UUA board, president seek common ground on Ariz.

The pre-GA meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees in Minneapolis started off with a tense and sometimes emotional discussion about the nature of the relationship between the board and UUA President Peter Morales. At its Tuesday, June 22, meeting, the board noted that after it had placed a business resolution on the agenda of this year’s General Assembly advocating a boycott of Arizona as the site of the 2012 General Assembly, Morales issued a statement with new information and a conflicting opinion about the appropriateness of the boycott.

This led to a lengthy conversation that focused on both relationship and governance, with the board concluding that while the president was well within his rights to send out such a statement, they wished he had discussed it with them before distributing it.

For his part, Morales explained that his goal was not to undermine the board but simply to offer a third option for delegates to consider, adding, “I am not the hireling of this board. I am the elected president of this Association.”

Following the discussion, the president and board crafted a joint statement to be read at Thursday morning’s plenary, which reads:

As a religious people committed to justice and equality, we cannot stand by in the face of hostile legislation in our nation.

The UUA Board and President celebrate the quality of the discussion and level of engagement created by the placement of the business resolution on the site of the 2012 General Assembly on the agenda by the Board of Trustees. We thank everyone for their contributions to the discussion. We look forward to a fruitful and vigorous debate on the floor of the General Assembly and hope that debate includes: open and respectful process; consideration of, and commitment to, the financial impact of the decision, whatever it may be; and accountability to historically marginalized communities, within and outside of our movement.

We are committed to leading a conversation that brings us toward wholeness.

Later in the meeting, board members agreed that they are eagerly looking forward to the debate process to help them solidify their own evolving opinions on the debate.

Among other items discussed at the meeting:

  • Adam Gerhardstein, outgoing campaign manager for the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, introduced his successor, Dan Furmansky, and described a new resource to help people organize local Standing on the Side of Love work. It is a 1 GB flash drive that comes preloaded with content, including music, logos, movies, media resources, talking points, sample press releases, a PowerPoint presentation, case studies, a worship packet, a congregational organizing toolkit, and more, available for $20 from the UUA’s Advocacy & Witness booth (#417). A larger organizer’s kit with T-shirt and tote bag is $50.
  • The Rev. Meg Riley, the director of the UUA’s Advocacy and Witness staff group who will leave the UUA staff this summer to become senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, described the Standing on the Side of Love public witness event planned for this year’s GA, which will coincide with an all-day Minneapolis Gay Pride event. The public witness event, focused on marriage equality, is scheduled to take place Saturday, June 26 at noon in Loring Park (map) and will feature people in yellow Standing on the Side of Love T-shirts walking the three blocks to the park along with a chariot carrying two brides. Learn more.
  • Larry Ladd, chair of the board of trustees of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, announced that Meadville Lombard is joining with Andover-Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Mass., to create an as-yet unnamed theological institution to be established over the next year. Read the full announcement here.
  • The Rev. Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious Institute, a multifaith organization advocating for sexual health and justice in faith communities, and a community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, Ct., presented highlights of her report “Toward a Sexually Healthy and Responsible Unitarian Universalist Association.”

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