DISTRICT to REGION: What, Why, When?

Dear Prairie Star District UU:

It’s been a busy summer for PSD leadership. We have been working on building our proposed MidAmerica Region, and are close to having a description of the organization and its governance that we can share with all of you. We consider it essential to move toward a regional model for purposes of economy and efficiency so as to more effectively provide services to UU congregations. To do so, we hope to secure the “yes” votes of 2/3 of delegates at each of our three district business meetings.  Here, in abbreviated form, are the governance structures of our association, and what is happening in our district and region. 

We are a “bottom up democracy” with the power and accountability coming from our independent congregations that make up our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).  This is why it is so important for our congregations to have delegates participate in meetings like General Assembly (GA) where our Association’s business is conducted.  It is at these meetings where we elect our leadership (the President and Moderator are up for election in 2013), pass important resolutions (like that repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery at this year’s GA), and make important bylaws changes (e.g., adopting a more flexible understanding of “congregation” to keep up with changng times).

The UUA is made up of 19 districts.  You probably know our Prairie Star District includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and western portions of Wisconsin and part of Missouri. To the east is Central Midwest District that includes Wisconsin, Illinois, most of Missouri, and parts of Indiana and Michigan. Further east, Heartland District includes Kentucky, most of Indiana, most of Michigan and western Ohio.  Our 3 districts comprise the MidAmerica Region, with 194 congregations and 37,000 members. The UUA has 4 other regions, each containing 4 districts.

Each UU congregation has a governance Board, and the same is true for each district.  Regions do not have currently have any governance structure.  This may be changing.  Starting in 2010, the District Boards of the MidAmerica Region began exploring the possibility of a regional structure.  In 2011, all 3 boards voted to work toward creating a regional board to replace the existing 3 boards.  There are a lot of reasons for this which you will be hearing more about.  But, a main one is increased service to congregations with a reduced administrative burden. 

Just as each congregation sends delegates to General Assembly, we send delegates to our annual district conferences. Our Prairie Star District Annual Conference will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 5-7, 2013.  It will be very important to send delegates to this meeting.  The MidAmerica Districts will be asking for your vote to replace our district boards with one regional board.  You will start hearing more details about this after the boards and lead staff of the three districts meet August 24-26 in Rock Island, Illinois, to fine tune the proposal.  In September, we will start sharing information for comment and feedback and in April 2013 we will vote.  Please look for information in future newsletters and information packets sent to your office administrators, ministers and boards.  We will get information out in as many ways as possible so you can have input, make comments, and be informed before you come as delegates to the April 2013 PSD Annual Conference in Cedar Rapids.

Prairie Star District delegates will also be asked to vote on a proposal for the future of Camp UniStar. The PSD Board’s Enterprise Management Group is working on the details of a proposal to create a new organization, the Camp Unistar Foundation. This Foundation would own and operate Camp UniStar. The EMG will be proposing a way the new UniStar Foundation would be connected to the MidAmerica Region Board. The three boards will also need to consider this proposal when they meet in August.

The PSD Board is committed to openness and transparency throughout the process of developing a new regional structure. Any PSD UU is welcome to listen in to board calls. The Board meets by phone on the second Saturday of the month from 9:00 - 11:00 am. Agendas for these calls, advance materials and instructions for registering for our calls [were] available on the PSD website.

You may also email me directly ... with any questions or comments you might have.

Thank you for your continued commitment to Unitarian Universalism,

Kathy Burek -- President, Prairie Star District