Tim Atkins resigned from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Board of Trustees on January 13, 2019, saying he disagreed with the board over the manner by which the current UUA co-moderators will continue in their roles past General Assembly 2019.
As previously reported in UU World, the board in December 2018 asked UUs who are interested in becoming UUA moderator to wait until a 2020 special election to run for that office, because the Moderator Nominating Committee had not found any candidates to nominate for a scheduled 2019 election. Until the special election, Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams would continue to serve as co-moderators by appointment of the board, the board said in December.
Despite the board’s request, it would have been possible for a candidate to run for moderator at the 2019 GA if they had filed a petition by February 1, 2019. Atkins told UU World he believed that Greve and Williams should have run by petition so that the General Assembly could elect them, whether or not any other candidates ran by petition. (No one filed a petition, so no election for moderator will take place at the June 2019 GA in Spokane, Washington.)
In two board meetings in January 2019, held in executive session, trustees discussed but did not act on a plan to have Greve and Williams run by petition. The board “could not reach consensus on whether they should adopt this plan, and took no additional action beyond affirming their original recommendation that candidates wait to run by petition until 2020 to allow the process for reshaping the Moderator position to be completed,” according to minutes from the board meetings.
Atkins also disagreed with the decision to hold that discussion in executive session rather than open session.
“I’m resigning over a matter of transparency, and the role and authority of the board, and good governance,” Atkins told UU World. Atkins is director of Lifespan Religious Education at Cedar Lane UU Church in Bethesda, Maryland. He served on the UUA Appointments Committee from 2012 to 2015 before being elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. He was elected to a second three-year term in 2018.
In announcing Atkins’s resignation, the board quoted Greve, who said: “Tim has been a dedicated and conscientious member of the board. While we accept his resignation, we will be sad to lose his voice from the board’s table.”
Atkins said that his reasons for resigning from the board are different from those of Trustee Christina Rivera, who resigned in December 2018. Rivera, an outspoken advocate for racial justice, and her teenage son were targeted by hateful letters. Rivera did not mention those letters in her official resignation letter, but Greve and Williams mentioned them in their response to her resignation, saying that there is “no room within our theology to tolerate such behavior.”