Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Report from your UUA Trustee: Tom Loughrey

The October meeting of the Board in odd numbered years is always our largest and lengthiest meeting in the two year time frame. This is because new trustees from about one-third of the districts come in at that time. New committee assignments, new officers and more. This year it was even more significant because of our new leadership under Rev. Peter Morales as President of the Association. While all of this might well be enough change we made it even more complex by formally adopting our new form of governance called “Policy Governance”, a term coined by John Carver who developed the principles behind it. Because of the large amount of work to be done we started meeting on Tuesday at 8AM and finished after 5 PM on Sunday of our October meeting week. It was a very lengthy agenda and each day went twelve or more hours. It is oddly, tiring and rewarding work.

I am going to use my blog to fill you in on some of the details we covered in working under this new policy governance model. One of the things we are doing as individuals is sharing our individual stories and observations with each other to share with our districts. So, you will hear some from me but you will also hear from some of my colleagues as well.

There was of course the business of the Association. As you might imagine, finances are an important part of our responsibility. The Association has been very conservative in its estimates of future income and expenses and has presented a balanced budget previously to us. As circumstances change the budget is projected and amended as needed to reflect the realities of new events. Fortunately, religious organizations retain a high position in the pecking order of individuals in their giving and so far, we have found this to be true for us as well. We anticipate fair share giving to be on target for projections. The other significant part of our income comes from our endowment fund. It is based on an average of five percent of the fund balance over the previous 13 quarters. This means that when the market goes down we don’t have a huge drop in income but it takes a long time to get back to where you were even when the market turns around. So, we will have to deal with reduced income for several more years.

In other actions the board voted to meet in San Antonio, TX at its January 2010 meeting. We don’t meet outside of Boston very often, other than GA, so this is a big change for us as we try to bring our business to some other parts of the country.

We also requested from the staff a report on where we are currently on the issues of District and National youth leadership along with the administration’s vision for this in the near future and some models of what is being done in other denominations.

Numerous appointments to committees were made and individuals are being notified now about those appointments. That list along with all the minutes of the meeting will be posted in the next several weeks on the UUA website.

Finally, if you are interested I presented a sermon to our congregation in Fullerton, CA at the beginning of October on some reflections on being a Unitarian Universalist. You can listen to a recording at their website.

As always please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions. I also welcome invitations to visit your congregation and speak with you about where we are and where we may be headed.

In faith and trust,

Tom Loughrey

(714) 878-2210

Monday, July 06, 2009

Views from General Assembly 2009

Let me just hit some of the high points of GA for you and let you know where you can get more information and details. Of course by now you probably know that Rev. Peter Morales has been elected president of the UUA. While it seemed to many that this would be a very close election either way, Peter had a very strong win by more than 500 votes out of just over 3,500 cast both on site and by mail. In a very moving ceremony on Sunday evening the service and GA concluded with a traditional "laying on of hands" for the newly installed president by members of his family, the Board of Trustees and gathered clergy on the stage.

Peter joined the Board along with new Board members and the re-elected moderator, Gini Courter and Financial Advisor, Dan Brodie. Joe Gayeski was elected as the new youth observer and Nick Allen, the prior youth observer, was elected to a two year term as the youth trustee at large. Rev. Jeanne Pupke also was elected as a trustee at large.

Several important votes were taken including a vote to change Article II of our bylaws, the Purposes and Principles. On a very narrow counted ballot the proposed ammendments were not accepted and so we continue to have our unchanged Article II.

The Statement of Conscience on "Peacemaking", presented by the Commission on Social Witness also failed to pass and was referred back to CSW for more refinement. Most concerns seemed to revolve around language rejecting any reason for the US to enter into war. A sufficient number felt there might be reasons and so this goes back for another year of study.

All the Actions of Immediate Witness passed. There were nine intrroduced but only six could be approved by the delegates. These included:

  • “Advocate Pending Legislation Toward Clean, Honest, and Fair Elections in the United States,” which endorsed three election reform bills in Congress: H.R.2894, H.R.1826, and S751-752;

  • “U.S. Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” which urged the Senate finally to ratify a treaty signed by the United States in 1996;

  • “In Support of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act,” S799/H.R.1925, which would protect 9 million acres of Bureau of Land Management land in Utah;

  • “Support Bolivian UUs Struggling for Justice and Human Rights,” which offered support for Bolivian UU leader Olga Flores Bedregal, who has been calling on her government to provide information about victims of disappearance by the country’s military government, and asked UUs to write to the Bolivian ambassador urging the country to establish a truth commission to investigate human rights violations;

  • “U.S.-Sponsored Torture: A Call for a Commission of Inquiry,” which endorsed the National Religious Coalition Against Torture’s call for a commission of inquiry; and

  • “Oppose Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity–Based Violence in Iraq,” which called for UUs to lobby the U.S. government to work with the United Nations to protect sexual minorities in Iraq.

More detailed information is available from UU World at and video of selected events.

On a personal note, I was sad to see Bill Sinkford leaving as president. I have appreciated his leadership, collegiality and his fierce promotion of our faith tot he larger world. Bill has left an indelible mark on our movement and I am very appreciative of everything he has done. It is a very difficult job and he carried it with grace, humility, good humor, bravery and with a vision for a greater and more meaningful Association that can and does make a difference in the world.

On another personal note I am happy to tell you that I will be serving as the Secretary of the UUA replacing Paul Rickter. I look forward to the work.

As always, I welcome your comments,concerns and questions. Please feel free to contact me at

In faith and trust,


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Endorsement for Rev. Laurel Hallman

After much consideration I have decided to endorse Rev. Laurel Hallman for President of the UUA. This was not an easy decision as we have two very fine and well qualified candidates for this position but in the end I decided that Laurel's message, engagement with the board and experience lead me to support her.

I offer this endorsement to the congregations in the PSWD, not to influence your own informed vote, but rather because I believe you should know where I stand on issues important to our Association. As always I invite your comments and questions.

However this may all turn out I will support whomever is our next president in this work because it is the work that all this is about. Below is my endorsement statement to Laurel's campaign:

Endorsement for Rev. Laurel Hallman

Two plus years ago when I first heard Laurel would be a candidate for UUA President I had to confess the only thing I knew about her was she was a minister of the large church in Dallas. That was it. I decided I needed to find out more and one of the first things I did was read the Berry Street Essay she delivered to her colleagues in 2003. I was moved by what I learned. The deepness of her experience, her intellect, her compassion and her reverence for language and the power of language came through clearly to me. In her essay, Laurel said that her work in preparing a lesson or sermon is “…to speak to the depth of human experience”. This is what I expect our president to be doing. This is not easy to do but I am convinced Laurel is up to the task.

What I have observed in the past year of seeing Laurel at our board meetings is someone who is keenly observant and engaged in the work and who understands the inability we sometimes have when we “live more deeply than we think”. She has challenged us to find ways to articulate that, which is deeper than what we can speak, and she stands prepared to work collaboratively with the board, the staff and most important, our congregations in this struggle.

Challenging times are here with us now and will be for some time to come. When we are most challenged we need the wisdom, insight, experience and passion that Laurel brings from her lengthy and successful ministry. I am pleased to endorse her candidacy for President of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

With deep appreciation for all those who serve others,

In faith and trust,

Tom Loughrey
UUA Trustee from the Pacific Southwest District

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

See You At General Assembly!

As I write this we are just about six weeks out from the start of General Assembly in Salt Lake City. I for one am really looking forward to returning to Utah. We have a very exciting agenda for the meeting including the election of a new president, some at-large trustees and the re-election of our moderator and financial advisor. UU University is going to be part of GA this time instead of a “pre-GA” event. Everyone gets to participate! The PSWD has always been known to send a very strong contingent of congregational representatives to GA. It was a little light last year in Fort Lauderdale but I expect we will once again have a strong showing from this corner of the country.

One item on the agenda that I am looking forward to is the vote on continuing the discussion of Article II of our Bylaws, better known as our Purposes and Principles. They have been under review by the Commission on Appraisal and now we have a chance to say either we want to continue a discussion of them for another year or no, we like them just the way they are so “leave ‘em alone”! Personally, I’m fine with a decision to leave them alone but I want that to be an informed decision if that is the way it goes. The most informed decision will come if we take the time to study this fundamental statement for the next year; so I am recommending a vote to pass the proposed revision for another year of study and discussion. In 2010 in Minneapolis, if we still want to make a change and two-thirds agree, then we will have a well-thought out revision of one of the most important parts of our bylaws.

If you have not made a decision yet as to whether to attend GA let me encourage you to do so. It is educational, inspirational, informational, emotional and renewing. There are great entertainment events going on both at GA and in the community (last GA I saw a wonderful organ recital in the Mormon Tabernacle – fabulous). If you have the time for a pre or post GA tour Utah has some of the most magnificent natural wonders in the country. It is either a fairly easy two day drive (or one hard day’s drive) or there are still good rates on flights from the southwest. So get some friends or family together, share a ride, share a room and have one of the best weeks of the summer in Salt Lake City this June! See you at GA!

Tom Loughrey
UUA Trustee from the PSWD

Friday, March 27, 2009

Annual Report to the PSWD

This is an advance copy of my report for the Annual meeting on May 2nd.

Annual Report of The UUA Trustee – Tom Loughrey

This will be quite a year for change at the UUA. In June at GA we will elect a new president of the Association. Rev. Bill Sinkford steps down after eight years of service. I know his many friends in the PSWD join me in congratulating him and wishing him well. Bill will be staying in Boston and serve as a senior consulting minister to the UU Urban Ministry. We have two very fine candidates for the position in Rev. Laurel Hallman of Dallas, TX and Rev. Peter Morales of Golden, CO. At this point I am still undecided in whom I will vote for. I have been encouraging congregations to review the candidates’ positions and then exercise their votes. Each congregation has the same number of ballots as they do representatives at GA. Each ballot can be cast by a delegate at GA or can be cast absentee prior to GA.

This is not the only election; we have uncontested elections for moderator with Gini Courter continuing and for the financial advisor with Dan Brody continuing. Both have served us well and faithfully and I have every belief that they will continue to do so.

At GA we will also be considering a change to our Purposes and Principles. Our by-laws require a periodic review and that job fell to the independently elected Commission on Appraisal. This by-law is one that is not subject to amendment at this GA. If we vote for it, then it comes back one year later for a final vote. If it fails then we continue with our existing Purposes and Principles. It is a very affirming process for me. My UU faith is grounded in these and I like the fact that we make it difficult to change something so fundamental; if we do not change them we are positively re-affirming the continued use of these guiding statements.

The UUA Board of Trustees will soon be transitioning its governance model to “Policy Governance”. This form of governance puts the Board in a position of setting broad policies and having staff carry out the policies in its programs. Success is measured against very broad ends statements – things we want to achieve, and the President is responsible to see these ends are met and policies are complied with. I have been supportive of this change because I believe it clarifies an accountability of the staff to a much greater extent than we have had in the past.

Policy Governance, or “PG” for short, has been used in the PSWD for a number of years now. It relies very heavily on our very small staff to take care of a large number of tasks ranging from finance to leadership education to organizing cluster and district wide events. For me, I think this is where PG does not work so well. We used to have a large number of committees, maybe too many, but they provided both a fertile ground for developing new district leaders and for maintaining a large connection between the congregations and the happenings in the district. I think we have lost some of that. My personal feeling is that PG works best with a sufficient staff size, an engaged board and some advisory committees in key areas such as finance and leadership development. I intend in the coming year to encourage our PSWD Board and staff to explore ways in which we can expand how we use PG in this district to both do our jobs better and improve our linkage ( a very PG term!) with the congregations and individual members.

There is a great deal of information available on the UUA Board’s change to Policy Governance and if you want to know more about it there is a much information on the UUA website at You can also get more from the UU World at

While the elections and the governance change has dominated much of what we do it certainly has not been the only work we are doing. Last year at this time we had a significant change in how the Association provided services to youth. A commitment was made to have a more fully engaged dialogue with youth and that work continues. I expect this year we will have new support structures in place for youth programs and resources. There is much more to read about on this at .

A good deal of time has been spent by the staff, our financial advisor and the Finance Committee to deal with the economic impact of declining market values, unemployment and general financial uncertainty. The budgets have had several revisions and the reality is that we will be facing financial pressures this year and for several years to come. The UUA departments have mandated budget cuts that affect hiring, wages and program activities. Staff participation at GA has been reduced by a third this year and that is likely not to change incoming years. We receive a significant portion of our operating income from investments that have taken a large hit in the last year. Because of the formula used to distribute the funds the hit is not as hard as it might otherwise be but it will last well into the time when the market adjusts and begins to turn around. It is a multi-year problem. I am confident in our financial leadership and I believe we will weather this setback but it will take good management and creative leadership combined with generous individuals and congregations. We all need to work to keep our contributions up to the Annual Program Fund and we can each do something on our own with a contribution to the Friends of the UUA and Friends of the PSWD.

I will shortly complete my first term as your trustee and I have asked you to continue to have me as your trustee for one more term and am pleased that I will be able to do this. Please take a look at my blog for continuing information at I look forward to working with and for you in the coming years. As always, I am available to visit your congregation and provide pulpit services at your invitation. Please feel free to write me at or simply call me at 714 997-1973 with concerns or questions.

In faith and trust,

Tom Loughrey

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where In the UU Blog-o-Sphere?

Everything you could want to know seems to be on someone's blog these days. Chris Walton, editor of the UU World and creator of Philocrites, has provided a very handy listing of UU blogs and categorized them by content. I have found it a very useful way to look at how the work of the UUA board is being perceived, interpreted and conveyed to others. Take a look and see if you find it helpful. It can be found at

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Values and Global ENDS for the UUA
DRAFT Statements as of January 2009

During the past two UUA Board meetings trustees have worked to develop draft statements of values and ENDS for the Association – “Association” meaning the entirety of the Board, administration, and the 1000+ congregations that have covenanted to be together to form the Association. Those familiar with Policy Governance will recognize that ENDS is not an acronym, but rather a Carver branded term for the broad vision and strategic directions developed for a non-profit organization. Based on the Open Space sessions at GA2007, the Appreciative Inquiry of GA2008, and conversations with the UU Ministers Association, District Presidents Association and others, the Board has created initial language for the values, vision, and strategic direction of our Association.
Trustees will be meeting with congregation boards and district leadership during the next three months, face-to-face and with webinars online, to gather additional feedback before finalizing the values and ENDS of our Association at the April 2009 UUA Board meeting.
The following are questions that trustees might use when meeting with UU leaders to review the draft ENDS:
• What is your initial reaction to the draft ENDS developed by the UUA Board?
• Does this reflect your dreams for Unitarian Universalism?

o Reflects almost all of what I want the UUA to be
o Reflects most of what I want the UUA to be
o Captures the right ideas but I don’t like the words
o Missed the mark entirely

The following working drafts were adopted at the October 2008 Board meeting:

Values: (Key values that underlay all our work)
Wonder . . . Connections . . . Transformation

Global END Statement:

Grounded in our covenantal tradition, the UUA will inspire people to lead lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, thereby transforming themselves and the world.

The following definition of our Sources of Authority and Accountability (or “owners” in Carver language), was developed by the UUA Board at their January 2009 Board meeting:

Sources of Authority and Accountability (owners):
• Our member congregations
• Current and future generations of Unitarian Universalists
• The heritage, traditions, and ideals of Unitarian Universalism
• The vision of Beloved Community
• The Spirit of life, love, and the holy

The following strategic directions, or high level ENDS were drafted by the UUA Board at their January 2009 meeting, and are the broad directions that the Board gives to the President:

Our ENDS are growing Unitarian Universalist congregations that. . .
Unlock the Power that Transforms Lives
• In our congregations, people deepen their spiritual lives. They:
• Develop a personal spiritual practice
• Participate in meaningful worship
• Learn and practice empowered leadership and generosity.
• Find their ministry in the world
• Our congregations are:
• Vibrant—joyful and excited about their ministries
• Intentionally multi-generational and multi-cultural.
• Networked with each other
• Congregations are:
• Active participants in ministerial preparation and development
• Shared ministries
• Agents of mission and extension

Invite people into congregations that live out covenant through:
• A strong, articulated sense of UU and community identity
• High expectations of their members
• Full participation in Associational life
• An open and inclusive outreach and welcome
• Embracing and struggling with issues of oppression and privilege

Move toward sustainability, wholeness and reconciliation through ministries, partnerships, and alliances.
• Our congregations answer the call to ministry and justice work:
• Grounded in the communities in which they live
• Nationally, internationally
• With interfaith partners and alliances
• The public engages in meaningful dialogue and takes action informed by our prophetic voice and public witness.

These are all at equal priority and are to be achieved within a justifiable cost.