Sunday, May 04, 2008

Here is my report to the 2008 PSWD District Assembly in Del Mar last week:

UUA Trustee Report to the Pacific Southwest District Assembly

I am amazed that it has been two years since I first had the privilege to serve as your trustee to the UUA Board. Time does go quickly. Let me bring you up to date on some of the major issues I think we are dealing with on the UUA Board and some of my impressions about that work. If you really enjoy details you can go to the UUA website and read the agendas and minutes for recent meetings at:

A major transition is occurring right now with the Board and its governance. We are moving to policy governance as developed and interpreted by John Carver. It is a model in use now by our District Board. The Board started their work on this new way of conducting our business before I came on the Board. At virtually every meeting we have had sessions to learn new aspects of policy governance and in the last year we have been making decisions about how this will all work with our by-laws, roles of elected leaders, congregational polity and traditions. It is sometimes tedious, controversial, logical, exciting and even occasionally emotional work. We will soon start the “ends” policies, to which I have been looking forward. This is where we begin to define how we want the work of the Board, the staff and the leadership to be making a difference in how we function. It is very intentional and will be critical to a process in which we have an enormous investment of Board time and resources. I will be updating you regularly on our progress but I hope if we are succeeding it will be readily apparent to you.

At the April Board meeting which is yet to take place as I write this, we will be discussing the future of the continental organization of YRUU. A recommendation was presented by the Youth Steering Committee recommending the dissolution of YRUU and that it be replaced by some other entity serving youth. This evolved from a Consultation To and With Youth conducted last summer in which 60 recommendations were made to the Board. This was later boiled down to 11 priorities. There is a very good article on this at the UU World website: and I would encourage those of you with a more detailed interest to take a look. From my perspective it is important to note that the Board has taken no action to dissolve YRUU nor have we approved a budget with no funding for YRUU next year. These things may happen but it will only be after a very thorough discussion. I very much would like to hear your thoughts and concerns after you have taken the time to inform yourself of the facts surrounding the issues. Please let me know what you think.

There are other issues we are dealing with; two years ago the Board approved a new approval process for Independent Affiliates. It has had the effect of dramatically reducing the number of Independent Affiliates. The idea is that we are an Association of Congregations and as such should be devoting our energy and resources to the support of congregations. Part of the approval process is to demonstrate the value of the IA to congregations. What it has not done is restricted any organization's right to continuing doing its work. It has reduced the ability to automatically have workshops at GA. Now former IAs have to compete for a GA slot as every other group does – on the merits of the workshop. The problem for me in this is that I think we may not be considering a new reality in what makes up a “congregation”. Of course, we have a definition of a congregation but it may be based on a model that does not really take in the way we congregate anymore. When I heard there is a UU congregation in Second Life I realized that the Internet, email and the interfaces to electronic communication have blurred the definition sufficiently that we may need to expand how we think about where devoted UUs find their “congregation”.

There are other issues, including our ongoing relationship with UU schools of theology and their support through the Panel on Theological Education; the upcoming election of a new president of our Association; the location of General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale and the special requirements for entry to the convention center at this site; becoming a truly anti-rascist, anti-oppression and multicultural organization; developing excellence in ministry; maintaining relationships with the ministers, religious educators, musicians, administrators, district presidents, international congregations; filling important committee positions with qualified and capable volunteers; fund raising and budgeting and a hundred other no less important issues and tasks.

So what am I concerned about in the year to come and beyond? I remain a skeptic to be convinced that a governance based on a board that only develops policy and monitors staff compliance toward meeting defined ends is an improvement that will make a difference in our Association's work toward congregational success, social justice, institutional witness and bringing our saving message to a broader community. I am concerned that we have yet to find a right relationship with persons and groups that are committed to UU purposes and principles outside of traditional congregations. I am concerned we have failed somewhere in serving our youth and young adults in a way that honors them and their promise of new vitality. I am concerned about the demands on our resources and our inability to fully fund them. I am concerned about the influence that money and our fund raising efforts have on leadership, staff, programs and relationships.

And why am I encouraged that we can deal with all these issues? We are blessed with creative, intelligent, compassionate and very hard working Board members, volunteers, staff and leadership who are dedicated to addressing these issues head on and bringing to bear all their best efforts. It gives me hope that we can rise to each occasion, ask for help when we need it, get help when we ask, be forgiven when we fail and have to try again and most of all be focused on how our decisions will effect the people who ask us to serve and respond as faithful servants of Unitarian Universalism.

To that end I remain dedicated, I ask your assistance, your inquiry, your good wishes and your blessings for our collective work.

Please feel free to contact me at or just call me at 714 997-1973. I am available to meet with you and always appreciate invitations to congregations to celebrate, deliberate or just congregate.

In faith and trust,

Tom Loughrey
PSWD UUA Trustee
Here is my article for the May edition of the PSWD NetwUUrk:

UUA Trustee Report

What a busy and exciting two week period!First the UUA Board meeting in Boston followed by the PSW District Assembly in Del mar last weekend. It is always wonderful to be around so many devoted UUs.

This was the last UUA Board meeting before GA in Ft. Lauderdale and a good deal of time was spent on Friday going over preparations for workshops sponsored by the Board at GA. It appears the registrations for this year are falling short of where they were at this same point last year before GA. Nonetheless, it looks like we can still expect to see a gathering of more than 4,000 UUs at Ft. Lauderdale. GA will kick off with a pre-opening gathering of Districts. This will be an opportunity for us to get together with others from the PSWD to see who is there, meet some of the District leadership and hear from some of the UUA leadership. I hope you will make it a priority to be there then and I look forward to seeing as many PSWD folk that can be there.

The UUA Board is going through a process now that is nearing completion on changing our governance process to a form known as Policy Governance. This type of governance focuses on specific ends for the Association and defines some roles of the staff and the Board in that process. Have approached this work critically and have had to be convinced it is an appropriate way for a religious organization that has always depended on volunteers to conduct its work. As we approach developing these ends I remain critical but also supportive. We are taking our time, adapting the process as we need for a religious body such as ours and being guided by other UUs who have done this work before. We use this type of governance on our own district board and have been working with it effectively.

A major item for the Board at this meeting has been working with youth. Perhaps you have heard that YRUU Steering Committee has disbanded. You can see a letter on this at

The Steering Committee has inactivated itself and the Board has decided to work with youth to develop a successor organization that would develop a new youth organization that comes out of the work of the Consultation To and With Youth Ministry. The Board has not removed YRUU as a sponsored organization and it has given the successor organizing committee the same funding as was provided last year. The Board unanimously voted to place a motion before the GA on the empowerment of Youth and Young Adults. In passing this the following text was included with the recording of the vote:

“VOTED: The administration shall make the transition in youth ministry an institutional priority now. This process must be transparent and those responsible for implementation must be in authentic relationship with the youth community and its elected leadership. During this transition, the administration must provide monthly progress reports to the Board. The administration shall ensure that UUA support for youth ministry programming is maintained throughout the transitional period.”

The Budget for 2009 was approved and calls for a very modest increase in spending of about .4%. The 2010 budget was accepted and calls for a $2 increase per member in support of the Association from each congregation. This will make a total contribution of $58 per member by 2010.

I did vote for the budget this year (last year I did not) even though I have some reservations about the $2 increase. For every year for over twenty years the level of support has been increased by $2 each year. Obviously the $2 increase in recent years has much less purchasing power than the same $2 did nearly twenty years ago. Increases in the congregational support of the UUA have trailed increases in congregational budgets virtually every year. This means the UUA must find alternative ways to fund programs that are much less stable than congregational funding from the Annual program Fund (APF). I believe in paying our bills and being good stewards of programs we want. I think we can do a better job of funding these than we are doing now with less dependence on our endowed funds and fund raising appeals such as Friends of the UUA. I must note I have the same concern for our district and how we fund its work.

One of the most exciting events of the Board meeting came during the report of Beacon Press. First, we were thrilled to hear that Beacon Press is continuing to operate profitably. The only subsidy to the Press is for space at the UUA offices in Boston. But the best news came on several announcements: Mary Oliver's poetry continues to be very popular and a very good seller and should continue to do so. Second, the Press will be publishing the Graphic novel version of Howard Zinn's “Peoples History of the United States”. It is anticipated to do well. Finally, and most notably. Beacon Press is the only publishing company currently in negotiation with the family of Martin Luther King, Jr to publish all his writings, letters and sermons. This is not a done deal but we are the only ones they are talking to right now. This would be momentous on the order of the Beacon Press Publication of The Pentagon Papers. We shall see where it goes but we hope for the best.

The full agenda for the past meeting including all reports is on line at I encourage you to take a look. If you have any questions about any of he work we are doing (or not doing) please let me know. I would enjoy talking to you about it. You can also see my blog at

Tom Loughrey
714 997-1973