I am going to take a one post break from talking about Liberation Theology in a UU context to write my one and only post criticizing the UUA Board.
There are a couple of reasons that this will be the only post criticizing the Board. The main reason is that the bestest friend this girl has ever had is now a member of the board. And as much as I playfully talk about her, I know the work she puts in beforehand in preparation for the Board meeting so I won’t talk about the decisions that are made. The second reason is that I spent time as a member of a church board so I know that you’re never going to make everybody happy, no matter how much thought is put into a decision. But since what I going to criticize the Board about happened before the bestest friend went on the board and I don’t think much thought was put into the decision, I feel ok criticizing it.
I need to put my biases up front for you though. So bear with me.
In June 2008, I stepped down after 9 years from the board of the UU Christian Fellowship. For those of you who don’t know, the UUCF was organized in 1945. Notice what I just said. The UUCF was organized in 1945. The entity known as the UUA came into being in 1961. Last time I looked, this means that the UUCF is older than the UUA.
Next, I worked on the Local Committee when GA came to St. Louis. So I know, in more than a small way, the workings of GA. Add to that the fact that the chair of the Local Committee was a former member of the GA Planning Committee, and I have a wealth of GA information available to me.
Finally, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I want to run for a position on the GA Planning Committee. So I’ve been giving GA issues a lot of thought.
Now that I’ve told you my biases, I am going to say something that I’ve wanted to say since the spring of 2007.
No Shit Sherlock!!!!!!!!!
The UUA Board is surprised at the outrage and confusion that came with the summary dismissal of more than 40 Independent Affiliates at the drop of a hat.
No Shit Sherlock!!!!!
The UUA Board is surprised that many of the groups felt devalued and unappreciated for the work that they did.
No Shit Sherlock!!!!!
The UUA Board is astounded that this issue has continued to bite them in the ass ever since.
No Shit Sherlock!!!!!
Now that I’ve said it a few times, let me explain why I came to that conclusion very early.
As in all things UU- and UUA-related, the Board went overboard in 2 ways:
1. They merged two issues that did not need to be merged.
2. They took a hatchet to something that required a scalpel.
On the first issue, GA and the Independent Affiliates are two separate issues and should never have been merged into one. If either the Board or the Planning Committee thought that the IAs were getting too many workshop spaces at GA, there was a simple solution…. cut down the number of slots available to IAs and make the granting of workshop space competitive for everybody–UUA Staff included (because I’ve seen some workshops presented by UUA Staff that were about as useful as a workshop on how to gaze at your navel). This is not rocket science.
In a letter to an unnamed UU, Moderator Gini Courter wrote the following:
The GA Planning Committee has dreamed aloud of a kind of conference of religious traditions day at GA: imagine a GA Saturday where every workshop is a worship service or spiritual practice group. The Planning Committee doesn’t have the bandwidth to do this with a dozen IAs. It’s not just providing the space, it’s building the relationships between the Planning Committee and the groups, and between the groups. Imagine brochures in every congregation outlining “spiritual paths in UUism” or “celebrating our sources”. At the 2007 GA meeting the leader of one former IA laid out this vision to the other groups, and was almost shouted down. The discussion returned to the comfortable topic of the bone-headedness of the UUA Board, and her idea curled up and died on the floor while I watched. It’s a failure of imagination that’s staggering.
Maybe it should be pointed out that this was already happening. The theologically-based IAs were all offering workshops at GA that dealt with spiritual practices and offered worship services. This paragraph makes it seem that the Moderator or other members of the UUA Board didn’t see this happening. I truly hope that is not the case. Otherwise, it’s not a failure of imagination from the theologically-based IAs side, it’s the lack of recognition by those who should have been looking that is staggering.
Also, I’m rather amazed that it was said that the Planning Committee doesn’t have the “bandwith” to have relationship with a dozen or so IAs. A dozen??? What dozen???? Let’s see…..there’s CUUPs…..UUs for Jewish Awareness…..UU Buddhist Fellowship…..HUUmanists…..UU Religious Naturalists….and the UU Christian Fellowship. That’s 6 if I’m counting right. Half-a-dozen. That is a small enough number that the Planning Committee could have a relationship with them if they so choose. Again, not rocket science.
And I think it should be pointed out that the theologically-based IAs did work together, when they could. Had for many years. And will continue to.
This just points out how the two issues should not have been merged. GA is a separate issue from the Independent Affiliates. The merging of the two, and then using one to deal with the other has caused more problems than need be.
But this brings me to my second point……the Board took a hatchet job to an issue that required a scalpel.
The Board is surprised that some former IAs felt devalued and unappreciated when they were summarily dismissed and other ones not. No Shit Sherlock!!!!! Didn’t the Board realized that they WERE making value judgements on those IAs that would have effects on them not just at the national level, but at the district and congregational level???? I know that I am not the only one who knows of instances where former IAs have been told by congregations that they can no longer meet because they are no longer “offical” Independent Affiliates of the UUA. The same at the District level.
But here is the question that nobody has really been able to answer…….why were groups like the UUCF…..UU Buddhist Fellowship….UUs for Jewish Awareness…..CUUPs….HUUmanists.. UU Religious Naturalists stripped of Independent Affiliate status and the UU Partner Church Council got to keep theirs? Was it because of the word Council in their name? Because that’s the only reason I can see why the Council of UU Camps and Conferences got to keep theirs. Why would the Board want to take away a link to the faith traditions that make up the UUA?
Maybe something did need to happen with the IAs. I will not deny that possibility. Maybe it was because of GA that this process got rolling. I won’t deny that either. But the Board took a hatchet to something that required a scalpel and is now dealing with the consequences of that action.
So pardon me as I say it one last time……..
No Shit Sherlock!!!!!