Moderator Nominating Committee tells board that it found no suitable candidates willing to run for a six-year term.
Delegates cast votes in the 2017 election of a new UUA president. The 2019 General Assembly will elect a new moderator. (© Nancy Pierce)
The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association has announced it will not be nominating any candidates to run for a full term as UUA moderator in the 2019 election. As a result, the only way for a candidate to run is by petition, which requires the support of at least twenty-five congregations.
The UUA bylaws require that the board put forth candidates by February 1 of the year preceding the election. The Moderator Nominating Committee, which was tasked with recommending candidates for moderator, notified the board in December that it had not found any suitable candidates who were willing to run.
The moderator, a volunteer position, is the chief governance officer and chair of the Board of Trustees and the annual General Assembly.
The position is currently held jointly by Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams, who were appointed as co-moderators by the board in August 2017 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Jim Key on May 13, almost four years into his six-year term; Key died of cancer on June 2. To comply with the UUA’s bylaws, the board appointed Greve to the bylaw-defined role of moderator and appointed Williams, a trustee, as co-moderator, a new position the board created. However, the board regards Greve and Williams as co-moderators, and they jointly share the moderator’s role and duties, including presiding together at board meetings.
Greve and Williams are serving in this joint role until a special election for moderator is held at the 2018 General Assembly, where Greve is running unopposed to fill the last year of Key’s term; Williams will continue to serve with him if he is elected.
In a statement published February 2 on the UUA website, Williams and Greve announced that the board could not nominate any candidates for the 2019 election. “In their search and deliberations, the Moderator Nominating Committee discovered that the job of moderator requires more time than many volunteers are able to give to the Unitarian Universalist faith movement,” they wrote.
In their statement, the co-moderators said that the board is considering ways to restructure the position to make it more attractive and sustainable, and they hope anyone who is considering running by petition will wait until changes in the role are made before making the decision to become a candidate. Candidates may enter the race by petition between March 1, 2018, and February 1, 2019.
At the board’s January meeting, held at the Highlander Research and Education Center outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, January 18–21, the board agreed to develop a proposed change to the UUA bylaws that would formally allow two or more people to serve as co-moderators. The board hopes to bring that proposal to the 2018 General Assembly for a vote.
In its December report, the Moderator Nominating Committee recommended that the position be “restructured,” and proposed changing the timeline for the nominating committee’s work as well.
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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