SLD VOTES TO DISSOLVE DISTRICT IN FAVOR OF REGIONALIZATION
The St. Lawrence and Ohio-Meadville Districts are pleased to announce their delegates have voted to dissolve their districts in favor of our Central East Region. Each district will legally dissolve at their own pace based on the laws where each is incorporated. It is anticipated both will be dissolved in the next few months. The Joseph Priestley District is scheduled to have its regionalization vote on April 9 and Metro New York District on May 7. These votes are the culmination of several years of work on this evolution of our governing and operational structures. The goals of this restructuring are to improve services to congregations and enhance congregational interdependence.
Jeff Donahue, President, Saint Lawrence District
Rev. Matt Alspaugh, President, Ohio-Meadville District
QUESTIONS ABOUT REGIONALIZATION?
The Central East Region has prepared a video playlist explaining various aspects of regionalization. You can find it and other information at the CER website Regionalization page.
ST LAWRENCE DISTRICT AND THE UUA
For the last few years our district leaders have been working toward building the Central East Region. At our next District Assembly, we will ask all of your congregational delegates to make it official – to dissolve the St. Lawrence District in favor of our region and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The latest task is to create a “Memorandum of Understanding” between the four Central East Region’s districts and our UUA. This will be an agreement that safeguards each district’s finances, programs and staffing. It also articulates a new way to be in relationship, in covenant, with our sister congregations and national association. It is a bold plan of how we can be better together.
Five major outcomes are featured in this agreement.
Congregational Life Advisory Council
Governance: The proposal is to transfer governance from each of the four districts to the UUA. The role of district governance has been diminishing in recent years, yet the structures remain requiring people to serve on various committees. Transferring governance function to the UUA will free up our leaders’ time to serve the ministry of their choosing. Our congregations will have improved connections with the UUA board through our Wisdom Seekers programs and the efforts of our UUA Moderator, Jim Key, and the UUA board.
Staff: All district and regional staff are, or soon will be, UUA employees. This clarifies reporting structures, salary and benefit packages, and goals. Our “primary contact” model and emphasis on congregational clusters provide faster responses to congregations from staff with a wider variety of expertise.
Stewardship: We are planning to move to a simpler, fairer way of asking our congregations to support all our UU congregations. There will be one ask for congregations to financially support congregations in our district, region and nation. The recommended contribution will be based on a common list of congregational expenses rather than a headcount of members. Local leaders will be supporting our UUA’s Stewardship and Development office in this effort.
Congregational Life Advisory Council: This newly formed entity is designed to provide two-way communication between our congregations and Congregational Life office in our UUA. Each of the five regions across the U.S. has a new council, providing information to the Director of Congregational Life about congregational needs and working on how life in our congregations and beyond could be improved.
Wisdom Seekers: In the future our region will initiate a Wisdom Seekers program. This will be a forum to discuss the current major issues facing Unitarian Universalism and society. UU’s from across our region, the UUA Trustees, and the public will all be invited to these events. In addition to having deep discussions of current topics, this gives our UUs the opportunity to grow and serve into leadership roles.
We have been growing into our region in the last few years. Initiatives such as Wisdom Seekers promises a future of engagement, connection and growth.
There’s lots of discussion and work on the variety of ways our congregations can collaborate. Much of this is now under the umbrella of “multisite” congregations. “Multisite, to put it simply, involves multiple congregations or covenanted communities sharing staff, programming and mission to have greater impact and reach than any of them could have on their own,” (from Tandi Rogers’ blog, Growing Unitarian Universalism).
Congregations of all sizes are developing very creative ways to collaborate. Some people have only heard one way: congregations merge into one entity in multiple locations. This scares many congregational leaders – they become fearful the smaller or less affluent congregation will become absorbed and its identity lost forever. There are times when a merger of congregations works, but it’s certainly not the only way multisite is working.
“Yoked congregations” is when the staff and programming of each congregation are shared. Each congregation retains its own bylaws, board and budget. Congregations can be of any size. We have an example of this in St. Lawrence: the very large First Unitarian Church of Rochester and the small-sized UU Church of Canandaigua are in such a relationship.
The partnership model is when an existing congregation partners with or creates a distinct covenanted community. The fundamental idea is for the congregation to expand its mission in its community. An example is the Sanctuary Boston where they meet once a month in a Boston UU church and another UU church in Cambridge. The other weeks they meet in members’ homes in small group format for deeper conversations and connections.
A “branch and campus” (or satellite) grows another site (campus) or offers its support to another congregation as a branch. This model is good for congregations wanting to grow outside its walls, help other UU congregations, and grow Unitarian Universalism.
The merged or networked model creates one church in multiple locations. Unlike the yoked model, merged or networked congregations have one set of bylaws, one board, one budget. One of the goals of congregations entering into this model is for Unitarian Universalism to have a higher profile in their community.
All of this information and much more detail is available to you via the UU Multisite web site: http://uumultisite.weebly.com/. If you’d like to speak to someone about whether your congregation’s mission fits any of these models, contact your CERG staff members, Rev. Joan Van Becelaere or Mark Bernstein.
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