DISTRICT ASSEMBLY 2015
The SLD Annual Report is now available for download. You can also download the Meeting Packet and the District Assembly Brochure.
Please note the following:
- Advance Registration is now closed. You must register on site and the sliding scale is no longer an option. The onsite registration fee is $95. For details about onsite registration please visit the District Assembly Page.
This year's District Assembly is a joint effort with the Ohio-Meadville District and the St. Lawrence District. District Assembly will take place March 27-28, 2015 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY.
The Rev. Scott Tayler is the keynote speaker. His keynote address is titled The Space Between: Building a new day by strengthening the ties that bind. Gould Lecturer is Rev. Thomas Chulak, speaking on The Sum of the Parts.
Eleven workshops will be offered in two time slots covering an array of topics important to congregational life. CERG (Central East Regional Group) staff are attending as workshop presenters and to answer questions by members about CERG services and resources. There is time allotted for conversations about regionalization and what it means to our congregations, clusters and districts.
Learn more at the District Assembly Page.
REGIONALIZE - WHY?
For the last few years leaders of the four districts of the Central East Regional Group (CERG) have been working out what seems like an endless list of details of how we could blend our districts into a single region – and if we even want to do that. It’s easy to get caught up in the nitty-gritty detail and forget what this is all about.
We’ve been saying the fundamental reason is to improve services to our congregations. But the truth has been gradually revealing itself to these dedicated leaders. Through our work together we have discovered how rich each of our districts is – in our history, our culture, and our leaders. We have each learned from one another about how to be better Unitarian Universalists. We have learned how to appreciate what at times has been some annoying characteristic of each or our districts and their leaders. I have experienced in meeting after meeting how some people upset me. And when we do our process right, I am granted the opportunity to experience why that other person was upsetting me – why they were expressing themselves in an apparently contrary manner. And then the magic happens.
Leaders of our regional transition often say, “We are better together.” Even though that phrase sometimes sounds like a platitude, it is true. I have learned that people aren’t at these meetings just to annoy me – they are present to offer their view of how we could be better -- together. And when we allow ourselves to participate in a covenantal process to discern what is going on, why we feel they way we do, a magical moment can occur. To discover why someone – each of us – has been so committed to one program, process or belief and that awakening can be very powerful. A light bulb goes off and we begin to love our partner in this effort and begin to discover ways we really can be better together.
I have learned so much from my partners in the Metro New York, Joseph Priestley, and Ohio-Meadville districts and our Unitarian Universalist Association. I hope all of you get the opportunity to meet fellow UUs in our nearby districts – it’s quite inspiring. Great ideas are shared and all of a sudden synergy is blossoming.
I love my congregation. I’ve been a member for 30 years. And I love my new UU friends from not only in our region, but also across the country. I love having conversations with them – they are informative, joyful, and inspirational. I would have missed out on meeting so many of these UUs had I not accepted a leadership role that has led to our work on regionalization.
Our plans for CERG are getting very exciting. We have new ways of connecting our congregations and our national association like never before. We are going to have a voice with the UUA. We are going to learn from our sister congregations and they will learn from us.
We will continue to roll out various components of regionalization over the coming months and lots of meetings will be arranged to present our plans and get your input. Ultimately we will ask all four districts in CERG to vote to make our region officially recognized with the UUA. I encourage you to participate in all this – meet UUs from other districts and ask what they love about their congregations. Tell them what’s exciting about your congregation. Meet our staff – they are wonderful, helpful, loving individuals ready to assist you.
We really are better together.
DISTRICT TEAMWORK SERVES CONGREGATIONS
Sometimes a challenge can offer an opportunity to try something new.
In the Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the sudden illness and extended medical leave of St. Lawrence Congregational Life Consultant, the Rev. Chris Neilson, resulted in an all-hands-on-deck response from the district boards and from district, regional and national UUA staff.
The governing boards of the four districts that make up the Central East Regional Group have been in discussion about moving to a "Primary Contact" model where each congregation has a "go-to" person who partners with the congregation's leaders to find the right resources and specialists from the UUA and region and to strengthen relationships within clusters. The model provides an improved Primary Contact staff-to-congregation ration in OMD and SLD (1 to 25-30 congregations). Staff will also continue to offer depth with their own portfolio "specialties" for the four districts in the region.
The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere (lead of the Central East Regional Group) and the Rev. Scott Tayler (director of Congregational Life for the UUA) saw the challenge of the medical leave as an opportunity to pilot this primary contact program. They devised a plan to redeploy existing staff from the districts and region for the duration of the medical leave.
Beginning July 1, there will be three staff persons in OMD and SLD taking on the role of Primary Contact for different clusters of congregations:
||Rev. Joan Van Becelaere firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-641-5896 (OMD Congregational Life Consultant and CERG regional lead)
||Evin Carvill-Ziemer email@example.com, 330-281-3306 (Program Coordinator for OMD and SLD and Acting Congregational Life Consultant)
||Rev. Renee Ruchotzke firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-554-0828 (Regional Congregational Life Consultant in Leadership Development)
For a quick reference on who will be serving your congregation, please check this map (above) or visit this easy to use form.
Of course, the entire CERG staff is ready to respond when needed and to support our congregations as we strengthen our Unitarian Universalist faith within and beyond our walls.
The staff and district boards will be assessing this program and its effectiveness on an on-going basis. Please share your observations and questions with our regional lead, the Rev. Joan VanBecelaere. Joan can be reached at email@example.com.
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