March 15, 2016
Since Regional Assembly 2015, our MidAmerica Board has worked diligently to serve our congregations, our Region, our Association, and our larger movement! We have met face-to-face in May, September, and November, and have met by conference call or computer meeting in August, October, January, February, March, and April. We have another face-to-face meeting scheduled in May, 2016. Detailed reports of our formal business meetings are available on the Governance page of the MidAmerica Region website (www.midamericauua.org/governance).
We also do a lot of work outside of our board meetings. Our main charge as a board is to represent MidAmerica's congregations and other Unitarian Universalist groups, and to help ensure that the resources of MidAmerica are directed toward the most important needs and opportunities present within our Region. In order to do that, it is important that we make connection with those groups within MidAmerica, and engage in conversation with them, so that we can hear what is most important to the entities that make up our Region. This past year we have used several different ways to do this. We reviewed the results of an online survey of leaders in all congregations conducted in Summer, 2015, and in the Fall of 2015 individual board members conducted a series of phone conversations with congregational leaders, leaders of UU professional groups, and state advocacy network leaders. In addition, each time the MidAmerica Board meets face-to-face, about three times a year, we make it a point to connect with the congregations in the area of our meeting. We will continue to look for additional ways we can make connections and engage with as many of you as possible.
These conversations, and the information that comes from them, are important in helping to knit the geographic expanse of the MidAmerica Region into a whole. We also use them to attempt to identify the most significant needs and challenges that our congregations and other groups face. We then share this information, in our role as MidAmerica Regional Advisory Council, with our MidAmerica Staff Team and with Rev. Scott Tayler, UUA Director of Congregational Life (DCL). The Regional Advisory Council is a formal structure in which we collaborate with MidAmerica staff and the DCL to develop objectives and assess our success in achieving them. As part of our November meeting, we met with MidAmerica staff and the DCL to discuss future staff objectives in relation to the needs and opportunities that we heard in our outreach efforts. Next month, the DCL will again meet with us, as we review the progress made towards this year's objectives, and identify opportunities for further development of our MidAmerica staff team. To date, our work as a Regional Advisory Council has been an important embodiment of our governance function, and we have served as a model for other regional advisory councils.
We continue to explore what regional governance looks like, and we are committed to development of our understanding and skills of governance, as well as our individual and collective intercultural competencies, and our understanding of the relationship between the responsibilities of the Board and those of the Staff.
Last April, at our Regional Assembly, delegates voted to engage in a regional visioning process called the Learning Network Covenant (LNC). Since that time, the board has appointed a task force to craft the implementation of this process. That task force has been meeting since last Fall, and you have been given a report of their progress, which is in your delegate packet and available on the governance page of the MidAmerica website. You will be hearing more from the task force over the coming year. I look forward to seeing how we discover together what Unitarian Universalism looks like in the MidAmerica Region.
So much of the work that MidAmerica does -- that of the Staff as well as that of the Board -- is made possible by the very significant financial support that we receive from our congregations. On behalf of the MidAmerica Board, I thank you and your congregation for its contribution to MidAmerica. I thank all of our full-share congregations, and if your congregation has not made that level of contribution, I ask you to encourage them to do so. On behalf of the MidAmerica Region Board and staff, I would also like to thank those of you that contribute as “Friends of MidAmerica.” If you are not a member of “Friends of MidAmerica,” I urge you to consider it as a way to contribute to the Region as an individual. We continue to look for new ways to engage in stewardship, and you will hear about some of them at this year’s Regional Assembly.
In June, our Treasurer, Tom Sommerfeld, and Trustee, Dave Martin, will finish their terms on our Board. Tom’s steady presence and considered counsel will be sorely missed. We will miss his musical gifts even more. At our face-to-face board meetings, Tom could always be counted on to lift our attempts at singing a hymn into something approaching music. Prior to his time on the MidAmerica Board, Dave served on the Prairie Star District board as vice-president and was part of the team that worked on the transition to the MidAmerica Region, He also is the last member of the board who was part of that transition. Dave has been a tireless worker as a board member. I am extremely grateful for his willingness to join a work group, or volunteer to do some research. In addition, both Tom and Dave have my gratitude because they were part of the first MidAmerica Region Board, and as such, have helped craft that body as we now know it. Thank you both for your service to the Region, and to Unitarian Universalism.
Also in December 2015, one of our longest-serving MidAmerica Congregational Life staff, Nancy Heege, retired after many years of service, first in the Prairie Star District, and then the MidAmerica Region. Her calm, steady presence, and organizational skills have been invaluable to the board, her colleagues, and our Region. We are all better at what we do, after having worked with Nancy. She will truly be missed! Please join us in celebrating her years of dedication and service!
As I thank those completing service, I also want to convey my gratitude to those who continue on our Board, to the staff who serve us, to the candidates willing to step forward to serve, and to our Nominating Committee who have identified a wonderful set of candidates to lead us in the years to come. Please join me in thanking all of these folks when you meet them in the hallway at Regional Assembly!
Finally, as I finish my first year of a three year term as president, I would like to thank you for the privilege and honor of serving in this role, and for all the work that you and your congregations do to make our MidAmerica Region what it is.
In gratitude, (signed) Eric Huffer
President, MidAmerica Region, UUA