Wednesday, February 04, 2009

UUA Presidency

iMinister came out in support of Peter Morales for president of the UUA months and months ago. She agrees with him that the UUA needs to see, not just a little change, but transformational change if we are to be healthy in this new era. She's sure that our dialogue about diversity has been woefully lacking in Hispanic voices, which Peter would bring, and she loves the energy and commitment to our shared enterprize which he brings to the campaign.

Here's what I mean.

In a candidate's forum, this question was asked.

Imagine five years have passed and imagine that your vision for UUism is fully alive and thriving. What three to five goals have been realized?

Here are their written responses.

Peter Morales ...
The goals that will have been accomplished in five years are intimately interrelated. The guiding vision behind them all is a revitalized Unitarian Universalist movement that transforms lives and that helps to heal the world. In five years we will have a new sense of urgency and excitement across our movement. The following accomplishments are manifestations of living out our mission:

1. We are growing at a rate of three percent per year. Growth is not the goal, it is the measure by which we determine whether we are meeting the fundamental human need for religious community. We are growing because we are doing a better job of welcoming the seeker, retaining our youth, and engaging our existing members. As we grow we are becoming more diverse in terms of race, class and culture. Our growth rate has tripled and is accelerating.

2. We are more engaged in the great moral issues of our time. As a natural outgrowth of a deeper sense of compassion and connection, we are a more powerful force for justice, understanding and environmental stewardship. At the local level, it means that more members of our congregations are involved in social action and public witness. At the Association level, it means that we are building on our tradition of public witness and that we have forged a new partnership with the UUSC on social action.

3. We have developed a strategic vision for ministry and are beginning its implementation. Our strategy for ministry has been developed through consultation with stakeholders. Our strategy is a comprehensive approach that includes recruitment, training, placement, mentoring and development of professional ministry.

4. The UUA staff has a culture of transparency, accountability and effectiveness. As a matter of course we evaluate our programs and our people. We learn from our mistakes. Our staff is more involved in being the means for sharing best practices and innovative ideas across congregations.

5. We are forming strong relationships with groups that share our values. This includes international Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist movements, public policy advocacy groups, the UUSC, and others.

Laurel Hallman's written response:

1. Our children and youth will participate in UU congregations as adults.

2. Our UUA endowment will grow to a sustainable level, and our dependence on its income for operating expenses will diminish.

3. We will wed our religious and theological future to our historical past, and will experience the power of that synergy.

4. The Free Spirit will become a source of inspiration, activism, humility and strength in our association.

5. Our alliances will enlarge our effectiveness in the world.


Lizard Eater said...

Thanks for sharing that. Very interesting.

Kelsey Atherton said...

haha, wow. I remember this time last year when I was judging candidates for another presidency based exclusively on what they themselves said. At the time, friends wondered why I wasn't paying attention to slip-ups or gotchas, and my simple response was that, if we take them directly at face value, we get the best example of how they are different, and what they want to be.

Looking at it like this, Peter Morales is the obvious choice almost to the point of being the only choice. I'm sure Laurel Hallman is a great minister, but given both the simplicity, humbleness, and vagueness of her response, I can't imagine her being anything more than a placeholder for someone with actual vision, and perhaps a desire for the job. I mean, I'm sure she excels in other areas, but just taking what they both said at face value...

Wow. This is interesting.

Robin Edgar said...

Need I point out to Kelsey that taking what U*U religious leaders say at face value is not always all that well advised?

Judy said...

Thanks. Both are coming to my district meeting in a couple of weeks. Now I've more context to frame questions for that encounter.

OD/HR Min said...

Please see my comment at

Kelsey Atherton said...

@Robin Edgar

Taking what anyone says at face value is not always that well advised, and I know that. Still, it's the standard I like to use - candidates are given the same benefit of the doubt, and judged exclusively on how they phrase their own visions, and what those visions entail. It's comparing contrasting best-case scenarios, and it works for me.

Robin Edgar said...

Back @ Kelsey Atherton

Well I am still waiting for UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales to clearly articulate just how he plans to "grow" U*Uism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" he acknowledges that it is today in his "stump speech" into "the religion of our time" (as per his campaign slogan) within *our* time, let's say 25 years at the outside. . . I asked him to do so over six months ago on his moribund 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog but, so far, Rev. Morales has failed or refused to do so.

BTW What do you make of the "face value" of these rather questionable words of Rev. Peter Morales from his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for UUA President?

"We live in dark times, times filled with hatred, injustice, prejudice, ignorance. Sadly, obsolete religions created for another time contribute to the darkness."

Amy Zucker Morgenstern said...

i don't think taking just any short passage is always revealing. Comparing these two answers. Laurel looks vague. But perhaps she simply chose to go with the concise, one-line version; they could easily have chosen opposite approaches and Peter would have looked vague, Laurel visionary. They didn't see each other's responses until they'd sent their own in--not like a debate, where the speakers can match their level of detail to each other's. I don't read too much into these particular two passages.

But looking at the passage Robin finds so troubling, I see nothing to trouble me at all. Quite the opposite--I'm inspired by his calling powers of darkness what they are. Where I live, it's very clear that religions that don't grasp the idea of religious freedom will work very hard and spend a lot of money to deny others freedom and justice. Thank you, Peter, for noticing and caring.

Robin Edgar said...

The problem with Rev. Peter Morales' questionable statement is that, besides writing off Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and any number of other world religions (except U*Uism of course. . .) as "obsolete religions, created for another time." Rev. Morales' assertion suggests that these allegedly "obsolete religions" are only good for contributing to "the darkness" of hatred, injustice, prejudice, ignorance; whereas Unitarian*Universalism does nothing of the sort. It is very thinly veiled anti-religious intolerance AFAIAC, and it is presented in the context of boostering U*Uism as "the religion of our time" by putting down most if not all other world religions. How is it possible that you missed that Amy and/or are not troubled by it at all?