The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. (Unitarian-Universalist Principle)
The past couple of weeks have proved to be mixture of ups and downs.
First, the phenomenal news of Barrack Obama’s election. A black man, an intelligent-thoughtful man, president-elect.
Then, news of the Alaska senate and house races. Stevens up, then down. Young up (I know, explain that to me). I’d have felt better seeing a convicted felon reelected to the Senate than the embarrassment otherwise known as Don Young going back to represent himself, certainly not Alaska, in the House. Of course, Don’s day in court may still come.
But then, during the week in which we were all elated with the outcome of the national election, out of Fellowship comes news that our Director of Member Services had been forced to resign by our Board.
Today, almost a week and a half later, we still have no official reason for the resignation. Of course, our new membership ceremony was today, and seeing how he had met with, welcomed, and assisted each of them in joining our Fellowship perhaps it wasn’t the time to announce why their decision was made.
Of course, for the many of us who found our Member Services Director compitent, firendly, caring, compassionate, knowledgeable, and passionate; we are left wondering how the Board made this decision. Particularly, when it appears as though the Board was acting in a vacuum.
Now, at a time when our national Democracy appears to be rejuvenated, we have an action within our own Fellowship that threatens democracy at a very elemental level. Questions need to be asked, and deserve to be answered.
Who initiated the action to remove our Director?
If meetings were held to evaluate our Director’s performance, why weren’t they open to the membership at large?
If the Board did not solicite thoughts from the membership, how can the Board say their action represents the membership?
Were members asked to participate based only on the size of their annual donation to the Fellowship?
Or perhaps based upon their longevity within the Fellowhip?
If the decision was not arrived at democratically, how does the Board reconcile itself with the Principles we bind ourselves to?
As I spent my Friday evening at the Fellowship, listening to live folk music at a “Coffeehouse” to raise money for our youth group to attend, I pondered these questions, and more.
I watched friends come and go, some on the board, some not. I spoke briefly with people who had been touched deeply by our Director, and had joined and grown in our Fellowship in no small part due to his efforts.
We spoke of the weather. Of music.
I didn’t raise the issue of the Director’s dismissal.
And neither did they.
But the anger is there. And thats good, because we’ll need it. We’ll need it to remind our Board of the UU principles, that our congregation acts as a democracy. That in order to enact democracy the Board needs to act with transparency and equanimity, giving voice to all our members, not just the few who socialize with the Board.
In the meantime, it may be time we elected our recently resigned Director to the recently opened seat on the Board.