uuworld.org reports this week about the ongoing changes in the process of approving organizations for affiliate status in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The article cites folks who have had difficulty with this process and those in the upper echelons of decision making who appear satisfied with these efforts.
As a long-time and active member of one of the many groups now denied affiliate status, I can only report on my perception of this process and its impacts. From my point of view, communication of this process was virtually non-existent. There appeared to be little to no concern for the questions and issues of groups formerly affiliated who would be losing valuable (and perhaps essential) benefits. I worry that this effort, while perhaps guided by totally logical guidelines and solid long-term intentions, will be viewed by many very-committed Unitarian Universalists as uncaring, illogical, and heavy-handed.
Many of the groups losing affiliated status are substantial entities with long histories in our denomination. My little group, Unitarian Universalist Curriculum and Resource Developers (UUCARDS), has a few dozen members and a history dating back only a dozen years or so. And yet, this new process, which provides no replacement for the recognition we received previously, may cripple our little group. At the very least, these changes place enormous additional challenges on the efforts of incredible people whose dedication and contributions to this denomination are huge.
As a future minister, I read the explanations for the changes and can understand, to some degree, the logic for their implementation. At the same time, I hear the voiced pain of those who feel betrayed by a bureaucratic effort into which they had essentially no input and over which any objections were seemingly ignored.
What I take from this unfortunate situation is a renewed appreciation for the impact that even what may seem to be small administrative actions can have, both in an operational sense and an emotional sense, on those invested in a system. I will strive to remember this lesson when I serve my church and participate in management decisions impacting my congregants.