Audit committee praises UUA financial staff

Audit committee praises UUA financial staff

Board prepares for complex conversations about youth and GA at January meeting.

Trustee Linda Laskowski

Trustee Linda Laskowski said there was great disparity among districts and congregations in terms of what is being done for youth and young adults.

© Nancy Pierce


During its November 2012 conference call, the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees heard and accepted a report of the Audit Committee, which praised the work of the association’s financial staff.

The board also continued its discussion of the Fifth Principle Task Force report, which recommended a move to biennial General Assemblies. And it discussed the association’s policies regarding youth and young adults. Both of these ongoing and controversial topics will be explored in greater depth at the board’s January in-person meeting, which will convene in Philadelphia, Pa., January 17-20, 2013.

Jim Key, chair of the Audit Committee and a candidate for moderator of the UUA in 2013, presented the committee’s report to the board. He said the annual audit yielded an “unqualified” or “clean” report, with no serious accounting or management weaknesses.

Key told the board that the UUA’s external auditors, Mayer Hoffman McCann, had a “very positive evaluation of senior management” at the association. UUA Treasurer Tim Brennan and Controller Karen Wheeler, in particular, deserved praise, Key said, and “needed to be singled out for the work they’ve done to streamline our accounting.”

The audit revealed that:

  • The UUA has $217 million in total assets and $88 million in liabilities.
  • Cash and cash equivalents increased by $160,000 from FY 2011 to FY 2012.
  • Investments and investments in funds managed for others increased by $1.06 million.
  • Loans to member congregations were flat at $7.5 million.
  • Bank debt was flat at $1.9 million.
  • The association had notable surpluses in two categories. The General Assembly accumulated surplus was $275,000. And the Beacon Press accumulated surplus was $2.94 million.

The “major takeaway,” Key said, was that the financial news was very good. He noted that the Audit Committee is focusing on implementing an enterprise risk management approach, which will include assessing risks or monitoring reports, risks across organizational silos, risks in human resources generally and across regional and district staffs specifically, and risks in information technology.

Youth and Young Adults

Linda Laskowski, trustee of the Pacific Central District, reported on the work of the Youth Policies Task Force, which is a subset of trustees looking at the board’s policies around youth and young adults and what she said appears to be a lack of priority of youth and young adults at all levels of the association. “We found a great deal of disparity between districts and congregations in terms of what is being done with youth,” she said.

The concern about the place of youth and young adults within the association has heightened since the dissolution of YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) in 2008. Of particular concern, Laskowski said, is that many association leaders have come out of the national youth structure. “We’re concerned that we haven’t come up with something that does the same things that [YRUU] did,” she said.

Laskowski asked board members whether youth and young adults should specifically be named in board policies even if other groups are not called out explicitly. And she asked board members to consider to what extent it has responded to a 2008 GA resolution calling for reports on the progress of ministering to the needs of youth and young adults.

Laskowski said the Youth Policies Task Force would bring a proposed motion to the January board meeting for consideration.

Two pillars

The board continued to discuss how to respond to the recommendations of the Fifth Principle Task Force, which it began to reconsider at its October 2012 meeting.

The board had formed an ad hoc group to make recommendations on how to proceed with the findings of the 2009 report, which among other things proposed moving to a biennial General Assembly. The Rev. Clyde Grubbs, at-large trustee, said the ad hoc group divided comments from the October meeting into “two basic pillars: the pillar of governance and the pillar of gathering.” “Both of these pillars are interdependent at GA,” he said. “We have to solve both. . . . The board should lead the discussion of both how we’re governed and how we gather.”

Grubbs said that at the January board meeting, they will seek out comments to the board from groups such as the GA Planning Committee, the UU Ministers Association, DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), and C*UUYAN (The Continental UU Young Adult Network). The discussion likely will continue after January, he said, “with full participation of all the conversation partners.”

The Rev. Jake Morrill, trustee of the Southeast District, underscored Grubb’s comments. “There are interests and constituencies across the movement that have real concerns,” he said. He said the ad hoc group would be doing “serious listening” to ensure the January conversation was “grounded in really thoughtful conversation. We don’t know all of the answers now,” he said. “We just know it needs to be these two pillars of how we govern and how we gather.”

In other business, the board voted to allow the UU Partner Church Council to participate in the UU Organizations Retirement Plan.

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