The Stories We Tell Ourselves

By Joan Van Becelaere

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Past blogs in CERGing Forward and some in Better Together have outlined a number of the reasons that factor into our discussions about regionalization: a desire to live our theology of interdependence, our covenant responsibilities within the tradition of the Cambridge Platform, a desire to forgo duplicative efforts, the need to streamline communications, a desire to create new structures to meet the needs of our ever changing social context, the need for coordination and team effort to better support our congregations and their ministries, and more. Look at the past blogs and you will see a number of these reasons discussed. Unfortunately, there are also several other stories going around about why we are moving to regionalization – stories that may contain some fact but are mostly fiction. Let me outline a couple of these that seem to be spreading in parts of our region.

  1. Fiction—We are moving to regionalization because one or more of our districts are going bankrupt. Fact—Two of our districts are smaller than the others, but none are going bankrupt. All of the districts in the Central East Region (JPD, MNY, SLD and OMD) have areas of strength to share with the others and we are stronger when we bring these strengths together. And all have weaknesses that we can help alleviate when working as a team. We are much better together.
  2. Fiction—Regionalization was a plan recently developed by the UUA president and administration to save money. Fact—Folk in our Central East Region started talking about sharing staff and resources and working as a team more than seven years ago. And our districts began to put these ideas into practice about five years ago with our initial staff sharing arrangements. This inspired other districts and regions to change the way they work as well.
  3. Fiction—No matter who came up with the idea, the goal is still to save the UUA headquarters money. Fact—It is not planned that our regionalization efforts will result in saving money. Yes, we plan to reduce redundancies. And eliminate duplicative efforts and expenses. But the plan is to then reallocate savings in those areas to increase support for our congregations and their leaders. And we hope to use any savings to develop new ways to support emerging UU groups and multisite efforts and other new congregational ministry efforts. Regionalization won’t save any money. Actually, we hope that congregations will become more generous with their Fair Share as they see what all of us can accomplish when we work together. And this increased sharing will enable CERG to increase its support for congregational efforts to an even greater extent.
  4. Fiction—​UUMA Chapters and LREDA Chapters will have to merge. Fact—UUMA and LREDA Chapters are not part of district governance structures. They are separate entities of the UUMA and LREDA. There is nothing that would make them change their current configurations. It is hoped that chapters might find value in reaching out to one another and find areas where they can positively collaborate. But that is entirely up to the LREDA and UUMA members.

There are a number of stories out there about regionalization. These are just few that have been repeated to me. I hope that if you hear something that is questionable, you will check it out with one of the district Board members or one of the CERG staff folk so we can separate fact from fiction.

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
Congregational Life Staff and CERG Staff Lead

About the Author

Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is the Executive Director of UU Justice Ohio. She served as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Central East Region from 2007-2018. Previously, Rev. Van Becelaere was Vice President for Student Services at Iliff Theological School in Denver, CO where she also taught...

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