The Central Midwest District UUA merged in 2013 with the Districts of Heartland and Prairie Star to form the MidAmerica Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
This site is for archival information only. For the latest events and news, please go to MidAmericaUUA.org.

CMwD Annual Reports

President, Rev.Bill Sasso

BillSasso-DA2012Dear Congregational Representatives,

Please know that we, who serve on the Board of Trustees of the Central Midwest District, appreciate your congregation’s support of the District and our larger Unitarian Universalist movement. The resources that our congregations share with each other make it possible for the District to serve as an institutional bridge connecting congregations and their members to each other and to the other elements of our larger movement. We are grateful for your continued and generous support in these financially challenging times, and we are pleased to have this opportunity to share what we have accomplished since April, 2012.

Here I will share the broad themes that we have engaged this year. For more detail, I invite you to consult the Board meeting minutes.

If I were to try to capture the work of the year in a single word, it would be “transition.” Our largest transition has been an active and extensive process of collaboration to develop the proposal to form the MidAmerica Region. This has been an intense and occasionally challenging process, but we have found fulfillment and sometimes even joy as we have collaborated with our UUA congregational life staff, the Reverend Ian Evison and Dori Davenport Thexton, and the Boards of our partner districts, Prairie Star (to our west) and Heartland (to our east). Over the course of the year, we have worked diligently to develop the proposal to form MidAmerica, with the hope and intention that we will carry forward what is best in CMwD while making new opportunities possible. We have worked hard to be in dialogue and relationship with you and your congregation as this proposal has been developed. We hope that you are familiar with the MidAmerica proposal, which we will vote upon at District Assembly 2013.

We have also experienced transition in our more typical governance roles, as Ian and Dori have reorganized themselves into a regional staff team, joining Rev. Lisa Presley and Nancy Combs-Morgan of Heartland, and Nancy Heege and the Reverend Phil Lund from Prairie Star. We have worked with the regional staff team and with our partner Boards from the other districts in a shared governance and oversight role, learning as we have moved through the year. Each new insight has helped us envision the opportunities that might be created together in the future.

We have also navigated several transitions within the Board itself. Last summer the Reverend Brian Covell announced his intention to resign as District President in response to the needs of the congregation he serves. When the Board appointed me to complete the year as President, the Ministerial Trustee position opened. I am very pleased that the Reverend Sydney Morris was willing to accept appointment into that position in October.

In closing, again I thank you and your congregation for your generous support! And I thank each of my colleagues on your CMwD Board: Vice-President Jeff Reed (Fond du Lac, WI), Treasurer Nancy Armstrong (Normal, IL), Secretary Tracey Howe Koch (Florissant, MO), Youth Trustee Kenny Pechtl, Ministerial Trustee the Reverend Sydney Morris (Houghton, MI), UUA Trustee the Reverend Erik David Carlson (Stockton, IL), and Trustees at large Suzie DeBeers (Waupaca, WI), Vera Dowell (Oak Park, IL), and Rob Zimmerman (Wauwatosa, WI). These extraordinary folks have all given generously of their time, skills, and energy during this unusual and intense Board year!

Should you meet them during District Assembly, please thank them for their service! I certainly do!

Respectfully submitted, (signed)


Rev. Bill Sasso

(Carbondale, IL)
President, CMwD, UUA

Treasurer, Nancy Armstrong

Nancy Armstrong 06-2009It has been my pleasure to serve as the treasurer of CMwD this year.  Warren Thom had done such a great job as treasurer for the past 6 years, that the transition was a smooth one. I want to thank our congregations for their continuing support of the District/Region. The CMwD board and staff are committed to conscientious stewardship of the District’s resources.

The finances of the district are generally sound, but there were several factors last year that created a significant impact on our reserves and our budget.  As congregations continued to recover from the drop in income precipitated by the 2008/09 recession, giving to the district lagged behind and we will not fully realize the income that we projected for FY 2013.  We also approved a small, unexpected increase in staff salaries, in keeping with guidelines proposed by the UUA after our budget was approved.  While we also saved some money when the technology administrator position was reorganized as a region-wide position, our operating budget deficit will be somewhat larger than we projected.   We made the first payment towards our commitment for regionalization transition expenses from our reserves which reduced our reserves despite an increase in value of our market-based mutual funds.  The UUA granted the transition effort $20,000 and while there are expenses still to come, the transition process may cost less than anticipated.

My efforts this year have largely focused on the future financial policies and health of the proposed Mid America Region.  I continue to be inspired by the leadership and dedication of the three district boards and the regional staff.


Our Congregations 2013


First Unitarian Church of Alton, IL CMWD Federated Church of Avon of Avon, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal of Bloomington, IL CMWD Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship of Carbondale, IL CMWD All Souls Free Religious Fellowship of Chicago, IL CMWD First Unitarian Society of Chicago of Chicago, IL CMWD Peoples Church of Chicago of Chicago, IL CMWD Beverly Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL  CMWD Third Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL CMWD Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Decatur of Decatur, IL CMWD North Shore Unitarian Church of Deerfield, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb of DeKalb, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin of Elgin, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Evanston of Evanston, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva of Geneva, IL CMWD Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grayslake, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Hinsdale of Hinsdale, IL CMWD Prairyerth Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hinsdale, IL CMWD Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet of Joliet, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb of Macomb, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Congregation, McHenry, IL (formerly in Woodstock) CMWD Mt. Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Mt. Vernon, IL CMWD DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church of Naperville, IL CMWD Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oak Park, IL CMWD Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist of Palatine, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest, IL CMWD Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria of Peoria, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Quincy of Quincy, IL CMWD The Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rock Valley of Rockton, IL CMWD Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Springfield, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton, IL CMWD The Federated Church of Sycamore, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign of Urbana, IL CMWD Lake Shore Unitarian Society of Winnetka, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart of Elkhart, IN CMWD First Unitarian Church of Hobart of Hobart, IN CMWD First Unitarian Church of South Bend of South Bend, IN CMWD Bay de Noc Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Escanaba, MI CMWD Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Houghton, MI CMWD Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marquette, MI CMWD Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Saint Joseph, MI CMWD Cape Girardeau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Cape Girardeau, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia of Columbia, MO CMWD Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel of Ellisville, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Jefferson City of Jefferson City, MO CMWD Kirksville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Kirksville, MO CMWD Eliot Unitarian Chapel of Kirkwood, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rolla of Rolla, MO CMWD First Unitarian Church of St. Louis of St. Louis, MO CMWD West Plains Unitarian Universalist, West Plains, MO CMWD Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Appleton, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church West of Brookfield, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lakes of Elkhorn, WI CMWD Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fond du Lac, WI CMWD Green Bay Area UU Fellowship of Green Bay, WI CMWD Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church of Hartland, WI CMWD Unitarian Congregation of Rock County, Janesville, WI CMWD Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist of Kenosha, WI CMWD James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Madison, WI CMWD First Unitarian Society of Madison of Madison, WI CMWD Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society of Madison, WI CMWD Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Manitowoc, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Marshfield of Marshfield, WI CMWD Unitarian Church North of Mequon, WI CMWD First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee of Milwaukee, WI CMWD Unitarian Fellowship of Milwaukee of Milwaukee, WI CMWD Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church of Racine, WI CMWD Prairie Lakes Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ripon, WI CMWD Free Congregation of Sauk County of Sauk City, WI CMWD Sheboygan Area Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Sheboygan, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County of Sister Bay, WI CMWD Stevens Point Unitarian Universalist Association Fellowship of Stevens Point, WI CMWD United Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Waukesha, WI CMWD First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, WI CMWD Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Woodruff, WI CMWD


District Administrator, Peggy Boccard; Regional Tech Coordinator Gretchen Ohmann

District Administration

It's ComiPeggy Boccardng! Besides the usual tasks managing financial, regulatory and corporate requirements for the District, the big focus this past year has been on moving toward consolidating administrations of the three districts in the MidAmerica area into a single working group. 

Preliminary organizational work has been done (see the article on the Deep Generalists by Nancy Heege explaining the new operations).  In addition, in the new organization there will be a full-time Regional Administrator I, Sarah Greene, now District Administrator at Prairie Star District; a half-time Regional Administrator II, Peggy, now District Administrator at Central Midwest District; and in charge of coordinating all technical issues, Gretchen, who is doing the job now.  We are in the process of working out specifics of the operations even now.  We've begun work on a consolidated accounting Chart of Accounts; vehicles for regular Communications with you, our constituent congregations; what kind and how we'll be holding large meetings (district assemblies, a regional assembly, area assemblies - All to be worked out.)

In the meantime, please be making plans to have full representation for your congregation at this year's District Assembly as we will be voting on whether to consolidate not just administrative operations, but the organizational existance of the Central Midwest District, the Prairie Star District to our west and Heartland District to our east into a new and vibrant MidAmerica Region.  We'll be meeting April 26 to 28 at the Marriott Milwaukee West in Waukesha WI.  Check out the DA page HERE


District Administrator


Gretchen-2013The single largest change this year was the establishment of a new position of Tech Coordinator for the MidAmerica Region. I applied for and got the new job. As of July first the Tech coordinator became responsible for the websites and online programs of the Heartland and Prairie Star districts along with CMwD. The nascent MidAmericaUUA.org website quickly became more active.

Event registration has been a large area of focus, as we began to add Webinars and other smaller events to the online system on the MidAmerica site. So far we've also managed to switch two of the three District Assemblies to that system.

Collaborating with the three District Administrators, we've also worked on consolidating the District online calendars and establishing a central spot for committee, board and staff communications about the Regionalization process.

If it seams that things have been proceeding a bit piecemeal, they have. Once we began the process we determined that changing systems one block at a time allowed us to assimilate the new features in manageable chunks.

Changes and improvements are being made as we go along, and will probably continue for another year as we all adjust to new ways of working together to serve congregations.


Technology Coordinator, MidAmerica Region UUA

Nominating Committee - CMwD Candidates for Election DA 2013

The Nominating Committee of the Central Midwest District has proposed the following individuals for election to the positions indicated at the 2013 District Assembly.

Warren Thom, Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference, Director, three-year term

Warren Thom 2013Warren is a retired high school Chemistry teacher from Plainfield Illinois. He and his wife Susan have been active in the UU Church of Joliet since 1973. Warren has served on his local church board of trustees as president and was treasurer of the church for about ten years starting around 1990. He implemented computer bookkeeping and improved financial reporting. Warren has been involved with other activities such as Welcoming Congregation, by-laws, newsletter and leadership development. The Joliet church instituted an endowment committee and Warren served as a trustee and treasurer on the committee for the first two terms of its existence. In 2006 Warren was elected to the CMwD board as treasurer of the district. As district treasurer, he witnessed the fall and rebound of our economy, and the effects on district reserves. He was active annually in budget preparation at both the local and district level. During the years of 2011 to 2012, Warren worked with lay leaders and staff in Heartland, Prairie Star and Central Midwest in preparation for the movement towards regionalization.

The Rev. Bill Sasso, President

BillSasso-DA2012Rev. Bill Sasso currently serves as President of the Central Midwest District, and has served on the CMwD Board since April, 2011. A graduate of Meadville/Lombard Theological School, he retired from congregational ministry in June, 2012, after serving as Minister of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship for 13 years.  During that time, Bill also served as Vice-President of the CMwD UUMA Chapter, and as President of the Carbondale Interfaith Council. Bill and his family reside in Carbondale, Illinois.

Tracey Howe-Koch, Secretary, (incumbent)

Tracy Howe-Koch 2008I have been active in Unitarian Universalism for the last ten years. As a member of Eliot Chapel, I served as the RE Committee Chair and volunteered as the Membership Coordinator. I also taught Sunday School for many years and volunteered as the Children's Library Coordinator. I am now a member of First Unitarian Alton. I am the current RE Committee Chair and teach the 4/5th graders. I am also involved with the UUSC as a

Regional Coordinator. Outside of church life, I am a stay at home mother to three children. I play in a German band and a woodwind quintet. One day a week, I volunteer as the librarian for my children's school. I have a Masters in Social Work and previously worked with local refugees in starting their own businesses.  I am currently serving as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Central Midwest District.

The Rev. Dr. Sydney A. Morris, Ministerial Trustee, a one year term expiring in 2014, to replace Rev. Bill Sasso

Syndey MorrisThe Rev. Dr. Sydney A. Morris has been a UU parish minister for 27 years, the last 10 of them at the Keweenaw UU Fellowship in Houghton MI. She studied at Harvard Divinity and Meadville Lombard Theological schools, and has taught at Vancouver School of Theology and Michigan Technological University. She has been on the board of a socially responsible mutual fund company since 1981. She has served in UU national, district and UUMA capacities.  Her scholarly interests are science and ethics, particularly corporate ethics; in the parish: worship, growth, and pastoral care. She loves to garden, canoe and sing, though rarely all at the same time.

Suzie DeBeers, Trustee-At-Large, one year term expiring in 2014

Suzie DeBeers 2013With a growing family and new home back in 1973, my husband and I discovered Unitarian Universalism in Geneva, Illinois.  This has been our spiritual home and community since that time as we have lived in several states and towns.  

My involvement in church activities and governance has been in Religious Education as a teacher and/or helper and committee chair, on the Board of Trustees at two churches, member of a Ministerial Search Committee, chair of a pledge drive and chair or co-chair of Building and Grounds Committee, Caring Committee and the Human Rights/Social Justice Committee/Task Force.  In the past, I have served as Volunteer Network Regional Coordinator for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and today continue to promote this organization as Local Representative at Fox Valley UU Fellowship in Appleton, WI.

The UU community has given me inspiration and support in reaching out in my community and the world, particularly on issues of diversity and equality.  It is my hope that others who are seeking a spiritual home and community, not just of likeminded people, but of accepting people, will find a vibrant, loving UU home as I did.  This is the reason that I serve on the Central Midwest District Board of Trustees and continue to support the principles and work of our faith.

Erin McElroy, Youth Trustee
It is our policy to not display photographs of minors.

Erin McElroy has been a life-long member of the Bradford Unitarian Universalist congregation in Kenosha Wisconsin. She has served on the RE Committee of her church as Youth Chair and has been a very active member in planning for her church’s Youth Group. Erin attended the 2012 season of Youth Midwest Leadership School and from there has been putting forth more action in helping out her church. She is currently a junior in High School looking to pursue Music Education.

Ann Ruger, Nominating Committee

Ann Ruger 2013My husband Pete and I have been UU’s for over 45 years, first as members at First Unitarian Church in St. Louis, then at Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood, and now at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship in Illinois. I served on Eliot’s board for three years before we moved to Carbondale in 1997.

How fortunate Pete and I were to become members of the Fellowship there just as it entered a period of phenomenal growth, both spiritually and physically. We were proud to cast our votes with the congregation as it called its first minister in 1999. I then served as chair of the membership committee, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and President of the Board during a successful capital campaign to construct a new building.

Although we remain members of the Fellowship, we now live in St. Louis again. In 2005, I was one of four co-founders of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, an education and advocacy organization working on such issues as health care, the environment, and poverty. 

Rev. Lori Hlaban, Nominating Committee

Lori Hlaban 2013The Rev. Lori Hlaban serves the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisconsin as the Assistant Minister for Membership and Congregational Engagement. As a clergy partner in Midwest Ceremonies, Lori also maintains a thriving independent ministry, creating personalized rites of passage for couples and families.

Lori was ordained to the ministry in May, 2010 by the congregation of Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartland, Wisconsin, where she and her husband, Tom, are charter members.  She received her Masters of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary, and served her ministerial internship at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, WI, where she honed her pastoral and leadership skills.

Prior to entering the ministry, Lori was an active lay leader of her congregation, serving on the Worship Committee, leading adult discussion groups, teaching middle-school religious education, co-founding the Caring Committee, and served as a delegate to General Assembly several years. She’s a trained facilitator for the OWL (Our Whole Lives) program at both the junior and senior high school levels.