By Karen Kyker, Dec. 15, 2021
On Sunday, November 21, 38 people gathered online for the annual general meeting (“AGM”) of the EUU. At the meeting, we elected officers for 2022, discussed the Treasurer’s Report, made minor amendments to our EUU bylaws, thanked some of our volunteers with Appreciation Awards, discussed a proposal of how to plan our EUU retreats in the future (in-person and not), and heard the news about the vote to dissolve ICUU, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.
Officers 2022 – In January, Karen Kyker (in Paris, France) will become President of EUU, with continuing Treasurer Jutta Hamm-Ullman (in Hamburg, Germany) and Secretary Bonnie Friedmann (in Bremen, Germany). On March 1, Roland Siebeke (in Osnabrück, Germany) will join the other officers as Vice-President; he has been involved with EUU for many years, but most recently has been working in Africa. We look forward to working together on behalf of EUU as the new year begins in January.
Treasurer’s Report – Jutta presented a very clearly laid out review (much appreciated!) of our incoming and outgoing funds for the years 2020 and 2021 and a planned budget for 2022. Notable are the relatively high “retreat gains” and low “retreat losses.” These are exceptionally seen as line items in the budgets, and result from the unusually low costs and high contributions related to online retreats in fall of 2020 and all of 2021. The reduced retreat outlays over the past two years have allowed us to allocate significant funds for Social Action projects (currently about a third of our overall budget). In addition, we have created a ‘reservoir’ of 2000 EUR in our Retreat Grant Fund, so that we can more easily provide funding to those who ask for it before each retreat, and which will be replenished from registration contributions at each retreat. Although our reserves are quite high right now, we expect to see decreases as we go back to in-person retreats which require significant down-payments for retreat sites.
Social Action – Discussion of where we direct our Social Action contributions brought us to discuss putting a greater focus on supporting International UU organizations (possibly a replacement for ICUU), including the International Women’s Convocation. (EUU has partnered with IWC for many years; it is a separate entity from ICUU.) We also support non-UU organizations in Europe which share our values. We are happy to have been able to expand the financial resources to support Social Action and would like to continue giving Social Action a very visible place in our EUU discussions. The Social Action Committee is seeking a co-chair as well as interested and active members.
Amendments to By-Laws – We confirmed all proposed “housekeeping” changes to our bylaws. One change was simply to confirm the significant 2018 amendments to our by-laws (about our calendar and administrative year) so that we can officially report them in our declaration to the French government this year.
A bit of context: the EUU was created as a French cultural association, and we are required to file – in France – a copy in French language of any bylaw changes and officer changes each year. In doing a review of declarations, we found that the 2018 bylaw changes were not declared to the French government at that time. Our vote at this AGM allows us to put those changes into our minutes and submit the fully updated bylaws in this year’s declaration.
The second set of minor bylaw changes were to ensure that our English and French versions of the bylaws are consistent and equivalent. All of these changes were in the context of membership in EUU. Specifically, the French version states that membership can be ended by the Coordinating Committee “for grave causes”; this language was missing from the English version but now will be included. We don’t anticipate or want to use that clause, but, as the CC has been discussing developing policies for safe congregations and complaint procedures, it is relevant; Tony Zamparutti will be leading a task force on this in the new year. We also voted to remove from the French version a clause stating that “membership shall end for the non-payment of dues”, as this is not our practice, and it is not in the English version. Finally, we will remove the reference to a ‘religious association’ in the French bylaws, as we are officially a cultural association.
Membership – The conversation around membership in EUU raised the recurring thought that we should have a system in place to allow people to confirm their membership in EUU on a regular, perhaps annual basis, e.g., when registering for retreats or during the annual pledge drive. Our membership fluctuates as people move in and out of Europe, and this can have an impact: dues paid to international organizations are based on membership numbers. We did not vote on this issue, as a clear proposal was not brought for voting at this meeting. However, this is a task that can be pursued and resolved, perhaps in the next year!
Volunteer Appreciation Awards – Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation were expressed to a few of our many EUU volunteers. See the list of awards and recipients here.
A Proposal about Future EUU Retreat Planning – Shulamit Helleman-Levine shared her very thoughtful and detailed written proposal about how we can and should make online or ‘hybrid’/multiplatform retreats a regular part of our retreat planning calendar. Although the pandemic has instigated our use of online retreats, there are also climate-ethics to consider that make online retreats important to us as a religious community, as well as other factors faced by many of us (aging, illness, finances, personal responsibilities). Many people have greater access to retreats when they are available online, even though for many others, the thought of an online retreat is daunting. A tantalizing mention of the ‘theological implications of on-screen interactions’ was mentioned, but we didn’t have time to explore this. It was agreed in general that we are in a position to experiment a lot with the tools and technology of multi-platform/hybrid meetings and events, and we can continue doing so.
Update on ICUU – Eva Kortekaas reported that, despite her representation and vote on behalf of EUU to preserve the ICUU, a vote to dissolve it was recently carried. Now, a new international organization will be created. The UUA will be stepping in during the interim to make sure ongoing ICUU projects are managed. Eva recommends that the EUU be active in the creation of the new organization. Numerous people spoke about their involvement with ICUU over its history. Upcoming, the Rev. Diane Rollert of Montreal will lead a ritual to bring together those grieving the loss of ICUU.