Sunday, April 17, 2011

General Assembly Annual Meetings 2011

The Annual Meetings are still on-going but I am home now, and can report on the first half of the meetings that I attended. Derek McAuley, the Chief Officer is also blogging from GA on his blog.

The Ministerial Fellowship conference was good, and included a live video link up from a consultant in Seattle who lead a workshop on social media and communication strategy.

The only other thing I can really report on is the main Business sessions. This seems to be a larger than usual Annual Meetings as the venue for the business sessions felt pretty full, and quite a bit hot, dry and stuffy. The way they are doing business has also changed and Chairs of Commissions did not give verbal reports this year. As it's written in the Annual Report, this seems like a good way to cut down on the time it takes for business. I did ask a question about reporting membership numbers and was told that the total number of Unitarians would be reported in Annual Reports in future, so five or six years after agreeing we would prioritise growth we have finally started recording whether we are growing or not.

The key piece of work reported on by the Executive Committee was the development of Strategic Priorities. I just looked for them on the website and couldn't find them. They have been emailed out on Uni-News. They are:
  • Developing Ministry
  • Supporting local leadership
  • Raising our visibility
  • Improving the way Essex Hall delivers services.
To the end of achieving, over the next five years:
  • Membership growth of 20%
  • At least 50 active Ministers
  • Access to ministerial support for all congregations
  • Ensuring all volunteers have access to training and support
To achieve this they are proposing a complete overhall of the structure of Commissions. It's this that is causing concern to some. It isn't that long ago that these structures were put in place, and some say they are doing just fine. But then again it is a very complicated structure for a tiny denomination, as you'll find if you follow the link. This is where the disagreements are going to be.

The other business was the Stipend Review document when once again one delegate tried to change the proposals for different recommended preaching fees for Ministers and lay people. We've had this debate several times before, and the outcome has always been to keep the different fee. I'm bored of it to be honest. It was agreed, after a very confusing debate to keep it as it is. At such times I'm increadilbly jealous that we don't have someone like Gini Courter that the American UUs have to Chair meetings. The President only is in place for one year, and so we always have someone chairing the meeting who doesn't quite know what's going on. No one ever gets a chance to get any good at chairing these meetings, and it really shows.

I wasn't there for any motions, but I've heard on Twitter that we've passed the one calling on the government to deal with the problem of destitute asylum seekers, and that was the only one with any real substance so I'll bet you any money that we'll pass the ones celebrating Amnesty International and signing up to the Charter for Compassion.

Taking place just about now is a Future Annual Meetings Workshop and from the advert for that I can see that there are proposals for significant changes in the future, including moving the Meetings to the summer. I'd support that as this year they have clashed with Easter services. I came back this year to take the Palm Sunday service and next year the meetings are taking place in Holy Week, including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. If you're in a congregation that marks these festivals, (as I am) then it's a bad clash. There is a proposal to move them to the summer by 2014.

So not a world-shattering meeting (not the first half I was there anyway). But some significant progress.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Angela @ liveunitarianly.com said...

I was at the future of the annual meeting session. I'd say that on balance, moving to the summer (they are proposing late June) would be unpopular, particularly with teacher or anyone with children. On the other hand, the idea of having a focus day with a good speaker seemed to meet with approval.

I think the fees should be the same for ministers and lay people. Professional ministry is much bigger than pulpit supply and ministers have status in our communities without the nominal £5. But, I can't be bothered to debate it, unless we're going to do so properly and clearly. Certainly, it's not the hill I want to die on.

7:36 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

You're right, there would be significant opposition to moving away from Easter, for the reasons you say. What about May half-term??

Yes, not the hill I want to die on either.

9:19 pm  
Anonymous Angela @ liveunitarianly.com said...

This wasn't brought up,but we can't do May half-term because universities are still in session. I agree that otherwise it would be perfect. I think they're looking at the last week in July - that may cause problems with the Hucklow summer events.

8:23 pm  

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