Each congregation has a vital role in a proposal for a New Era of Unitarian Universalism. The proposal is to merge three districts in the geographic center of the U.S. (Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star) into one MidAmerica Region.
In the mid 1960s the U.S. was divided into UUA administrative districts. The district boundaries were created for ease of travel at that time. Central Midwest and Heartland Districts include Wisconsin, Illinois, most of Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, part of Ohio, and Kentucky. Prairie Star District covers Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and parts of Wisconsin and Missouri.
Each of the current 19 districts has paid staff who provide services to congregations in their district. Services include assistance with growing membership, training local leaders, finding ministers, and religious education programs. Funding for each district comes from the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) and local congregations. Each district is governed by an elected Board of Trustees. The current UUA Board includes a trustee elected from each district.
A couple of years ago, the UUA reviewed employment policies and decided that some changes were needed. Up to that point district staff were simultaneously employed by both the UUA and a district. This co-employment caused some legal sticking points, so under the advice of employment attorneys the UUA became the full employer of the staff. The staff are still assigned to their respective districts but are now clustered into regions—for example, the Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star District employees are clustered into the MidAmerica Region. They continue to serve as the main staff contacts in their original districts, but can also serve across the region, allowing each to play to their strengths. For example, one UUA field staffperson might specialize in conflict resolution and another could be strong in the area of growth and both are available to all the congregations in the region. The staff are already living in and embracing this new reality.