Letter from the UUMA Board to our members
Monday, June 23, 2014
Posted by: UUMA Board of Trustees
June 23, 2014
The members of the UUMA Board are heart-broken by recent events at Starr King School for the Ministry centering around a breach of confidentiality during its recent presidential search. We are concerned about the impact of these events on all members of the Starr King community—faculty, staff, the student body, the board members, the search committee, alumni, and certainly the students who have been most immediately caught up in the conflict. We are concerned about harm to the school’s reputation as well as that of current students. We are also concerned about the enormous diversion of energy and attention away from the school’s mission to educate people for Unitarian Universalist ministry and for progressive religious leadership in society. We are hoping and praying that all members of the Starr King community can find the resources and support they need for resolving this conflict in a fair and forgiving manner and for moving towards healing and reconciliation.
As we gather in Providence, RI for the 2014 Ministry Days, we are mindful that our collective concern for healing at Starr King will be keenly felt. We are also mindful not only that our faith is grounded in covenant, but that we covenant with each other as colleagues (including ministerial candidates) to “support one another in collegial respect and care, understanding and honoring the diversity within our association.” Furthermore, as UUMA members, our Code of Conduct obligates us to “not speak scornfully or in derogation of any colleague in public;” to “speak responsibly and temperately” in any private conversation concerning a colleague; and to “not solicit or encourage negative comments about a colleague or their ministry.”
We note that these “expectations of conduct apply to all forms of public or private media including electronic and internet communications.” While we do not wish to censor any conversation related to events at Starr King, we feel strongly that conversation conducted in the spirit of our UUMA Covenant and Code of Conduct will best serve the goals of healing and reconciliation for all involved.
Undoubtedly there will be questions about whether or not the UUMA has a role to play in response to the events at Starr King. Please know that the UUMA board and staff take these questions very seriously, that the UUMA Code of Conduct specifies accountability procedures in the event of alleged violations of our Guidelines, and that the Continental Good Offices Person is currently offering counsel and mediation services to a number of parties to this highly complex conflict.
Though our hearts are broken, we maintain our faith in the capacity of our colleagues in the Starr King community to work through this conflict and to arrive at the best possible outcome—one marked by compassion, fairness, forgiveness and the strengthening of an academic institution whose health is essential to the ongoing health of our Unitarian Universalist ministry and faith.
With love and hope,
The UUMA Board of Trustees