UUA Board Report for April 2014

The Board of Trustees met in Boston April ,10-13, 2014. Both trustees and senior Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff expressed their gratitude for the solid partnership that has allowed the staff and board to engage constructively with each other and with serious issues. The Board approved the President’s interpretation of the Association’s Global Ends statement, several monitoring reports, and the 2015 budget was also approved as presented by the administration.

The board continued an ongoing conversation on how to engage General Assembly delegates more fully not only in the business of the association, but in important and relevant theological and social questions. Trustees discussed changes that might be made to General Assembly (GA) itself as well as posing larger questions about what it would mean to enhance participatory democracy within the UUA as whole. Most immediately, the board is working to develop a webinar for delegates that will allow them to familiarize themselves with the issues at hand before they arrive at GA.

On Saturday, the board invited reflection on a proposed business resolution that would direct the UUA to divest from holdings in fossil fuels. Members of the Investment Committee, the Socially Responsible Investment Committee, and socially responsible investment experts all addressed the board. On Sunday, the board voted to support the resolution, which calls for divestment in companies with the worst environmental practices, while allowing the UUA to retain or purchase limited shares that would allow for meaningful shareholder activism in relationship to climate change issues.

Excited by the number of emerging congregations that represent both entrepreneurial ministries and new ways of embodying Unitarian Universalism, the board directed the Emerging Congregations working group to continue working with the administration on how policies might be changed to be more welcoming to such groups. The board had asked Sanctuary Boston—one such covenanted community—to lead its worship on Sunday morning, and after an embodied and participatory worship, held a conversation about the needs of entrepreneurial ministries with Sanctuary’s founder, David Ruffin.

The board took various actions in response to clergy sexual misconduct, beginning with a pre-board meeting listening session with Safety Net, an advocacy group for survivors of clergy sexual misconduct. During the meeting the board resolved to offer a formal apology to survivors during this upcoming General Assembly. An apology had been offered by the Association in 2000, but the board agreed that the apology had not been accompanied by adequate institutional remedies. The board charged its own Congregational Boundaries Working group to work with Rev. Sarah Lammert (Director of Ministries and Faith Development) on guidelines for better extending care and justice to all involved in accusation of clergy sexual misconduct. The board also directed the working group to work with Rev. Lammert on a process of investigating complaints against clergy that is independent of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. The board requested statistics on the scope and associational risks related to clergy misconduct for consideration at future meetings.