March 21, 2017

As you know, our UU religious movement, like other mainline denominations, faces financial challenges. There are important new challenges and opportunities to serve, but those sit within a context of increasing costs and flat to declining membership and income. As part of the Association’s larger effort to move strategically toward ways of working that are more sustainable and agile, the national Unitarian Universalist Association is making budget cuts broadly across the Association. We in MidAmerica Region have been asked to reduce our staffing by one Congregational Life Consultant position. Therefore, it is with deep sadness that we announce that Dori Davenport Thexton has offered her resignation, effective May 15th, 2017. Our staff team, the MidAmerica Board, and Congregational Life Staff Director Scott Tayler, deeply regret the necessity of this decision, and thank Dori for her nineteen years of service, first to the Central MidWest District and then to the MidAmerica Region.

Dori has made many wonderful and enduring contributions. She has been a source of wisdom and support for leaders across the region. She has been a beloved colleague to the MidAmerica Staff team and a valued coach to the many district and regional board members and volunteers with whom she has worked. Some of her many contributions include:

  • Leading the way in founding the Youth MidWest Leadership School, the only UU youth leadership school that includes collaboration and joint programming with an adult leadership school
  • Bringing the youth programming in CMWD into a new era
  • Supporting and nurturing the establishment of the UU Membership Professionals Association
  • Creating the vision and securing the initial funding for the Chicago Chalice Connection
  • Convening the CMWD large church congregations on-going continuing education programs
  • Developing and presenting radical hospitality workshops
  • Encouraging deeper stewardship conversations in our congregations
  • Overseeing the Chalice Lighter program in the CMWD and MidAmerica Region
  • Overseeing the adjunct consultants program in the CMWD and MidAmerica
  • Supporting religious educational professionals in the CMWD and MidAmerica Region
  • Leading the district and regional teams in creating District and Regional Assemblies for many years
  • Serving as primary contact for congregations in the historic Central MidWest area, and those same congregations as the MidAmerica Region came into being
  • Being a co-leader in envisioning the changing nature of the work of middle judicatory staff that helped us understand that the work could be moved to a regional basis (beyond districts), and this work has helped establish a pattern for the Association
  • Being a totally dedicated member of the MidAmerica staff team

I invite you to join Scott Tayler, Eric Huffer, and I in thanking Dori for her years of service to Central MidWest, MidAmerica, and the larger Association. Dori will continue to work through the MidAmerica Regional Assembly April 28-30, where we will have time to say goodbye. The MidAmerica staff team will be working collaboratively with the MidAmerica Board and UUA staff to plan for a smooth transition and ongoing excellence in our service to congregations.

Finally, we want you to know that Scott Tayler, the MidAmerica Board, and I are committed to making sure people are cared for throughout this process. Sensitivity and support is needed for both those staff who are leaving and the team members and congregational leaders that will be adjusting to new staffing configurations and new levels of resources over the coming year. We are all aware that new economic and social realities require us to change. But change is still hard. We are confident that, together, we can both care for each other and lean into new and creative ways of serving our congregations and the world.

If you have any questions or comments please Contact Us.

Ian Evison, with Scott Tayler and Eric Huffer