Preface and Acknowledgments

Interdependence: Renewing Congregational Polity has been prepared by the Commission on Appraisal of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The subject of this report is basic to both the spiritual and the institutional life of the Unitarian Universalist movement, as described in the Introduction. Detailed recommendations for various groups within the Association are given at the end of each section, and these are drawn together in the Conclusion as a set of basic recommendations for study and action.

This is the ninth report published by the Commission since its inauguration under the Bylaws of the UUA in 1961. The Commission consists of nine members; three are elected by the General Assembly every other year for six-year terms. The Commission is charged with reviewing any function or activity of the Association that it believes would benefit from independent review and with reporting to the General Assembly at least once every four years.

After the publication of its 1992 report, Our Professional Ministry, the Commission began to solicit the concerns of a broad range of people and groups within the Association. This process involved meetings requested by various groups, meetings with denominational leaders (usually at the Commission's request), unsolicited requests and suggestions for topics of study, and open hearings at General Assemblies and in the various locales of the Commission's meetings.

During the period of this study (1992 through 1996) open hearings were held annually at General Assemblies of the UUA. Open hearings were also held in the Pacific Northwest, Prairie Star, Mid-South, Southwest, Ballou Channing, Mass Bay, and Pacific Central Districts. Meetings with the Commission were held with the following groups: Women and Religion Committee; Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Ministers; Young Religious Unitarian Universalists; Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network; Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry; University of Minnesota Unitarian Universalists; African American Unitarian Universalist Ministry; and Ministers of Religious Education.

Consultations were held with the following UUA officials: former president William Schulz, President John Buehrens, former moderator Natalie Gulbrandsen, Moderator Denise Davidoff, Executive Vice President Kathleen Montgomery, Vice President for Development Robert Snow, Director of Ministry Diane Miller, Special Assistant for Interfaith and International Activities Kenneth MacLean, Director of Publications Patricia Frevert, Ministerial Settlement Director Daniel Hotchkiss, Director of Annual Program Fund Mary Miles, and district executives and consultants as a group. Consultations were also held with Rebecca Parker, president of Starr King School for the Ministry; Spencer Lavan, former dean and CEO of Meadville/Lombard Theological School; Professor James Luther Adams; and Professor Conrad Wright. Correspondence was also received from many other individuals.

Writing a report such as this is a complex task that requires the help of many people. The Commission wishes to express its deep appreciation to Wendy Drexler, our editor, and the staff of the UUA Department of Publications: Patricia Frevert, director; Brenda Wong, project editor; Suzanne Morgan, design director; Joni McDonald, production manager; and Scott Brigante, former production manager. We also appreciate the assistance of John Buehrens and Denise Davidoff in enabling the timely publication of this report in spite of budget constraints.

This report has multiple authors. Each of the Commissioners wrote specific sections, and all commented on and improved on each other's work. We take joint responsibility for the endeavor. The current Commissioners appreciate the work of the former Commissioners who contributed to the early stages of the report but whose terms expired before publication: Florence Gelo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Charles Howe, Raleigh, North Carolina; and Amy Kelly, San Francisco, California. We also thank John Buehrens for his active interest in our work; as president of the UUA, he is an ex officio member of the Commission.

The Commission invites comments on this report, and on other matters of concern to the Association. Written comments or inquiries may be addressed to the Commission on Appraisal, c/o Unitarian Universalist Association, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108.

Dianne E. Arakawa
North Marshfield, Massachusetts

David N. Barus
New York, New York

George Kimmich Beach
Falls Church, Virginia

Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley
New York, New York

Lisa Presley
Southfield, Michigan

Gustave Rath
Evanston, Illinois

Deborah Roberts
Shreveport, Louisiana

Arthur J. Ungar
Lafayette, California

W. Frederick Wooden
Brooklyn, New York

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