Greetings of the occasion of our District Assembly! I join the clergy and lay leadership of the Bloomington-Normal congregation in welcoming you to this annual event, which offers much in the way of inspiration, challenge, and leadership development opportunities. Since our last District Assembly in Wheeling, IL, your district board has worked, diligently in my view, on refining our policies and by-laws with a view toward facilitating the transition to a potential regional partnership with our neighboring districts. Indeed, the "Statement on Regional Cooperation" below offers specifics on what the board wishes to achieve through this partnership.
The board has suggested several by-law changes which we believe will lead to greater fiscal accountability and transparency, and a higher level of participation in our democratic decision-making process. Please take a moment to review these changes as outlined in your Annual Report packet.
Let me also recognize those individuals who conclude their service on our board this April: Justine Urbikas, our District Trustee to the UUA Board, Meredith E. S. Beckman, our board vice-president, and the Reverend Emmy Lou Belcher, Ministerial Trustee to the board. Justine, Meredith and Emmy Lou, individually and collectively, have made significant contributions in advancing the work of our governance, and we are in their debt.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, hopes and aspirations for our religion, as we work together in the geographical center of our country to realize the Reverend Morales' vision, as noted below, to make Unitarian Universalism "the religion of our time."
1. To follow those district boards who have agreed to end the present co-employment status of staff between the UUA and the district. As of July 1, 2011, the UUA will assume responsibility for all normal employer managerial roles for those now co-employed, including hiring and supervision. N.B.: this change will have no material effect on the Board-approved FY 2012 budget, but will likely have an effect in district or regional budget processes in succeeding years;
2. To set aside our own district "ends" statements in favor of those adopted by the UUA Board of Trustees, in part since the "ends" of our district do not contradict UUA "ends";
3. To continue a period of collaborative research and assessment with our partner districts -- Heartland to the east, and Prairie Star to the west -- as we discern whether, or when, our present administrative and program collaboration should be deepened to include shared governance. This would eliminate our current district governance structure, perhaps in favor of a regional board.
It is the hope of this governing board that these actions and others that follow will result in improved service delivery to local congregations while reducing the significant cost, in time and resources, of district governance. In this time of transition and experiment, we know there are few easy, and no final, answers. We are not proposing a formula for every district or every region. But we want to use the best information we have at the moment to take measured steps, along with our friends in Heartland and Prairie Star, toward the possible formation of a "Mid-America" region.
Our denominational President, the Reverend Peter Morales, frequently refers to Unitarian Universalism as "the religion of our time." We believe the time for constructive change, and the time for growth, is now. The CMwD Board joins all those who, once inspired by the liberating message of our democratic faith, will lead others in building strong congregations and in the holy and necessary work of healing our broken world.
Warmly, in the Spirit,
President, Central Midwest District of the UUA