So, I take it from the lacuna in the online UU World article about which independent affiliate organizations were approved that the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship was not. (I have it on good authority that the other Christian organization, The Magi Network, did not apply for renewal from the concern that it would not be approved: well founded I think.)
Anyone else have any information? And now that these organizations are really independent, what new kind of contribution will they make?
But much to my suprise, Universalist Convocations was approved. Which may not be entirely healthy. Many in that organization overly crave official “Independent Affiliate” status because they see it as an endorsement that makes Convocation “officially” UU and thus legitimate. I think it perhaps would be better to be your best self, without ever worrying about Beacon Street’s approval. In my opinion Convocation’s legitimacy is based on what it does, not based upon who outside Convocation approves of the organization.
Well, at least the decisions are internally consistent (not that this was a worry) as Universalist Convocations is a meta-congregational organization.
Not sure how DRUUM fits, with respect to “all about congregations” but I’ll be glad to hear.
My understanding is that the board did not approve the other applicants — including the UUCF — but that it’s trying to urge organizations to stay in conversation about the form of affiliation that would make the most sense for them and for the Association. “Did not approve” is certainly true, but I get the impression that the board is looking for some new forms of affiliation to emerge (or for revised applications).
I asked one of the HUUmanists leaders at GA about their plans, and he said that a recent bequest might blunt the financial impact of the board’s decision. They may simply continue to do outreach at GA without the discounted imprimatur of the board and without spending too much time and energy trying to coordinate with other organizations to meet the board’s new criteria.
Some former affiliates are being urged to affiliate directly with departments of the UUA, professional organizations, districts, or other bodies. Since several of the financial benefits of affiliate status aren’t actually determined by the board directly (like exhibit hall rates and magazine ad rates), some form of recognized relationship with these other bodies might serve a similar purpose. The adult programs director from the Lifespan Faith Development staff group attended the networking meeting with the theological groups; I’d think conversation with her — and with the UUMA and perhaps even with the board’s own Panel on Theological Education — makes sense.
Isn’t this the same board that made a point of telling affiliates — in so many words — that “you knew this was coming”?
I seriously doubt that grand coalitions will emerge, apart from the camps which already have a coordinating body, since the ties would be artificial. Do any of us seriously think the Buddhists, Christians, Humanists and Pagans will coordinate? And if the social cause-based ones haven’t already, why now?
Also, coalitions and multi-lateral affiliations are surely more complex and unwieldy, not less.
I think the Humanists have it right: suck up the extra cost and keep going independently. And the Board is going to have to live with its decision, too.
Sure, I’d hope the UUCF stays focused on its mission, and there were no indications in the networking session at GA that the Buddhists, Christians, Humanists, or UU Jews see any value in forming an umbrella organization. (CUUPs and the Psi Symposium did express interest in a consortium of some sort.)
But the board’s line seems to be that it is not in a position to assess the merits of all the different organizations, and suggested that maybe other forms of affiliation could work better for different groups. That’s where I hope the UUCF — as a resource-generating, scholarship-supporting, faith-development, and ministerial support organization–might look for ways to connect, or lobby for recognition.
Then again, you may be right that it’s simply time to focus entirely on mission.
This discussion is so helpful to me. Thank you for making it accessible to those of us not involved in UU leadership.
My expectation is that the “grand coalition” will happen, but it will be structured as a joint project of independent organizations that continue to independently exist. While historically there’ve been ties between CUUPS and Psi Symposium as well as UUFETA – there’s also quite a few CUUPS members getting interested in apply what some UUCF’ers are doing as part of the emergent, organic congregational movement.
One thing the UUA was fairly clear on (if they can be said to be clear on ANYTHING in this mess) is that the former IAs could continue to exist, even if they weren’t IAs anymore. The UUA Board understands this, the IA boards are beginning to understand this – now we just have to get the membership(s) and congregations to understand this, and a lot of the unnecessary angst will be out of the conversation.
(Non-related note: Post-GA I was inspired to start a religion-related blog – I’ve included it as my “website” link. -dp)
What some of us on the UUCF board are worried about is…….since the UUA board is deciding whether an “affiliate” is really an affiliate…..do they also get to decide who can use the name ‘Unitarian Universalist’? Which is where this could all lead.
@ Kim. To lawyers, if your fear is realized, but my money wouldn’t be with the UUA should it try.
@ David. I think that the “disaffiliates” — at least the stronger ones — would have to realize they are sui generis if for no other reason than they’ve been raising their own funds for a generations.
I don’t believe there’s a move afoot to try to restrict access to the name “Unitarian Universalist.” (The UUA doesn’t own the phrase. Its lawsuit against what was then called the American Unitarian Association had to do with another organization adopting the name of one of the UUA’s legal predecessors.)
I also don’t get the impression from my conversations with trustees that the change in affiliation rules is intended in any way to cut off, disparage, or delegitimize the work of groups like the UUCF. I’m not at all surprised that people have reacted to the news that way, but I don’t think that’s the board’s intent.
I don’t think it’s the UUA board’s intent right now to restrict access and use of the name Unitarian Universalist in other organizations titles. But intent right now does not equal future intent. A future board could easily decide that only the UUA and its affiliates can use the name Unitarian Universalist.
While that situation might seem unlikely, it is possible; and would cause a myriad of legal problems for organizations that have carried the name as long, if not longer, than the UUA. (excuse this little rant…..I wanted to go to law school in my previous life)
That would be one quixotic board initiative. I’d recommend throwing a hyphen in to throw the lawyers off the scent. “No, we’re not Unitarian Universalists; we’re a Unitarian-Universalist group!”
Maybe the Universalists could take the upper hand and be “Universalist Unitarians”!
I’m new here. But as interim minister at a congregation that is the epicenter for the UUPA (UUs for Polyamory Awareness), I’m aware of some of the dangers of any and every group being able to use UU in its name. I’m also aware, since Interweave has both been very much co-opted as an advocate for UUPA, and has a very troublesome ex-member (still very active in the congregation despite her resignation) as its chair, that affiliate groups can cause real problems in congregations. Some congregations have had real problems with CUUPS groups, too.
In the case of Interweave at least, and probably CUUPS as well, it seems that all the obligations run from the congregation to the group, and that none run from the group to the congregation.
Where I am now, the CUUPS leadership sees one part of its role as moving participants into active membership in the congregation, and lets people know that “Christian-bashing” is unacceptable. But I think this CUUPS chapter is the exception rather than the rule.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I doubt that UUCF groups have been disruptive to congregations, while I suspect that many CUUPS groups have been disruptive–in a similar way, maybe to the UUPA, in that they may engage in a sort of “in your face” ritual or practice or advocacy that many congregations don’t want to be associated with .