Denominational Affairs

All Souls’ Denominational Connections Committee is committed to educating our congregation about the history, organizational structure, and opportunities within Unitarian Universalism. These include not only conferences and annual meetings, but also wonderful pilgrimage opportunities and family summer camps (for more about this see the Spring 2014 issue of UU World in print or online at www.uuworld.org).

Contact: Chuck Shields (chuck@iuga.org).

News: The UUA’s Joseph Priestly District Assembly Votes to Dissolve and Blend with the Central East Region

As many of you know, but some may not, Unitarian Universalist churches are governed through “congregational polity”; that is, each church is self-governing and voluntarily associates with and supports the work of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and like-minded congregations. The UUA cannot dictate the actions of any particular congregation; instead, it offers guidance, assistance, and forums in which UUs can come together to form common goals and processes.

The UUA is divided, in various combinations, into regions, districts, and clusters. All Souls belongs to the Capitol Cluster, which sits within the Joseph Priestly District (JPD), which in turn belongs to the Central East Region. Both regions and districts have staffs, which provide a wide variety of services such as long-range planning and organizational development, ministerial transitions, leadership training, and conflict management.

Recently, for many reasons including streamlining, the UUA has decided to move to a regional structure and eliminate the middle tier—the districts. And so, on April 9, delegates from the more than 70 congregations of the JPD voted overwhelmingly to allow the JPD Board of Directors to dissolve the District and merge into the Central East Region. Similar actions have or are being taken by the other three districts within the Region.

Several steps had already been taken before the vote to ease this transition, including the integration of the JPD staff into the regional staff structure. The Region has also assigned each of the JPD congregations to a primary contact on the Central East Region staff. This staff person is the first stop for all congregational questions, concerns, and requests for support from the wider UU community.

The JPD will be in regular contact with individual congregations, seeking continuous feedback, as it implements the dissolution and merger. Towards the end of the transition, we will all be invited to celebrate the JPD’s history, culture, and past work.

At the same time, the UUA’s cluster system will develop, and we will strengthen our ties with our neighbors in the Capitol Cluster, which includes UU congregations in DC and the Maryland suburbs. At its May meeting, the All Souls Board of Trustees will select a congregational representative to the Cluster. You will learn more about that as the process moves forward.

If you have any questions about All Souls’ involvement in the larger UU movement, feel free to contact Chair of the Denominational Connections Committee Chuck Shields (chuck@iuga.org).

The Joseph Priestley District

The UUA, headquartered in Boston, is organized into 16 districts and one region serving all the UUA congregations in the United States. All Souls is in the Joseph Priestley District, which serves 71 congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and DC.

The JPD Assembly

The JPD Assembly, a smaller, closer, more affordable version of our General Assembly, was held April 11-12 just outside Philadelphia, in Lafayette Hill, PA, at the ACE Conference Center (www.aceconferencecenter.com). This year’s Assembly was titled “A People So Bold.” Rev. Kathleen McTigue, director of the UU College for Social Justice, gave the keynote address. Kim and Reggie Harris, musicians and storytellers who combine African American spirituals and freedom songs with original compositions, performed on Friday night. Attendees chose from over 17 workshops on such topics as “Welcoming Economic Diversity AND Funding Your Budget” (led by All Souls member Mark Ewert!), “Faith Communities Responding to the Epidemic of Gun Violence,” “Tools for Community Building,” “Everyone Can be a Singer in a Band,” as well as multiple opportunities for worship, music, children’s programming, and networking with like-minded people. Download the JPD Assembly brochure at www.jpduua.org.

UUA General Assembly

Interested in attending GA in Providence, RI, June 25-29, 2014? The theme is “Love Reaches Out.” Join thousands of UUs in New England for our denomination’s annual meeting! For more information, go to www.uua.org/ga. If you have questions about participation, contact Trustee and Denominational Affairs Committee Liaison Emily Koechlin (e.koechlin@starpower.net).

Universalist Unitarian Denominational Links

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Standing on the Side of Love

Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office

Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

Central East Regional Group 

Joseph Priestley District