November 12, 2011 marks a historic day for Prairie Star District. We took the first step toward building a governance structure for the 21st Century; one that leads a thriving, future-oriented religious organization. At our meeting, the PSD Board unanimously voted to work collaboratively with the Boards of the Central Midwest District and Heartland District to create a regional governance entity to replace the three individual districts. Our three boards are the first in the UUA to make this bold and creative proposal.
Creation of a new regional entity is an opportunity to form something more than a geographically larger district. The Board believes that by collaborating with our partner districts to the east, we can accomplish more than any one district can do by working alone. A regional entity, with one governance Board rather than three separate district boards as we have now, will also free more of our funds for programming.
The new regional governance structure will be on the agenda for approval by PSD Delegates at our 2013 Business Meeting. This gives us nearly 18 months for study, planning, congregational feedback, and communications. We will need to create entirely new regionally-oriented, processes for visioning, accountability, fiduciary responsibility, and communication.
I’m sure you have questions about how this transition will impact you and your congregation. I’ll try to address some of these in this letter.
Our capable staff will continue to serve you, with the benefit of additional resources from our partner districts. There will be six Field Staff, including our new regional Youth and Young Adult Coordinator. Each of these staff experts has talents and abilities that complement each other. Our congregations will continue to be well served.
Our PSD Annual Conferences have been scheduled and locations chosen through April 2014. There are no plans to discontinue our Annual Conferences. The Annual Conference planning committees continue to work hard to make these events successful. Our conferences are valued by attendees, and they pay for themselves. If we move to a regional entity, the Annual Conferences can still continue as they have, minus the Business Meeting.
Your PSD Board is committed to maintaining UniStar as a UU camp. We have charged our Enterprise Management Group with researching options for ownership of the camp if we move to regional governance. The EMG, consisting of representatives of the Board and the Unistar Management Committee, will make its recommendation to the Board in April 2012. A workshop at the 2012 Annual Conference will provide your first opportunity to hear the EMG report, and provide feedback. The Board, in consultation with the EMG and the UniStar Management Committee, will establish a process for hearing from the UniStar community following the Annual Meeting. Delegates will vote on the status of the Camp along with other proposals relating to regionalization in April 2013. Camp StarTrail will continue to be an offering, as long as there is sufficient interest.
There are no plans to make any staffing changes at this time. Our Field Staff (Nancy Heege and Rev. Phillip Lund) are already working as part of the MidAmerica Regional Staff, with primary responsibilities for serving the congregations of the Prairie Star District.
We don’t know yet. There is a lot of work to be done to create our new regional organization. We’ll need to write bylaws, determine governance style, etc. We’ll have to develop financial plans and determine how to transition financial assets. There will be a Steering Committee made up of the Presidents and Vice Presidents of each district. Dave Martin, our Vice President, and I will join Rev. Brian Covell and Nancy Armstrong of Central Midwest District, and Amy Taylor and Kathy Silver of Heartland District as members of the Steering Committee. The three district Treasurers will work together to resolve financial and budget issues. Bill Elwood from PSD will team with Warren Thom of Central Midwest District and Rae Jane Araujo of Heartland District.
If you are on the PSD newsletter list, you’ll get updates sent directly to your inbox. Please be sure we have your current email address. Information will also be posted on our website and Facebook page. From time to time, we may sponsor webinars, so that we can hear from you about more specific proposals. You’ll learn about those through emails, the website, or Facebook. Maybe I’ll even learn to tweet? We’ll also have a workshop at our 2012 Annual Conference to update you on the transition work.
We need you to be an informed delegate to our Business Meetings. Please read materials that are sent to you, ask questions, and participate in webinars when offered. We also need your congregation’s continued Fair Share contributions. It takes money to provide the services you have come to expect from the District. If your congregation is not Fair Share, considering becoming a Fair Share congregation this year.
Please email me regarding governance issues discussed above. Comments about PSD programming and service issues should be directed to Nancy Heege.
We are embarking on an exciting journey. I look forward to making the journey with you. I know I can speak for the PSD Board in pledging to communicate fully, openly, and often as we move forward.
Peace and blessings,
Kathy Burek -- President, Prairie Star District