Three of our four districts recently met and delegates overwhelmingly voted to dissolve their districts in favor of our region, the Central East Region. Metro New York meets on May 7 to have their debate and vote. What brought so many Unitarian Universalists together on these votes?
Most of us have already experienced what it will be like to be a region. The staff in all four districts have already become one: they are all UUA employees with one boss and a common structure for salaries and benefits. And our congregations have experienced what it’s like to have such great depth and breadth of expertise among our staff.
We’ve seen our district-only programs grow into multi-district or fully regional programs. The leadership development program in St. Lawrence and Ohio-Meadville, has transitioned over the last few years from EAGLES to UULTI to H-UULTI to UU Leadership Institute that not only serves our region, but has international students. Ohio-Meadville’s Commissioned Lay Leader program has expanded into St. Lawrence and at a retreat this weekend discussion will occur regarding its expansion and future.
I heard a lot of enthusiastic comments about our emphasis on building interdependence between our congregations and UUA. Clusters are developing with a stronger and sustainable structure. We have new ways for our congregations to directly communicate with the UUA, such as our operational Congregational Life Advisory Council.
Some UUs were pleased to hear we are eliminating some bureaucracy. This will free up time and energy of our district leaders who can now devote that energy to the ministry of their choosing, perhaps a social justice issue, a spirituality retreat, or improving a radically hospitable environment in their church.
Many ministers offered their perspectives, often theological, on our transition to a region. It was good to be reminded that our seventh principle calls us to respect our interdependent web of all existence, including our sister congregations in other districts. It was good to be reminded that we are indeed better together.
Overall, I heard a sense that our district leaders did a good job of working through the multitude of details in this transition and people were ready to take the next step: to dissolve our districts in favor of our Central East Region. I support Metro New York’s delegates who are doing their discernment of what the best future of their district is. I hope you join the other three districts in coming together to officially form the Central East Region.