Thursday, September 04, 2008

UUA Trustee Report for the fall PSWD NetwUUrk

It seems as though General Assembly was just a few weeks ago but the summer has come and all but gone as I write this. Just two weeks ago your PSWD Board of Trustees met for a weekend retreat with our Executive staff. It was very productive. One of the things I was surprised to find out about from other UUA trustees is that many of them do not meet at all with their district board. It had not occurred to me that would be the case. I value the time with the Board, the time with our dedicated staff and the work that is done on behalf of congregations in the Pacific Southwest. It really does make a difference, and making a difference is a question I have been increasingly thinking about in my work as your trustee. “How do we make a difference? “

It’s a great question to ask on almost every issue, large or small, which comes before us. If we cannot see that it makes any difference the challenge becomes one to either re-define the work, the process, the thinking, the implications or maybe even open up the thinking to new possibilities. Sometimes a light comes on and there is an “ah-ha” moment. But sometimes not; sometimes we (I mean me) spend way too much time even when we know we are not going to make a difference. Rarely though are things black and white. We usually do our work and make our decisions without all the information we would like or all the time we would want to think about and discuss even important issues. That’s just how it is though. The trick is to decide when it is either time to make a decision and move on to the next item or decide to invest more time. More often than not we depend on dividing the work up among us so we spend time in small groups that can focus on just a few issues. We end up making our decisions based on the trust we have in our fellow trustees and the information we get from staff. There is a lot trust that has to be given and that’s where things like retreats come into play. Getting to know the people we work with so that we can bring ourselves to trust the judgment of each other is key.

This is why I need to be an active participant with our District Board and the UUA Board. A retreat is precious time that ends up giving each of us the level of confidence and trust we need to get all the work done to make a difference in our District and Association.

We have several major issues in front of us right now at the UUA. In October we will start to do the “Ends” work of Policy Governance. It asks the question: what ends do we want to achieve for the congregations we serve? In some sense this is the same question as “what difference do we want to make”? I don’t expect we will finish that work in October but we will certainly make significant progress and commitment to them.

The next major issue is the change in leadership coming at GA in Salt Lake City next June we will elect a new president of the UUA. There are two candidates for this position, The Rev. Laurel Hallman, minister of the congregation in Dallas, TX and Rev. Peter Morales, minister of the congregation in Golden, CO. They met together at GA in a candidates forum which is online at
Laurel and peter have respective websites at and

For the time being, I am not endorsing either candidate. There is still more I want to know about each of them and how they think they will make a difference. I encourage you to look at the candidates, look at their websites, see who is endorsing them and talk to those people about why they are endorsing their candidate. That’s what I plan on doing. Fortunately, the UUA Board decided to invite both candidates to the Board meetings up to the next GA. One of them will be our new President and it seems like a good idea that they come in with some personal knowledge of the work the Board is doing right now particularly in the area of governance. I look forward to getting to know them both better.

Gini Courter our Moderator, and Dan Brodie, our Financial Advisor are running unopposed right now for their positions. It will be my pleasure to continue to work with them.

The last thing I want to leave you with is something that for me personally makes a huge difference in how I live my life: our purposes and principles. Our by-laws require that we periodically review them and it is that time. The Commission on Appraisal is doing this work now and will be reporting back to GA. Every person and every congregation is invited to participate in this process. An online survey has been set up at

You can go to this site and let the CoA know what you think. I encourage you to do so. It is at the heart of what we are about and comes as close to a creed as a creedless church can come.

As always, I invite your comments on what we are doing, or not doing. Please feel free to contact me at or call me at 714 997-1973. I am open to invitations to visit your congregation.

In faith and trust that we are making a positive difference,

Tom Loughrey
UUA Trustee

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