General Assembly 2022 Contested Election Information about Candidates for Board Positions #7 and #11

Polls for the 2022 election for Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Boards, Committees, and Commissions will be open throughout June, and the results will be announced at General Assembly (GA) 2022. Please take a moment to read through our helpful information sheet (PDF) on what you need to know about voting this year.

June 8, 2022 Candidates Forum

The UUA Election Campaign Practices Committee (ECPC) sponsored a Candidates' Forum on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 6pm MT / 5pm PT, featuring the two candidates for Board Position #7, the Rev. Suzanne Fast and Rebecca Mattis, and the two candidates for Board Position #11, the Rev. Beverly Seese and the Rev. Justine Sullivan.

Members of the ECPC served as moderators, and attendees were encouraged to submit questions for the candidates in advance of the forum. Those unable to attend the forum should take a moment to review the recording of it, below.

Candidates Running for Board of Trustees Position #7

The following two candidates are running for a single position (#7) on the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees.

Rev. Suzanne Fast

white woman with brown hair, situated behind a podium, speaking into a microphone, wearing a black top and colorful still.

This candidate was nominated by the UUA Nominating Committee.

Candidate's Statement

I am grateful that the UUA Nominating Committee has asked me to continue my service on the UUA Board of Trustees for a second three-year term. During my first term, I have had the privilege to be part of a dedicated and talented group of UUs, trustees, and staff who have undertaken much important work for our Association and its member congregations. Our UUA mission is to equip congregations for vital ministry, to support and train lay and professional leaders, and to advance UU values in the world. The Board of Trustees also has fiduciary responsibility for the well-being of the Association, and I am proud to be part of that, too. Much transformative work is underway, and I am committed to being part of that over the next three years. This includes continuing implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Institutional Change; updating and simplifying UUA governance; supporting well our member congregations in their rapidly evolving needs; and assuring the future financial health and sustainability of our Association. I like this work and it has become an important part of my commitment to our faith movement.

I am also seeking re-election to the UUA Board of Trustees because the world is changing, and so is Unitarian Universalism. Part of what makes our faith so powerfully life-affirming is our commitment to transformation and growth—individually, in community, and institutionally. When we are called to meet a moment, we are at our best when we give each other hope and courage. True transformation takes time. Our faith has been at a threshold of transformation before in our long history. Sometimes we have crossed that threshold, and sometimes we have turned back. I am seeking re-election because I believe strongly that this is a time to keep moving forward, especially since so much tangible progress has started.

In addition to being a Fellowshipped and ordained UU Minister, I am a trained and certified spiritual director. Accompanying and encouraging people who are making meaning from life and life’s changes is my vocation. Where is the spirit, the understanding, moving in our experiences? I bring that approach into my work for justice: What is Love calling us to do? And with the Board: How do Love, and Compassion, and Justice show up in policies and structures, and in the ways we exercise our fiduciary responsibilities?

Before coming onto the Board, I had leadership experience in Unitarian Universalism at the national level. I served on the Accountability Group for Justice GA 2012 in Phoenix. I am a facilitator in the Beyond Categorical Thinking Program for congregations in ministerial search. I was in national leadership when I was a young adult. And I have been in the leadership of EqUUal Access for many years and base my community ministry there. I’ve been active at the regional, district, and local levels, and served on numerous congregational committees, from Religious Education to Finance and many more. Over my lifetime, I’ve been fortunate to be part of UU congregations in four of our five regions—from a very small, lay-led fellowship to a large, multi-minister church, and several mid-size congregations. I have a wide breadth of experience with the joys and struggles of our congregations and communities.

When I filled out the forms for the nominating committee before I was elected to the Board three years ago, I closed by saying: “I am well-suited to serve because I have practice in living in the both/and. I have faith that we can get there even when the way is not clear. And I believe in the saving power of Unitarian Universalism, and in its power to save itself.” After three years of service on the Board, I still believe it.

Visit Suzanne's candidate website for more information.

Rebecca Mattis

white person with short, gray hair, wearing a blue shirt, smiles in front. of a green leafy tree.

This candidate was nominated by petition.

Candidate's Statement

My name is Rebecca Mattis, and I am asking for your vote for the UUA Board of Trustees. Unitarian Universalism has been my religious home for fifteen years. I have always felt a sense of welcome and belonging among diverse groups, and I cannot think of a more religiously diverse denomination than UUism. Our faith has always encouraged us to do good work in love and in freedom. But, like many UUs, I am grieved to see the direction our UU leadership has taken in the past several years. The UUA has gone from being an organization that supports its member congregations in our liberal religious work, to a highly centralized and insular group, disengaged from individual congregations, and disturbing in its dogmatism. This departure from the heritage roots of our denomination has brought such distress that sometimes I wondered if I should leave the church; however, I cherish my home congregation, the UU Church of Rutland, Vermont. That love fills me with a fierce determination, and I want to bring that sense of purpose to the UUA Board of Trustees. I believe in our Seven Principles, and I will do everything I can to uphold and preserve them.

The three principles that I most wish to protect are the first, fourth, and fifth: the inherent worth and dignity of every person, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process. These principles, particularly dear to me, are also the ones that I see being ignored, and even abandoned, by the UUA. For the past several years, the UU World and the UUA website have been telling UUs what to think and how to act, which I believe has no place in a free church. As a Trustee I will do all I can to preserve and promote scientific processes and diversity of thought within our congregations and UU leadership. To this end, I believe denominational decision-making authority should be returned to our congregations, and I will sponsor the conversation to end the current regional organizational structure and reconstitute our congregation-led district structure. Also, the recommendations of the 2009 Report by the Fifth Principle Task Force should be revisited. Using these strategies to bolster democracy in our denomination will promote a clearer, more direct relationship between UU leadership and Unitarian Universalists as a whole, and will provide a more robust structure for the UUA to fulfill its role as a supporter of congregations.

I have many years of experience with the democratic process, both as a church trustee and as an elected official, serving four years on the city council of Rutland, Vermont. As a city council member, I learned to listen to all parties with care and empathy, including my opponents. I worked to build an environment that was no longer “us vs. them” but just “us.” We engaged in constructive debate, did our best to meet the needs of all - never perfectly of course, but often successfully. I believe that diversity of thought is any group’s greatest strength. UUism was built on the foundation of free thought, and I aim to do all I can to keep us there. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Visit Rebecca's candidate website for more information.

Candidates Running for Board of Trustees Position #11

The following two candidates are running for a single position (#11) on the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees.

Rev. Beverly Seese

white woman with blonde hair, wearing a tan suit, sits smiling in front of a brick wall

This candidate was nominated by petition.

Candidate's Statement

Unitarian Universalism should be allowed to maintain its historic integrity and proceed to its profound future. A growing number of members are concerned that our Unitarian Universalist principles and practices are being undermined.

I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach. I wholeheartedly support helping another branch of UUism to be formed that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks. (Maybe named 21st Century UUs.) We do not need to be antagonistic toward one another. UUs have always been welcoming of other perspectives and opinions. Join me in calming the conflict that has been growing between congregations’ members and various identity groups.

I am feeling called to this role in our Association by a large spectrum of our beloved community who are concerned about the erosion of our precious faith tradition.

I would be representing the heartland of our country and the growing sense of a lack of representation on this board, from all the different areas of the country.

Visit Beverly's candidate website for more information.

Rev. Justine Sullivan

a person with short down hair wears a black robe and colorful stoll.

This candidate was nominated by the UUA Nominating Committee.

Candidate's Statement

I am honored to be considered for a role on the UUA Board of Trustees. Almost since the moment that I found Unitarian Universalism, I have wished for two things: 1. That others could find and learn about this faith that I so love and 2. That those of us who are part of UU congregations could feel more deeply connected to all the other congregations in our association. In our UU faith, we are drawn to the “free and autonomous congregations” aspect of our polity, but we forget that we are called to something more; we are called to be in accountable relationship with one another and with our partners, partners in faith, partners in our work for justice, partners who may call for a more expansive and inclusive definition of who we mean by “we.” As a congregational leader and then as a district president, I worked to bring folks together across congregational lines. Sometimes I had success, but quite often that fierce love of independence would get in the way of collaboration. Interestingly, during the pandemic, I have seen more collaboration on things like worship and religious education and justice-making than ever before. As Covid finally recedes and we begin to re-open to increased in-person gathering, I am determined that we not return to doing things in the old, separate ways. This is a primary reason why I am interested in serving on our UUA board at this time. Can we retain the gifts that the many months of living with Covid restrictions have brought us even as we acknowledge the losses and work to rebuild the sense of safety that was severely damaged during the deadliest months of the pandemic?

I have experience serving on and leading boards. I believe that many voices singing together can make a more beautiful sound than any one person singing alone. As a mental health professional with years of experience, I understand the role trauma can play in conflict - in listening and in finding it hard to listen. I hope to bring that trauma-informed lens to the essential and challenging work of looking at white supremacy culture and its effects not just “out there” but in our own UU world, which has too often centered the experience of those who already have privilege and are used to having their needs and wishes met.

As a minister working with congregations in transition, one of my primary tasks is to listen and to observe a congregational system with a focus on what is working well in serving the congregation’s mission and what seems to be out of alignment with their stated goals. I have worked with congregations with high levels of conflict, including around issues of race, and I feel that this experience will be valuable as the UUA Board of Trustees works to be accountable both to our member congregations and to the future of our faith. I see the potential for us to be truly transformative in the movement for a more just and equitable world.

But we can only be a force for the change in the world if we are willing to look at our own practices and the ways in which we as a community of faith have not always lived up to our stated values. I am aware that as a white woman with a high level of education and a profession that garners some respect in the world, I am over-represented in the leadership of our movement, and that would be a good reason NOT to support my candidacy. I do believe, however, that dismantling racism is white people’s work, and I aim to be part of that work in every way that I can. I am passionate about our faith and about our commitment to live into our mission to make the world more just and more accessible, not just to people of color but to LGBTQ folks and to people living with disability. Too often, we UUs have been too slow to consider the questions of Who is missing? Whom are we not serving? Who else needs to be part of this? - too late in our processes for those historically marginalized voices to truly be part of the shape and the direction of our shared work.

I have always believed in service as a spiritual practice. It is the common thread that runs through just about every job I have ever had. My very first job as a supervisor in a computer company involved stepping in to lead a group whose supervisor was diagnosed with very serious breast cancer. My job was to manage the group on an acting basis while the ill person went through treatment. Thankfully, her treatment went well. That experience of accompanying a group as they experienced change and loss led me away from high technology and into a career in Social Work. If I had found Unitarian Universalism at that time, perhaps I would have entered the ministry then, but I am deeply grateful for the experiences I have gained throughout my professional life, and I find that I use everything I learned as a manager and as a clinician in my work as a minister.

I believe I have gifts and experience that would allow me to serve our UUA Board and our faith well, and I would be honored to have the support of our member congregations to offer those gifts.

Visit Justine's candidate website for more information.

Review the full slate of candidates for election at GA 2022.