The Rev. Sue Phillips, one of two candidates nominated last month to run for election to the presidency of the Unitarian Universalist Association, announced this morning that she has withdrawn from the race, citing an irreconcilable conflict between her candidacy and her role as regional lead for the UUA’s field staff in New England.
In a February 18 letter to UUA Moderator Jim Key and the Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti, chair of the UUA Election Campaign Practices Committee, Phillips said: “To my great disappointment, it has become clear that I cannot serve as Regional Lead and mount a campaign for President of the size, complexity, duration, and cost required to compete within the demands of our uniquely UU brand of democracy.”
“As Regional Lead I am privileged to provide direct services every day to congregations and their leaders,” Phillips explained. “As part of my work I preach, attend meetings of religious professionals, speak at district assemblies, coach and counsel people. My candidacy introduced distress into many interactions with the people I serve. At best, this manifested as confusion about what role I was playing in any given conversation. At worst, it introduced role conflict which in turn made the people I serve feel as though they must navigate complicated ethical waters. I believe this confusion would have become increasingly problematic as my campaign evolved and I had to intentionally seek these same people’s political support.”
The UUA Presidential Search Committee nominated Phillips and the Rev. Alison Miller, minister of the Morristown, New Jersey, Unitarian Fellowship, on January 17. The Presidential Search Committee announced this morning that UUA Secretary Rob Eller-Isaacs has asked the committee to nominate another candidate. Delegates to the UUA’s 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans will elect a new UUA president to a six-year term to succeed the Rev. Peter Morales. UUA bylaws allow candidates to enter the presidential race by petition through February 1, 2017.