UUA co-moderators excited to continue model of shared leadership

UUA co-moderators excited to continue model of shared leadership

Greve and Williams issue joint statement as they undertake ‘bold experiment in shared leadership.’

Elandria Williams and Barb Greve at the 2013 UUA General Assembly

Elandria Williams and Mr. Barb Greve—shown here at the 2013 General Assembly—will serve as co-moderators of the Unitarian Universalist Association until a special election in 2018. (© Nancy Pierce)

© Nancy Pierce


The UUA Board of Trustees has appointed Mr. Barb Greve and trustee Elandria Williams as co-moderators of the Association to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Moderator Jim Key on May 13. Key, who was four years into his six-year term, resigned for health reasons; he died June 2. Greve and Williams will serve in this joint role until a special election is held at the 2018 General Assembly. Trustee Denise Rimes, who served as acting moderator after Key’s resignation, will continue serving as first vice moderator.

In a joint statement, Greve and Williams said they were “excited, humbled and honored.” “Our passionate love of our faith calls us to leadership and service in this time of transition.”

Both lifelong UUs, they have known each other for more than fifteen years and co-led the Right Relationship Team at the 2013 General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky.

Greve is a Master-level credentialed religious educator and “transgender guy.” Over the past twenty years he has served as an interim director of lifespan religious education, a professional youth adviser, and a UUA staff member. He received his Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2007 and for the last three years has served as the chair of the school’s board of trustees. He is one of the co-founders of TRUUsT (Transgender Religious UUs Together) and a tri-founder of the Guild of Interim Religious Educators.

Williams, a member of Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, joined the UUA board in 2016. Over the past twenty years, among other UU roles, Williams has served on the Thomas Jefferson District Board, which in 2011 changed its name to the Southeast District, as well as on the district’s Anti-Racism Transformation Team, and as a trainer and coordinator for groundwork, the youth and young adult antioppression and antiracism training program. Williams is a founding member of Black Lives of UU (BLUU).

Greve and Williams said they are excited to continue the model of shared leadership that emerged last spring at the UUA; first, when three people were appointed as interim co-presidents after the resignation of former UUA President Peter Morales until the election of UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray, and then, during GA 2017, when the moderator role was filled by Williams and three other trustees.

“Guided by the experiences and wisdom of the co-presidents and quad-moderation at last year’s General Assembly, we undertake again a bold experiment in shared leadership,” Greve and Williams said in their statement. “By this we mean both collaboration and partnerships: partnerships between the administration and the board, amongst the co-moderators and board members, and with all of the many volunteers and incredible faith leaders from around the country and world. We truly believe that we can live out our faith not only during worship but also in the boardroom and in our broader lives.”

“Anytime we can share leadership we are stronger,” Greve added to UU World during a joint interview with Williams. “It’s core to who we are theologically and to who we espouse to be.” With “multiple voices, multiple perspectives, and checks and balances,” Greve said, shared leadership gives the faith “the best chance of success.”

Co-moderation also means the responsibilities of the position—which is unpaid—can be shared so that UUs besides those who are retired or wealthy can serve in the job, Williams said.

Of the challenges facing Unitarian Universalism today, one of the biggest is “helping people live our faith moment to moment” so that it isn’t “just an intellectual exercise,” Greve said. Williams said the denomination has not yet figured out how to retain youth and young adults. Williams also said that UUs tend to over-focus on minutiae, which takes energy away from core work like antiracism work, and believes there should be more attention on what it means to be a UU at this point in history.

“We need our faith to be spiritually alive and justice centered,” Williams said.