The next UUA president?

The Rev. Daniel O’Connell has reprised his UUA Politics blog with a coy intimation of who he thinks is “only one serious person seriously interested in the UUA President slot” as decided by a coterie of the likely suspects. You can take out the cigars and bring in “the Old Girls” but it doesn’t cure the anti-democratic and anti-transparent toxin of an Old Boy’s Club and backroom politics. (Next to that, who cares about the Annual Program Fund?) We don’t do coronations.

Dancing around the candidate’s identity so maddening. If you don’t already know, he is obviously talking about the Rev. Laurel Hallman, the senior minister of First Unitarian, Dallas. (Don’t expect to find anything on the site; it’s a mess.)

I have great respect for her, and she could well be a great president. But there’s no way I’m giving her a pass. I want to know more about her leadership during the Pathways church start fiasco. New church development is critical for the future health of the UUA, but what had been a low-functioning — but functioning! — arm of the Association has gone moribund in the last few years.  We can’t afford, literally or morally, more of the same or bad ideas buried under platitudes.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Scott – Do you think there’s any hope that someone who cares about addressing UU clergy misconduct will run for a major leadership role? I mean something aside from covering it up or side-stepping – maybe even finding a way to do ministry around this issue?

    I know you blogged about this once a long time ago. At the time, I didn’t have a way I could safely join the conversation, but I was so grateful for your courage when you did.

  2. I hope some of you write something about UU clergy misconduct. (I’m not asking anyone to take a great risk here.)

  3. I am not an American (or a member of a UUA congregation for that matter) and I also knew her name as soon as the word “Texas” was written.

    I don’t think that the race will be uncontested, so I’m eager to know who comes out next.

  4. putting aside the issue of UU or any Clergy misconduct, and back to New Church Development, I attended the UU Eastern Carolinas Cluster meeting, and was pleasantly surprised at most of what the local candidates for UUA board were saying about New Church and Small Congregations development — now of course the proof would be once they get in there, to actually do something……

  5. @StevenR — Not to be too cynical, but I don’t see much hope that anything too exciting will come out of new congregation development. We don’t have a good track record of starting anything but small, financially unsustainable congregations, maybe with the exception of Horizon UU Church in Texas. Part of the problem, if you ask me, is that we require a 3-1/2 professional degree of our ministers, meaning that you need a congregation of, say, 200 active members to pay a minister and still have money left over for building campaigns, support staff, music, religious education, etc. — no wonder so many new congregations avoid hiring a minister and stay small. Yes, it would be nice if the next prez of the UUA made new congregation starts a priority, but I don’t know anyone who has what I consider to be a realistic model for UU church starts so I don’t see much hope.

    @uugrrl — Not to be too cynical, but somehow I just don’t see any candidate for UUA president touching clergy sexual misconduct with a ten foot pole….

  6. I think if a presidential candidate needs our trust, support and votes, we need to do a better job holding him or her accountable and transparent. UUs are better wired in than any denomination I know — the net roots may be terribly important for that presidential election, too.

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