1 00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:07,639 2 00:00:07,639 --> 00:00:09,180 Speaker 1: I'm pleased to offer this, 3 00:00:09,180 --> 00:00:13,470 my first report to the General Assembly as your moderator. 4 00:00:13,470 --> 00:00:16,430 Since my election last June in Louisville, 5 00:00:16,430 --> 00:00:19,940 I have visited scores of congregations, a few clusters, 6 00:00:19,940 --> 00:00:23,490 several districts, a region, many organizations, 7 00:00:23,490 --> 00:00:27,090 too many committees to count, and all of the UUA staff 8 00:00:27,090 --> 00:00:29,080 groups. 9 00:00:29,080 --> 00:00:31,580 Meeting with hundreds of Unitarian Universalists 10 00:00:31,580 --> 00:00:35,560 and others who share our values confirms to me 11 00:00:35,560 --> 00:00:38,930 that we are a religion whose values position us 12 00:00:38,930 --> 00:00:41,810 well to partner with other organizations-- 13 00:00:41,810 --> 00:00:44,760 religious traditions-- to serve the new generations 14 00:00:44,760 --> 00:00:46,870 in new ways. 15 00:00:46,870 --> 00:00:49,290 This morning I want to do four things with you-- share 16 00:00:49,290 --> 00:00:52,730 my personal story, so you know why I chose this faith-- 17 00:00:52,730 --> 00:00:55,630 to introduce myself, if you will. 18 00:00:55,630 --> 00:00:58,260 I want to talk about clergy sexual misconduct 19 00:00:58,260 --> 00:01:02,160 and apologize to victims of this abuse. 20 00:01:02,160 --> 00:01:03,920 I want to report on our continuing efforts 21 00:01:03,920 --> 00:01:05,790 to right size governance. 22 00:01:05,790 --> 00:01:08,400 And finally, I want to challenge congregational leaders 23 00:01:08,400 --> 00:01:11,730 to be bold and take risks. 24 00:01:11,730 --> 00:01:13,700 So let me start with my story and why 25 00:01:13,700 --> 00:01:18,710 I chose to be a Unitarian Universalist evangelist. 26 00:01:18,710 --> 00:01:22,760 And let me tell you, it's not easy being a UU evangelist. 27 00:01:22,760 --> 00:01:24,680 Some folks want to focus on whether that 28 00:01:24,680 --> 00:01:28,080 is an appropriate word to use, rather than whether it's 29 00:01:28,080 --> 00:01:31,830 a relevant goal to spread the good news of a free and liberal 30 00:01:31,830 --> 00:01:33,870 faith. 31 00:01:33,870 --> 00:01:39,070 Even more basic, it's not always easy becoming a UU, 32 00:01:39,070 --> 00:01:42,070 or it wasn't in my case, and I suspect for too many of you 33 00:01:42,070 --> 00:01:44,160 others out here. 34 00:01:44,160 --> 00:01:47,760 I'm committed to my core to finding those people like me 35 00:01:47,760 --> 00:01:51,150 who were seekers, but having trouble finding us. 36 00:01:51,150 --> 00:01:53,580 Or worse, not quite understanding 37 00:01:53,580 --> 00:01:57,440 what we're all about when they do encounter us. 38 00:01:57,440 --> 00:02:00,610 I grew up poor in the Jim Crow South, 39 00:02:00,610 --> 00:02:03,140 influenced by my radical grandfather, 40 00:02:03,140 --> 00:02:05,870 a social gospel Methodist. 41 00:02:05,870 --> 00:02:08,810 Under his tutelage, I was courage to speak out 42 00:02:08,810 --> 00:02:12,660 against the evils of segregation and the errors of theology 43 00:02:12,660 --> 00:02:16,010 he observed in most white Christian denominations 44 00:02:16,010 --> 00:02:20,280 of his time and his place. 45 00:02:20,280 --> 00:02:22,930 I married someone I met in junior high school 46 00:02:22,930 --> 00:02:25,890 and we raised two sons and a daughter. 47 00:02:25,890 --> 00:02:28,160 We enjoyed a privileged life and I, a career 48 00:02:28,160 --> 00:02:31,210 with IMB for over 30 years, living and working 49 00:02:31,210 --> 00:02:33,460 all over the United States in Asia; 50 00:02:33,460 --> 00:02:35,870 always seeking, always joining the most 51 00:02:35,870 --> 00:02:40,660 liberal and progressive congregation we could find. 52 00:02:40,660 --> 00:02:43,650 I was a restless and questioning soul, 53 00:02:43,650 --> 00:02:46,640 having many doubts about my own evolving theology 54 00:02:46,640 --> 00:02:49,090 and the relevance of organized religion 55 00:02:49,090 --> 00:02:52,820 in an increasingly unjust world. 56 00:02:52,820 --> 00:02:56,950 As our family moved about and sought a religious community, 57 00:02:56,950 --> 00:03:01,040 we never encountered a Unitarian Universalist, 58 00:03:01,040 --> 00:03:08,600 in all of the places we lived-- Virginia, New Jersey, Oklahoma, 59 00:03:08,600 --> 00:03:17,920 Missouri, Kansas, Tokyo, Georgia, Connecticut. 60 00:03:17,920 --> 00:03:26,700 I'm pretty sure UUs were around, but no one seemed to be out. 61 00:03:26,700 --> 00:03:30,710 We never passed a Unitarian Universalist facility. 62 00:03:30,710 --> 00:03:34,120 We never noticed a Unitarian Universalist ad. 63 00:03:34,120 --> 00:03:36,630 And we were never greeted by a Unitarian Universalist 64 00:03:36,630 --> 00:03:38,770 at any of the many progressive organizations 65 00:03:38,770 --> 00:03:41,140 we were a part of. 66 00:03:41,140 --> 00:03:45,240 People identifying as atheists to Zoroastrians 67 00:03:45,240 --> 00:03:47,770 introduced themselves to us and invited us to know more 68 00:03:47,770 --> 00:03:50,320 about their beliefs, but we never 69 00:03:50,320 --> 00:03:54,140 met anyone who identified as a Unitarian Universalist, 70 00:03:54,140 --> 00:03:58,940 in all of those decades-- not one. 71 00:03:58,940 --> 00:04:02,330 Liz and I moved to Beaufort, South Carolina in 1997, 72 00:04:02,330 --> 00:04:04,500 and it was there that I was finally 73 00:04:04,500 --> 00:04:08,010 introduced to Unitarian Universalism 74 00:04:08,010 --> 00:04:09,780 by a Presbyterian minister. 75 00:04:09,780 --> 00:04:13,620 [LAUGHTER] 76 00:04:13,620 --> 00:04:17,180 She said, you need to be over there with those people. 77 00:04:17,180 --> 00:04:19,720 [LAUGHTER] 78 00:04:19,720 --> 00:04:26,160 [APPLAUSE] 79 00:04:26,160 --> 00:04:29,010 Those people were a small group of UUs displaced 80 00:04:29,010 --> 00:04:34,704 from their natural habitat in the Northeast who 81 00:04:34,704 --> 00:04:36,370 were organizing a Unitarian Universalist 82 00:04:36,370 --> 00:04:39,900 congregation in this small southern town. 83 00:04:39,900 --> 00:04:42,200 I soon became the finance and stewardship chair. 84 00:04:42,200 --> 00:04:44,570 That's what I always do. 85 00:04:44,570 --> 00:04:47,580 In 1999, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 86 00:04:47,580 --> 00:04:51,670 of Beaufort became an affiliated congregation of the UUA. 87 00:04:51,670 --> 00:04:55,700 Liz I had found our liberal and liberating religious home 88 00:04:55,700 --> 00:04:59,750 after searching for over three decades. 89 00:04:59,750 --> 00:05:03,440 As brand new UUs, we were founding members of an emerging 90 00:05:03,440 --> 00:05:06,210 congregation, and, I'm proud to say later, 91 00:05:06,210 --> 00:05:08,436 a breakthrough congregation. 92 00:05:08,436 --> 00:05:13,590 [APPLAUSE] 93 00:05:13,590 --> 00:05:16,390 Now, that might be an engaging enough story 94 00:05:16,390 --> 00:05:20,360 if it that ended there, but a life changing event 95 00:05:20,360 --> 00:05:24,400 occurred on December the 15th, 1999. 96 00:05:24,400 --> 00:05:28,080 I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, 97 00:05:28,080 --> 00:05:30,780 prescribed a palliative treatment of chemotherapy 98 00:05:30,780 --> 00:05:32,750 that would continue for 10 months, 99 00:05:32,750 --> 00:05:35,960 and told to get my affairs in order. 100 00:05:35,960 --> 00:05:37,960 Now, there is nothing like a death sentence 101 00:05:37,960 --> 00:05:40,890 to focus the mind. 102 00:05:40,890 --> 00:05:44,410 I put much of my life on hold-- completion of our new house, 103 00:05:44,410 --> 00:05:47,700 starting my new consulting practice-- but not 104 00:05:47,700 --> 00:05:50,130 my new religious community. 105 00:05:50,130 --> 00:05:52,680 I experienced the five stages of loss and grief, 106 00:05:52,680 --> 00:05:55,370 but with the support of my UU siblings, 107 00:05:55,370 --> 00:05:57,980 I moved quickly to acceptance. 108 00:05:57,980 --> 00:06:00,040 I had responsibilities after all. 109 00:06:00,040 --> 00:06:06,370 I was supervising the finances of this new UU congregation. 110 00:06:06,370 --> 00:06:09,420 My faith community was my North Star. 111 00:06:09,420 --> 00:06:11,790 Their love was unconditional. 112 00:06:11,790 --> 00:06:13,960 Their hope, contagious. 113 00:06:13,960 --> 00:06:17,006 Their support for Liz and me, boundless. 114 00:06:17,006 --> 00:06:18,380 In the middle of my chemotherapy, 115 00:06:18,380 --> 00:06:21,670 a person who had been an early organizer of our congregation 116 00:06:21,670 --> 00:06:30,710 asked if I would serve as president. 117 00:06:30,710 --> 00:06:35,050 I was stunned. 118 00:06:35,050 --> 00:06:39,990 I asked her if she thought it could wait a year. 119 00:06:39,990 --> 00:06:42,720 She said of course, but I'll be back. 120 00:06:42,720 --> 00:06:44,810 Indeed, she did come back the following year, 121 00:06:44,810 --> 00:06:47,290 held a mirror under my nose, noted 122 00:06:47,290 --> 00:06:57,720 that I fogged that mirror, and asked me to serve. 123 00:06:57,720 --> 00:06:59,830 So a year and a half after the diagnosis, 124 00:06:59,830 --> 00:07:02,840 I became the second president of the Unitarian Universalist 125 00:07:02,840 --> 00:07:04,340 Fellowship of Beaufort and served 126 00:07:04,340 --> 00:07:08,100 in that role for five years. 127 00:07:08,100 --> 00:07:10,020 Friends, hear this clearly. 128 00:07:10,020 --> 00:07:14,520 Unitarian Universalism saved my life. 129 00:07:14,520 --> 00:07:16,730 I owe this faith something, and so I 130 00:07:16,730 --> 00:07:21,820 serve as best as my talents allow. 131 00:07:21,820 --> 00:07:24,080 And you just have to love a group of people 132 00:07:24,080 --> 00:07:27,260 with a sense of humor that ask you to serve on committees 133 00:07:27,260 --> 00:07:29,010 and boards while at the same time, 134 00:07:29,010 --> 00:07:36,100 you're planning your memorial service. 135 00:07:36,100 --> 00:07:36,610 You do. 136 00:07:36,610 --> 00:07:39,800 You just do. 137 00:07:39,800 --> 00:07:42,280 The good news of Unitarian Universalism 138 00:07:42,280 --> 00:07:46,690 arrived for me just in time. 139 00:07:46,690 --> 00:07:49,290 Others shouldn't have to wait-- shouldn't 140 00:07:49,290 --> 00:07:50,740 have to die prematurely. 141 00:07:50,740 --> 00:08:01,090 [APPLAUSE] 142 00:08:01,090 --> 00:08:05,370 We must come out, live our values, speak our truths, 143 00:08:05,370 --> 00:08:11,810 and be amazed at and changed by those who join us. 144 00:08:11,810 --> 00:08:14,080 Now let me move to a subject most 145 00:08:14,080 --> 00:08:19,170 would wish to avoid-- clergy sexual misconduct. 146 00:08:19,170 --> 00:08:21,060 As a candidate for moderator, I signed 147 00:08:21,060 --> 00:08:23,420 a petition circulated by Safety Net-- 148 00:08:23,420 --> 00:08:27,000 a social justice organization of first Unitarian Universalist 149 00:08:27,000 --> 00:08:29,160 Church of Nashville. 150 00:08:29,160 --> 00:08:32,150 This petition called for a national discussion 151 00:08:32,150 --> 00:08:35,309 of clergy sexual misconduct. 152 00:08:35,309 --> 00:08:37,789 Let me put this in the proper context. 153 00:08:37,789 --> 00:08:43,360 I'm speaking of incidents of UU clergy, albeit a small number, 154 00:08:43,360 --> 00:08:45,550 ignoring professional ethics and boundaries who 155 00:08:45,550 --> 00:08:48,330 preyed on vulnerable congregants. 156 00:08:48,330 --> 00:08:51,020 There were no incidents of abuse of children or elders 157 00:08:51,020 --> 00:08:54,130 in my investigations. 158 00:08:54,130 --> 00:08:58,140 Safety Net was formed to support people who had filed complaints 159 00:08:58,140 --> 00:09:01,860 and who had not been well served by previous institutional 160 00:09:01,860 --> 00:09:05,070 responses and promises. 161 00:09:05,070 --> 00:09:08,270 I have met with victims of clergy sexual misconduct 162 00:09:08,270 --> 00:09:10,420 and I've heard their stories. 163 00:09:10,420 --> 00:09:14,590 I shared those hard to tell, hard to hear stories 164 00:09:14,590 --> 00:09:17,280 with our board of trustees. 165 00:09:17,280 --> 00:09:19,800 The board asked Natty Averett, UUA trustee, 166 00:09:19,800 --> 00:09:23,259 to convene a working group to examine our current processes, 167 00:09:23,259 --> 00:09:25,300 consult with the Ministries and Faith Development 168 00:09:25,300 --> 00:09:27,680 Office-- headed by Sarah Lammert-- 169 00:09:27,680 --> 00:09:30,080 and recommend changes. 170 00:09:30,080 --> 00:09:31,700 Natty will update you on those efforts 171 00:09:31,700 --> 00:09:34,690 in the trustee report that follows. 172 00:09:34,690 --> 00:09:37,350 The staff and Sarah Lammert specifically 173 00:09:37,350 --> 00:09:39,500 have been swift and compassionate 174 00:09:39,500 --> 00:09:41,390 in their response, as well as proactive 175 00:09:41,390 --> 00:09:43,620 in updating and improving our processes 176 00:09:43,620 --> 00:09:45,410 for handling complaints. 177 00:09:45,410 --> 00:09:48,190 Additionally, the UUMA Minister's Association 178 00:09:48,190 --> 00:09:54,910 has been responsive and helpful as we assess how we go forward. 179 00:09:54,910 --> 00:09:57,420 On behalf of the UUA board of trustees, 180 00:09:57,420 --> 00:10:01,290 I want to express my deepest apologies to those of you who 181 00:10:01,290 --> 00:10:04,880 have been victims of UU clergy sexual misconduct, 182 00:10:04,880 --> 00:10:08,060 whether you have come forward or not. 183 00:10:08,060 --> 00:10:10,760 I want you to know we are sorry for the suffering caused 184 00:10:10,760 --> 00:10:14,150 by one of our Unitarian Universalist ministers. 185 00:10:14,150 --> 00:10:16,910 The board and I grieve with you over this breach 186 00:10:16,910 --> 00:10:20,900 of sacred trust and professional ethics. 187 00:10:20,900 --> 00:10:22,620 It is unacceptable that a minister 188 00:10:22,620 --> 00:10:27,390 has taken advantage of you sexually and emotionally. 189 00:10:27,390 --> 00:10:29,930 It was not your fault. 190 00:10:29,930 --> 00:10:33,480 Exacerbating your pain, some people in your own communities 191 00:10:33,480 --> 00:10:35,680 added to your trauma by challenging your need 192 00:10:35,680 --> 00:10:40,200 to come forward with your complaint. 193 00:10:40,200 --> 00:10:43,290 Now, some of you have heard this apology from this stage before, 194 00:10:43,290 --> 00:10:47,310 and might justifiably ask, what is different now, 195 00:10:47,310 --> 00:10:50,310 and why should you have any confidence 196 00:10:50,310 --> 00:10:52,780 that this time there's an institutional will 197 00:10:52,780 --> 00:10:54,990 to make the process of filing a complaint more 198 00:10:54,990 --> 00:11:00,000 transparent, but most of all, more compassionate? 199 00:11:00,000 --> 00:11:02,820 I pledge, as the chief governance officer-- 200 00:11:02,820 --> 00:11:06,290 along with your board-- to hold all of us, both individually 201 00:11:06,290 --> 00:11:09,520 and institutionally, accountable to the values that 202 00:11:09,520 --> 00:11:12,060 are at our core. 203 00:11:12,060 --> 00:11:15,200 Finally, I want to acknowledge the courage of those of you 204 00:11:15,200 --> 00:11:19,140 who have had this experience but remained faithful to Unitarian 205 00:11:19,140 --> 00:11:21,480 Universalism and are helping us to live 206 00:11:21,480 --> 00:11:26,390 more fully and truly into our values. 207 00:11:26,390 --> 00:11:29,890 These are the true, brave souls of our faith 208 00:11:29,890 --> 00:11:34,630 that we've been talking about all week. 209 00:11:34,630 --> 00:11:38,420 Now let me say a few words about right sizing governance. 210 00:11:38,420 --> 00:11:41,170 The present board of 11 at-large trustees 211 00:11:41,170 --> 00:11:43,850 has been as agile and generative in its work 212 00:11:43,850 --> 00:11:46,680 as the previous board imagined. 213 00:11:46,680 --> 00:11:48,730 The previous board brought the bylaw changes 214 00:11:48,730 --> 00:11:56,430 to the delegation in 2011 to reduce the size of the board. 215 00:11:56,430 --> 00:11:58,622 I thank them for their courage. 216 00:11:58,622 --> 00:12:00,330 They gave up their own privilege in order 217 00:12:00,330 --> 00:12:03,770 to strengthen the governance of our association. 218 00:12:03,770 --> 00:12:07,370 Effective governance is the enabler of our dreams. 219 00:12:07,370 --> 00:12:10,100 It is how we operationalize our covenant with one another, 220 00:12:10,100 --> 00:12:12,850 our promise to one another, and our accountability to one 221 00:12:12,850 --> 00:12:13,970 another. 222 00:12:13,970 --> 00:12:17,080 It's been a great pleasure to be a part of this collaboration 223 00:12:17,080 --> 00:12:18,660 as the board and staff have begun 224 00:12:18,660 --> 00:12:22,830 living into our covenantal faith together, making promises 225 00:12:22,830 --> 00:12:26,440 one to another, holding each other accountable to the other 226 00:12:26,440 --> 00:12:30,797 as well as to the congregations and communities that we serve. 227 00:12:30,797 --> 00:12:32,255 You'll hear the trustee report, how 228 00:12:32,255 --> 00:12:34,490 the board and administration have operationalized 229 00:12:34,490 --> 00:12:37,690 our global ends or shared values in moving 230 00:12:37,690 --> 00:12:42,480 towards effective monitoring of those ends. 231 00:12:42,480 --> 00:12:44,450 Finally, I want to challenge the delegates 232 00:12:44,450 --> 00:12:47,500 and other congregational leaders in this hall and following 233 00:12:47,500 --> 00:12:51,260 on live stream to learn from your board 234 00:12:51,260 --> 00:12:53,460 of trustees' experience. 235 00:12:53,460 --> 00:12:56,900 The board is very clear about the fiduciary strategic and 236 00:12:56,900 --> 00:13:00,190 generative modes of governance and the appropriate scale 237 00:13:00,190 --> 00:13:02,690 of policy style governance. 238 00:13:02,690 --> 00:13:04,570 My charge to those of you in leadership 239 00:13:04,570 --> 00:13:09,030 is this-- seek clarity about the modes of governance 240 00:13:09,030 --> 00:13:11,760 in your own congregations and communities. 241 00:13:11,760 --> 00:13:14,490 Rise above the daily grind we face 242 00:13:14,490 --> 00:13:17,720 around the issues of power and authority, funding, 243 00:13:17,720 --> 00:13:20,030 and whether there's too much or too little language 244 00:13:20,030 --> 00:13:22,580 of reference on Sunday morning. 245 00:13:22,580 --> 00:13:25,560 Focus on what the Unitarian Universalists are called 246 00:13:25,560 --> 00:13:29,660 to do in this world and how we will build the world we 247 00:13:29,660 --> 00:13:31,100 dream about. 248 00:13:31,100 --> 00:13:34,520 Assess how effectively we are answering that call 249 00:13:34,520 --> 00:13:36,900 and living into that dream. 250 00:13:36,900 --> 00:13:41,360 Then you will be practicing good and right sized governance-- 251 00:13:41,360 --> 00:13:45,220 governance as a spiritual practice. 252 00:13:45,220 --> 00:13:47,950 Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me. 253 00:13:47,950 --> 00:13:52,820 It has been a joy to serve for you on behalf of you this year. 254 00:13:52,820 --> 00:13:54,060 Thank you very much. 255 00:13:54,060 --> 00:14:05,810 [APPLAUSE] 256 00:14:05,810 --> 00:14:09,268