The initial goals of the Wisdom Seekers were to facilitate linkage between our Central East Region congregations and our UUA Board, and to identify replacements for our District Assemblies. The Transition Team discussed a variety of approaches to achieve these goals and established a Working Group to explore them in depth.
The conclusion of the Wisdom Seekers Working Group regarding linkage was to build on existing channels and mechanisms and to encourage and expand their linkage activities. They first identified what exists today and soon realized that a whole new structure would be largely redundant and could compete with and dilute our existing mechanisms.
In the past our district boards were one agent for congregations to communicate with our UUA Board. However, in the future any 15 congregations in the same district or region or across regions have the authority to bring an issue to the General Assembly. This implies a level of inter-congregational connection and communication. A primary mission of our Central East Regional Staff is foster, nurture and strengthen these connections.
One conclusion of the Working Group regarding District Assemblies was that a regional assembly would impose an unfair level of cost and burdensome travel on too many. While congregations could still choose to continue DA sized events, the Working Group and Transition Team strongly recommend building on the growing interconnections among congregations and explore all the many ways we can network and collaborate together. Our regional staff and Congregational Life Advisory Council will work with our congregations to facilitate these connections and events.
Just a couple weeks ago on April 9th I had the opportunity to experience first-hand what our future working together can be. There are only three congregations in the Central East Region from Connecticut. We were each invited and all attended a “Cluster Connections” event with nine other Connecticut UU congregations at the Unitarian Society of New Haven. It was a marvelous day of workshops and widespread networking. There are now new collaborations among these twelve congregations in a number of areas including alternative services such as vespers, lay-lead services, governance and social action.
This geographical and affinity clustering encourages and facilitates the innovation that often starts with our individual congregations. These initiatives can then be readily shared with other congregations in the region and beyond with our UUA. This empowerment, innovation and collaboration at the congregational level is precisely what our UU faith needs to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing world.