|From the Board of Trustees|
Many of you will remember that the UUMA board conducted a series of conversations with chapters last spring. We asked you to respond to this question:
Given your best understanding of the broad changes taking place in culture and society, and given your best understanding of the ways in which ministry will be most needed in the coming decades, how can we best shape the structures that form, support and sustain UU ministers?
You can read UUMA Treasurer Olivia Holmes’ report on the results of these conversations here. We held these conversations and asked this particular question in order to learn as much as possible from our members about your expectations for the UUMA of the future—its staff, programs, finances, and, most importantly, its vision. Mindful of the results of our conversations with you last year, and mindful of what we know about the needs of our members, our institutional partners, Unitarian Universalism, and the communities in which we serve, the UUMA board dedicated a segment of its March meeting to re-visiting and, where necessary, updating our mission and five vision statements. We are grateful to our colleague and former board member, Rev. Parisa Parsa, for facilitating this project for us.
At the time of writing this column, the final, updated draft of our new mission and vision statements is not completed. But I can give you some indication of what will be different. First, while our mission of providing excellence in ministry through collegiality, continuing education and collaboration remains the same, we expect to add language underscoring our intent to carry out this mission in anti-racist, anti-oppressive and multicultural ways.
There are changes to each of our five vision statements as well. On our relationship to Unitarian Universalism, we will be more explicit about partnering with the UUA and with UU religious professional organizations. We also intend to expand the scope of our ministry beyond ‘people in all stages of life’ to include organizations, communities and the earth. On continuing education, we intend to emphasize our emerging, post-RSCC role in ministerial recruitment and formation, as well as discerning and promoting alternative, affordable routes into professional ministry.
On anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism, we envision a UUMA in which white, male, heterosexual cultural norms are decentered and colleagues are encouraged and supported in multiple ways to pursue anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural ministry. On collegial development we intend to expand the vision for sustaining life-giving relationships between members to include other UU religious professionals and interfaith partners. And on organizational health and effectiveness we intend to clarify the key factors that will sustain the UUMA for future generations.
Will these updated mission and vision statements respond to all the needs we know are out there? The answer is likely no. From our conversations with chapters we learned there is profound anxiety not only among our members, but within the communities our members serve—anxiety about the future of our congregations, our ministries, our countries and our planet. While no mission and vision statements can respond fully to this anxiety, getting them right is important. Getting them right and letting them guide our collective work gives us a way forward into an increasingly chaotic world that is crying out for compassion, love, and justice. Getting them right and letting them guide our collective work gives us a glimpse of a brighter future, a beloved community and enduring, excellence in ministry.
Rev. Josh Pawelek
UUMA Trustee At Large