Board Report, January 2017
- President Morales outlined our response to the moral imperatives implied by the policies of the new administration. He made it clear that we are re-deploying Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) field staff to help meet local needs in the wake of the election. The Board joined he and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee President, the Honorable Thomas Andrews, in endorsing a Declaration of Conscience committing to put Unitarian Universalist values into action to resist hate, fear and bigotry.
- The Board was delighted to hear that the Rev. Sarah Lammert, UUA Director of Ministry and Faith Development, has been elected Chair of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces. Her election by this diverse group that includes a majority of conservative and evangelical clergy is a ringing endorsement of their commitment to religious liberty in the armed forces as well as a powerful affirmation of their respect for the Rev. Lammert.
- The Congregational Boundaries Working Group continues to meet with its advisory group and other stakeholders in our ongoing effort to better understand ministerial misconduct and support the work that assures a fair, consistent process.
- There was a fruitful conversation with Susan Goekler from the Commission on Social Witness (CSW). The Board heard her request that CSW wants to work to better coordinate justice initiatives by bringing together staff and volunteers involved in the work. Moderator Jim Key asked for the Commission’s suggestions for moving that collaboration forward.
- The Appointments Committee, a Board-appointed team that recruits volunteers to help the Board fulfill its duties, was meeting in Boston and joined the Board for a lively, useful conversation.
- There was considerable conversation about how the Board makes decisions. It was generally agreed that we have a lot to learn from cultures less bound-up in Roberts Rules of Order. Moderator Key will be working with Trustee Greg Boyd and the Governance Working Group to consider more spiritually grounded and culturally sensitive ways to do our work.
- Given proposed changes to the C-Bylaws, the Board engaged in a generative conversation about our guiding documents and how best to move toward better alignment with policy-based governance. This led into a deep discussion of covenant and the structure of the General Assembly.
We invested a good portion of our time together sharpening our understanding of the fiduciary responsibilities of the Board. Sean Rush, Chair of the UUA Audit Committee, made an excellent presentation about the dimensions of their work with an emphasis on risk management. He shared the good news that the audit committee reviewed three separate audits of the UUA with the outside auditing firms. Each of the three reports—on the UUA, the UU Common Endowment Fund, and on the UUA Health Plan—were “clean opinions,” indicating that the auditors found that the UUA’s statements were in line with best practice in financial reporting.
- We also discussed the depth of expertise required for volunteers who oversee our investments, pensions, and healthcare funds, and the need to diversify those teams.
- We heard an inspiring presentation from the Director of Stewardship and Development, the Rev. Mary Katherine Morn. She helped us to understand the three dimensions of Board leadership in stewardship. She asked that we be:
- Faithful Sustainers
- Supporters of creative initiatives
- Legacy givers
She also announced that the Board had pledged over $50,000 in anticipation of a new campaign in support of Black Lives Unitarian Universalist and the larger racial justice work. We were grateful to hear that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock has agreed to provide incentive funds in support of new planned legacy gifts.
- We welcomed two new covenanting communities to the Association. Sun Point Farm in Derry, NH and Castle Rock Unitarian Universalist Community in Sedalia, CO are now part of our larger family of faith.
The meeting ended with a deep and thoughtful conversation reaffirming our passionate support for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. We reviewed the process that led to the decision to provide $5.3 million dollars in funding, expressed our appreciation for the excellent work of the staff in moving the effort forward, and pledged to be the most effective partner possible in helping the vision of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism to be fulfilled.