ian2012Dori2011-smThe past two years have been a momentous time for the three districts of our MidAmerica Region. Last year (2011-2012) we began developing a joint administrative and program structure that will allow us to serve you in new ways even as it reduces costs and frees resources for new endeavors. This year (2012-2013) the boards of our three districts have taken the lead in creating a proposal for a regional governance structure led by a new regional board. Now at this assembly, you, the delegates to our Central MidWest District Assembly, make the crucial decision of whether to endorse this proposal.

We commend our CMwD board along with the boards of the Heartland and Prairie Star Districts in their deep and thoughtful work on every detail of this proposal, on their careful communication with you as it developed, and on integrating many rounds of your suggestions into the proposal. The work of our boards in this region is something for us to be proud of and has set a very high standard for other regions.; The result is that—if the proposal is approved by our three districts—you will have an exceptionally capable structure with which to work with our staff in envisioning how we together can act most effectively, both locally in our region and for the larger purposes of our association, as you hold us accountable for our part in that work. We on the staff endorse this proposal and look forward to working with the new regional board.

This proposal for working as a regional arises out of the same questions every congregation must wrestle with of focus on mission, sustainability, and agile response to shifting needs.; We all need to create structures which empower and which do the best job of both focusing and freeing energy for support of crucial work. We write this report as the Supreme Court considers two important cases bearing on marriage equality and so are reminded of the many issues facing us in our work in the world as we stand, not only in our congregations but also in our region—together--on the Side of Love.

The challenge for us this year has been to continue to serve you even as we worked to create new frameworks. We thank you for both the massive support you have given us in this and the patience and understanding you have shown when we have been slower than usual in responding to your requests. We look forward to getting beyond this time of structural preoccupation and getting back to what we love, working with you, in new ways and old, face-to-face and online.
It is an honor to serve you. We thank you for all you are contributing to creating our new ways of working.


Ian and Dori
District Administration

Peggy BoccardIt's Coming! Besides the usual tasks managing financial, regulatory and corporate requirements for the District, the big focus this past year has been on moving toward consolidating administrations of the three districts in the MidAmerica area into a single working group. 

Preliminary organizational work has been done (see the article on the Deep Generalists by Nancy Heege explaining the new operations).  In addition, in the new organization there will be a full-time Regional Administrator I, Sarah Greene, now District Administrator at Prairie Star District; a half-time Regional Administrator II, Peggy, now District Administrator at Central Midwest District; and in charge of coordinating all technical issues, Gretchen, who is doing the job now.  We are in the process of working out specifics of the operations even now.  We've begun work on a consolidated accounting Chart of Accounts; vehicles for regular Communications with you, our constituent congregations; what kind and how we'll be holding large meetings (district assemblies, a regional assembly, area assemblies - All to be worked out.)

In the meantime, please be making plans to have full representation for your congregation at this year's District Assembly as we will be voting on whether to consolidate not just administrative operations, but the organizational existence of the Central Midwest District, the Prairie Star District to our west and Heartland District to our east into a new and vibrant MidAmerica Region.  We'll be meeting April 26 to 28 at the Marriott Milwaukee West in Waukesha WI.  Check out the DA page HERE


District Administrator


Gretchen-2013The single largest change this year was the establishment of a new position of Tech Coordinator for the MidAmerica Region. I applied for and got the new job. As of July first the Tech coordinator became responsible for the websites and online programs of the Heartland and Prairie Star districts along with CMwD. The nascent MidAmericaUUA.org website quickly became more active.

Event registration has been a large area of focus, as we began to add Webinars and other smaller events to the online system on the MidAmerica site. So far we've also managed to switch two of the three District Assemblies to that system.

Collaborating with the three District Administrators, we've also worked on consolidating the District online calendars and establishing a central spot for committee, board and staff communications about the Regionalization process.

If it seems that things have been proceeding a bit piecemeal, they have. Once we began the process we determined that changing systems one block at a time allowed us to assimilate the new features in manageable chunks.

Changes and improvements are being made as we go along, and will probably continue for another year as we all adjust to new ways of working together to serve congregations.


Technology Coordinator, MidAmerica Region UUA


 As approved by CMwD Board 2/2/2013   sub total   MidAmerica Total   CMWD Fallback   HL Fallback   PSD Fallback 
 Congregational Contributions  666,333   291,879 167,900 206,563
 Discount  (175,392)  (78,805) (47,012) (49,575)
 Net   490,941          490,941   213,065 120,888 156,988
 UUA Grants                79,560        30,600    22,440     26,520
 Program Registration Fees                61,600
 Lifespan Religious Ed           7,000            3,080       1,750        2,170
 OWL            8,500           3,740        2,125        2,635
 Youth MidWest Leadership      15,000            6,600     3,750       4,650
 Youth Ministry Events          4,700           2,068       1,175        1,457
 Young Adult Ministry Events          4,000           1,760       1,000        1,240
 Regional Assemblies        7,400 3,000   12,000       1,400
 Trainings          5,000          2,000    2,000      2,000
 Camp Star Trail     10,000    10,000
 Congregational Consulting                  7,300           3,600       2,700       1,000
 Investment Income           19,000     5,000      2,000    12,000
 Grant: MUUC/MUUF            83,274     32,640 22,440   28,194
 Fundraising          17,000      5,000 2,000  10,000
 Chalice Lighter           60,000      23,000  15,000 22,000
 Social Justice Fund                       300         300
 Miscellaneous               1,540            40     1,500
 Transfer from Dedicated                3,200        800  2,400
 Total Income      823,715 335,153 212,108 286,454
 General and Office Expenses           8,700    4,650 3,115    16,900
 Equipment and Leases           10,750    1,000 5,050  3,300
 Insurance         4,000        1,700 1,500  2,800
 Communications          24,550    7,975 5,300 5,875
 Contracted & Other Services          9,400    5,600  1,800   2,500
 Administrative Projects                    600      600
 Board & Governance Exp.        21,800   5,800 7,200   9,400
 Stewardship Expenses       6,100      2,450 1,800 1,900
 Chalice Lighter     55,850 21,200 13,800 20,850
 Social Justice Fund      300 300
 Regional Staffing Costs  175,508 77,223 43,877 54,408
 Regional Staff Prof. Exp.  7,000      3,080 1,750 2,170
 Cofunded Staffing Costs  297,830 131,045 74,458 92,327
 Cofunded Staff Prof. Exp & Travel  72,000 31,680 18,000 22,320
 Payroll Expenses  12,172 5,356 3,043 3,773
 Contractor Expenses  7,500 3,600 7,000 1,750
 Regional Workshops/Programs  87,300 38,412 21,825 27,063
 Youth MWLS  17,500
 Youth  7,500
 Young Adult  8,000
 Lifespan RE  7,900
 OWL  10,400
 Regional Assembly  15,000 3,000 8,000 1,400
 Workshops  5,000 2,000 2,000
 Camp Star Tral  10,000
 New Initiatives  2,000
 Social Justice  1,000
 Intercultural  1,000
 Faith Development  2,000
 Background Checks      300  50
 Scholarships  3,000 1,320 1,250 930
 Youth MWLS  3,000
 Adult MWLS  1,200
 Transition Support  10,500 4,620 2,625 3,255
 Program Support & Resources  6,250
 Faith Development  1,000 700
 Young Adult Ministry  2,400 3,000 500 1,000
 Youth Ministry  2,500 2,000 1,000
 New Initiatives  100
 MOD Squad  50
 Stone Tree  350 700
 Total Expenses  821,410 356,061 226,643 276,521
 Total Income  823,715 335,153 212,108 286,454
 Net  2,305 (20,908) (14,535) 9,933
 In addition to the above amounts, the UUA contributes a further $280,362 toward cofunded staff salaries and benefits 

mwlsMidWest Leadership School (MWLS) is a cooperative undertaking of the Prairie Star (PS), Central Midwest (CMWD) and Heartland Districts (HD) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).  It is officially sponsored by the Central Midwest District (CMWD).

MWLS Mission Statement
The mission of MWLS is to develop leadership skills, framed by the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism, of members of congregations, and seminary students not yet in Candidate Status, within the three sponsoring districts.

MWLS Leadership Definition
“Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.”
[Rost, Joseph (1992). Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praeger.]

MWLS Finances and Authorization
MWLS is a self-supporting, self-managed, non-profit training organization, sponsored by CMWD, in collaboration with PS, and HD of the UUA.  It is one of several UUA leadership training entities.  MWLS Staff include lay personnel, ordained ministers, and representatives of the three sponsoring UUA districts.  On an annual basis, staff set tuition and fees for participation, approve a budget, and contract for services required to operate the training experience.  Staff members are responsible for marketing and recruitment of participants.  Staff select officers and define roles needed to operate MWLS.  Staff meet as needed (at least quarterly), to plan future MWLS training institutes and evaluate previous training institutes.  Operation of MWLS is governed by policies contained in the MWLS Staff Handbook.  

MWLS Goals and Objectives
Members of the MWLS staff endeavor to create a stimulating and safe environment in which personal boundaries are respected, and participants can share their personal religious paths, challenging themselves and others to experience spiritual growth. Participants attending MWLS can expect to increase their understanding of how their faith informs their active participation in congregational life, developing personal, interpersonal and organizational skills.  During a one-week intensive learning experience, MWLS offers programming and resources that:
• enable participants to utilize skills in creating and strengthening shared ministries;
• develop skills in communication, organizational development, leadership, conflict management, decision making, implementation, and evaluation;
• encourage a sense of connectedness among Unitarian Universalists;
• build trust in group processes and dynamics;
• impart knowledge of and appreciation for Unitarian Universalist history and theological issues;
• encourage a sense of denominational awareness;
• develop skills in working effectively with boards of trustees and committees; and
• encourage exploration of issues of personal spiritual growth.

2012 MWLS
MWLS served 36 students from across the Midwest in July 2012.  Districts were comparably represented with CMD = 14, Heartland = 9, and PSD = 13. The session commenced on Sunday afternoon, and closed the following Saturday at noon.  

Sessions covered the gamut of topics on leadership, working in organizations, small group dynamics, organizational change, and so forth.  Significant time was spent exploring the origin and history of the Unitarian Universalist community and its theology and culture.  Each participant was involved in a variety of small group activities.   In addition to education on the meaning and preparation of worship, participants were involved in eleven worship service experiences during the week.  
Participants worked in six OD groups to expand their organizational and leadership skills, seven Credo groups to share and clarify personal and spiritual values, and nine worship groups (in participation with Youth School members) to better understand the worship experience by preparing and delivering a worship service.

Professional Staff Members
REV. DAVID BREEDEN, History and Theology Presenter, is minister at Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship, Bloomington, Minnesota.  
REV. IAN EVISON, Organizational Development and Leadership Presenter, is Congregational Services Director for the Central MidWest District.
REV. RENEE RUCHOTZKE, Organizational Development and Leadership Presenter, is Regional Consultant for Leadership Development for Central East Regional Group.
REV. LISA PRESLEY, Chaplain, is District Executive for the Heartland District.

Lay Staff Members
DAVE BECKER, School Chair and Group Facilitator, is a third year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship in DeKalb, Illinois.
SYLVIA CRESWELL, Registrar and Group Facilitator, is a third year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship in Topeka, Kansas.
JIM LAUGHLIN, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a third year staff member and member of the UU Society of Iowa City, Iowa.
JENNIFER HUNDLEY BATTS, School Dean and Group Facilitator, is a second year staff member and member of UU Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
REBECCA GANT, Treasurer and Group Facilitator, is a second year staff member and member of the Unitarian Church of Lawrence, Kansas.  
RYAN THOMAS, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a second year staff member and UU Church of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
SHANNON VAN LANDINGAM, Bookstore Coordinator and Group Facilitator, is a first year staff member and member of the Unitarian Church of Lawrence, Kansas.  
MARIA WILSON, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a first year staff member and member of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha, Nebraska.
ROB KOCH, Assistant Treasurer and Group Facilitator, is a first year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas.

Collaboration with Youth Leadership School
In 2009, the Youth Leadership School was initiated to provide a Midwest Leadership School to high school age youth.  Housed in separate facilities at Beloit College, collaboration between the Adult and Youth schools has involved shared participation in and preparation of worship services.  

Comments from MWLS Participants
“It is my congregation’s tradition to send the President-elect. I’m hoping to help increase the number attending dramatically”.
“ As an extrovert, I learned a tremendous amount about working with introverts without overwhelming them. My congregation thanks you.”
“MWLS was a profound and moving experience which deepened my faith commitment, my understanding of our faith, and my intention and capacity for spiritual growth”.
“MWLS was a transformative experience for me. As rewarding and interesting as the academic aspect of it was, the spiritual aspect of it was unparalleled in my life. I have rarely formed so many deep, cherished connections with so many people so quickly, and feel powerfully blessed that it was within a religious tradition and community”.
“MWLS has reinforced my desire to serve my congregation as well as continue outreach with other UU congregations”.

Jennifer Hundley Batts

MWLS 2013 Dean

The Nominating Committee of the MidAmerica Region has proposed the following individuals for election to the MidAmerica Board of Trustees and MidAmerica Nominating Committee.

Board of Trustees

The Rev. Bill Sasso, President, two year term, expiring 2015

Bill Sasso 2013Rev. Bill Sasso currently serves as President of the Central Midwest District, and has served on the CMwDBoard since April, 2011. A graduate of Meadville/Lombard Theological School, he retired from congregational ministry inJune, 2012,after serving as Minister of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship for 13 years. During that time, Bill also served as Vice-President of the CMwD UUMA Chapter, and as President of the Carbondale Interfaith Council. Bill and his family reside in Carbondale, Illinois.

Charlotte Preston, Vice President, two year term, expiring 2015

Charlotte Preston ThumbnailCharlotte Preston joined the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church (Mahtomedi, Minnesota) in 1993. She has served on its Board of Directors and was its President when it became a mid-sized congregation. As a lay leader, she has focused on outreach – serving as a point of contact for the press and launching WBUUC’s Facebook page, for which she is a site administrator. As a member of the Prairie Star District Board, Charlotte has been chair of Linchpin, an effort devoted to communication about regionalization. Professionally, Charlotte owns a small business which operates in the context of the global jewelry industry, via trade shows, group management, and private clients. Charlotte and Mary, partnered since 1984, have a young adult son who lives and works in Minneapolis.

Eric Huffer, Secretary, three year term, expiring 2016

Eric Huffer ThumbnailI am very excited to be a candidate for Secretary of the Mid-America Region Board. I hope to be able to serve our vibrant and amazing collection of congregations, as we continue to work to be that beacon of love and justice in the world. I have been in a number of leadership roles in my current church home, Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington, where I have served as President for two terms, plus another two years as a Board member. I have chaired our Worship Associates Committee and Nominating Committee, as well as led and facilitated our covenant groups for a year. I am currently serving on the Heartland District Nominating Committee. I have been a delegate at numerous Heartland and General Assemblies, and have been a covenant group facilitator at two GA’s. As a result of my covenant group facilitation experience, I value listening and tend to work to facilitate discussion when in a meeting. I think this has served as a useful trait in any of the positions I have held, and believe it would be an asset in my service on the Board. Thank you for this opportunity to serve our Region.

Tom Sommerfeld, Treasurer, three year term, expiring 2016

Tom Sommerfeld ThumbnailTom Sommerfeld was born in Ann Arbor, MI, in July of 1948. He grew up in Ann Arbor; Stillwater, OK; and Chapel Hill, NC. Following high school, Tom returned to Ann Arbor where, in 1974, earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and met his wife, Elinore, who has been his life partner for nearly 40 years.

Tom retired from a career as a data communications specialist with the Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago in January 2000, and has been a “professional volunteer” ever since. Since moving from suburban Chicago to the Northwoods of Wisconsin in 2003, Tom has been a volunteer on-air program host on WXPR, the local Public Radio station; board member and treasurer of a local performing arts group; a volunteer at the local public library; and a poll worker for elections.

After years of being un-churched, Tom and his wife, Elinore, discovered Unitarian Universalism in 1999 and joined the DuPage UU Church in Naperville, IL, in 2000. Tom was a member of the choir and vice-chair of the Music Committee. Following the move in 2003, Tom has served as volunteer music director of Northwoods UU Fellowship in Woodruff, WI, as well as 7 years as treasurer of the fellowship. Tom and Elinore have been frequent delegates from NUUF to CMwDA and to GA.

Kathy Burek, Trustee-At-Large, one year term expiring in 2014

Kathy Burek ThumbnailKathy Burek is currently the President of the Prairie Star Board of Directors. During her 30-year membership at Michael Servetus Unitarian Society (Fridley, MN), Kathy Burek has served on its Board of Trustees, as its President, and in a variety of lay leadership roles. She served as Vice President of the PSD Board. In that capacity, she has worked on PSD Governance and strategic planning, and also chaired the Program Council. Kathy has assisted District Staff in developing a strategic plan for growth for the district. In addition to her PSD work, Kathy serves on the Board of Trustees for the UUA Health Plan, and was its chair from March 2007-December 2008. Professionally, Kathy is an independent consultant and facilitator, focusing on strategic planning and organizational design. She is married and has three adult children.

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Landrum, Trustee-At-Large, two year term expiring 2015

Cynthia Landrum ThumbnailRev. Dr. Cynthia L. Landrum is in her ninth year as the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty in Clarklake, Michigan, and lives in Jackson, Michigan with her husband, Peter Morrison, who teaches art history and her daughter, who is in grade school. Outside of ministry, she has previously taught English and composition at the local community college, is involved in many community organizations, is a Girl Scout troop leader and troop organizer, and is a blogger and occasional writer. For fun she enjoys science fiction, and you may have read her article on The Hunger Games in the UU World. She has previously served congregations in Texas and Massachusetts. Her history in the Heartland District (or its antecedent, the UU District of Michigan) goes back to her childhood, where she grew up in the Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She has experience in Central Midwest District having gone to Meadville Lombard Theological School and served on the CMD board briefly as a student liaison (2000-2001). Her additional experience in the Central Midwest District includes an internship at the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, a year of student ministry each in Marquette, Michigan and Houghton, Michigan, and a summer ministry in Rockford, Illinois. (She has only visited the Prairie Star District, but found it delightful.) Additional experience she brings to the board is a term as President of the Heartland Chapter of the UU Ministers Association; a board role on a local non-profit organization, Family Service and Children’s Aid; and she is currently the Vice President of the Ohio River Group, a minister’s study group.

Dave Martin, Trustee-At-Large, three year term expiring 2016

Dave Martin ThumbnailDave Martin has been a member of the UU Society of Iowa City for over 30 years. During that time he has served in a variety of leadership roles, including Board Trustee, Treasurer, and Board President. He has taught OWL (Our Whole Lives - sexuality education) classes and been chair of the Stewardship Campaign. He served on the PSD Program Council and has been on the staff of the Midwest Leadership School. Dave is vice president of the Prairie Star District board and has been helping to draft bylaws for regional governance. He is head of the Business Library at the University of Iowa.

Erin McElroy, Trustee-At-Large, one year term expiring 2014

It is our policy to not display photographs of minors.

Erin McElroy has been a life-long member of the Bradford Unitarian Universalist congregation in Kenosha Wisconsin. She has served on the RE Committee of her church as Youth Chair and has been a very active member in planning for her church’s Youth Group. Erin attended the 2012 season of Youth Midwest Leadership School and from there has been putting forth more action in helping out her church. She is currently a junior in High School looking to pursue Music Education.

Amy Taylor, Trustee-At-Large, one year term expiring in 2014

Amy Taylor ThumbnailI live in Bloomington, IN. I have been a UU for about 10 years. I am an OWL facilitator. I started my UU governance career on the board of my home church as we transitioned to policy governance. I then joined the Heartland District Board, filling an at-large seat, followed by an election to the Vice President seat and then becoming President, my current position on the district board. It has beenpersonally rewarding to serve our denomination in these positions and to work with such dedicated and capable trustees on the Heartland Board. I have been working with the Prairie Star and Central Midwest Presidentsand othermembers of all three Boards, putting together a proposal to create a MidAmerica Region -Board of Trustees governance structure. The talent, concern and skills these people bring to the work have made it a remarkable and historic process that Iam privileged to participate in. I hope to continue for a year on the new Board as a source of institutional memory of conversations that have taken place over the past 3 years so that the new regional board will thrive, moving on to new conversations and work and not have to revisit work that was already done. I am excited aboutopportunities for us all to create a new era in UU in MidAmerica.

Nominating Committee

Jamie Boyce, two year term expiring 2015

Jamie Boyce ThumbnailJamie Boyce is currently Membership Director at Third Unitarian Church-Chicago, where she has served for three years. Prior to that Position, Jamie was Membership Coordinator for two years at North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois. Currently she is serving on the Central Midwest District Nominating Committee. In addition, Jamie works incompliance and grants management at AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging for Suburban Cook County. Prior to that, she worked at implementing after school programs in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.

She received her B.A. from Michigan State University and studied for 4 years at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. In her free time, Jamie loves to travel, explore Chicago's restaurant scene, and attend Kickboxing classes.

Rev. Barbara Child, one year term expiring 2014

Barbara Child ThumbnailRev. Barbara Child serves as a Ministerial Settlement Representative (MSR) for Unitarian Universalist congregations in ministerial search. She is also a Good Offices Minister to ministers in the Heartland District. She began her working life as an English professor, later practiced and taught law, and became a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1996. An Accredited Interim Minister, she has served congregations in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont. In addition to a term on the UUA Commission on Appraisal, including two years as its chair, she has served the UUA on the Interim Ministry Guild, one year as its chair; the Commission on Social Witness, four years as its chair; and the Women and Religion Committee. She holds a certificate from the Corporation for Positive Change and often uses an Appreciative Inquiry approach in short-term consultations with congregations on a variety of issues.

Diana DeWeese, one year term expiring 2014

Diana DeWeese ThumbnailI’ve been a UU for over 25 years. I am currently co-chair of the Central Midwest District Nominating Committee. I am a member of the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Church of the Larger Fellowship. At ALUUC, I have served on several committees and the board of directors. Currently, I am a Religious Education teacher and active in the pagan interest group at ALUUC. I just finished serving six years as a councilwoman of the UU Women’s Connection, a Central Midwest District-wide women’s organization. I served as treasurer, vice-president and president, as well as conference registrar for several of our spring and fall conferences. As a councilwoman I’ve had the opportunity to meet women in UU congregations throughout the district. I have attended several CMD annual assemblies, UUA general assemblies, and winter CMD WomanSpirit conferences. I served on the Planning Committee for the 2005 WomanSpirit on Springfield, Illinois. I have been retired since January 2008. My husband, Kurt DeWeese, is immediate past board president at ALUUC. We have two children. In the Springfield community I am a sustaining member of the Junior League of Springfield, Illinois. Drumming, chanting, sewing, cooking and gardening are what I love to do with “my” time.

Carol Jean Larsen, one year term expiring 2014

Carol Jean Larsen ThumbnailCarol Jean Larsen has been an active member of her Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist congregation since the day she joined in 1986. Her passions are leadership development, adult religious education, stewardship, and social justice. She currently is her congregation's Board president. She served on the Prairie Star District Board from 1995-2004 as a director, vice president and president. She served on the PSD's Nominating Committee from 2004-06 and was appointed again in 2012. Carol Jean has retired from two careers: English teacher for 3 years; and 24 years in management positions in state government, private business, and non-profit agency. She is an avid long distance cyclist and hiker as well as an advocate for the environment.

Jim Laughlin, two year term expiring 2015

Jim Laughlin ThumbnailJim Laughlin is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City (UUSIC), Iowa. Jim sings in the choir and has served on committees including membership, space, and buildings and grounds. He has been a Worship Associate. He has for three years been on the faculty of the UU Midwest Leadership School at Beloit College. Jim is a retired postmaster who lives on an acreage outside West Branch, Iowa with his wife Barbara, where he raises horses, gardens, paints, cooks, and more.

Tammy Lemmer, two year term expiring 2015

Tammy Lemmer ThumbnailI have been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing (Michigan) for ten years, beginning when I moved to Michigan with my family (husband and two children.) Previously I was a member of First Parish of Framingham (MA) where I was introduced to this welcoming, progressive faith community. I work for a social justice, anti-oppression organization (the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence) and I am very active in community activities.

I have been involved with Children's RE, (including special events and teaching), Journey Towards Wholeness and other Social Action initiatives, and am honored to have served on the Congregation’s Board of Trustees for five years, including the roles of VP for Programs and Secretary. I also served as chair of an ad-hoc Program and Policy Transitions committee that initiated a review and update of the congregation's Constitution and Bylaws, and I currently serve as Chair of the Denominational Affairs Committee. At times I have also served as an usher and a greeter, and lay-lead worship service facilitator.

Within the Heartland District and the larger denomination, I have served as a delegate to District Assembly three times and a GA delegate once. I am completing my first three-year term as a member of the Heartland District Nominating Committee, including two years as Chair of the Committee. My strengths include organizational and policy governance experience, within my congregation and in other personal and professional affiliations.I am detail oriented, and look forward to the opportunity to continue my service to my denomination.

Marty Sozansky, one year term expiring 2014

Marty Sozansky ThumbnailMarty Sozansky is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, Minnesota (UUCD), and was formerly (1982-1995) a member of First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. Marty has served her home churches as a member of the Board of Trustees and in several other capacities, including her current passion for History and Archives. She co-chaired the Prairie Star District Conference when it was in Duluth in 2007. Marty has been chair of the Prairie Star District Nominating Committee the past two years. Marty has recently retired from teaching at the University of Minnesota Duluth.


First Unitarian Church of Alton, IL CMWD Federated Church of Avon of Avon, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal of Bloomington, IL CMWD Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship of Carbondale, IL CMWD All Souls Free Religious Fellowship of Chicago, IL CMWD First Unitarian Society of Chicago of Chicago, IL CMWD Peoples Church of Chicago of Chicago, IL CMWD Beverly Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL  CMWD Third Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL CMWD Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Decatur of Decatur, IL CMWD North Shore Unitarian Church of Deerfield, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb of DeKalb, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin of Elgin, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Evanston of Evanston, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva of Geneva, IL CMWD Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grayslake, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Hinsdale of Hinsdale, IL CMWD Prairyerth Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hinsdale, IL CMWD Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet of Joliet, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb of Macomb, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Congregation, McHenry, IL (formerly in Woodstock) CMWD Mt. Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Mt. Vernon, IL CMWD DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church of Naperville, IL CMWD Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oak Park, IL CMWD Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist of Palatine, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest, IL CMWD Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria of Peoria, IL CMWD Unitarian Church of Quincy of Quincy, IL CMWD The Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rock Valley of Rockton, IL CMWD Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Springfield, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton, IL CMWD The Federated Church of Sycamore, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign of Urbana, IL CMWD Lake Shore Unitarian Society of Winnetka, IL CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart of Elkhart, IN CMWD First Unitarian Church of Hobart of Hobart, IN CMWD First Unitarian Church of South Bend of South Bend, IN CMWD Bay de Noc Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Escanaba, MI CMWD Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Houghton, MI CMWD Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marquette, MI CMWD Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Saint Joseph, MI CMWD Cape Girardeau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Cape Girardeau, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia of Columbia, MO CMWD Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel of Ellisville, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Jefferson City of Jefferson City, MO CMWD Kirksville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Kirksville, MO CMWD Eliot Unitarian Chapel of Kirkwood, MO CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rolla of Rolla, MO CMWD First Unitarian Church of St. Louis of St. Louis, MO CMWD West Plains Unitarian Universalist, West Plains, MO CMWD Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Appleton, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church West of Brookfield, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lakes of Elkhorn, WI CMWD Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fond du Lac, WI CMWD Green Bay Area UU Fellowship of Green Bay, WI CMWD Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church of Hartland, WI CMWD Unitarian Congregation of Rock County, Janesville, WI CMWD Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist of Kenosha, WI CMWD James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Madison, WI CMWD First Unitarian Society of Madison of Madison, WI CMWD Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society of Madison, WI CMWD Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Manitowoc, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Marshfield of Marshfield, WI CMWD Unitarian Church North of Mequon, WI CMWD First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee of Milwaukee, WI CMWD Unitarian Fellowship of Milwaukee of Milwaukee, WI CMWD Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church of Racine, WI CMWD Prairie Lakes Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ripon, WI CMWD Free Congregation of Sauk County of Sauk City, WI CMWD Sheboygan Area Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Sheboygan, WI CMWD Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County of Sister Bay, WI CMWD Stevens Point Unitarian Universalist Association Fellowship of Stevens Point, WI CMWD United Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Waukesha, WI CMWD First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, WI CMWD Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Woodruff, WI CMWD


BillSasso-DA2012Dear Congregational Representatives,

Please know that we, who serve on the Board of Trustees of the Central Midwest District, appreciate your congregation’s support of the District and our larger Unitarian Universalist movement. The resources that our congregations share with each other make it possible for the District to serve as an institutional bridge connecting congregations and their members to each other and to the other elements of our larger movement. We are grateful for your continued and generous support in these financially challenging times, and we are pleased to have this opportunity to share what we have accomplished since April, 2012.

Here I will share the broad themes that we have engaged this year. For more detail, I invite you to consult the Board meeting minutes.

If I were to try to capture the work of the year in a single word, it would be “transition.” Our largest transition has been an active and extensive process of collaboration to develop the proposal to form the MidAmerica Region. This has been an intense and occasionally challenging process, but we have found fulfillment and sometimes even joy as we have collaborated with our UUA congregational life staff, the Reverend Ian Evison and Dori Davenport Thexton, and the Boards of our partner districts, Prairie Star (to our west) and Heartland (to our east). Over the course of the year, we have worked diligently to develop the proposal to form MidAmerica, with the hope and intention that we will carry forward what is best in CMwD while making new opportunities possible. We have worked hard to be in dialogue and relationship with you and your congregation as this proposal has been developed. We hope that you are familiar with the MidAmerica proposal, which we will vote upon at District Assembly 2013.

We have also experienced transition in our more typical governance roles, as Ian and Dori have reorganized themselves into a regional staff team, joining Rev. Lisa Presley and Nancy Combs-Morgan of Heartland, and Nancy Heege and the Reverend Phil Lund from Prairie Star. We have worked with the regional staff team and with our partner Boards from the other districts in a shared governance and oversight role, learning as we have moved through the year. Each new insight has helped us envision the opportunities that might be created together in the future.

We have also navigated several transitions within the Board itself. Last summer the Reverend Brian Covell announced his intention to resign as District President in response to the needs of the congregation he serves. When the Board appointed me to complete the year as President, the Ministerial Trustee position opened. I am very pleased that the Reverend Sydney Morris was willing to accept appointment into that position in October.

In closing, again I thank you and your congregation for your generous support! And I thank each of my colleagues on your CMwD Board: Vice-President Jeff Reed (Fond du Lac, WI), Treasurer Nancy Armstrong (Normal, IL), Secretary Tracey Howe Koch (Florissant, MO), Youth Trustee Kenny Pechtl, Ministerial Trustee the Reverend Sydney Morris (Houghton, MI), UUA Trustee the Reverend Erik David Carlson (Stockton, IL), and Trustees at large Suzie DeBeers (Waupaca, WI), Vera Dowell (Oak Park, IL), and Rob Zimmerman (Wauwatosa, WI). These extraordinary folks have all given generously of their time, skills, and energy during this unusual and intense Board year!

Should you meet them during District Assembly, please thank them for their service! I certainly do!

Respectfully submitted, (signed)


Rev. Bill Sasso

(Carbondale, IL)
President, CMwD, UUA

NCM-edited-200In 2012-2013 a momentum has been building to sustain and nurture congregational youth and young adult ministries in Central Midwest District, and the evolving MidAmerica region.  We are truly blessed in the Central MidWest District with a robust and sustainable youth ministry experience created by talented leaders from our congregations who step up to organize the Fall and Spring Youth Cons.

The success of these youth events is enabled by the DRE’s, ministers, and congregational leaders who heartily welcome events and then help to make them a reality and success.  The  successful partnering of congregational leaders with our veteran youth conference coordinators,  such as Heather Godbout, from Unity, and Kim Tilford from Palatine, who have made these events possible.  Also, I am so pleased with the willingness to open up these conferences to leaders from the entire MidAmerica region.

An example of a premium event, which is one of the highlights of my program year, is the Youth Midwest Leadership School in Beloit, WI. This last July was no exception, for YMLS continued to be a remarkable experience.  I was so moved at the commitment of CMwD congregations who intentionally raised funds to send youth to YMLS.  We celebrate the talents of many of the CMwD youth and adults, who have been asked to serve on the faculty for YMLS.  Included on our 2013 faculty are Andrew Connet, a youth from Naperville, IL and Andy Singleton, an adult, from Deerfield, IL.

YMLS is an amazing face to face experience, but we do remain committed to offering virtual opportunities for leaders to share and learn.  Our MidAmerica webinars have been well attended, and in the last year I offered webinars on: Basic Youth Advising; Chaperoning Children and Youth; Sustainable Youth Ministry; New Trends in Young Adult/Campus Ministry, and a webinar for new DRE’s, “Start As You Mean to Continue.”  One totally new virtual opportunity is a collaboration with Rev. Phil Lund, where we are offering a 6 session online course on “Youth and Young Adult Ministry.”   Our target group has been religious professionals, and in particular, members of the RE Credentialing program.  This experience galvanized my own professional development, and in February I was accepted into the UUA’s Religious Education Credentialing program.  I am excited about this new endeavor and hope to have other religious educators from the  MidAmerica region join as well.  What a blessing it is to be part of any intentional learning community.

One such intentional learning experience, has been a series of virtual and face to face open meetings on the future of youth and young adult ministries in MidAmerica.  I took part, with Phil Lund and Dori Davenport Thexton, in a series of “Thoughtful Conversations,” which were held from August 2012-December 2012.   The results indicated that: Youth and Young Adult ministry in the MidAmerica region is highly valued.  Congregations are thirsting for more for more leadership development opportunities; for more skills, resources, and opportunities to connect youth and young adults. Congregations are ready, and in many areas are already hosting, and even co-hosting with other congregations, terrific youth and young adult conferences. Leaders are naming the need for a regional body of youth and adults working together to maintain a greater vision and structure of accountability.  The language being used is the emergence of a “Youth Ministry Advisory Group.” The YMAG would work directly with MA staff in mapping out multi-year plans for enriching youth training opportunities (which congregations are not equipped to handle solo); to provide feedback on staffing for our Youth Midwest Leadership School; to provide opportunities for youth and adults to become co-trainers for such events as Basic Youth Advisor workshops; Spirituality Development conferences; Pastoral Care/Lay Chaplaincy trainings; Leadership Development Conferences, etc….   The YMAG will also be the communication portal for congregations to contact when they want to host a conference.  The advisory group will have trained and talented Con Coordinators who can assist congregations in realizing their goal to have a successful event.  The YMAG will also be working with staff in creating and sustaining service trip opportunities for youth groups in the region.

There is clarity that current Young Adult structures need to be fostered and to deepen/grow support for YA’s in MidAmerica. Leaders expressed a vision for a Young Adult Ministry Advisory Group, focusing on the entire region.  Current YA groups, such as the CMwD Young Adult Steering Committee, who have been on the forefront of using a regional lens in their programming and vision, will hopefully be working in solidarity with other YA leaders throughout the region, and our MA staff, working directly with congregations who want to hold a YA conference. Also, there would be YA’s,  who are serving on the YAMAG, to work directly with congregations and clusters of congregations who want to deepen their commitment to young adult ministry.  Having engaging service trip opportunities for young adults, as well as strengthening support for campus ministry in our region were all expressed as clear goals.  Linkage with our Midwest Leadership School is seen as an excellent goal, to make sure that congregations have a commitment to send young adults and for funding/scholarships to be available to realize this goal.  We are currently partnering with the leaders at People’s UU Church in Kalamazoo, MI, who have requested to have their leaders trained in Young Adult OWL.  Thanks to a grant from our national UUA Youth and Young Adult office, we will be able to host this training in late spring or summer of this year, which will be open to Young Adults in CMwD and throughout the region.  

There was a consensus throughout all of the conversations on youth and young adult ministry that “safe congregations” issues remain paramount.  Congregations are wanting standards clarified by the region on what specific criteria is needed to make sure that any experience provides the highest standard of safety for all participants.   One participant expressed the hope that the MA region would have a safety and liability document, posted, to make sure that all congregations would be striving to maintain those same safety practices in youth ministry.  With regard to young adult ministry, there was discussion of have and maintain a statement of ethical standards, which are currently being used at young adult events.   I plan to continue in partnering with our regional Directors of Religious Education around issues of safety and liability in youth and young adult programming.

For the future, I dream that we partner together with the shared pursuit of growing Unitarian Universalism:  Growing our faith by raising lifelong UU’s, and by having an outward and invitational element to all of our endeavors.

With confidence in our future,


Nancy Armstrong 06-2009It has been my pleasure to serve as the treasurer of CMwD this year.  Warren Thom had done such a great job as treasurer for the past 6 years, that the transition was a smooth one. I want to thank our congregations for their continuing support of the District/Region. The CMwD board and staff are committed to conscientious stewardship of the District’s resources.

The finances of the district are generally sound, but there were several factors last year that created a significant impact on our reserves and our budget.  As congregations continued to recover from the drop in income precipitated by the 2008/09 recession, giving to the district lagged behind and we will not fully realize the income that we projected for FY 2013.  We also approved a small, unexpected increase in staff salaries, in keeping with guidelines proposed by the UUA after our budget was approved.  While we also saved some money when the technology administrator position was reorganized as a region-wide position, our operating budget deficit will be somewhat larger than we projected.   We made the first payment towards our commitment for regionalization transition expenses from our reserves which reduced our reserves despite an increase in value of our market-based mutual funds.  The UUA granted the transition effort $20,000 and while there are expenses still to come, the transition process may cost less than anticipated.

My efforts this year have largely focused on the future financial policies and health of the proposed Mid America Region.  I continue to be inspired by the leadership and dedication of the three district boards and the regional staff.


denisetracyThe Women and religion Committee has had a very successful year.  We worked all year to revise our policies, create and set up a new Web site and move to a system of monthly telephone conferences.  We now meet face to face three times a year, in May, Oct and January.
This year’s conference in Milwaukee, at Unitarian Universalist Church West, was ably facilitated by Kathy Bradshaw, the local committee chair.  125 women attended and the Saturday evening concert attracted additional music lovers.  The District Committee worked for 15 months with singer Holly Near, who was to be with us for the weekend.  Unfortunately Holly was terribly ill and could not fly, per Doctors orders.  She sent in her place, Melanie DeMore, an African American Lesbian Feminist singer, who interprets spirituals and gospel music mixed with her own compositions to uplift the connections between people.  Melanie has performed with Pete Seeger, Odetta, Judy Collins, and Holly Near.  Ronnie Gilbert says of Ms DeMore.“She is Womanpower wrapped in velvet”.  Melanie was this and more.  Melanie was an unexpected gift given from a potentially terrible situation.  Everyone was thrilled with her performance and theology.  She says, “I use music to weave a tapestry of community.”  She was a blessing to all of us.  
Next year’s conference will be held in Naperville, Il, February 7-9, 2014.  Our speaker is the world famous feminist and spiritual writer, Sue Monk Kidd.  Author of “The Secret Life of Bees”, The Mermaid Chair”, Traveling with Pomegranates” , The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” as well as much writing on Spiritual Discipline.
The Conference Title is:  “WISDOM FOR THE JOURNEY:  A Weekend with Sue Monk Kidd.
This year the Committee will be expanding our membership.  We also will be evaluating our summer program.  This program has been undersubscribed and we have sent out a survey to past attendees to ask for feedback about future directions.   We want to have programs that meet our members needs and provide support  for  the variety of circumstances of women’s lives.
Respectfully submitted,

Denise Tracy (Rev Ms)