The staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) are slowly developing what has come to be known as “regionalization.” Although as I understand it regionalization originally came out of initiatives by districts to share and pool scarce resources, now the UUA is being driven towards regionalization by economic necessity. In a recent presentation to district staff, made available on YouTube, Teresa Cooley, Director of Congregational Life, says this:
“We have reduced resources, we have an obligation to steward our resources better, and one of the recognitions we have is: to have administrative structures for nineteen different districts is not necessarily the most cost effective way of doing things.”
I’ll embed the video below.
This talk to district staff serves as a good introduction for those of us in local congregations who are trying to understand how the UUA is going to respond to district regionalization initiatives, and how the UUA will try to undertake its own initiatives towards regionalization.
One thing that became quite clear to me as I listened to Cooley — no one is quite sure how this is going to play out. With that kind of lack of certainty, people are going to be anxious, and that means rumors will fly, some people will get angry at the UUA and other leaders, and I guarantee that more conspiracy theories will arise to join the already existing conspiracy theories. It would be wise for all of us to remember the words of Sir Bernard Ingham: “Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.”
Cooley addresses the conspiracy theories directly when she says this in her talk:
“Because we’re changing that [UUA] staff structure does not mean we’re changing the district structure itself. We are not in a position to tell district boards how they do their work, or how they make their decisions.”
In other words, she recognizes that the UUA cannot take over districts, since districts exists as separately incorporated organizations.
Mind you, there are plenty of opportunity for Sir Bernard’s cock-ups in the model presented by Cooley. But there are also plenty of opportunities for better delivery of services to my congregation: instead of relying on the skills of one or two field staffers, it looks like I might be able to draw on the skills of half a dozen field staffers. This is very good news, from my point of view as someone working in a local congregation.