The AGM (Annual General Meeting) on 9 June at EUT was in keeping with the energy I experienced the entire weekend: joy that we could gather and share our UU outlook with a multinational group, concern that the burden we were putting on an ever decreasing number of volunteers in order to enjoy such a gathering could not be squared with that same UU outlook.
In a rather short meeting, we made some important decisions and looked ahead to more significant, structural changes in our organization.
Budget: Our Treasurer, Tom Sievers, proposed a sensible and efficient way of handling our shift to a budget that aligns with the calendar year by lengthening last years budget to 16 months. We will vote on a new budget for the 2020 calendar year at the AGM in Bad Homburg.
New Officers: The slate of officers for the four-month term from September 1 to December 31 was elected by acclamation. President is Ray Burlingame-Goff, Vice President is Tony Zamparutti, Secretary is Bonnie Friedmann, and Treasurer is Tom Sievers.
Potentially Positive Proposals from your President: the following ideas were introduced and briefly discussed at the AGM. We will be using the upcoming CC Meeting on June 29th to hammer out formal proposals which will then be introduced to our membership in the Unifier and discussed and voted on at the AGM in Bad Homburg.
Draft proposal 1: The role of the officers be more clearly defined and simplified.
Draft proposal 2: The scope and time commitment for all volunteer roles should be more transparent and term limits introduced so that no one should feel that volunteering is a lifetime commitment and feel guilty about stepping back. At present we need two Co-Coordinators for Social Action.
Draft proposal 3: If Co-coordinators for Social Action cannot be found, Social Action will be integrated into Retreat Planning in conjunction with the Sunday collection.
Draft proposal 3: The Transylvanian School Exchange needs to be examined closely and a decision taken about whether it should be continued. If it is to be continued, we need volunteers to step up and run it.
Draft proposal 4: Pledging should be integrated into the Retreat Registration process. PayPal should be used for both pledges and retreat fees (which will greatly reduce the work of the Treasurer and Pledge Coordinator). A Pledging Page should also be added to the Website so that anyone can pledge at any time (also as a birthday gift, a testimonial or memorial).
Draft proposal 5: An 8-person Retreat Committee should be formed to increase expertise and experience, continuity, clearer thematization, and long-range planning. Such a committee would also be a sensible response to life-phase issues (a young adult may benefit from having these credentials on their resume; an older member may have more time, etc.) and reduce the stress that several of the Fellowships have reported.
Draft proposal 6: The Coordinating Council (CC) Meetings should be held only at retreats. This would cut down on the costs and time commitment for the Officers and Fellowship Representatives. Many CC members and potential CC members feel that these meetings are a burden. CC meetings at the Retreats are more likely to have Fellowship representation and may even encourage non-serving members to attend. It also acknowledges the increasing difficulty of finding hosts for the meeting.
Draft proposal 7: We should continue to explore technologies such as Zoom and Facebook to create Fellowship. EUU needs to remember that when we use our volunteers to make things cost less, we may be undervaluing their time. Many of our members now find time more valuable than money. Using technology to reduce the tedious parts of our volunteer work (PayPal, for example) will mean that the remaining work is more rewarding and enjoyable. Using Zoom to have more frequent but briefer and more clearly defined (“surgical”) meetings has been a popular alternative in the past and needs to be built on.
I was very pleased with the positive and helpful tone of the AGM and hope that we can all continue in that vein to make EUU sustainable as well as enjoyable.
“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.” (from Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts)