Saturday, January 19, 2008

UUA Politics

So...

Someone I know from church knows a guy who knows a guy who says that there is a secret coterie of older UU ministers who more or less handpick the UUA president and they've handpicked Laurel Hallman.

Is this true? To what degree is it true?

CC

13 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Well, since every GA delegate is going to get to vote on the candidates, it seems to me it would be hard to railroad that election. I think that before Peter Morales decided to run, Laurel was the only candidate and it looked like she would run unopposed. Now she has an"opponent", though I suspect they have a good deal of respect for each other.

Both Peter and Laurel are highly thought of by most of us UU ministers and it will be hard, at least for me, to choose between them as I know each of them personally and like each of them very much.

I think that each of them has integrity and vision to offer to the UUA and to all of us UUs.

LinguistFriend said...

CC's statement represents a different take, but is in basic agreement with a statement I have had directly from a senior UU minister, that the ministers of the largest and wealthiest UU churches, who meet as a group periodically, exert considerable influence on the choice of candidates. In this case they are indeed said to favor Laurel Hallman (same source, last summer). I have no opinion on the wisdom of that choice, since I lack Ms. Kitty's information and acquaintance on her ministerial colleagues; I need to become better informed about them.

kim said...

Well, how do candidates usually happen? Would you prefer they pick themselves, or that people who don't know a bunch of people in the organization pick them? Do you think that this group picks bad candidates? Are you hoping for a candidate that wants the UUA to be completely non-political? Well, the best way to insure that would be to run yourself.

Chalicechick said...

Goodness, Kim. I was just curious.

Bill Baar said...

Would you prefer they pick themselves....

That would be ok with me.

David O. Kling said...

The member's of my congregations board are most certainly NOT democratically elected, but rather, are hand-picked by a small committee and then "ratified" by the congregation. Therefore, it would not surprise me if this sort of behavior prevailed in a more macro-sense.

LinguistFriend said...

Indeed, the process described to me seems to make it unlikely that candidates will be proposed who are unlikely to become issues in themselves and distract from the UUA issues which must be dealt with (a point made to me by my informant). Such candidates are also thus approved by a group which knows how to make organizations run effectively, and whose members are unlikely to walk away from the table, because they have been heard (don't forget the Episcopalians!). The selection of candidates becomes partly something of a smoky-room process, to be sure. I am not sure how it should be improved. I shudder at the idea that the selection of candidates might be dealt with purely in the usual way issues are handled at GA. Vetting of candidates as part of the early preliminary process seems a valuable procedure, although it is not the only possible one.

Robin Edgar said...

Ah yes. Good old U*U "democracy". . . I bet that there are a lot of other U*U "churches" that follow the model of "democracy" that David Kling spoke out about here. The Unitarian Church of Montreal certainly did. . . Hopefully the new UUA President will have a bit more integrity and vision to offer to the UUA and to all of us UUs than Rev. William G. Sinkford did.

LinguistFriend said...

Oops, the second "unlikely" in my second comment should be "likely".

Christine Robinson said...

Handpicked? Come on, guys. Anybody can run who wants to do the work and raise the money and gather the support. The group of ministers to whom you refer is SMOLUUC, this time out both candidates are a part of that group, and neither was picked by it. SMOLUUC is made up of Senior ministers of the 25 or so largest UU churches, and I can assure you that most of those churches are not especially wealthy. (It's the old small and mid-sized New England Churches which tend to have the big endowments.) But it should perhaps not surprise anyone that the Senior ministers of the largest UU churches are disproportionately likely to be interested in the ultra-challenging position of UUA President.

Robin Edgar said...

Oops! I forgot to delete the "us" when I cut and paste quoted Ms. Kitty`s words.

LinguistFriend said...

Christine, when I talk about a church as wealthy, I have in mind the sort of difference that is implicit in the fact, for instance, that CC's church brings in as much for its annual rummage sale as mine raises for its total annual budget. That implies a very different level of activity and resources.
I do not doubt that the SMOLUUC group constitutes a pool of strong candidates by some criteria. It makes one wonder whether the membership criterion, church size, is related to the recent emphasis of that objective in the UUA. One does not want to see the UUA fall in numbers as the mainline Protestants have. But there are other important values besides church size, as contemplation of the character of the Evangelical mega-churches should remind us. (Ms. Kitty also has some interesting preliminary thoughts about these issues today.)There is an interesting article in the Jan. 29 Christian Century magazine on the limitations of the mega-church model as they are appearing in the Willow Creek Community Church(p.16).

Christine Robinson said...

Dear Linguist Friend,

Yes, larger churches have a much greater activity level...and a very different job description for leaders, which is one of the reasons SMOLUUC was formed about 25 years ago..so that those ministers could be of support to one another.

Large churches may have larger incomes and budgets, but they also have larger costs, and "wealth" (as opposed to cash flow) is a matter of endowments and property worth.

I read the article in the Christian Century with interest. However, it describes a version of "large church" which is completely out of our range: churches which number 3-10 thousand members. Even our largest churches (we've got a few in the 1200 range...) are small by those standards.