Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Weekly News and Reflections

November 16, 2018

The Joys and Pains of Leadership: A Reflection from the UUMA President

Cheryl M. Walker, UUMA President


I am now in my final year as President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, and as I look back on my time I think about what has been most joyful and most painful. The most joyful has been, by far, the many colleagues I have met who give their time and their hearts to the profession of ministry. I am always so pleased to see the many of you who volunteer your time in service to the UUMA on committees, task forces, chapter leadership, and many other roles. To see how much we care for each other as colleagues, gives me endless joy.


At our recent Board meeting, we met with both of our Guidelines Committees. One of the committees is focusing on Ethics and the other is focusing on Accountability. We had incredibly generative conversations about the future of the UUMA in respect to what and how we keep each other accountable to the highest aspirations of ministry. The dedication of our colleagues who have taken on this daunting task brings me joy.


What pains me isn’t the critiques of my leadership and the decisions the Board has made; critique comes with the territory of leadership. If no one is upset with a leader’s decision, the leader isn’t doing much. No, what pains me is the failure of some of our colleagues to live up to the covenant they made when they joined the UUMA. It breaks my heart to know that some members of the UUMA, a small percentage for sure, do harm to each other and to our profession by not living up to the standards of professional conduct to which we all agreed. What pains me is that the processes we have in place to hold these people accountable privilege secrecy, in the name of confidentiality, over justice.


I am glad that our Guidelines Committees are working diligently to shift our culture, so that justice is paramount. If you missed their reports, check out the and support them in their endeavor. The changes that need to be made will not be finished by the time I end my tenure, but I am glad that we, your Board and your colleagues, are working to put us on a path towards better systems and a culture where we honor in hearts and actions the promises we make to each other.


My joy is always greater than my pain, because you, the dedicated members of the UUMA strive every day to minister with integrity and honor. By upholding these central values you make serving as President of the UUMA one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I thank you, and there is still more work for me to do.





Web Events in November


Ministerial Formation Network Webinar:

Join us on Tuesday, November 27th at 12:00pm EST / 11:00am CST / 9am PST for the first MFN Webinar of this ministry year exploring how to find internships for seminarians. Our speakers will be Stevie Carmody, and Rev. David Pettee, . The webinars will be 90 minutes long and will be recorded. Please be aware this call is for aspirants and candidates who are members of the MFN. Registration is required.

and contact , with any questions.


Chapter Leader Conference Calls:


Twice each year, after the fall and spring in-person UUMA Board meetings, we offer conference calls to connect and engage with chapter leaders. UUMA President Rev. Cheryl M. Walker and the Executive Leadership Team will host each of the four calls.


The calls are intended to help keep local UUMA chapter leaders informed about developments in the UUMA continentally, and to create a time for conversation about local UUMA chapters' experiences, needs, questions etc. All elected chapter leaders are invited to participate. The calls will be offered in November on the following dates and times and we hope that at least one leader (but preferably more) in your chapter can attend one of the calls. Each call will be 90 minutes long. You can join each call at the following link:

  • Monday, 11/26 at 1pm PST/2pm MST/3pm CST/4pm EST
  • Tuesday, 11/27 from 11am PST/12pm MST/1pm CST/2pm EST
  • Tuesday, 11/27 at 5pm PST/6pm MST/ 7pm CST/ 8pm EST
  • Thursday, 11/29 from 9am PST/10 am MST/ 11 am CST/ 12pm EST

December Webinar: Despair in a Time of Joy


"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."

-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars


This time of year is filled with messages of happiness and joy and does not leave space for the sadness, anger, and despair we might feel. Join us on Wednesday, December 5 at 2 PM EST for a webinar led by Darrick Jackson focusing on the practice of lament to hold space for ourselves and those whom we serve.




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