Therefore, I didn't attend any conversations about the Theological Schools' relationships to the UUA. However, they were the largest and longest conversations and they apparently bore considerable fruit. I want to share with you my sense of what happened there, mostly from the notes taken, but also from conversations at breaks.
The first conversation began, I gather, with an appreciative inquiry approach...what's right between the schools and the UUA? Among the comments:
There is good partnership between UUA staff and schools in curriculum development, there is some financial sponsorship of schools through the Pannel on Theological Education, there is coordination between Fund raisers at UUA and the schools in approaching large donors, and there is a good relationship between the UUA and at least some non-UU theological schools.
Perceived problems have been, among others,
There's a lot of painful history to get over.
- The realtionships between schools, UUA, and funding sources don't seem "natural".
- UU students are aware that their denomination is not supporting them at the same level that other denominations support their students.
- The schools feel that the UUA has mandated that they be very engaged in Anti-Racism etc. work but they have not always felt supported when they had resistance to doing that.
- There's a gap between the schools (uu and non uu) and the needs and understanding of congregations.
- The assembled group wanted to be partners, not competetors in the process, to create
- more UU scholars (Ph.D students),
- to have a bigger "pie" of financial support to divide up,
- and to have more exciting and creative conversations about ministerial preparation.
Three areas for continuing work were Accountability, leadership needs, and "the pie."