The UUA, the COA and the next budget

Like others, I got an appeal this morning to address an injustice: that the Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Appraisal’s budget has been cut from $35,000 to $5,000. The appeal came via Facebook group, but since that’s something of a closed ecology — see the doubled-up Hot Stove (ministerial candidacy) reports of late — I didn’t think it was right for blogging. Peter Bowden, though, wrote about this and so now it’s out there.

But I’m still not going to stake an opinion. Why? No budget. (I couldn’t find one with the next UUA Board packet material. Does anyone know a public place it lives?)

And without a budget, and preferably a history of expense, I’m in no position to say that $5,000 is catastrophic. Indeed, as the COA runs on multi-year cycles, perhaps this is a year that can rest fallow, if so much else is at stake.

If, say, there is no staff support for the COA — don’t know if there is, and the appeal didn’t say — then $30,000 saved can be reserved to shore up an endangered staff position. Indeed, we don’t have confirmation that such a cut is a done-deal, a best-case or hypothetical budget exercise.

Without some facts, we get one program fighting another in the arena of public opinion. A bad business — terribly divisive — and something the COA might otherwise warn us to avoid.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. Not to be too snarky, but in my opinion the last really effective Commission on Appraisal happened under the leadership of James Luther Adams, publishing their report to the AUA in 1936. That was, by the way, also the first Commission on Appraisal.

    Where’s JLA when you really need him?

  2. Hi Scott, The future and evolution of the COA is a conversation I’d love our members to have. That’s my interest. Though I wish it wasn’t overshadowed by the issue of whether lobbying on budget issues via Facebook is appropriate.

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