Over the past year, the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has focused on three overarching priorities, according to co-moderators Charles Du Mond and the Rev. Meg Riley.
As a top priority, they are working to implement the recommendations from the Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) in its 2020 report, Widening the Circle of Concern. The COIC was established by the board in 2017 to conduct an audit of white privilege and the structure of power within Unitarian Universalism and analyze structural racism and white supremacy culture within the UUA. Among many other recommendations, the report asked the board to examine the UUA bylaws, and the board is committed to rewriting the bylaws entirely, a process they expect to take a couple of years. “The bylaws are very cumbersome” and “rigid,” said Riley, which can hinder adaptive leadership.
The board-appointed Article II Study Commission is continuing its review of Article II of the bylaws, which includes the principles and purposes of the UUA itself. This ongoing review will be a major focus at General Assembly 2022, “Meet the Moment: Reimagining Radical Faith Community,” which will be held June 22–26 both online and in person in Portland, Oregon, the co-moderators said.
The COIC report emphasized the importance of theological grounding of all of the UUA’s work, and the board sees that as a key component of the bylaw process and all of its work, “a process of deep engagement,” said Riley. The board is hoping for wide engagement among UUs in the bylaws process, which includes re-imagining “what it is we want this association to be,” said Du Mond. The board is holding a monthly open house on the second Tuesday of each month, to which all UUs—not just GA delegates—are invited. The board hopes that UUs will participate in the open houses and other opportunities for bylaws discussion so that when the rewritten bylaws come up for a vote at GA in a couple of years, they will be fully informed and ready to vote in favor—or not—of the new bylaws.
The board is also broadly examining how to restructure governance, which ties in with another report recommendation: reimagining the annual General Assembly to make it more accessible physically and financially so that more UUs can participate. GA 2020, which was the first all-virtual GA, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, engendered high participation among UUs, which makes governance more democratic, they said.
The other two top priorities for the board are creating and establishing leadership across the faith movement, and performing the regular duties of the board, including overseeing the UUA budget and working collaboratively with President Susan Frederick-Gray, Executive Vice President Carey McDonald, and the UUA staff on association operations. Composed of the co-moderators, the financial advisor, the UUA president (a non-voting ex-officio member), and thirteen trustees, including two youth trustees, the board meets monthly throughout the year.