Board meeting: Significant changes ahead for GA resolutions

The UUA board held its traditional post-General Assembly meeting on Monday morning, June 28. They conducted an informal evaluation of the board’s General Assembly workshops; discussed the possibility of reevaluating Responsive Resolutions and Actions of Immediate Witness; approved the Panel on Theological Education’s budget; revised a board policy to include the establishment of a site selection committee for off-site meetings; and refined language about which committees the board is responsible for funding.

The board was positive about the General Assembly just held. When asked to describe their impressions in one to two words, trustees said: “forward-looking,” “empowering,” “sea change,” “beautiful,” and “revealing.”

The board evaluated some of the workshops it gave, reviewing their attendance and relevance. UUA Moderator Gini Courter also initiated a discussion about Actions of Immediate Witness and Responsive Resolutions. Actions of Immediate Witness and Responsive Resolutions do not require congregational input as do Congregational Study/Action Issues and Statements of Conscience, which are subject to a thorough vetting process by congregations and the Commission on Social Witness. Actions of Immediate Witness and Responsive Resolutions lack accountability to a specific group, Courter said. She said that she expected that significant changes would be put into place concerning these two forms of social resolution before the 2012 GA in Phoenix, which will have a limited business agenda.

Linda Laskowski, trustee from the Pacific Central district*, reported on a successful experiment she conducted during GA, in which 11 off-site delegates in five different locations were able to attend GA electronically. The purpose of the experiment was to see which issues arose. One candidate had a proxy in three lines for debate at the same time, she said. “There are some things you can do more easily electronically.”

Doug Gallager, trustee from the Heartland district and Laskowski presented the Panel on Theological Education’s budget for the board’s approval. The Rev. Jeanne Pupke, trustee-at-large, said that she was disappointed that there were no major systemic changes in the UUA’s financing of theological education. “We need a capital undertaking in support of our seminaries. . . . I’m tired of not being able to attract the best candidates for ministry.”

The Rev. Will Saunders, trustee from the Northern New England district agreed. “We need to direct our efforts at major fundraising for theological education,” he said. “We’re playing in puddles rather than dealing with the reality of the educational enterprise. We’re not doing what we need to do.”

UUA President Peter Morales said that the proceeds from the next year’s Association Sunday campaign would be directed to theological education. He also said that several other initiatives looking at all aspects of the ministry were already underway.

UUA moderator Gini Courter then proposed an in-depth discussion on the funding of theological education to be held at the October meeting.

The POTE budget passed with Pupke and Saunders voting against it as a means of protest, and three abstentions.

The board amended one of its policies to include language about the appointment of a site selection team for off-site board meetings. The board has resolved to hold at least one of its regular meetings during the year outside of Boston. Last January it met in San Antonio, Tex., and this year it plans to meet in Phoenix. The new language empowers the team to recommend a geographic area for the board to meet.

The board also amended a policy on the cost of governance, outlining which committees would get the board’s financial support. According to the updated version, the board would cover operating and meeting costs for itself, board committees, board-appointed committees, and the elected committees of the association.

Outgoing youth observer Joe Gayeski offered some reflection on his one-year term on the board. These included the need for better orientation of incoming youth observers and the importance of paying attention to the issue of youth empowerment. The incoming youth observer Caleb Raible Clark was introduced.

Former youth observer and trustee Julian Sharp visited the meeting and talked about the revitalization of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a school founded by Horace Mann, a Unitarian. The school was closed in 2008 and expects to re-open its doors to a small entering class in the fall of 2011.

*In an earlier version of this post we mistakenly said that Linda Laskowski was the trustee from the Pacific Northwest district.

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