Event 2065
Be an informed voter. The candidates for Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Moderator will speak. The Moderator serves as Chief Governance Officer of the Association, presiding at General Assemblies and at meetings of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. The Moderator also serves on the Finance Committee without vote, represents the Association on special occasions, and assists in promoting its welfare.
Report from UU World
KEN SAWYER: Welcome to the Candidates Forum, featuring the two candidates for UUA moderator, Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex. It's hosted by the Election Campaign Practices Committee of the UUA, made up of two members of the UUA board, David Jack away and the Reverend Doctor Susan Ritchie, and one non-board member who serves as chair, which is me, Ken Sawyer. The Committee supervises UUA elections to ensure their fairness and compliance with UUA bylaws and rules. We hold forums for contested contests for president or moderator, like this one now. We have been helped through the years by Kay Montgomery on the UUA staff and Tom Loughrey great on the UUA board and this evening by Tim Murphy with the electronics and Marlene Brown, who oversees the ushers.
The ushers will be looking out for hands going up from people who have a question they'd like the candidates to address. If they come early, that's going to be good, because we'll have some things to ask them when their opening statements are over. So raise your hand, and they will come by with a piece of paper for you to make your question.
The candidates will have three minutes each to answer those questions. After 2 and 1/2 minutes, they will be notified that time is running short. And my iPhone will chime at the end of those three minutes. But first, we will begin with opening statements of no more than 8 minutes from each of the candidates.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Good evening.
AUDIENCE: Good evening.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Thank you for coming out this evening. I was nominated as a candidate for UUA moderator just about 18 months ago, which makes the moderator campaign roughly the same length as the gestation period for orcas.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: It's finally General Assembly 2013, and I have been preparing myself for months. And I am ready for the great big event, my daughter bridging into the young adult community tomorrow night.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Of course, I've also been preparing for the election. I want to take a moment to thank all of the candidates. I'm grateful for your willingness to serve Unitarian Universalism. And I extend a special thank you to my fellow UUA moderator nominee, without whom I would be running in an uncontested election.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Our democracy is better for a contested election. As candidates, we have had to hone our messages and clarify our stance. And a contested race means you have had a more exciting and interesting election. You're welcome. And now you have the precious opportunity to choose for our faith.
I am a third generation Unitarian Universalist. I did not find this faith or choose this faith. Instead, I chose to stay. And in a faith tradition that tends to focus more on providing a beacon for seekers than on retaining our children as a vehicle for growth, I bring a valuable perspective to leadership.
But retention is more than just growth. We need wise, spiritual, talented leaders and followers to transform our faith into what we must be to minister to tomorrow's world. Our youth, who are born Unitarian Universalist, and those who have found us as young adults, they will be our guides, if we can be the community they need, if we are willing to share leadership, if those of us who are teachers and leaders are also capable of being students and followers.
Being a lifelong Unitarian Universalist also means I'm able to bring 30 years of Unitarian Universalist leadership experience to the moderator role and still be in my 40s.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: I began serving in leadership roles as a youth and have been active in UU congregations on both coasts, served by no less than 10 UU ministers. I have served in leadership roles across the association under 3 different UUA a presidents and worked with 4 different folks serving in the position of moderator. This gives me a healthy longitudinal perspective that resists unproductive reactivity, provides me with a broad understanding of our association, and reminds me that governance is a vehicle for not the goal of Unitarian Universalism.
10 of those 30 years I served on the UUA board. You have read in the UUA world that Kay Montgomery, executive vice president of the UUA and recording secretary for the UUA board, is retiring at the end of June. When she leaves, 30 years of institutional knowledge leaves with her. At the close of this General Assembly and this election, which will change the size of the UUA board, the average tenure of a trustee on the board will be 2 years, about the equivalent to the gestation period of an elephant.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: In this election, my institutional knowledge, my knowledge of the many moving parts and complex, interrelated entities that form our governance structure and my 10 years of board-specific experience is critical. I speak most frequently about my experience within Unitarian Universalism. But I was asked at age 24 to serve on the UUA Black Concerns Working Group and Racial and Cultural Diversity Research Team because of my professional experience as a consultant, using assessment matrix and cultural change programs to decrease discrimination and increase the inclusivity of workplace environments.
When I was asked four years later to serve on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and then six years after that to run for the UUA board, it was because I brought a combined leadership and counter oppression skill set. I still approach leadership with a passion for how our deep commitment for counter oppression can be furthered through my service. I have loved serving Unitarian Universalism over these past three decades, but I must say we have a volunteer leadership system that excludes most working layity and people with families. There was not a policy at the time, but the UUA offered to pay for a caregiver for my nursing infant so I could continue to serve on the MFC, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, when my daughter was born. By the time my second child was two years old, the UUA's reimbursement policy included child care.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: We have made progress, but it is still challenging to diversify the pool of volunteers serving our association, in large part because of the way that the work is structured. As a working parent, I know that the time expected of volunteers is extraordinary. But-- excuse me. I lost my place-- I worry that we are perpetuating a system that is disassociating itself from the future, because we make it difficult for the next generation of leaders to serve. And that matters.
It matters because Unitarian Universalism has a dream of what this world can be, and that dream is big and bold. We must engage our youth and young adults, because our dreams are so big and so bold that we cannot get there without them. We cannot get there alone, and we cannot get there in our lifetime.
As moderator, I will leverage my experience and knowledge of our association and the board to ensure the smoothest possible transition. I will use a counter oppression lens to make our governance processes and culture more inclusive, participatory, transparent, and accessible. I will hold myself and others accountable to our best selves. I will engage leaders and followers across the generations, so that we are both firmly rooted in our history and past and actively creating ourselves for tomorrow.
I am looking forward to your questions. We have had a number of candidate forums, and I have very high expectations of this group. Thank you so much.
JIM KEY: I am grateful for this opportunity to be a candidate for moderator. And I'm also grateful to have spent the last 18 months with Tamara. We did not know each other before this campaign, and it's been a great pleasure sharing these podiums, some 18 as I recall. I'm also grateful for this opportunity to talk about my vision for governance, for right relationship among us, and a vision of our future as a liberal religious people. But in order to understand my vision of our future, I need to talk a little moment about the past, my past.
I was raised in an environment far different from the freedom, the openness, and the justice-making that is so important to Unitarian Universalist. My four siblings and I were raised by a single mother. And when things got tough for her, we moved in with her parents, who lived in the Jim Crow South. I was 11 at the time, and North Carolina was a different place then than it is now. Amid all the change and stigma of being poor and not having a father around, I latched onto the man who would become the major influence in my life, my maternal grandfather.
Poppa was radically liberal, an adherent of the Social Gospel movement that concerned itself with racial repression and the maldistribution of wealth, the scourge of poverty, and the dangers of war. He was a Universalist in theology before I ever knew such a thing existed. It was he who taught me, long before it was fashionable, that being white and male gave me privileges that usually went unrecognized in the world in which we lived.
It was Poppa who first gave me a vision of a faith and a world that made room for everyone. And I spent much of the first part of my life in search of a community that shared my desire for inclusion. It wasn't until I moved to a small town in South Carolina that I first heard of our saving faith. A Presbyterian minister told me about an organizing group that was going to plant a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and she suggested that I might find myself at home there. She was right.
And when I joined what became the emerging Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort, my heart sang, and it's been singing ever since. I was converted to a life of justice and love and community in my childhood, but I was a grown man before I found my religious home. And I believe too many of us have to wait too long before we hear the good news of Unitarian Universalism. And I believe that the way we govern ourselves, in mutuality, in covenantal trust with the spirit at every level of governance that reflects our highest aspirations, is crucial in supporting each congregation, every fellowship, all societies.
One of the things that drew me to this faith is that it is covenantal. And we're talking about that this week. To be in covenant means to be in relationship at a deep level. It means that the relationship involves an essential part of who we are. We would somehow be less if we were not in that relationship.
Since few Unitarian Universalists see themselves in covenant in relationship with a supernatural being, our primary covenant is with each other. If we are to be a covenantal religion, it means to be in that deep relationship individually and institutionally. Relationships are two-way streets. That mutuality is easily imagined when it involves relationships between institutions or people at equal levels. It gets harder once there are differences in power and in resources.
Those in the dominant culture need to understand what it gains from the relationship, how it would be less without that relationship. All of us who hold elective office must commit ourselves to the democratic process that placed us in a position to serve and keep in mind what it is we work for.
Imagine a faith community of vibrant and agile congregations and communities who practice radical hospitality and whose only creed is love and compassion. Imagine our numbers growing by reaching all those who share our values and reflecting the changing demographics of our nation. Imagine using our historic emphasis on the inherent worth of each individual and on covenantal communities to leverage our strength as we model and build a world where we all flourish together.
I believe we all have a role to play in creating this mutuality so that we might live out this vision. The elected president of our association is our chief vision-caster. He serves as our public face. He represents us in the larger world of faith and articulates our values and our decisions as an association to the larger world.
My lived experience, that story of conversion I relayed briefly to you, has everything to do with why I want to serve as your moderator and how it will inform my role as moderator. Just as our president does, the moderator serves at the pleasure of our congregations. And my many roles in church life have taught me a great deal about congregational life and systems.
I've served in multiple roles, from sexton to president to capital campaign chair. I served as the dean of the Mountain School for Congregation Leadership and have been educated in systems thinking. I was president of the Southeast District during a time of imagining our anti-oppression work, transitioning to policy governance, engaging the District Presidents Association the board of trustees on the issues of regionalization, moderating a lively and passionate discussion on our change of name from Thomas Jefferson to Southeast and nurturing and strengthening our clusters. I've served the District Presidents Association of Leadership Roles and currently chair of the audit committee of the association.
My service to this faith at every level, congregational, cluster, district, region, and association has given me a clear understanding of the challenges we face and the opportunity we now have to make a paradigm shift. My experience in business, many years with IBM, leading multicultural teams across the globe, organizing a community bank, starting my own consulting practice, also a global enterprise, have been in the area of finance administration and human relations. I bring significant experience in ways to shape governance, to manage risk, to monitor solutions. The range of experiences will bring fresh insights and emerging practices to our movement at this time of change and religious life in our society.
My leadership experience in both my congregational and professional life has been marked by collegial and collaborative approach. It's been focused on building relationships based on trust. I work hard to be both a border-crosser and a bridge-builder, to serve as an ally in the struggle against oppressions as well as a voice for the marginalized. I'm a great believer in institutions, yet I'm not at all afraid to make change when change is called for. Though my experience is broad, I have not been a part of the traditional governing history of our association, and I believe that is an asset.
At this moment in our history of governance, I believe that a fresh approach is necessary as we go forward to restore all the covenantal relationships among us that have been damaged. Until those relationships among us or repaired and restored, our capacity to make a difference will stall. The people who are most responsible for spreading the message of our faith, and that would be each one of you, will be working at a disadvantage.
Our liberal religious association should be governed not by a single voice but with a single vision. We may not hold the same views, but we must be looking in the same direction. I will partner with our president as well as our board, with our staff as well as our congregations to help govern this association in a way that is true to our democratic values and faithful to our greatest dreams. I welcome your questions tonight and hope to have your vote on Saturday. Thank you.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you both. I'll start, then, this time with you, Jim. We have heard a lot about your positions. Please tell us more about your resume and qualifications. We are especially interested in your experience outside of UU circles.
JIM KEY: Well, as I've tried to articulate--
AUDIENCE: We can't hear you.
JIM KEY: Press the button to get the green light. My experience has been broad, as I tried to articulate in my opening statements, both in a traditional large business, IBM, where I worked with multicultural organizations around the world and I lived abroad, my own consulting practice with, interestingly, a great deal of Islamic nations and talking about governance as it relates to Islamic religious values, and in many areas with other not-for-profits, the YMCA, child advocacy group, and any number of not-for-profits that I've been working on.
The thing I have the longitudinal experience on is the bank that I helped establish 14 years ago, which was intentionally multicultural in its board work. And over those 14 years, we've had some tough times with the great recession. I think through good governance we've managed through those. So I think the experience is broad and deep, as it relates to large organizations, small organizations, and organizations that have to go through a transformational process.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I started out dealing with and engaging with large corporations and not-for-profits and government agencies with counter oppression work, primarily focused on diversity and inclusion. It's also where I started doing research and organizational assessments, doing large ones. I think some of the largest ones were up to about 10,000 surveys of folks that we used then as matrix to evaluate whether or not the programs were working and, in fact, resulting in a more inclusive environment.
And I did a lot of work with broadcasting and newspapers. It was right when the newspapers weren't being quite as successful and many demographics were changing in cities. So we did a lot of town hall meetings, reaching out to communities to find out what it was that they needed and how they could engage with the newspaper and the media more effectively. I also did a lot of performance management with the Wall Street Journal, American Airlines, just a variety of things.
I also started doing a lot of board work at that time, working with the Art Institute of Chicago, a lot of school districts as they transitioned to policy governance. And that's where I really learned about where some of the rough spots were, that transitioning from a constituency mindset to trying to deal with policy governance was a tough shift for people. It really changed people's identities about what they were and what their work was about.
I was the sole breadwinner at the time. When my husband got his teaching credential and started teaching, I stopped consulting and travelling so that I could be at home with my growing children and started working in education and found that I loved that but soon moved into a management role. And so for the past 13 years, I have been in a management role with programs that provide on-site before and after school programming for school districts. It sounds nice and warm and fuzzy, but the reality is it's a highly-regulated, very small profit margin, very stressful environment to manage in. But I am rewarded by the families and the children that I work with.
I also will say, though, that a lot of the things that I have learned have been through my volunteer work. I have done advocacy work on behalf of African-American children and families throughout the time that my children have been in school. And that work has been extraordinarily rewarding and taught me many, many leadership skills. Thank you.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara, we hear about tensions between the roles of moderator and president. What would you do to remedy this situation? And is the problem one of right relationships or something else?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, it helps, again, the fact that I was on the board, so I have experienced different moderators and different presidents in relationship. And my experience is that there has been tension kind of ebbing and flowing. I think it's a little bit of a natural expectation when people are working hard and caring deeply about what they're doing.
What I will say is the points at which there are conflict or tension tend to be similar. What I have noticed recently is, because of the shift to policy governance where the focus is much more accountability, we are staying in those areas of tension longer. I think that a lot of the transition that we're going through we actually have moved through the roughest part of it.
Remember, it's a huge change to move to policy governance. The relationship is different, different expectations. And whenever people start talking about accountability, it can be very much feel like, am I being judged? So I think that we've really moved to a different place. Conversations are very productive.
Just this past couple of days, we had board meetings, and they were very, very productive. And no conflict at all that I experienced in the room, just working through tough issues. I really think that the way I approach it is that when there is tension is to be curious about it.
What I know is, as a Unitarian Universalist, the people in the room, they go out to eat. They have wine. They have a good old time. It's not about the relationships. People like each other, so that tells you that there's something else going on.
To me, to approach it with curiosity-- Why are we in conflict here? What is that about? What's underlying the conflict? And does it tell us something important about a conversation that needs to had, something that maybe that we're avoiding or something they we're fearful of that really does need to be addressed?
And for me, I think what's intriguing is, because it's been at those points so many times throughout my history of being in leadership and interacting with those roles, I believe that there's probably a deeper question for our association that goes beyond just moderator and president. And that would be a fascinating and rich conversation. So that's the way I approach conflict is to be intrigued.
KEN SAWYER: OK. Jim?
JIM KEY: Well, I think that any good governance structure there's some dynamic tension that's essential, because they're different roles of both the president of any organization and the chair of the board in an organization. Our is unique, in that the president is elected on a platform with some notion of where he wants to take the association. The moderator and the trustees are also elected. All are accountable to you, the delegates, the congregations.
So I think that's some conflict is good. I think much of it can, at least, be moderated by right relations outside the boardroom of no surprises at board meetings, if at all possible, working through where there are going to be tensions ahead of time. This is always a role I've had, both in my public company board work and work in the district, and in what I would call shared ministry in a vital congregation. You have conversations with the executive, the senior minister, whatever the role of the operational side is. So you anticipate the tensions before they occur, and you can agree to disagree agreeably.
I think there should be dynamic tension in a governance operational role. I've always experienced that in every role I've had in governance work. I think the key to making it appropriately tense and not inappropriately tense is a lot of conversation before you get to board meetings and decision making.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you both. This gives me a chance to stop for second and remind folks that if they have a question, raise your hand. An usher will come by, give you a piece of paper, and once you've filled that out, that person will bring it forward to the table up here. Let's see.
Jim, I guess it's back to you. Describe a time when you were chairing a meeting or a session of a large number of people when something controversial was discussed. How did you handle it?
JIM KEY: Oh, I just can't imagine any time like that in my life.
KEN SAWYER: How did you handle it? And what was the result?
JIM KEY: I can think of a couple. The one that I've used on the stump, or the couple I've used on the stump, are, remember when we were in Minneapolis and the thought was that we were going to boycott Phoenix? And I had the idea the honor of moderating that first mini-assembly where people with different points of view came together. And out of that first mini-assembly came a compromise that, I think, benefited all of us.
I take no role in that, other than it was a passionate discussion. People were heard. And I think we came to a good conclusion, and it was very successful in the plenary session, because I think that session was well moderated.
Then, I've told my story often of the name change in the former Thomas Jefferson District that became the Southeast District. We had two annual meetings that were fairly passionate. And there were people that felt strongly on both sides of that issue.
In fact, there's an interesting post-story to that. I had a call just the other day from somebody who was very much disappointed in the outcome of that name change and it was on the other side and wanted it to remain Thomas Jefferson. But he gave me a high compliment. He said, I didn't like the outcome, but I liked the way you moderated that with neutrality and with great sensitivity to those who disagree.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Can you repeat the question? I just want to make sure I have all of it. I think there was a second section to it.
KEN SAWYER: Be happy to. Describe a time when you were chairing a meeting or a session of a large number of people when something controversial was discussed. How did you handle it? And what was the result?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, the largest one I can think of is when, as a consultant, I was dealing with a company that union negotiations had broken down, because there was accusations of discrimination on behalf of the management. It was a very volatile situation and had been stuck for some time. Me and my business partner had an existing relationship with the company, so there was some trust already.
What we did and what I did was go into the situation and encourage people to get unstuck by doing something different. And we had to try a couple of different things. It didn't always work the first time.
We started by having people articulate what it was that they were experiencing in the room, so talking about what was going on in the room, not the content of the conflict initially to try and get a sense of what was going on and have them build relationship and see each other as people beyond the conflict. That worked a little bit OK, and then we got kind of got stuck again. So we started having people break up and actually have to work with people on the other side, so to speak. And they had to craft either one side or the other. It was kind of put yourself in the other person's shoes.
This was not what they were used to, obviously, because the union situation can be pretty rigid, in terms of how they're used to working through things. But having people have to think about what they thought the other person was saying and then give the opportunity for the other side to say, well, that's not really where I'm going with that, that's not really where I'm feeling in this situation, really broke through a lot of the tension. And we've used techniques like that in a large town hall meetings when we had conflict with leaders, with communities as well.
So I like to generally think outside the box. What's going on in this situation? What are ways you can break it down? How can people see each other as people, as opposed to just being polarized into sides?
If you can also point out that there's more than just two sides, often that breaks down the conflict as well. Often we do have very nuanced reasoning for things, and if we see just two sides, we tend to polarize. If there are multiple ones, then we start seeing that there are more opportunities for grey, so to speak, in the conversation.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you both. Tamara, what are the differences between the roles of moderator and chair of the UUA board? And how would you balance these?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: The role of moderator and chair of the UUA board. Well, chair of the UUA board is part of the role of moderator. The moderator actually has three roles. One is to chair the UUA board. One is to preside over General Assembly. And the third is as a chief governance officer.
So what I'll do is I'll articulate my understanding of what each of those roles are. As chair of the board, the moderator does a lot about forming the container of culture that the board works in as well as the way that the work is going to be approached. And it's interesting because we talk a lot about how our president is elected. But in fact, in a lot of boards, the board itself elects their chair. So the interesting dynamic here is that we have our congregations elect our moderator.
In my mind, what that means is that the moderator represents the congregations at the board table and the interest of the congregations. And of course, in presiding over General Assembly, it's the same thing. You represent the interests of the congregations, whose interest is that our process is aligned with our values, as Unitarian Universalists. So the moderator presides over General Assembly in that way and ensures that our process is followed and that people feel welcomed and at home here.
And then as chief governance officer, we have, again I mentioned it, many, many moving parts in our governance structure. So the chief governance officer ensures that those move as smoothly as possible and also that, again, I'm really, really committed to that we look at how aligned are we with who we say we are and who we want to be, as we do our governance, as we have systems of power within our community. And how do we use and leverage those?
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim?
JIM KEY: Well, most of us, the visible part of the moderator role is presiding at plenaries, so the moderator certainly has to have a command of the bylaws and the rules of engagement. As we all know from our current moderator and moderators past, you have to have a keen sense of humor and, I think, a keen sense of mischief to keep people interested and on their toes in plenary, make it interesting. Chair of the board, running those meetings.
And I think the moderator as chair brings a vision of leadership and creates a space for generative discussion, tackling the big problems, hearing all voices, and bringing voices to the table that aren't at the table, people that are traditionally marginalized. And as chief governance officer, I see governance as a process that enables our dreams. So when governance is working elegantly, we are focused on our mission, and we want to make sure those structures and processes work smoothly as possible.
As chief governance officer, I'd try to be committed to the process and not the outcome. One of the things I learned in leadership development as a new UU in leadership was in a democratic organization you give up control of the outcome. You need to be committed to the process so that voices are heard and not be too invested in the outcome that you may have some passion about. But at the end of the day, you the delegates or the board members or the other people gathered will come to that conclusion. Good people with creative ideas will come to the-- The universe will speak, and all will be well.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you.
KEN SAWYER: Jim, what information and reports from staff do you feel are most helpful to the work of the board? And how would you facilitate communication between staff and board?
JIM KEY: I'm not sure I got that. Could you repeat it, please?
KEN SAWYER: OK. What information and reports from staff do you feel are most helpful to the work of the board? And how would you facilitate the communication between staff and board?
JIM KEY: Well, that's an essential part of governance is monitoring the operations of any organization as it moves towards meeting its mission, in our case strategies that link to our global ends that have been established through input from you, the delegates, and any number of folks involved in our movement. I think there is an expectation from any operational organization to provide reports. I've been on the other side of that, as an operational person, and certainly obligated to provide some monitoring reports to indicate progress towards some business objectives.
I think what I would like to spend some more time, if I'm elected moderator, is creating a space where those conversations of, what is the interpretation of the policy? How are we going to best manage that? I happen to personally believe, as somebody who's worked in the area of governance for a long time that we probably have more processes, more policies than are possible for a board of 12 to monitor closely. And the board has done a very good job of the last couple of years of policy governance. It's beginning to consolidate those so that there are fewer to monitor.
But I think what we all need to understand, on the governance side and the operations side, that governance has a cost. And the benefits to that governance work ought to be moving towards our mission, our shared values, our shared ministry, in the congregational sense. So I think we always need to examine what we're demanding of any staff and whether those reports add value to the board or anybody else that are taking us to meeting an objective.
I would always want to have a conversation, for as long as I'm on any board, of, are these reports necessary? Do we need a different kind of report? Do they ultimately get us closer to our ends, to our strategic objectives?
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: I'm going to answer the question that I think is being asked. I was not on the board for three years. But when I came back, what I noticed is there was kind of back and forth a little bit about what types of reports the board got.
What I experienced is that when I first was on the board-- it was 14 years ago-- most of the reports that we got were created by the departments in the administration. And they were wonderful, interesting, but they weren't asked for. So they varied greatly from department to department, and they were basically what whoever the director was was interested in sharing with the board.
In policy governance, the board is coming with some specific questions. So what is it that you're doing that is going to get this desired result? That's a very difficult shift, when you're used to writing reports that just talk about of all the wonderful things that you're doing. And I don't mean that sarcastically. I mean that sincerely. But that now somebody asks you to funnel it through this particular lens and put it in this frame is a very challenging thing to do.
I think that as a board you kind of want a little bit of both. But there needs to be discipline on both sides about how to funnel that through. If that doesn't happen, then what happens is you get these beautiful reports, but the board is challenged to do its job. And remember, the board is volunteers. So then they have to go through all the reports and try to ferret out what is the end result that they're trying to measure. So again, having the administration be able to do that well is a shift, but it's a skill that we need them to be able to do in order for the board to do their job on your behalf, which is to make sure that what's most important to the association is, in fact, being invested in and resourced well.
There is a place, obviously, to hear about the wonderful things that the administration is doing that's outside that. But in my mind, you need to discipline what when that occurs, because those reports, obviously, can be long and can take up a lot of time. So I would like to think, for example, that maybe the administration can do that and videotape them so that more people than just a board can get them, but it may not take up board time, when you've got volunteers that have a limited time. Again, you heard me talk about the amount of time that we ask of our volunteers. So I think there's creative ways for the administration to feel like they've told us what's going on but for the board to get specifically what they need in a way that allows them to do their job well on behalf of our congregations.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara, what is your assessment of the status of women in our association?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Wow. That's just such an easy question to ask and more difficult to answer.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, we have made huge strides. I remember being on the MFC, actually, when we hit the 50% mark that we had 50% of our ministers were women. And that was huge and very exciting, because there were times in people's lifetime they can remember when that didn't happen and that wasn't the case. So we have made huge strides. I gave you some examples of the time when with the child care policy that was kind of put in place because I was constantly needing some support in order to remain in leadership.
On the other hand, where I feel that we can do more is leadership style. We have a very liberal theology, often. Our social perspective is very liberal. But we really do reflect a lot of dominant culture in the way that we lead, some of our expectations.
I've even noticed it here. People expect as a candidate that you have the answer. Well that's what you want to hear. You want to hear the answer. But the truth is, for me at least, I believe in feminist leadership approaches, and you wouldn't necessarily have the answer. Some of the best leadership there is to bring more questions and not have the answer going in.
So I think that those are the places where we really need to work on is be much more reflective, go a little bit deeper about how we understand women's position. And of course, this is a very specific thing, because we're not being very flexible, in terms of gender identity here, but I'll go with it anyways. It's more than just having a particular number of people with a particular sex in a position. We have more work that can be done.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
KEN SAWYER: Jim?
JIM KEY: I'm glad you got that question first. I consider myself a feminist. I was raised, as you heard, by a single mother with three siblings, and she was a pretty strong woman. I married one as well. And I'm proud of the work that I did, both in IBM and my consulting work, for advocating for women.
I think sometimes men can be very effective advocates for women in sharing power. And I think I've done that throughout my career and demonstrated that in my roles in any number of places in IBM, bringing women into executive leadership roles. And I'd like to add, I never needed a binder to help me do that.
JIM KEY: That's sort of an old, tired political joke by now, but I still like it. There's been this tradition that we have a male president and a female moderator. And now we have an opportunity to change the whole dynamic of that.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. This is a letter from Wayne Arnason. He says, "Hi, Tamara and Jim. As chair of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, I would be directly accountable to you as board chair. I have welcomed the initiative from petitioners to have a denominational conversation on sexual abuse in our congregations. How do you imagine initiating that conversation? What are some outcomes you would hope for?"
JIM KEY: It's a great question. And as many of you know, there's a petition circulating in change.org that both of us have signed and many of you have as well. I think it's a conversation overdue. As moderator, I'd certainly want to have an intentional relationship with the MFC and understand our history, understand our least proud moments, and understand how we can establish mechanisms for both ministers and other folks who have gone beyond boundaries, and the folks who are the victims. I think both need advocates at that table, and I'd want to work with the appropriate folks to establish those safe places where we can work through those traumas.
I've had some of that experience outside the denomination in some of my other congregational roles in other denominations. And it's never a good place to be. It is damaging to communities long after whatever the events were. I think it's a critical thing that we, as a liberal faith group, can lead in, and so I think that relationship has to be very intentional with the MFC, and we have work to do.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, I have served on the MFC, and so I have actually literally sat in hearings that have to do with ministerial misconduct. What I take away from that is that people are well-intentioned and they care. So the issue is not that people don't care or are making bad, selfish decisions in that way at all. People care deeply and are concerned about this issue. To me, that says that systemically there's something else going on.
What I would say is we need to understand how our systems-- I go back to culture. You've heard me say before-- encourage us to not speak about stuff. And I think that one thing that isn't addressed in some of our current policies is that when misconduct happens, when abuse happens of any type, there's a systemic ripple effect that creates a wound that then actually makes it more likely that it's going to happen again. And the way that we have set up our systems doesn't account for that.
So we have a lot of learning to do. We have a lot of healing to do. And I think we need to engage communities that have been deeply wounded in ways that allow us to be taught by them and really hear them.
First of all, I'm very pleased with the new language from the UUMA about misconduct. So that is just huge.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Outstanding, much clearer than the previous language. I think in terms of outcomes, I don't think we're going to solve it overnight. I think we need to create some partnerships. We need to make some promises to one another to invest in changing our expectations and how we deal with some of these issues and have a 5 or 10-year plan, because I do think that some of this is a systemic and cultural.
And we will continue to be needing to make adjustments. Is this working? Are people feeling more empowered within the system? And are we more aligned with our values and our understanding of how we protect people and how we respond to people who have been hurt?
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara, how would you make plenary sessions effective and engaging?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: By being clever.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, it's funny. I think about this a lot. Because we're often asked, why would you even want to follow Gini? Whose idea was that?
And I try and remind people that Gini-- don't get me wrong. Is Gini out there?-- is wonderful. OK? Gini is wonderful. Love you. But you're seeing her 10 years into this job.
JIM KEY: Yeah.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Now she was always wonderful, but she has become wonderful-er.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: So part of it is I would say, I need your help. Being a leader is not something that comes just from being behind the podium. Being a leader is something that comes from folks' engagement. That is something that, like we call a minister, we do something in the relationship that allows leaders to lead well. So I say that part of it is you folks bringing your love and passion and engagement to the process.
Additionally, I come with some bias. We are changing the way that we're doing plenary. We are live streaming stuff. We're engaging people a lot more remotely. I think we need to stop just doing business as usual and recording it and sending it into people's homes but thinking about ways that we can do things a little bit differently.
One of the things I've used before is I was at a workshop where they did graphic facilitation. And if you don't know what is, it's unbelievable. Somebody who literally does graphics and cartoons and stuff is taking notes, but they're doing it graphically, as opposed to with words. We videotaped that process, and it makes it such an engaging visual experience. So there are ways that we can make this a very dynamic, different type of way of being together, and I look forward to being able to explore that with you.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim?
JIM KEY: I agree with most of that. I'm certainly not going to try to follow Gini. It wouldn't work. But I do think you have to have some fun with it. And I think the moderator needs to reflect that fun.
I like the fact that we sing. I think we've got to interject that as often as possible. And I'm considering taking up tap dancing, because I think that would be different.
JIM KEY: I think it would break the ice sometimes, and it would be a little strange and more than clever. But seriously, I do think that we can always rethink how we do plenary and how we do governance. And like Tamara, I put that back on you all as delegates, in terms of you've got great ideas. The moderator doesn't have all the answers, nor does the president have all the answers. So I would welcome any number of discussions on how we can make it more interesting.
The technology certainly will help us. It has changed dramatically in recent years. It's certainly going to change much more dramatically. I love the tweeting.
How many of you are tweeting? How many of you are tweeting what we're doing right now? Good. That's excellent.
But I think we got to engage a lot more people who are not in the room with us and bring people into the room. And I like the graphics idea. So I think it's changing things up. It's being open to doing something differently this year that we didn't do last year.
I think Geni's been brilliant about that. I think Denny was before her. So I think we've been blessed by great moderators. And I think it's going to be hard on either one of us in that first General Assembly next year, whoever it is.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim, who or what body casts the vision for the association, the board, the moderator, the president?
JIM KEY: Well, as I said in my opening remarks, the president is the chief vision-caster. But I think he has a board that brings leadership qualities too. I think the vision has to be shared.
I think the same is true of a vital congregation, as it was in the district, as it is in the company board that I sit on. I think elected trustees, moderators bring notions about their passion for our faith and how they want to see us in the world. And I think that that deliberative opportunity, the generative thinking that I like to talk about, is the most interesting board work I do. And you've got to get past the fiduciary that's important and the strategic, but doing the deep dives in that generative work of who we're going to be in the world, how we're going to impact the world, how we're going to move into beloved community. I think that's a shared vision, and the president takes it out and communicates it to the world. And those of us on the board and moderator are cheerleaders as we interact with our congregations and our communities.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: I think that the easiest way to understand this is that each of those entities are embodied very differently in their role. The UUA board is the UUA board, regardless of who's on it. So when we talk about vision from the point of view of the UUA board, the trajectory is a trajectory that extends well beyond any term of any president. And it reflects the needs, passions, yearnings of our congregations.
So that is a type of vision, in some way. We talk about that in terms of ends. Those are the desired results that we want.
When a president runs on a platform, that term is six years, so it's going to be very immediate. It's going to be, what's going on in the world right now that I'm passionate about? I'm going to try to get you fired up as well. And I want you to vote for me based on this thing that is really important to me. That person, the president, then comes in with a type of vision too, but it's not the same type of thing as the ends of the board.
I would say that in no circumstances would the vision that a president is running on for a platform not agree with the ends of the board, because the president is being elected by the same folks that the board is representing as it creates its ends. So one of the ways that it is a little bit of a checks and balances is we do have those end, so that if we had, say, a charismatic leader that came in and suddenly went way off to the right or the left we have those ends that are saying this is really where the core of our well-being is. That's the difference between those two. I don't think that they're in conflict and all. I think that any conflict that we're experiencing is just as we get clear on what particularly the boundaries are of those roles and what it means to have vision and passion within those roles.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara, do you believe the board's policy on affiliate organization status, adapted in 2006, was a good policy at the time? And does it still seem so today?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: You know what? I am so happy somebody asked that. I had been waiting all campaign for somebody to actually ask it. I know it's been in people's minds.
The first thing I want to be clear about is that I was very active in talking about that when that policy was made by the board. And that was really a board decision. And there was a number of things that brought us to that decision as a board.
One was that there were assumptions about what it meant to be an affiliate organization that people were acting on that weren't real. There was an assumption that if you were an affiliate organization that there was some oversight by the board or the administration. That was not true. And so congregations were assuming oversight that wasn't happening. You can just finish that story, and I'm sure you can understand that there were issues there.
Additionally, there was a lot of time being taken up by administration in doing what was really actually a rubber stamping process. If you were a not-for-profit organization and you could show that your values aligned with the UAA, then you could be an affiliate organization. And of course, that's pretty much everyone but the NRA. Over- exaggeration, but still you can see.
Then we started talking about, well, who would we not allow in as an affiliate, and we really couldn't think of very many people. Then it became, again, well, why are we having this? It's not a real relationship. And there's other reasons as well that I'd be happy to talk to you offline about.
When we have something in our system that people have an assumption that it's one thing and it's really not and that there are resources that are being allocated to it and it's not really reflecting how things are really working in the system, then it's not a helpful thing to have. So I would say it was a good decision. Some of the misnomer, I think, is that folks felt that then affiliate organizations disappeared. And absolutely they're not.
They're autonomous groups. It was just a status that they could have. So whether or not they were recognized by the UUA board, they were still wonderful organizations and continue to be.
I think right now what I'm very pleased about is that because we don't longer have affiliate organizations I think it's pressing us to look at what types of different communities are out there and how to expand our understanding of what congregations are. I believe that if we still had affiliate status what would happen is rather than looking at expanding our understanding of congregations and that meaningful relationship with communities we would have gone ahead and siphoned, kind of pushed them off into affiliate status, and we'd have even more affiliates that we were not in relationship with. So I do believe that it's still a good decision, and I think we have some exciting work ahead of us.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim?
JIM KEY: Well, I'm not sure I want to second-guess a decision that I didn't play a role in. But I guess, on a basic level, I would encourage and entertain a conversation with anybody who wants to partner or be affiliated. But I'd try to have the conversation around covenant and to whom are we accountable.
I think as long as we have relationships that there's some mutual accountability and understanding of relationships, accountability, who has what role, I'd want to entertain almost-- not almost any. Because you're right. The NRA's probably a good exception. But I'd want to have conversations with anybody who'd want to enter into them about the possibility of being in a covenantal relationship that would extend Unitarian Universalism to others.
I like the emerging conversation about congregations and communities, of broadening that notion of who is in relationship. And the possibilities are interesting in the congregations and beyond discussion. I don't have the answers to that, but I think the conversation is exciting and stimulating about who we might want to partner with, where our values intersect.
And we might have categories of relationships, whether they use the name Unitarian Universalist would maybe have one standard and whether others were just partners. I think we've been demonstrating recently that we're comfortable in partnerships where we have shared values. I would always be willing to sit at the table and talk to somebody about a relationship that was mutually accountable and not put either one of us at risk.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim, how would you work with some of the Fifth Principle Task Force findings? What would you like to see?
JIM KEY: Well, we're going to have some conversations about that at this General Assembly. I guess as a beginning point, I would welcome any conversation that extends the democratic process for our movement. I think the off-site voting has been exceptionally well received. I think there are opportunities to expand that. I think we have to always examine what governance needs to be done by bylaws or what bylaws need to be changed to change the way we do governance. And that would be up to delegates to opine on that.
The discussions around General Assembly, I think, have taken a healthy turn on distinguishing governance from gathering and why we gather together at General Assembly, for what purposes. And I think it's always a good, healthy discussion to reexamine why do we always have to do this this way. I think we always are challenged to re-imagine how we do our business, how we gather.
We were both at the Western regional meeting, which no one thought that large territory west of the Mississippi could hold a regional gathering. But there were 750 people at that meeting, and there was great programming. And I can imagine a time when the regional gatherings might be a movable feast of GA-like activities that would attract prominent speakers. So I think there's that possibility.
But I think we always have to keep talking to particularly those groups who value this gathering. There may not be enough critical mass of a particular community in a district to offer a good, healthy gathering. So I think youth and young adults, people of color, our trust folks, any number of communities that I've talked to in the District Presidents Association discussion on the role of districts and regions value the gathering piece. So I think we have to talk about the two pieces.
But the bottom line is if we are improving the democratic process, we're on the right track. To that end, I would like more congregations educating or providing opportunity for delegates to be informed of what's going to be discussed at General Assembly, perhaps identifying delegates earlier than we do now so they can attend electronic town hall meetings to prepare for the business at hand, so that ideally every delegate comes understanding all of the issues before the business meeting, the plenary, and the process is more representative, that we're offering some financial support. That's always going to be challenging, I think, for the Association with constrained resources, but I'd like to encourage congregations to do as my congregation has always done, and that's fund our full delegation to a General Assembly, wherever it is in the country.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you.
[CELL PHONE BEEPING]
KEN SAWYER: And you finally got to hear my sound. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: First of all, I'm thinking back to my NRA comment, and I want to make sure I apologize for that. I know we have a broad range of folks that are Unitarian Universalist, and we have many folks who are Unitarian Universalist who may belong to the NRA. So I wanted to apologize for that first. I thought afterwards that it was a little flip, so I apologize.
In terms of General Assembly, one of the things that has become clearer and clearer to me as we've gone through these conversations-- and I've been in on a number of them, because they were happening 14 years ago as well-- is that General Assembly has come to be bigger and bigger and bigger. So because it started to be one of the only big things that happened throughout the year, more and more groups and things that happened started happening at General Assembly. When we talk now about doing anything different with General Assembly, there's all kind of reverberations within the system, because so much stuff happens here.
What I would like to have is a creative conversation about what's important to be happening within the life of our association. What are the important things that need to happen? Because there are things that aren't happening because General Assembly is happening. There may be things that need to be happening that aren't happening. And then also talk about the things that are happening here because there may be things that are happening here that might be better served by doing it differently in a different place at a different time, et cetera.
I think part of a really good conversation is to deconstruct some of our assumptions about why things happen here the way that they do. Because it's not like it's always been that way, necessarily.
I think I'm very open. I am very, very open. I know that the people who come here are well-served and happy, and that's why they keep coming back. We also need to talk to the folks that don't come back and this doesn't meet their needs.
We need to be careful. It's kind of a little bit of a catch-22 that I always think probably the people who are here are in favor of this happening. That's why they're here. It's working for them.
We clearly have business that we need to attend do, and we also have ways that we need to do other important things in the life of our association, having groups gather, ministers spend time together professionally and collegially, et cetera. But I'm really open, really open.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara, what would be your primary and most immediate priority when you are elected moderator? What would be the first thing you would do?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Well, the very first thing I would do is to call Harlan and find out how the board is going to be supported now that Kay's leaving and there's been some changes. That is a very task-oriented thing that needs to be attended to. I spoke to it in my opening statement.
I think otherwise we have a huge opportunity with changing the size of the board and I also think an obligation, on some level. I don't think it it makes any sense to continue to do the work of the board the same way with a smaller footprint, because you've got fewer people and already the board does a lot of work. So it's an opportunity, really, for us to reexamine that.
And I'm particularly committed. You heard earlier, I'm committed to taking a look at the way that the board works, at being more humane about how the board approaches of its work, look at ways to change some of the processes, implementing some of the practices that we know work well in more diverse or more inclusive environments, that are more inclusive of cultural differences and generational expectations around engagement and leadership.
And so that would really be some of the things, because I think if we can start out talking about the container of how we want to work together that we can make some real differences. And I would hope but that would model for other folks too some innovative ways to provide leadership, to be effective as a board, but also implement some other things that we know work and are more inclusive, in terms of culture. You heard me also earlier talk about feminist culture, in, terms of leadership et cetera. Those are things that I would definitely want to start out with.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Jim?
JIM KEY: Well, the first one's already scheduled, and that's the Monday morning board meeting of the new board. So one of us will be there. And I guess the next step would be to talk to Peter and say, you were elected. I was elected. How are we going to be in right relationship?
Here's my understanding of accountability. What's yours? And how do we proceed? And begin that relationship building.
It's what I've done with every other leadership role I had, whether it's with a called minister or a district executive or a corporate CEO that I've worked with. It's getting to know them and developing a relationship and saying, how are we going to be together, particularly when we don't agree? How are we going to handle that disagreement? What's the process for that?
It would just be relationship development and meeting again. I guess I feel like I know the senior executive team for my role on the audit committee. But it would be sort of redefining that new role as moderator and working through those relationships.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. I think we have time for one more before your concluding statements. So Jim, what will be your greatest personal challenges as moderator?
JIM KEY: Hmm. I think it's an understanding the new culture. You've got a new board. It has to build a culture. It's getting to know the new team of trustees and executive team and working through all of that.
It comes so naturally to me with my leadership roles, I don't see that as anything unusual. It's just sort of getting to know people and moving through that relationship building and finding out where the potential rough spots might be and how you might want to manage through those.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Can you repeat the question?
KEN SAWYER: I can. What will be your greatest personal challenges--
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: Personal challenges.
KEN SAWYER: --as moderator?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: My personal challenges. I want to make sure that's what was asked. OK. Personal challenge. I think probably the biggest personal challenge will be that I feel very strongly about people feeling heard and feeling listened to. And when you're in a role like moderator, there are a lot of people that are waiting to figure out how the election comes out so that they can be heard.
There are things that need to be said. They have issues that they want to make sure are on your radar. And there is a limit to how much you can respond, just physically.
I know that I will have to manage my discipline around not trying to fix everything, not trying to respond to everything right upfront. And so it will be a great opportunity to practice the non-anxious presence and put some systems in place that will, hopefully, last throughout the tenure of moderator that will allow me to manage stuff coming in in a way that's humane to myself as well as ensuring that things don't fall through the cracks. So I think that that will probably be the biggest personal challenge initially, because I've been through transitions like this, and I know how quickly that can kind of feel a little bit like a tidal wave in the first couple of weeks. But again, I care deeply about people feeling heard and feeling like this is their home. So that will be something that personally I will need to manage.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. We actually do have time for this last one. It's a funny one, because it came in for the webcast that we did a couple weeks ago. I'm sure most of you saw it. But what you wouldn't have seen is the ending, because there were some technical problems.
This is a question they've actually answered already. They may remember their answer or not. Tamara-- it's persistent that they showed up again to write it again-- what is your interpretation of congregational polity, and how does this relate to covenant? Remember that one?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: I do remember that. I think that, in general, we don't approach polity from a theological perspective. We approach it from a sense of autonomy. And I think that has a lot to do with our culture in the United States, of being very independent. And the dominant culture tends to, I think, lead us in that direction.
I think that's not as full an understanding of polity as would benefit us from exploring. When we talk about polity, it's also the interrelated ways that we have for engaging with and supporting one another. Polity is not just about autonomy. It's about not being dictated to around creed, et cetera. But there are other things that call us into relationship.
We enter voluntarily into association with one another, and in that we do make promises to one another. And I think there's many ways that we can make that much more tangible so that as we understand polity and we live it out through our congregational life that we are relating to one another, that we see what it is that we do. I actually think that policy governance is helpful. I know that in some of our things that we do at our church-- I'm waving at some of my people. Hi-- we have literally talked about that, that the choices that we make to be APF, fair share, that that is part of our living out of our covenant with one another, with our congregations.
And we enter into it willingly, which is part of the polity piece. So I think there's ways that we can make it much more real about how we really are interconnected and that we do have a covenant with one another. We are in community.
Thank you. Jim?
JIM KEY: Well, I think sometimes we concentrate on the autonomy part of our policy rather than the free and mutually covenanting. When we are resisting authority, we like to embrace the autonomy part of our polity language. But in fact, there's a bylaw for the plenary to consider, for the General Assembly to consider that has some subtle word changes, and it may seem like wordsmithing.
It comes out the Southeast District, so I have some passion around this, to change some of that language, to move this back to a covenantal relationship in policy and language that calls us free congregations. We gather freely, but we are mutually accountable to one another. So I'd like to see that subtle language shift that focuses the polity on the covenantal piece that requires us to make and keep promises to one another. The congregation down the road, the cluster, the district, the region, however we see each other.
Maybe it's the small congregation all the way across the country. They don't have to be physically close. But congregations that have similarities, whether they're on islands or they're large, they convenant to be in mutual association with each other. So I encourage you to vote yes on the bylaw changed to move our polity language closer to our understanding of our covenantal relationship.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. I think we'll reverse the order of the opening statement and, Jim, have you give some concluding remarks.
JIM KEY: I think I have.
JIM KEY: Concluding remarks. How many minutes do I have?
KEN SAWYER: Five.
JIM KEY: How should I do that? Would you like it here?
KEN SAWYER: Either way. Which would you rather?
JIM KEY: All right. Here we go. Thanks to all of you for exercising our fifth principle and participating in the democratic process to understand the two candidates. I think we're both pretty likable, but there are some differences that you can choose. And I'd like to thank Tamara again.
We have had a pretty good time, actually, at least speaking for myself. We've been on the road together and virtually together in webinars for these 18 months. And it is a long gestation process. The Pope, what did they do that, in two days?
JIM KEY: It takes us 18 months. But it has deepened my spiritual practice, and it's certainly underscored my passion for this faith that you heard in my opening remarks that I came to as an adult. So my passion as a Unitarian Universalist evangelist-- and I know that will cause some of you to have a little jerk there-- as someone who identifies as a humanist, I'm very comfortable with delivering the good news of Unitarian Universalism.
I've taken on this campaign. And if nothing else is accomplished, we've caused a number of delegates and congregations and others to think about the possibilities of extending this wonderful faith to more and more people so we can move further and faster to see the change in the world that we all want to see. Thank you, Ken, for moderating. Tamara, thank you. However it turns out, it's been a hoot. It has been fun.
I look forward to seeing you all in the exhibition hall. And some of my people are wearing orange, so you should find us easily enough. But we'd love to take your questions. And we've had some really interesting ones, so I look forward to talking to more of you tomorrow and the next day. Go to the polls on Saturday. And as we say in Chicago, vote early and vote often.
KEN SAWYER: Thank you. Tamara?
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: I first wanted to take a moment. I don't know, Jim, is your wife in here?
JIM KEY: She is.
TAMARA PAYNE-ALEX: She is. I wanted to just take a moment to thank our partners and spouses. I think that probably we often get thanked for running, but I think that probably the toughest thing in a campaign is to be a partner of somebody who's running. They carry a burden that I don't think other folks can imagine, and they do it on behalf of Unitarian Universalism. So I am grateful to both of you for your patience and your love and your support.
And I extend that also to our congregations. You folks are cheerleaders extraordinaire. And this would not be as much fun without you. So know that you are doing a great service on behalf of Unitarian Universalism, and I personally am very grateful.
This is a time of flux, and it is a precious opportunity to create something more fully aligned with our values. This will require a moderator who not only understands governance but who has experience across our association and knows many of our moving parts of what we do together, not just an ally, but a leader in counter oppression, one who knows it's not just about being a beacon for those seeking a faith home but also about tending the hearth fire so that those of us who were born into this faith and it is our home continued to be spiritually fed and challenged.
I understand the role of moderator not as a governance consultant but as keeper of our process, in love and without bias, inviting all to participate working to more fully align our governance and the power within our systems with our values, holding all of us accountable to our very best selves, listening for all voices, and noticing when voices are missing or have been silenced, and through it all strengthening and enlivening the relationship between our congregations and communities and leaders so that we are able to take on the great challenges that face our liberal religious tradition. I look forward to partnering with you as your moderator. Thank you very, very much.
KEN SAWYER: I'll give you a second chance at that in one second. I want to thank you all for coming. I want to thank Susan and David for fielding the questions and my team of co-timers down here. But most of all, of course, I want to thank you, Tamara and Jim, for this evening and for all the time and effort, the thought and dedication that you have given your respective campaigns and thereby have given to all of us and all our fellow UUs. Thank you.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
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