Step by Step…..Inch by Inch

Joan Van BecelaereRev. Joan Van Becelaere
CER Regional Lead


I love that old vaudeville routine that Abbot and Costello used to do that was sometimes called “Niagara Falls.”  You know the one – where one of the characters tells his complicated story to a stranger,  and it eventually leads to the lines:   “Then slowly I turned…..step by step.….inch by inch…..

This old sketch reminds me of the next phase of existence of our Central East Region (CER), as we work on all of the steps and stages that are part of our regionalization transition this summer and fall.

Slowly I Turned:

Now that all of four of our districts have voted and approved plans to dissolve and move the locus of governance to the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we can implement the details of the regionalization plan that our Transition Team has been working on for over two years.  Yes, it was a long time of discussion and planning, and the details are many, but this should all serve to facilitate and support a smooth transition.   Our turning was slow, but deliberate.

Step By Step:

footsteps-962147_1920Metro New York and St Lawrence Districts have the most complicated transition.   They have had to create dissolution and final distribution of asset plans that met the regulations of the state of New York, have these plans approved by a District Assembly and then submit the plans to the State Attorney General for final approval.   Of course, all of this required legal help and both districts were fortunate to find an excellent UU lawyer to guide them through this.  It may take several months, perhaps into early or mid-fall, for the New York legalities to be finalized.

Joseph Priestley District in Delaware and Ohio-Meadville District in Ohio are only required to submit a simple form to the Secretary of State for each of their locations.  These forms are relatively easy to file and can be submitted at any time.

As of July 1, all of our CER events and workshops and conferences will be covered under the larger UUA insurance umbrella.  Each district is currently submitting the paperwork to close out the different insurance accounts each kept and paid for separately.  We are moving step by step to update, revise and transfer our four district websites into a single regional site hosted by the UUA servers (with great savings to the region). And the lease on our Wilmington DE office and the copier there are being transferred from the Joseph Priestley District to the CER.

Meanwhile, regional staff, including our CER Financial Manager, Cristina Sanchis, are working out all of the nuances of transferring the assets and various restricted fund accounts from all four districts to the special Central East Region section of the UUA accounting and banking system.  CER will continue to handle all its own funds, annual budgets, expense forms and bookkeeping, but enjoy the benefits of being part of the larger UUA accounting and finance system.  It is planned that all of the financial matters be transferred by the end of July 2016.

It is astounding how complex some of our district accounting structures have become over the years. But slowly and surely, step by step, the various elements are being reviewed, listed and set up for transfer.

Inch By Inch:

If all goes as planned, all of these financial and legal and administrative steps and stages will be completed by October 2016.  We will then be left with the ongoing relational task of building our regional networks of communication and clusters and congregational collaboration.    The relational task take time and move in small increments, inch by inch.

But whether we are moving ahead step by step or inch by inch, we are moving ahead –  we are CERGing Forward – together into a new way of living out our Unitarian Universalist mission and faith.

5 thoughts on “Step by Step…..Inch by Inch

  1. Thank you, Joan. I am on the denominational affairs committee here at West Shore and have been eager to get the lay cluster going. Slowly, step by step, I see that patience is required!. I have been chomping at the bit, and am so glad to be involved in church work again. Thank you for your work.
    Sharon Hoyenga

  2. If all employeess are UUA employees, no CER employees, hoe are we “handling all [our] funds, annual budgets, . . .”, etc.? How do individual members, in a hierarchy or not, learn/keep track of that?

    1. First thing to remember is that all of our former district executives and most of our program specialists have always been UUA staff. The only change now is that all of our consultants and support staff now benefit as well. Our Central East income from congregations and other sources and expenses are all handled within a separate “cost center” or accounting center within the UUA accounting system. Our regional Financial Manager and Lead manage this cost center, much like our former district executives and chief administrators managed the old district accounts. And the UUA provides an annual audit which our regional Financial Oversight Committee will be able to review.

      1. Thanks, this is very helpful. It is good that the Financial Oversight Committee will be reviewing it; what communication with member CFSs and individuals is planned? In past years, we have reviewed both the financial results of the past year and the upcoming proposed budget at the district meeting; at our last district meeting this month, we voted on the proposed budget (though with limited input regarding last year, as we did not have financial information from 2 of the 4 districts [thanks, St. Lawrence, for providing yours!] so it was a bit apples-to-oranges [of course, even the change itself will mean that there are differences with the past]).
        Going forward, will we be expected to do this review at GA along with everything else that is to be done there (please say no, there is no time!)? Will there be some separate regional process, and will I need to travel to Ohio or West Virgina from time to time? Thanks!

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