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.
ATTEND GA FROM HOME
Can't get to Providence, RI for General Assembly this year? You can watch plenary, the Ware Lecture, worship services and more online. Go to the UUA GA website to learn more.
Have you ever wondered if your congregation is fairly compensating your minister and staff? Have you been concerned what the answer might be? Or maybe you don’t know where to begin.
It was nearly two decades ago that delegates at our General Assembly called upon congregations to fairly compensate staff with appropriate levels of salary and benefits. Our district board recently discovered that we hadn’t investigated whether we were fairly paying our district staff, so we did the research and found we were far behind where we should have been. So we worked with our finance committee and board to improve the situation and I am very proud to say we raised the total compensation package to our staff beginning this new fiscal year.
I suggest all of you ask the question in your congregations. There are very helpful resources available to you to help determine fair compensation. Our UUA has extensive resources available at no cost to your congregation to guide you through the process and make a determination regarding the fairness of your staff compensation packages. As part of our UUA’s Fair Compensation initiatives, volunteer Compensation Consultants have been trained to support these initiatives nationally. In January, Jason Smith was trained as new Compensation Consultant within our district and this area of our Central East Regional Group (CERG). You are invited to contact Jason and begin a conversation about how to make the determination for each of your staff members. In the near future, additional compensation consultants will be trained within CERG and further details on which consultants support which congregations will be made available then.
The resources are there for you, but it will take a commitment to research this. Our district had a small task force of two who spent a few months researching and developing a salary recommendation for the district board. Then the board investigating the benefits side of our package and agreed on a new rate that is at the high end of the range in honor of the longevity of our employee.
It’s not easy for congregations to address this issue – it boils down to money and that’s hard to find. But as Unitarian Universalists we are committed to social justice and equity issues, so we need to address our compensation to our ministers and staff with equal vigor and steadfastness.
To help your congregation begin an evaluation start with contacting Jason and reviewing our UUA's web site.
Jason Smith: jasonchicago at gmail.com
Cell #: 607-242-6636 UUA: http://www.uua.org/careers/compensation/fair/
President, St. Lawrence District
FAREWELL CONVERSATIONS WITH KAREN LOBRACCO
Prior to my position ending June 30, I would love to have a final “Checking In” conversation with you! Please feel free to call me at your convenience (585-637-6374), or return my call if I don’t catch you at a good time. Beginning July 1 RE questions and requests should be directed at your congregation’s Primary Contact staff person. You will be in good hands!
EAT... DRINK... WALK...
Many of you know that I was diagnosed with Acute Myelognous Leukemia, and that I’ve been in the hospital the past month, and I’m still in the hospital for some (hopefully) shorter, yet unnamed time. This is a club that I didn’t volunteer to be part of yet, I found myself hearing that I had four days to get my affairs in order and to report to the hospital Monday morning. I like to think my job is a little complicated than can be turned around in four days, but thanks to the district, joint and regional staff, this was all handled fairly smoothly.
And the outpouring of love and support that I have received from Family, friends, loved ones, but hundreds of well wishes from those of you in congregations who are just getting to know me. We’ve just started this dance, and I was in no way ready to put down my dance card. I can’t tell you what it means to have you on my side! An at the same time, I hope you can appreciate that I can’t possibly talk to each one of you, at least not after I met “Chemo Brain!”
Chemo brain makes you feel like you have swiss cheese inside your skull. I could swear things were done, but hadn’t even started yet. Time was at a warp with no distinct beginning and end. I had to stay very Zen moment centered- it was the only way I could cope with anything. “Right now I am drinking water. “ The next week, that same water tasted like salt and couldn’t be tolerated. Even still, my job was to eat- drink and walk.
I am part of a phase three study for the drug Orinistat and agreed to be randomized onto the clinical trial. I did indeed receive the study drug, and was seeing this as a sign of good odds ahead. The chemo week itself was not bad. I needed no nausea relief for the pills at all; the rest of the IV drugs did, but nothing really out of the ordinary. After the first week, I wondered if I was on a placebo!
2nd week/ First Hell week takes place- now the chemo hits with the intensity of hurricane, and one of the biggest side effects is mucositis. I had a nasty case, and lost all of the first layer of my mouth skin, plus had sores on my tongues, cheek, etc... I became more isolated, less able to talk to people one on one. It just simply hurt too much to try. This was the week of the most pain for me. Pain was just a piece of the problem- I could no longer taste anything, I had no moisture in my mouth. Everything tasted like cardboard. I had to find a new way to eat- Protein shakes.
3rd week/ Second Hell Week- This just plain scary for anyone who’s been in it or loved through it, but this is when the blood counts drop out of existence. For me this meant multiple high fevers followed of course with strong antibiotics. It meant blood and platelet transfusions, and the management of bleeding, which included having to wear a crash helmet in case of falls. It meant a confusing interplay between nausea meds, antibiotics, pain meds and everyone other thing. It meant needing oxygen, and some extra breathing assist at night. Time to strip down to basics- put those vitamins on hold while I allow a few less things to interact. Most importantly, I couldn’t make a decision if my life depended on it, and Sharon was now in charge of all of my daily affairs, and for making sure I was not taken advantage of in my weakened state. Nothing is in your control- my job was only this- eat- drink – walk.
4th Week: This is re-assessment after the storm week. I will possibly go home, have a bone marrow biopsy, watch things become more stable. I’m looking forward to being with the animals soon, and just to be home. However, more chemo and will be right around the corner.
I especially want to thank everyone for their cards, thoughts, good wishes, meditations and prayers. So much good will in the atmosphere- so much good to do.
View the news archives