STEPPING FURTHER INTO OUR REGION
Your district leadership is making good progress moving from our district structure to a regional structure.
The first draft of our comprehensive plan to blend the St. Lawrence, Ohio-Meadville, Metro New York and Joseph Priestly districts into the Central East Regional Group (CERG) is now in the hands of the district board members. After their critique, a second draft will be widely available to our congregations and other stakeholders for review. Your input will be collected at Forums on Regionalization this Fall and used to write the third draft. A final draft will be available well before District Assembly where we will discuss and vote on the proposal.
Right now our regional Transition Team (which I chair) is forming five new working groups to research specific issues and recommendations for this plan.
- Legal: address bylaws, policies, procedures and incorporation issues.
- Stakeholder Outreach: identify what we need to do, say and ask each of our stakeholder groups.
- Listening: Compile, interpret and share feedback from stakeholders.
- Volunteer Engagement: Create job descriptions of CERG board members and processes to assist Nominating Committees with this transition.
- Training: How and when to train-the-trainer for our Forums on Regionalization.
The fundamental goal in this effort is to improve the services to our congregations. We are already experiencing some of this with the support we receive from our regional (not district) staff: Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Pat Infante, Mark Bernstein, and Evin Carvill-Ziemer. Regionalization will allow us to fully blend these staff members with the staff of all four districts, and to eliminate the redundancy of four district boards. There are even plans for our district and region to be able to use the expertise of other UUA staff across the country. Very significant changes are underway, all to improve the support to our congregations and beyond.
LOOKING FOR RESOURCES FROM GENERAL ASSEMBLY?
All livestreamed events, such as the Ware Lecture, Plenary Sessions and Worship services are now archived and available on the UUA website at www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/index.shtml. Video of some of the workshops and resources such as handouts can also be found on this site.
The Central East Regional Staff team video taped a number of workshops and those videos are currently being edited. Check the CERG YouTube site to find them when they are finished. Give us about 2 weeks to get the first few uploaded.
The Growing Unitarian Universalism Blog has also posted a listing of workshops with direct links to video and the page of resources at the UUA website. This was designed to help those who wanted help "taking the GA experience home" but is helpful for everyone.
All GA participants have access to the audio files of all the workshops as part of your registration fee. You should have already received an email giving you the login information to be able to access them. You can also purchase a flash drive with all the mp3s loaded on it. For those who did not attend, but would like to purchase the audio of one or more workshops or sessions, visit the UUA Events Center at the Strategic Events Plus website.
Copies of the annual report and other reports given during the plenaries ar ealso available on the UU website GA pages.
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 email@example.com, 303-641-5896 (OMD Congregational Life Consultant and CERG regional lead)
||Evin Carvill-Ziemer firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-281-3306 (Program Coordinator for OMD and SLD and Acting Congregational Life Consultant)
||Rev. Renee Ruchotzke email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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