LREDA Questions to the UUA Presidential Candidates

Dear Colleagues,

We hope this message finds you well as you navigate the busy days of mid-June and the approach of UUA General Assembly, when a new UUA President will be elected. At October’s LREDA Fall Conference in California, we held a candidate forum that raised key issues for our membership with the three candidates. 

This spring, the Board decided it was important to follow up with the candidates, particularly addressing issues of power and authority related to faith development professionals, reflecting ongoing concerns expressed by our members. A set of questions was carefully written and held until after the important work of the UU White Supremacy Teach In, led by LREDA members Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera and Kenny Wiley.

The candidates received our letter and responded that they had, together, decided to address no further questions until the Presidential Candidate Forum on Friday June 23rd at 8PM at the UUA General Assembly. (Watch the Livestream here.) Our questions have been submitted to the Election Campaign Practices Committee. We are sharing the complete set of questions with you now.

LREDA has not endorsed a candidate.

It has been a tumultuous time; please take good care of yourselves.

In Service,

The LREDA Board
Cathy Seggel, President
Annie Scott, President-Elect
Robin Pugh, Vice President
Karen LoBracco, Treasurer
Andrea James, Secretary
Meagan Henry, At Large, Professional Support
Leah Purcell, At Large, Professional Development
Lily Rappaport, At Large, Continental Events

Questions to the UUA Presidential Candidates

The Liberal Religious Educators Association represents about 600 religious professionals, including religious educators, ministers, youth ministry professionals, religious education assistants, UUA and CUC staff. We are called by the transformative power of shared ministry in faith development for all ages. Our work is vital to Unitarian Universalism. This letter focuses on concerns related to professional religious educators, while acknowledging the essential race and ethnicity issues that must be addressed in our Association and everywhere.

We were dismayed, wounded, and outraged by the words of past UUA President Peter Morales devaluing religious educators http://www.uuworld.org/articles/developments-2017-04-01. They were emblematic of an attitude that has been all too prevalent within the Unitarian Universalist Association. Rev. Morales’ words shone a light on a truth that too many of our members have lived. Many have been told not to bother applying for regional staff positions. Many are voiceless when in conflict with their supervisors. All but a few are unable to vote at General Assembly. Staff covenants are, at times, used to silence colleagues.

Shared Ministry: The Excellence in Shared Ministry Task Force report of 2012, writes, "Against an historical backdrop of power over, oppression, and ignorance, we encourage a rigorous re-examination and re-formulation of relationships that are respected, tended, and framed in a spirit of justice as well as in the shared goal of mutual support." What will you do to lead a "rigorous re-examination and reformulation" of professional relationships within our association? How will you promote and support shared ministry teams in faith communities? How will you support the valuable work done in partnership between LREDA, the UUMA, the UUMN, the AUUA, and UUAMP?

Power and Authority: How will you ensure that UUA hiring practices value the education and experience of religious professionals who are not ordained? How will you support the leadership of professionals of color? How will you educate congregations to provide avenues for religious educators to address conflict with their supervisors? What do you envision as the appropriate channel for religious educators to communicate unhealthy behavior they have witnessed on a professional staff team?

Faith Development: What are your plans for staffing in support of faith development within the UUA? How will you foster and value learning environments in our congregations?

Fair Compensation: How will you motivate congregations to commit to fair compensation, including benefits and appropriate professional development expenses, for all religious professionals on staff? How will you lift up the work and needs of professional religious educators, particularly those who are marginalized?

Religious Educator Delegates to GA: Would you work directly to provide delegate status to religious educators? If so, how do you propose that happen and how soon? What criteria would you propose for automatic delegate status? 

 

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