Observations on “Delegates for UUA Board Forum” June 8

As one of your delegates to GA, I wanted to update you on the Delegates for UUA Board Forum that was held June 8 in the evening. I was only able to stay for an hour, but even within that hour was able to get a perception on the 4 different candidates, 2 who had been selected and supported by the UUA Nominating Committee and 2 who are running based on petition. The following is my perception of the candidates, yours may be different.

When I left the forum there were 378 viewers. Although we had been encouraged to post questions ahead of time, it was acknowledged that many questions were grouped together and that some questions sent in would simply not have time to be answered. Three questions that I posed were: 1) It is very exciting to have two candidates for a position. How do you think all positions for board positions could have at least two candidates? 2) What are your ideas for supporting changing systematic methods which inadvertently or deliberately promote the concept of racism, elitism and economic disparity within the UUA, that allows everyone to feel welcome, both those who have been UUs for generations as well as newcomers? 3) Do you believe in congregational polity and do you believe it should continue? Why or why not? These questions were not directly answered while I was present, whether they were later or the commentator felt they were somehow included in other questions I do not know.

These were the four candidates. Rev. Justine Sullivan, seemed be trying to walk a fine line of saying people should be accepted, “as they are”, be inclusive, is a former Social Worker who feels it is important to maintain professional boundaries and standards. Also supporting the need for the UUA to “look inward, where we have fallen short, and to decenter voices that have had privilege”.

She appeared to want to make sure people knew she was in line with Rev. Suzanne Fast, who currently is on the UUA Board and reminded the audience of this many times. Unlike the other candidates who all commented on the importance of maintaining a relationship with the congregations, Rev. Fast feels the most important relationship is between the UUA Staff and Board.

Rebecca Mattis is the only lay person running and the only one who has had political experience outside of UU institutions. She is very focused on making room for all voices, and wants to “bolster democracy and freedom of conscious”. She feels very strongly about maintaining congregational polity, and would like to restore the district representatives as she feels this would foster better communication and relations between congregations and the UUA board. She feels that her own personal integrity and wanting to listen and live by the 7 Principles is what helps her the most.

The fourth candidate was Rev. Beverly Seese, who although is also interested more in maintaining the founding principles and practices that created our liberal religion, comes across stronger in going out and doing social justice advocacy rather than sitting on a board and discussing policies.

The questions were interesting, starting off with one on lines of communication and relationships connected with being on the board and which would be prioritize, to accountability and professional organizations, to one where different historical UU or prior to UU events and how would the candidates have reacted (I knew more about one than the candidates because of Eric Shuman), to where do you see UU in 50 years, to the last question where then I had to leave before hearing all the answers. What disturbed me about this question was how it was worded and seemingly unnecessarily calling out a comment Rev. Seese had made in a previous forum.

The actual question was essentially what is the candidates definition of someone being a “right fit for UU”. Apparently so many people had posed questions regarding what Rev. Seese said that the commentators felt it was necessary to ask this question. But the question could have been asked without pointing out what Rev. Seese had commented on. She had commented that if there were people who did feel comfortable with the way UU is set up now, she would be happy to help them create their own “denomination” (that is my word not hers). Anyway, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth regarding how the facilitators of the forum had chosen to run it, and I wish I would have been able to have seen the rest to see if they turned it around in a more positive, neutral manner. Well, that is all for now. Thanks for reading. Until next time, Sara Pickett – UUCS GA Delegate