Candidates in General Assembly races
#@ The Rev. William G. Sinkford
President William G. Sinkford, who was elected to a first term in 2001, is running unopposed for a second term. Moderator Gini Courter was elected in a special election in 2004 to serve the final year of Diane Olson's term; Olson, who was elected in 2001, resigned in 2003. Courter is running unopposed for her first full term. Dan Brody is running to succeed Larry Ladd as financial advisor. Profiles of these three candidates appeared in the March/April issue of UU World.
Voting will take place from noon until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, at the General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas. Credentialed delegates from certified UUA member congregations can vote in person or by absentee ballots, which will be sent to congregations in May.
In accordance with a policy of the UUA Board of Trustees, UU World invited each candidate to submit a biographical sketch of up to 100 words and a position statement of up to 100 words. Candidates for president, moderator, and financial advisor were invited to submit positions statements of up to 500 words. The statements that follow have been edited by the UU World staff only for spelling and basic grammar. Candidates are listed alphabetically; their position on the final ballot will be determined by lot.
Symbols by each name identify contested races, nominations from the Nominating Committee, and incumbents. Each candidate's church membership is noted in their statements below. See www.uua.org/ga/elections.html for more information.
Candidate Position Statements
The Rev. William G. Sinkford #@
Unit. Univ. Church of Marblehead, Mass.
I enter these last days of my first term both humbled and energized by the work we already have accomplished on behalf of Unitarian Universalism. I am proud to have partnered with you as, together, we have restored the public voice of our free faith. Our liberal religious voice has reentered the national discourse in areas from marriage equality to peace work to reproductive freedom and other issues of justice and equity. Never again will Unitarian Universalists cede to more reactionary communities the territory of moral values.
We have much to be proud of in areas far away from the public sphere as well. We continue to learn more about the many ways to grow our congregations effectively. We don't yet know all we need to know about growth, but we're learning. It's important not to retreat from our efforts to create liberal religious communities where they are most needed, efforts that are beginning to meet with more than a little success.
These past few years have been a time of investment in the future of our faith. I have spent many hours with young Unitarian Universalists, working with them as we together chart the course for a liberal religious future that builds on our committed past. I have begun important conversations with organizations such as the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee as we seek ways to collaborate and to extend our liberal religious outreach both here and abroad.
And I am committed as is our moderator to supporting our congregations as they live out the promise of our polity. More than ever, I have come to understand the power of congregational relationships and the strength that comes from our interdependence. One example of this has been our work to gather congregational presidents at General Assembly, not simply to vote on matters of business but to meet with their sisters and brothers in congregational leadership, to build the ties that truly bind us as an association of congregations.
As I look ahead to the next four years, I am deeply aware of the need for increased investment in this faith that we love, especially in financial terms. We must prepare ourselves to make a far larger commitment to the financial health of Unitarian Universalism than we have ever made before. Our reluctance to support our institutions can make our witness and our voice less effective in these deeply divisive times. I am committed to leading us away from a posture of scarcity and toward an abundant future for our movement.
It is my hope that, as we move forward together through these next four years, we can do so with confidence. It is a confidence born not only from all that we have accomplished together in the name of liberal religion, but a confidence that what we do for Unitarian Universalism can make a real difference in our world. I look forward to our making the journey together.
Unit. Univ. Church of Flint, Mich.
I earned my initial understanding of our rich tradition while typing a Master's thesis on the Western Unitarian Sunday School Society. After the Civil War, "wild western" folks started a new missionary movement headquartered in Chicago. The western mission raised funds and grew churches at a rapid rate. For example, in the five years from 1875 to 1880, the number of churches in Wisconsin increased by fifty percent. In my home state of Michigan there were Unitarian and/or Universalist churches in every major city and farm center. The women of the Western Unitarian Conference and their Universalist sisters were empowered preachers and activists: Olympia Brown, Augusta Chapin, Mary Safford, Florence Buck. Our history is peopled with lay and professional leaders filled with what Jenkin Lloyd Jones called "holy zeal." They preached a message of love and hope and the commonality of the shared human experience. You and I stand on the shoulders of ordinary men and women who were committed to doing extraordinary things.
I am proud of our history and hopeful about our future. One hundred years from now, Unitarian Universalists will reflect on our contributions. They will wonder how we were able to provide a compelling liberal religious voice at a time when liberalism itself was unpopular. They will be grateful that we provided excellent ministry with and for youth. They will send their young adult students to universities with vibrant, century-old campus ministries that we started. They will know that our commitments to anti-racism and multiculturalism ensured the diversity that they take for granted. Their ministers will preach sermons about the spiritual renaissance that exploded as we seriously engaged in the business of working with others to create a better world. This is the future that we are building today. We are ordinary people whose past and future call us to do extraordinary things.
In a time before telephones and automobiles, before e-mail and the Internet, Unitarians were connected people, living our polity not as isolated faith communities, but in meaningful relationship with other congregations. In a time when racial and religious differences were used to divide and dismiss, Universalists boldly preached that all were worthy of compassion, that all would be saved. This is who we were as religious people over a hundred years ago. This is who we are once again remembering to be. I am honored to serve as Moderator at this historic time in the life of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
First Unit. Society in Newton, Mass.
I was deeply honored when Larry Ladd, the outgoing UUA financial advisor, asked me to consider running to succeed him in this important position. Larry has described the financial advisor's role in this way:
The financial advisor position was created to provide the Board of Trustees, president, and General Assembly with an independent and expert evaluation of financial issues and the fiscal health of the Association. The financial advisor also recommends changes that will improve the quality of financial planning and management of the UUA. The financial advisor is a voice for fiscal responsibility.
I am currently vice president of the Keefe Company, an urban planning and real estate development firm in Boston. My professional experience includes service as deputy state budget director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well as eleven years as chief financial officer for Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. I have done financial consulting work for several nonprofit organizations and have served on the boards of a childcare center and a teen drop-in center. I currently serve on the board of and manage the Web site for the Newton Conservators, a local land trust.
I have been a member of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, for ten years, where I have served as chair of the Board of Investments and of the Planned Giving Committee.
In my professional career, I've been responsible for the finances of organizations that range widely in age (from a few months old to more than 350 years), in annual budget (from less than $50,000 a year to more than $13 billion), and in size of endowment (from zero to $600 million). In every case, the overriding financial goals have been the same: to assure the organization's long-term financial stability, to balance the annual budget, to plan wisely for growth, and to provide stakeholders with understandable financial information. Furthering these goals will be my main priorities as UUA financial advisor.
I'd like to elaborate on the third goal. I'm not an accountant, which actually may be an advantage in this role. While I can read a detailed balance sheet, I know that most UUs want to see financial information presented in a more easily comprehensible format. I hope to build on the excellent progress that Larry Ladd and the UUA staff have made in making clearly presented UUA financial information easily available on the UUA Web site and in other contexts.
Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure to sit in as a visitor at several UUA Board of Trustees and committee meetings. I've been greatly impressed with the complexity of the issues that were being considered and with the thoughtfulness with which they were addressed. I look forward to having the opportunity to serve the UUA and its member congregations over the next four years.
BOARD OF REVIEW
Two positions open; eight-year term
Elizabeth Darr #
First Unit. Univ. Society of San Francisco
Betsy is a credentialed religious educator, masters level. She holds an M.A. in religious education from Meadville Lombard Theological School. She served the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco for eleven years and as good officer for LREDA. She is interim director of religious education at the Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester, Mass.
Janice Marie Johnson #
Community Church of New York
Maxim: Masakhane (South African), "Let us build together." Identities include: mom (teenage daughter, Lehna); activist (anti-racism, interfaith, cross-cultural). Vocation: educator, conflict resolution specialist; former DRE. Volunteer: commissioner, Commission on Appraisal; president, DRUUMM; trustee, The Mountain; trustee, Unilead; executive member, ARDC, Metro New York District; active member, Community Church of New York. My commitment to Unitarian Universalism is unshakeable!
Expertise: communication, conflict resolution, cross-cultural awareness, collaborative process and building peaceable community. Professional life: curriculum developer and trainer, Educators for Social Responsibility; instructor, New School University; former director of religious education, Community Church of New York. UU volunteer life: immediate past commissioner (six-year elected term), Commission on Appraisal; president, Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM); consultant, JUUST Change Anti-Oppression Program; trainer, Jubilee World; trustee, Unilead; trustee, The Mountain; UU representative (appointed), Collaboration on Interfaith Education. I promise to listen well.
The Rev. Barbara Child #
Church of the Larger Fellowship
A Unitarian Universalist since 1963, I am an accredited interim minister, having served congregations in California, Florida, Ohio, Vermont, New Jersey, and Georgia. Formerly I was an English professor, and I both taught and practiced law. I have chaired the UUA Commission on Social Witness, served on the UUA and Florida District Women and Religion Committees, and taught in Florida District Leadership School. I would be honored to share in the important work of the Commission on Appraisal.
Arthur Morrison #
Unit. Univ. Congregation of Miami, Fla.
I enjoy working to make our denomination more effective in living our Principles and Purposes. I have wide experience on all levels. I think my education, training, and experience in law and education will help achieve the goal of the Commission on Appraisal to conduct independent study for the General Assembly.
Michael Ohlrogge #
Unit. Univ. Church of Greater Lansing, Mich.
Michael Ohlrogge serves as secretary to the Heartland District Board of Trustees and is a co-founder of the YRUU Chaplain Training Program. Michael has strong roots in youth and young adult ministry and at the age of 19 he interestingly enough falls within both age categories. Called to proclaim the good news of Unitarian Universalism, Michael works part time as a guest preacher and plans to become a UU minister. Currently, Michael is a student at the University of Michigan where he studies philosophy and biblical studies.
I have seen first hand the power of Unitarian Universalism to change lives. Because of the good I believe UUism can do in the world, I want it to spread and flourish. Therefore, I am very troubled that the percentage of Americans who are UUs has been steadily shrinking lately. Too often subtle (and not so subtle) forms of oppression within our institutions inadvertently discourage seekers and prevent our message from being truly universal. We must also, I believe, create new paradigms of ministry in order to stay relevant and accessible in this new era and to these new generations.
COMMISSION ON SOCIAL WITNESS
Two positions open; four-year terms
Catherine Blue *#
Neighborhood Unit. Univ. Church, Pasadena, Calif.
Catherine is a lifelong UU from the Los Angeles area. She is a member of Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, and is proud to have held leadership positions at the congregational, district, and continental levels of the UUA. Catherine has a B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in political communications from Johns Hopkins University, with over 13 years experience in politics. She is a political consultant specializing in campaign management and political communications at the local level. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and watching college football. She has a six-year-old Sheltie named Beau.
I'm honored to be nominated to serve on the Commission for Social Witness. CSW is the guardian of the UUA's collective voice. If elected, I will work to ensure that our voice is heard beyond the four walls of plenary hall. Often we celebrate the passage of statements of faith, to see them dismissed as cries of the liberal fringe. Margaret Mead was right in saying that a small group of people can change the world; however change is possible only if the message is respected. I have the professional background to amplify our voice. I ask for your vote.
The Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull *@
First Parish Unit. Univ., Cohasset, Mass.
To a second term on our Commission on Social Witness I bring: completion of a first term; membership, Social Witness Review Panel; since August 2004, minister, First Parish Unitarian Universalist, Cohasset, Massachusetts; seven years, assistant minister, Unitarian Church of All Souls, New York City, where I helped launch task forces on anti-racism, gun control, nuclear disarmament, housing, ending the death penalty, and peace; eight years, Metro New York District Anti-Racism Committee; former president, Metro New York Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association; board member, Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry; extensive corporate and non-profit experience; M.Div., Union Theological Seminary; Ph.D., developmental psychology, Yeshiva University; marriage and motherhood.
There is a rumor afoot that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. At the heart of my ministry is a passion toward nudging that arc along. In our social witness process, we do this together. I offer you my leadership in this endeavor. I offer you another four years of service on our Commission on Social Witness. I will continue to listen to you, encourage you, and celebrate whatever we achieve. Together, we will lean on that arc and move ever closer to a just and caring universe.
David May *#
Emerson Unit. Church, Houston, Texas
Ph.D. in plant ecology, J.D. in environmental law, editor of Natural Resources & Environment Magazine of the American Bar Association. Researched and initially compiled The Real Rules: Congregations and IRS Guidelines on Advocacy, Lobbying, and Elections for the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy in 2003; former tenured biological sciences professor; author of scientific and legal articles; past president of congregations in Texas and Colorado; manager of public radio announcements for eight Houston-area UU churches; past chair of outreach board, canvass committees, public relations committees, and others. Lifelong UU and member of congregations in Texas, New York, and Colorado.
The 2004 General Assembly selected Global Warming as a Study/Action Issue (SAI) for 2004–2006. My training in ecology, law, and writing will assist the Commission on Social Witness in formulating an effective Statement of Conscience (SOC) on global warming. These scientific, legal, and writing perspectives will also be useful in formulating future SOCs in areas of concern for our congregations.
We are called upon to promote our Principles, not just affirm them. Promotion is action. The challenge for many UUs is finding the right "handle to grab" to act on our Principles. The SAI process can offer those opportunities.
COMMISSION ON SOCIAL WITNESS
One position open; two-year term
Laura Shemick #
Unit. Church of Harrisburg, Pa.
I am a born Unitarian Universalist, raised in the Centre County, Pennsylvania, congregation. I have been a member of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia and the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg. I have been involved with lay leadership training since 1988 and am the current school director of Unilead, serving Joseph Priestley District and Metro New York District UUs.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLANNING COMMITTEE
Four positions open; four-year terms
Carol Agate *
Unit. Univ. Community Church of Santa Monica, Calif.
GA experience: Attended 15 GAs; served on local committee; led four workshops; chaired district assembly planning; drafted the resolutions requiring openness and UUA candidate packets; initiated non-delegates sitting with delegates; reviewed sites for accessibility; started GA Web diaries.
UUA and district experience: district president; chair, UUA Bylaws Task
Force; chair, Ministerial Fellowship Board of Review; APF Executive Committee;
founder, UUA-L, PSWD-L, OpenUUA; co-manager, several e-mail lists; vice-president,
De Benneville Pines UU Conference Center; chair, Pacific Southwest District
Communications; Distinguished Service Award.
Professional and community: California administrative law judge; Santa Monica disabilities commissioner; ACLU volunteer lawyer; NAACP board member; library honorary life trustee.
Over the years, with constant input from those who attend, General Assembly keeps improving and growing. I want to bring in more UUs, helping them feel as much a part of GA and the UUA as they do their local congregations. The Planning Committee is a working committee and, as a member, I will work as hard as I have in all my other UUA, district, and congregation assignments. My goals are to create lines of input and communication open to all UUs, and to incorporate your ideas, and mine, to make GA ever more accessible, educational, inspirational, and fun.
Karen Araujo *
Unit. Univ. Church of the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel, Calif.
Once upon a time: concierge and event planner, 14 years; activist/member UNITEHERE!, 15 years; Northern California coordinator, Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, 2 years. Now-a-days: faithful member, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula; vice-president, Peace Coalition of Monterey County; dean, Pacific Central District's Leadership School; organizer/administrative coordinator, Monterey Bay Labor Council; creator of space to allow unfolding as a being of integrity, Planet Earth.
I invited Unitarian Universalism into my life six years ago. Its resulting
movement has transformed me by clarifying and magnifying the best in me—alone,
with God, and in relationship with community. In ever-widening circles,
my commitment to UUism challenges me to call the center of my being to
the forefront of daily life. I'm inspired to "stand by this faith," as
the Rev. Olympia Brown encouraged us. Sharing our Good News and offering
joyful service are ways I can do that.
General Assembly always stirs the evangelist in me and my professional meeting planner skills offer valuable tools to contribute to creating a piece of the container holding our gathering. My gifts and the requirements of this position seem to be in agreement. Will you consider a vote for me? I'd appreciate your support. Thank you.
Barbara Atlas *#
Unit. Univ. Church of Long Beach, Calif.
A UU since 1978, Barbara Atlas is currently a member of the UU Church in Long Beach, California. She has served congregations in many ways including terms as board president of two different congregations. Her denominational planning experience includes conceiving and serving with the ongoing District Assembly Planning Committee, planning and facilitating conferences for denominational affairs representatives from district congregations, serving with the GA Planning Committee as co-district coordinator in 1988 and district coordinator in 2004. Professionally Barbara is a partner in a bookkeeping service and moonlights as a hearing monitor for the Social Security Office of Hearings and Appeals.
I bring exceptional organization skills and a knack for getting the job done in a timely manner to the Planning Committee. Having chaired the volunteer committee at two GAs I am sensitive to the issues and needs of host area UUs and would encourage asking local leadership for information and inviting input about local resources. I would like the opportunity to contribute to turning GA into an event that supports and empowers our congregational leadership. I believe that I will find ways to participate with the Planning Committee that will allow me to leave a legacy when my term ends.
Lynda S. Bluestein *
Unit. Church in Westport, Conn.
I was the little girl, age 8, who put on the neighborhood play—my first organizing event. Life took shape in southern California. I was a vista volunteer in the War on Poverty. Marriage, Aimee and Jake were born, then divorce and remarriage. In 1992 the big move: California to Connecticut. Professionally, I worked in health care management. My passions led me to politics, religion, and fundraising, and found voice in the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut, serving on membership, canvass, finance, ordination, search, and Green Sanctuary committees. I am completing my second term as Metro New York District President.
From my first General Assembly, I wanted to be part of helping create, improve, and produce this most amazing meeting of congregations. I believe GA is at its best when it does the large events superbly well—simply and seemingly without effort—like magic. Like all good magic, it works when inspired by clear vision and skillful execution. I can bring to the Planning Committee experience and creative imagination balanced by careful planning. I can do the big events because I know how much the details matter.
Fred Cole *#
Unit. Univ. Church of Boulder, Colo.
A 35-plus-year member at Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colo., (seven years as president and/or moderator). Two terms as Mountain Desert District trustee at large. Retired IBM engineer, I have worked eight years in the convention and hospitality industry. I have attended five GA's, serving as a volunteer for three.
Donald Wilson *#
Church of the Larger Fellowship
Donald has worked in the Michigan and Heartland districts for over eight years on the youth, young adult, and communications committees and as part of the group reimagining district programming in the creation of the Heartland District. Currrently working as a K–12 swim coach and tech support at an Internet service provider, he has faith in our ability to come together for the common good and a tenacious willingness to work towards that end.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLANNING COMMITTEE
One position; two-year term
Elisabeth J. "Beth" McGregor #@
Unit. Church of Sharon, Mass.
Ph.D. My Unitarian Universalist immersion includes eight years as a UUA trustee (four as first vice-moderator, two as second vice-moderator); service as a congregational and district president and on committees at all levels; and about 18 years of RE teaching.
Currently I'm on the Partner Church Council Executive Committee, secretary of the GA Planning Committee, and a congregational consultant and lay leadership development chair in my district. Director of a historical society and house museum, married with two daughters, I make space in my life to attend diligently to the UU work that feeds my soul.
Three positions; six-year terms
Kok Heong McNaughton #
Unit. Church of Los Alamos, N.M.
I have been a member of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, New Mexico, for 28 years and have held many leadership positions. For almost 20 years my involvement had been at the local level. Ten years ago, feeling stuck in my religious journey, an opportunity opened up for me to serve as the church's administrative assistant. In that capacity, I became more aware of my own chosen faith. My first GA experience in 1995 transformed me into a "born again UU" as well as a "UU evangelist in the electronic age." Since then I began to volunteer in the district as well as the continental levels. As UUism has become the core of my life journey, I can think of no better way to achieve wholeness than by serving the faith I love.
The Rev. Robert Schaibly #
First Unit. Church, Portland, Ore.
I am a recently retired minister concluding my term on the executive committee of the UU Ministers Association. My denominational activity has been very rewarding. I know UUs from all parts of the country, am deeply committed to the wellbeing of Unitarian Universalism, and will be happy to serve if elected.
Megan Selby #
Unit. Univ. Church of Bloomington, Ind.
Megan Selby hails from Bloomington, Indiana, where she works at Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project and is a student at Indiana University studying education reform and penal abolition. Megan grew up UU and has attended Lake Geneva Summer Assembly for 12 years and now serves as a junior high counselor there working on anti-oppression with the youth. She worked at the UUA Youth Office for a year where she had the opportunity to work with many of the denomination's youth leaders who are revolutionizing what it means to be a faith community. She looks forward to further serving her faith on the Nominating Committee.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES (AT LARGE POSITIONS)
Two positions; four-year terms
Charlie King #
First Unit. Congregational Society in Brooklyn, N.Y.
GA Planning Committee chair during Boston and Québec GAs and currently accessibilities chair for the Metro New York District, he became a UU in South Carolina and has attended churches in Newport, R.I., Norfolk, Va., and New York City (Community Church). In Brooklyn, he has served as board president, search chair, committee on ministry member, and capital campaign chair. He was a member of FULLBAC and an active supporter of the Black Affairs Council in the 1960s and '70s. A retired journalist, he was an executive with GQ and Sports Illustrated magazines and in the magazine circulation and distribution divisions of Time Warner.
I support President Bill Sinkford in his effort to spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism by promoting growth and establishing large churches in metropolitan areas. In this era of advancing conservatism, our liberal faith must be a beacon to those who cherish the open mind and humbly seek the spiritual courage to achieve a diverse, welcoming, and just community.
Tamara Payne-Alex #@
First Unit. Church, San Jose, Calif.
Tamara, a third generation UU, has served four years on the UUA Board. She is chair of its Anti-Racism Assessment and Monitoring Team and liaison to the Panel on Theological Education. Prior to her tenure on the Board, she served on the Black Concerns Working Group and Ministerial Fellowship Committee. Tamara brings over 17 years of organizational development, training, and management experience to her work on the Board. Tamara was an active lay leader both as a youth and adult in UU churches on the east coast and is currently a member of the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, Calif.
We are poised on the brink of a critical discernment process regarding our purpose and mission as a religious movement. This process requires deepening commitment to Unitarian Universalism and clarity about who we are and what we are called to do as a religious community. If we have the courage, we will insist that our resources, our energies, and our focus be aligned with our call to ministry in the world. During my next term on the Board I will pursue this clarity and alignment. I pledge to bring the requisite courage, skill, and vision to do this work.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES (YOUTH TRUSTEE)
One position; two-year term
Julian Sharp #
Unit. Univ. Church of Birmingham, Ala.
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and began attending the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham while in middle school. I found Unitarian Universalism to be a beacon of free thought and progressive liberal religious values. While attending the Alabama School of Fine Arts high school I served as senior co-chair of the Mid-South District YAC and co-founded a gay-straight alliance in Birmingham. Academically I enjoy studying peace, history, and UU theology. I love to travel and eat various pasta dishes, and I'm always down for good conversation and expanding my anti-racism/anti-oppression work. My parents Robert and Diana Marbury-Sharp are two of my greatest inspirations.
I stand proud as part of a living tradition that spreads the gospel of love, inclusiveness, justice, and hope. I am running for youth trustee at large because I believe we must strengthen and grow our liberal religious faith. I have organizing and leadership experience in local, district, and continental levels of the Association as well as with the ACLU, National Conference for Community and Justice, and GLBT rights groups. At present I serve on the UUA Board of Trustees as the youth observer and I'm honored to become a trustee of the Association. I currently attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.