Repost: letter on PCD politics

The letter below was sent out by the executive committee of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association of the Pacific Central District (PCD-UUMA). The letter gives the “understanding” of the PCD-UUMA regarding the recent termination of Cilla Raughley as District Executives of the Pacific Central District. N.B.: This letter came with explicit permission to “post it on your blog, FaceBook page, tweet a link….”

I don’t really run a news blog, but there has been a dearth of official communication on this issue, and for that reason only I’m willing to repost this here. Please note that while I have received an apparently official statement via email from both the Pacific Central District Board and staff at the Unitarian Universalist Association, those email messages did not come with explicit permission to post them on a blog, and I’ve always had a policy of not posting email messages to this blog without explicit permission (see About this blog).

If you want to reply to this letter, please communicate directly with one of the signers. I have zero interest in moderating comments on someone else’s letter, so I’m going to shut off comments on this post. And before you complain that I’ve turned off comments, please remember that this blog is my hobby: I do it for fun, I do it in my spare time, and I get to choose to not moderate comments on something I didn’t write.

 

February 18, 2011

To our fellow Unitarian Universalists of the Pacific Central District,

As the members of the Executive Committee of the Pacific Central District (PCD) chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association, we write to share our understanding of Cilla Raughley’s departure from the position of District Executive.

Personnel practices require discretion and a respect for privacy; our response, therefore, probably will not satisfy everyone’s desire to be fully informed, but we believe it important to acknowledge our own influence on this action by the UUA. While we gratefully acknowledge the many long hours Cilla Raughley devoted to Unitarian Universalism in general and our district in particular, from the beginning of Cilla’s tenure there have been some strains in her relationships with some congregations and some ministers, as well as with the UUMA chapter specifically. We responded to these concerns, in part, by devoting numerous meetings, holding a day-long workshop, and creating a standing subcommittee to engage in mutual conversations with her to build on strengths and sort out difficulties.

At our Fall 2010 minister’s meeting and retreat in October, it became apparent to those attending that Cilla’s relationship with many ministers and congregations had become strained to the point that, from our perspective, she was no longer serving the whole effectively. In a congregation, if a minister is no longer effective with a large percentage of the congregation, the minister is no longer in good ministry with the whole congregation. Similarly, when the District Executive is no longer in right relationship with a large percentage of the congregations, something vital is no longer working. In our business meeting, we expressed with a 40-0 vote (5 abstaining) our lack of trust and confidence in Cilla’s leadership as District Executive, and we requested new leadership for our district.

We realize that many people have not been aware of our on-going efforts over the years to work these things out — it is the nature of such conversations that their content be confidential. But we want you to know that we have been working diligently and in good faith to reconcile these difficulties. Please understand that our decision to write this letter of non-support — a decision which did not come easily — came only after we had exhausted many other alternatives.

We first conveyed the results of our October 2010 vote to Cilla via a face-to-face meeting, and then via a letter to Cilla’s joint employers, the PCD Board and the UUA’s Congregational Life Department. We sent another letter a few days later, giving the names of 19 ministers who affirmed their support of the vote and were willing to relate their experiences and their reasons for voting as they did. The PCD Board’s Personnel Committee invited seven of these ministers to a meeting a few weeks later, to ask further questions and hear their concerns. The meeting lasted three and a half hours and was both frank and respectful.

The contracted employment agreement with the District Executive stipulates that if any of the three parties to the contract (the UUA, the PCD Board or the DE) withdraw their consent, the contract is ended. As we ministers are not one of the three parties to this contract, we have not been privy to the negotiations between the UUA and the PCD Board that resulted in the Feb. 11th end of Cilla’s employment. We have been in regular communication with the UUA and believe they have acted in good faith and in the best interests of the congregations in our district.

In a personnel matter of this nature, there will always be unanswered questions and often painful feelings. Many of the details must necessarily remain private, by law and out of respect for privacy. While we are not Cilla’s employers, you are welcome to contact those of us named below to discuss this matter further. The Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, Director of Congregational Life at the UUA and Cilla’s former UUA supervisor, is not legally permitted to comment on the details of Cilla’s departure but is glad to address your concerns about the systemic issues of this situation.

Our Pacific Central District has abundant strengths and enormous potential. The ministers in this district are completely committed to healing the strained and broken relationships that hinder this potential and to participating in the creation of a system of accountability and support that will bring renewed health and strength to our district.

We have confidence in our congregational leaders, in the PCD Board, in the UUA leadership, in our fellow ministers and religious educators. We believe we can and will move ahead together, and we pledge ourselves fully to that work. We look forward to continuing to serve in partnership with our district lay leaders on the PCD Growth Committee, the PCD Board, the planning committee for our District Assembly, at the Starr King School, and in our congregations.

[signed]

Rev. Meghan Conrad Cefalu
President, PCD UUMA
Minister, Grass Valley

Rev. Christopher Bell
Vice-President, PCD-UUMA
Minister, Santa Rosa

Rev. Neal Anderson
Secretary, PCD UUMA
Minister, Reno

Rev. Roger Jones
Treasurer, PCD UUMA
Family Minister, Sacramento Society

Rev. Elizabeth Banks
Minister, Davis

Rev. Julia Older
Minister, Redwood City

Rev. Doug Kraft
Senior Minister, Sacramento Society

Rev. Grace Simons
Minister, Modesto

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 20th, 2011 at 11:52 am

One thought on “Repost: letter on PCD politics”

  1. Thanks. I went looking for any statement on the PCD UUMA page; as the letter frankly admits, this does not answer all questions I might have, but it’s a statement, and half a loaf is much better than none.

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