Fellow Members of the Central Midwest District:

Greetings from your Board of Trustees! We have exciting news to share, which we wanted to send without delay: at our meeting last Saturday, November 12th, we voted unanimously to work collaboratively with the Boards of our adjacent districts--Prairie Star to the west, and Heartland to the east--to create a regional governance entity to replace the three existing districts. The Prairie Star board made the same unanimous decision on the same day, and the Heartland Board did so earlier this fall. Our target date to establish this entity is July 1, 2013, pending a vote on this initiative at our District Assembly in the spring of that year. I’m further pleased to note that all three boards are the first in our denomination to advance this future-oriented proposal.

This initiative is the result of at least three years of consideration by your district board, and almost two years of discussion with leaders in our partnering districts. The decision also follows the recommendation of the combined Executive Committees of the three districts, who met in Chicago last month to discuss possible forms of regional governance. Moreover, those of you who attended our District Assembly in Bloomington, IL, last spring, might recall that the topic of regional collaboration on both the staff and volunteer levels were reviewed at our district business meeting and after, as the Presidents from Prairie Star and Heartland were in attendance to participate in the discussion.

We agree with our sister districts that the creation of a new regional entity is an opportunity to form something more than a geographically larger district. Forming one entity out of three districts allows us to:

  • Allow us to use resources formerly used for governance to support the growth, within existing congregations and beyond, of Unitarian Universalism in our region. This would allow us to be a denominational leader in using technologies virtually unheard of (such as personal computing and wireless technology) at the time of the UUA merger in 1961. Coupled with recent advances through the Internet (like various social media), we in the “MidAmerica” region can advance new collaborations among UU’s within and beyond “bricks and mortar” congregations, as well as to develop creative ways to spread the message of our faith;
  •  “Mirror” the perspectives and reach of our staff, who are now operating out of regional model. Indeed, the Reverend Dr. Ian Evison, our CMwD Congregational Services Director, is now the lead manager for the “MidAmerica” regional UUA staff cohort;
  •  Reduce the cost of governance, as the Central Midwest, Prairie Star, and Heartland policies and decisions were becoming increasingly redundant.

A “Regional Steering Committee,” comprised of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of all three districts, will in early December be detailing the tasks needed to complete this 18-month transition to a regional structure. I can assure you that the Steering Committee will be mindful of “best practices” for financial reporting and for non-profit governance. And the members of all three boards were emphatic that representative governance, borne of the democratic process so valued in congregational polity, must be a hallmark of our new system.

Lastly, all of us on the CMwD Board want to ensure that all of our stakeholders have ways to communicate with us about this process. We’re in the process of developing a Web-based format for this, which will be posted on the websites of all three districts. In the meantime, you can contact me directly at either the phone or e-mail addresses listed below.

Change is rarely easy. Yet our Board joins with the elected leaders of Prairie Star and Heartland in believing the time for this change is upon us. We all share the conviction that regional format will provide the staff with the best available opportunities for supporting congregational health, and that a new board can model responsive and transparent governance. I fervently believe that it will allow us to spread the news of our transformational liberal faith -- grounded in justice, reason and spiritual depth -- effectively to meet the challenges and changes we’ll surely encounter in the 21st Century.

brian-- Warmly, in the Spirit,

The Reverend Brian H. Covell
President, Central Midwest District of the MidAmerica Region of the UUA
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