June 13, 2017
Dear UUMA Members,
Most of you, by now, have read or heard of our Executive Director, Don Southworth's letter of resignation (click here to read it)
. We, your Board, have many and mixed emotions about his departure. We are saddened to lose our valued leader, we are disappointed that we could not find a way past our differences, and yet we can look back on the work we have done together with gladness and a measure of pride.
Under Don's leadership, over the past eight years, the UUMA has matured into an institution that is visionary, ground breaking, financially sound, and a leader in our faith. His accomplishments are many. We have had three incredible Institutes for Learning, where our membership has been able to hone their skills in various arenas. The Institutes could not have happened without the leadership of an Executive Director who gave his heart to serving you, our membership. Our programming has grown exponentially, responding to our needs and our shared vision for excellence in Ministry. Our endowment campaign, to ensure our future, has been successfully launched and will continue to enable us to move forward in our vision for the future of ministry. And just last month "Centering - Navigating Race, Authenticity and Power in Ministry" was published by Skinner House Books. Don's commitment to ARAOMC and to this book were invaluable to its realization. These are just a few of his many accomplishments.
Whenever the first person to hold a position of leadership in an institution moves on, there is a challenge for that institution to maintain its calling and its position. It is also a measure of the work of the person who held that position - did they build an institution or a reputation? It is a testimony to Don's accomplishments that we have a strong institution that does not rely solely on his presence. The UUMA will be fine. It will continue to work towards its mission of nurturing excellence in ministry through collegiality, continuing education, collaboration, and a shared commitment toantiracist, anti-oppressive, multicultural practice.It will continue to discern and serve the needs of its membership. The UUMA will continue to grow in depth and maturity. We will be fine, our foundation and our leadership will remain strong.
The Board has asked Melissa Carvill-Ziemer to assume the position of Acting Executive Director for the next year. We are extremely pleased that she has agreed. During the last year, Melissa has been serving as our Associate Executive Director after a long and successful ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent Ohio. As Associate Executive Director Melissa has already been having an impact on the UUMA. Among some of the things she has taken the lead on is the Ministerial Formation Network and the Minister's Family Task Force. Already she has demonstrated great wisdom in her leadership. We are entirely confident in her ability to move into the role of Acting Executive Director. For sure, Melissa will do things her way and we, the Board, will support her as best we can.
We are also pleased that Janette Lallier has also agreed to continue as the Director of Administration. I cannot say enough about the many gifts and talents that Janette has brought to the UUMA and will continue to bring. She keeps the engines running, and a car without an engine can't get very far. While Don, in his tenure, accomplished so much; without a great staff working with him, he could not have done much of anything. We are blessed that our staff will continue with us.
Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here are a few things that we need from you:
- Support Melissa in her position as Acting Executive Director. Support the entire staff.
- When asked say Yes. As always, we need your help, your commitment, and your dedication to the make the UUMA successful. Perhaps now more than ever.
- Communicate directly with the Board, firstname.lastname@example.org or the President, email@example.com. Please don't use social media if you have something you wish to say to us. There's no guarantee that we'll see it, and it's not the appropriate venue.
- Continue to support the UUMA through your dedication and your financial commitments.
- Be collegial with one another. Many people will have many opinions and that is right and good. Let us be open to listening to each other with open minds and kind hearts.
As we head into Ministry Days we do so with certainty in uncertain times. We are certain the UUMA will flourish in the days and years to come. We are certain that we are a strong professional association with dedicated members. We are certain that we will continue to lead the faith we all love.
Peace and many kind blessings,
Rev. Cheryl M. Walker on behalf of the UUMA Board of Trustees