The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees had a lively and engaged meeting this past week (January 23-26, 2014) in San Diego, CA. The fruits of a smaller board continue to be realized in more generative, collaborative conversation between board members and also with the UUA’s administrative staff.
- Trustees began to consider the 2013 Responsive Resolution “Calling for a Renewed Commitment to Anti-oppression/Multiculturalism” by welcoming UUA Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness, Taquiena Boston, for an overview of a wide variety of efforts underway to make the UUA a more credible partner in helping to end racism and oppression and become a more inclusive community.
- One extended conversation revolved around transforming the associational business transacted at General Assembly (GA) into a more robust and inclusive democratic process for our congregations, their representatives, and other stake holders in our movement. The board articulated some core principles for this transformation, which include: expanding the governance work performed by congregations and their delegates into something more inclusive and dynamic than voting alone; connecting delegates more closely to the work of association and to bodies they represent; exploring how technological advances might improve accessibility and diversify representation. To incentivize the participation of congregations’ elected and called leaders in General Assembly, the board voted to offer a $100 discount in registration fees to the first 500 Congregational Presidents to register for GA 2014. The board remains committed to a timetable which would have them converse about the possibilities with delegates to GA 2014, with the aim of having proposed bylaw changes for GA 2015.
- After hearing a report from the team of board and staff members who have been working together and with a consultant on enhancing the President’s reports to the board, the board voted an extension of the original reporting schedule for the administration. Two interpretations of the policies describing the association’s ultimate ends were heard at this board meeting. A complete set of interpretations and their metrics for Policy 1 and its related sub policies (on the associational ends) are to be presented to the board in time for review before the April 2014 meeting.
- The board’s Inclusion and Empowerment Working Group led an exercise in multicultural leadership based on Juana Bordas’ book, Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership in a Multicultural Age.
- The Board also voted to hold its April 2015 meeting in Selma, AL to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March to be celebrated in March 2015. In 1965, the UUA Board recessed their meeting to answer the call to religious leaders from Dr. Martin Luther King to come to Selma after events on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. The UU minister Rev. James Reeb was killed in the events that followed. To mark this important anniversary, the Living Legacy Project is organizing events for Unitarian Universalists and others to honor those who participated in the Civil Rights movement.
- Approval for the final sale of the UUA properties at 25 Beacon Street, 6 and 7 Mount Vernon Place was granted. Details about the sale will be released after closing in late March. The property at 41 Mount Vernon Street remains for sale.
- Saturday afternoon, the board visited the Unitarian Universalists of the South Bay. This ministry of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego serves a predominately Latino neighborhood in southern San Diego County. The board was inspired to witness how this multicultural church campus, with ministerial, governance and administrative support of First UU, is able to provide justice ministry to the community, rather than, as many smaller congregation do, spending the majority of their human and financial resources on maintenance and support tasks.
- On Wednesday, prior to the Board meeting, the UUA Moderator, Treasurer, and seven Trustees walked across the U.S. – Mexico border into Tijuana. With UU immigration justice activists Mar Cardenas and Jan Meslin as guides, the UUA delegation witnessed some of the complexity of our border relations--by visiting the reinforced border fence, hearing the challenges deportees and migrant communities face, and learning of an effort to build communities and relationships across the border. The delegation heard the stories of the newest deportees at the site where deportees from the United States first enter Tijuana. At a shelter that provides meals to 1100 persons most days (about 70% of which are deportees), the delegation learned of basic needs of the migrant community being served. At the western edge of the border wall (and the Mexican side of Friendship Park, historically a gathering place for families and friends separated by the border), they witnessed the recently reinforced and additional border fencing and heard stories from deported veterans of the United States military. In a Tijuana neighborhood, they learned how Casas de Luz works with residents in building homes and community centers. Kathy Faller, a Unitarian Universalist and founder of Casas de Luz (Houses of Light), described the work of the social action project, based out of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito.