What do we get from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)?
Recently the Denominational Affairs Committee has received some questions regarding how much we are spending annually on dues for the UUA and what we receive from the UUA in return.
Carrie Kocher questioned Rev. Josh about this topic and most of the article below is culled directly from his responses.
In terms of what we give to the UUA, since 2010 we have paid $281,845 in Annual Program Fund (APF) dues. This coming 2023-2024 year we are planning to spend $26,044 or 4.61% of our operating budget, bringing the total to $307,889 through June 2024.
In terms of what we get from the UUA, it certainly varies from year to year, but here's a (non-exhaustive) list:
Specific UUSE needs over the past 15 years:
1) When we conducted our building campaign, we received excellent, professional advice from a UUA capital campaign consultant. (Less important: UUA dignitaries also joined us for our Capital Campaign launch and for the celebration of our new building.)
2) When our long-time Director of Religious Education retired and we wanted support in re-envisioning our RE program (now CYM) we received excellent support from staff at the New England Region office. They guided us through the early stages of our transition, and then helped us establish a relationship with a remote interim DRE to whom we paid an additional consulting fee for a year.
3) When we were in the midst of our "sanctuary conflict,” two members of the New England Region staff did significant work on conflict reconciliation with us. They interviewed more than 20 people involved in the conflict. They designed a program for conflict reconciliation.
4) When we learned we would be receiving a significant bequest from the estate of Cliff Pelletier, the UUA made a stewardship consultant available to us to help us think through implications such as the precedents we are setting with whatever decisions we make.
5) New England Region staff joined UUSE and Unitarian Society of Hartford (USH) members for the launch of the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance.
General UUA services that currently benefit UUSE (or will benefit UUSE in the future):
5) The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances provides extensive guidance on personnel and employment-related issues. Perhaps most importantly, they offer guidance for setting salaries for our geographic region. They also offer a number of group benefits, such as long-term disability and health insurance. We don't necessarily use these benefits—for example, we aren't part of the UUA's health insurance program because we are usually able to find less expensive options—but they are there if we need them.
6) Our endowment is managed by the UUA's common endowment fund (we do pay additional management fees).
7) The UUA was phenomenal during the pandemic, offering regular pastoral, ethical and technical advice to congregations, helping congregations make technology decisions, creating a UUA Zoom umbrella account that enabled congregations to get Zoom accounts at discounted subscription rates, curating best practices for opening/closing, masking, ventilation, etc. Our Emergency Management Team relied heavily on UUA resources for recommending pandemic-related decisions to our Policy Board.
8) The UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee carries out the task of credentialing ministers. This is very much a behind-the-scenes function, but it is essential to the ongoing health and vitality of congregations. The process is critical because it filters out people who are not fit for the ministry, especially people who may be risks for sexual misconduct. It also identifies deficits in the training of aspiring ministers and ensures that those deficits are addressed before offering credentials.
9) The UUA manages the system that enables congregations to find new ministers when clergy move on or retire. While UUSE hasn't needed access to this process in 21 years, there will come a time when UUSE needs access to this system in order to find a qualified interim minister, and then a qualified settled minister.
10) The UUA manages Worship Web which offers thousands of resources for worship. While UUSE subscribes to Soul Matters for worship resources, which is not a UUA program, we also take advantage of the Worship Web resources on a regular basis.
11) The UUA is regularly churning out religious education curricula through Tapestry of Faith and other programs. These programs range from the youngest learners to adult resources.
12) I put the "Our Whole Lives" (sexuality curriculum) in a separate category, only because training is required for people to teach this course, and the UUA manages the training seminars.
13) The UUA offers a stunning range of leadership resources. I won't go into all of them here, but one can scan the offerings on the Congregations and Leadership page of the UUA website.
14) the UUA's Side With Love program offers far-ranging resources and workshops (currently they refer to them as "skill-ups") for deepening social and environmental justice ministries, as well as inclusion and outreach ministries.
15) Finally, I would add that the New England region of the UUA consistently hires excellent, insightful, wise staff who are available for consultation as needed, and who offer regular workshops (in-person and online) for congregations on a wide range of topics. I just took a quick glance at their website and remembered that they also posted our position announcement when we were seeking a DCYM this summer. A few of the applicants learned about the position through their posting.
As stated above, this is not an exhaustive list. But it gives a good general summary of where our dues money goes.
Denominational Affairs Committee
General Assembly 2023
The UU General Assembly was held in Pittsburgh from June 21-25 and many important decisions were made. 95.5% of the delegates affirmed Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt as the next President of the UUA. The Article II Proposal was approved with several amendments. However, the amendments to restore the 7 Principles and the 6 Sources did not pass. Article 2 will require another year of study with the opportunity to propose more amendments and will need a 2/3 majority delegate vote to become established in 2024. The Business Resolution re: Fossil Fuel Divestment and Reparations was not approved. For more information on these results and more contact Carrie Kocher.