Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Another Process for the President
Let's elect the next President the same way that we call ministers in our congregations.
1. Elect a Search Committee that is broadly representative of all of Unitarian Universalism.
2. Give them lots of time to work, and consult with people in all areas of the UUA.
3. Let them interview prospective Presidents, looking for the one that seems to match what most people seem to want in the next leader.
4. Let them make a recommendation.
5. Let the people affirm their recommendation through a supermajority.
The result of that type of process in our congregations is that we usually end up with a leader who enjoys broad support in the congregation. The process of ministerial transition increases the unity and sense of common purpose in the congregation, rather than dividing it.
Our present election process exaggerates our differences. Whoever wins starts out with a sizable minority of UU's regretting the way it turned out, and skeptical of the new President's efforts.
If you imagined a congregation choosing their next minister the way that the UUA chooses its next President, most congregations would splinter.
We do need a way for people who are frustrated with our present course to be able to act through the democratic process to change it. For example, a person who thinks that we should do less social action, but more evangelism, should have a way to change the priorities of the denomination. They should be able to run candidates who have those priorities and make a case to other voters.
I think that should be what happens when we elect our Board Trustees. Those elections should be the place where individuals and groups put forward candidates that promise to the move the UUA in one direction or another. Those elections are closer to home and offer more chances for lots of participation. They should be more political and competitive, and as a result more interesting.
Under policy governance, the Board is where the vision and the direction of the organization is set. The Board should be where specific and competing points of views are reconciled through decision and compromise. The President becomes less of visionary, and more of a person who can spark the staff and volunteers to fulfill our common goals.