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Board continues discussions of moderator nominating process

At November meeting, trustees also receive positive report of Audit Committee.
By Michelle Bates Deakin
11.28.11

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During its November telephone meeting, the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees accepted a positive report from the Audit Committee, continued to discuss the moderator nomination process, and approved a contract with a consulting firm to help the UUA answer the question, “How big is the association?”

The board met by conference call on the evening of Nov. 17.

Jim Key, chair of the Audit Committee, which monitors the UUA’s financial reports, presented the audit report, which the board voted to accept unanimously. An outside auditing firm, CBIZ Tofias, reviewed the UUA’s financial activities. Its report included a “positive evaluation of senior management” and noted improvements over last year’s report, according to Key.

Total assets of the association were $218.9 million as of June 30, 2011, according to the report. Total liabilities were $83.1 million. Net assets were $135.8 million.

The UUA had notable surpluses in two areas, Key said. In 2011, the surplus from General Assembly was $111,000, for an accumulated surplus of $460,000. Beacon Press had a yearly surplus of $66,000, and an accumulated surplus of $2.9 million.

The board continued to discuss the process for choosing a new moderator for the association. In 2013, the UUA General Assembly will elect a new moderator when the term of the current moderator, Gini Courter, ends. The moderator presides at General Assemblies and at meetings of the Board of Trustees; the role is defined as “chief governance officer.” It is the UUA’s highest volunteer position.

The Moderator Nominating Committee is in the process of reviewing applications for the position, and it is scheduled to present a report to the board in December. The board will review the committee’s recommendations, and announce candidates for the position by February 1, 2012. Individuals can petition to have their names placed in nomination for moderator between March 1, 2012, and February 1, 2013. In October, the board voted to nominate at least two candidates for moderator.

During the conference call, Tom Loughrey, UUA secretary and trustee from the Pacific Southwest District, presented some of the questions the Executive Committee is wrestling with in the nominating process.

Among the open questions, Loughrey said, are: Who should participate in the decision of who gets nominated? For example, should members of the board’s Election Campaign Practices Committee recuse themselves? Should the board liaison to the Moderator Nominating Committee participate? What about members of the board who have sought the moderator position but are not recommended by the Moderator Nominating Committee to the board?

Loughrey said that the committee is also considering how the board should vote on candidates. It could be by “sticker voting,” in which everyone gets to vote and the top two candidates are nominated. Or it could be by “choice voting,” in which voters express their preferences with ranked choices.

Loughrey encouraged board members to share their opinions and to attend the Committee on Committees meeting in December, when the process will be discussed further.

The board also voted to approve a contract with a consulting firm that will help it determine the “scope of the association,” a topic that came under discussion during the board’s October meeting in Boston. Linda Laskowski, trustee from the Pacific Central District and chair of the board’s Linkage Working Group, said that the working group is trying to determine how to do valid linkage work with sources that are not congregations. It is all part of the question, “How big is our faith?”

Under the contract, Unity Consulting, of St. Paul, Minn., will create a proposal for how the UUA can create a partnership to connect with “non-congregational Sources.”

The board has identified five sources that are defined as “Sources of Accountability and Authority.” They include: member congregations; current and future generations of Unitarian Universalists; the heritage, traditions, and ideals of Unitarian Universalism; the vision of Beloved Community; and the Spirit of life, love, and the holy. (The Sources of Accountability and Authority are the board’s terms for the UUA’s “moral owners”; the UUA also uses the term “Sources” in its Purposes and Principles to refer to the Six Sources of Unitarian Universalism’s Living Tradition.)

The Unity Consulting proposal stated that the board’s Linkage Working Group has “been challenged by the task of how to effectively connect with the other non-congregational sources . . . and asked Unity Consulting for a proposal for how we might partner together to develop a linkage practice for connection with these Sources.”

The board also discussed plans for its January 2012 meeting in New Orleans, La. Prior to the meeting, Jan. 20–21, board members will be engaged in volunteer work through the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, a program run by three New Orleans-area UU churches. Board members will work for two days helping to rebuild the community and for a half day helping renovate First UU Church of New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

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