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mwlsAnnual Report 2011


MidWest 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.]

2010 MWLS

MWLS served 36 students from across the Midwest in July 2010.  Districts were comparably represented with CMD = 10, Heartland = 13, PSD = 12, and Ohio-Meadville = 1.  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.
We were able to take advantage of the new Science Center at Beloit College for many of our activities as well as other facilitates at Beloit College.   Participants and staff are housed in residence halls at Beloit and eat in the college dining hall.

Clerical Staff Members

REV. THOM BELOTE, History and Theology Presenter, has served as the minister of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kansas. 
REV. IAN EVISON, Organizational Development Presenter, is Congregational Services Director for the Central MidWest District. 
REV. THEA NIETFELD, Chaplain, serves her Fellowship in Salina, Kansas. 

Lay Staff Members

MARGIE FRY, Group Facilitator, third year staff member, is a member of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church of Louisville, Kentucky.
PAUL GODDARD, Group Facilitator and Bookstore Manager, is Worship Chair of the UU Church in Rockford, Illinois.
BARB GUTSCH, Group Facilitator and Technology Coordinator, is a member of the UU Fellowship of Salina, Kansas. 
GENEVIEVE O’MALLEY KNIGHT, Group Facilitator and Assistant Treasurer, has been attending the UU Congregation in Oxford Ohio.
MARK MATUSZEWSKI, Group Facilitator, a third year staff member at MWLS, and treasurer emeritus and general gopher, is a member of the UU Fellowship of DeKalb, Illinois.
JEFFREY REED, Group Facilitator, Treasurer and Secretary, is a second year MWLS staff member and member of the Open Circle Fellowship in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
KELLY RINEY, School Dean and Group Facilitator, is the Director of Religious Education at the UU Church in Rockford, Illinois.
NOEL ROZUM, Group Facilitator, is a first-year staff member.
JAN STEINMARK, Registrar, is a member of the UU Church of Evansville, Indiana. 
JENNIFER TODD, Chair and Group Facilitator, is a Wiccan Minister and Pagan practitioner who facilitates the Lake Spirit CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter and  member of Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, Wisconsin

New for 2009 and 2010

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 Participants and the close of the MWLS program

I gained a greater confidence in my leadership skills & a greater understanding in the leadership skills & ways of others & how they inter-relate (positively or negatively and ways to make negatives better).
I learned a lot about variety in worship, not only from the services by from the excellent worship education sessions, the covenant-based behavior concepts will be very useful, as well as what I learning from the exercises in general in the OD groups.
I’m really happy to be here!  I AM ON BOARD!  The bus!
I so appreciate how this has changed how I will lead @ my church, and even @ home.
I see our Leadership School realizing the importance of the state of our individual churches.  More and more conversations around this and questions are coming up.  It is healthy for us all.
I feel that I’m really becoming comfortable in my leadership, stepping into my power, and communicating much more clearly.  Thank you staff for being such good models for that!
Worship group is A++.  Also…regardless of how our Worship Team’s service turns out Tuesday evening at 7 pm, I have an amazing experience during the planning/prep phase.

Follow-up comments, four months after MWLS

It's given me a wider network of people to connect with within the UUA.  I'm on the Ministerial Search Committee, and it was great to get to talk to others in the same process.
I value the connections made throughout the region. The biggest gain was to be able to look at my congregation in a more objective way.
I gained a greater appreciation of putting together a worship service. My worship group had a few challenges (with the teens), but I wouldn't change it, because it gave me an appreciation of working with teens.
The combination of learning about group dynamics, nonviolent communication/conflict resolution skills, and Meyers-Briggs personality types was amazingly helpful.  I am more facile and skilled in group environments and I am better able to prevent conflicts, as well as to defuse and work through conflicts when they occur.
The thought that this invaluable resource for church leadership training was almost not held last summer chills me to the bone.  UUs are fighting the uphill battle as it is as far as preserving our denomination and individual churches as it is.  Without this incredible experience and training it is difficult to comprehend how our longevity and liberal voice would be preserved let alone in a healthy manner.

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. 

2010 Financial Status

  2010 Budget 2010 Actual Variance % of Budget
Bookstore 2,200 2,879 679 1.31%
Tuition/Fees 28,820 28,893 73 1.00%
Total Income $32,650 $32,804 $154 1.00%
Beloit Expenses 24,295 23,120 -1,176 0.95%
On Site Expenses 4.145 3.812 -333 0.92%
Copying/Printing 615 634 -19 1.03%
Administration 760 1,072 312 1.41%
Professional Stipends 3,400 3,400 0 1.00%
Staff Meetings 6,000 6,742 742 1.12%
Total Expenses $39,216 $38.78 ($437) 0.99%
Income – Expenses -6,565 -5,975 -591  
Scholarships 3,000 993    
NET ($3,565) ($4,982)    

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.

MWLS Staff Member Responsibilities: Purpose/function of Staff Members:

• Make policy decisions
• Develop and update job descriptions for staff
• Select a dean, registrar, small-group facilitators, treasurer, public relations coordinator, bookstore coordinator, and presenters in organizational development, UU theology & history, and worship
• Approve the annual MWLS budget
• Take care of publicity and recruitment
• Evaluate MWLS and make recommendations for future schools
• Include religious/spiritual components in each meeting
• Foster ministerial participation of staff and students
• Select and invite new members to attend the fall meeting
• Assist with set-up and clean-up before and after School

Jeffrey G. Reed

MWLS 2010 Treasurer