Come Sunday, the Unitarian Universalist Association will have a new president. I’m sure whoever it is will do a fine job. Isn’t that last sentence lame? I don’t want someone to do a fine job. I want a UUA president personifying our association in a way that really energizes and engages me, draws me into their campaign and then reinvigorates me in my work, my ministry and my broader UUA involvement. I’m posting this before Saturday’s election results so it doesn’t seem like a sore loser post, because although I’m voting for one of the candidates, truth be told, I think the other will do a fine job too. But there it is again, a fine job. There’s a disconnect between me and this campaign, between me and these two candidates, as good as they are and as far more accomplished as they are than say, someone like me, I’m still feeling left out. I’m left wondering if we as a religious movement are going to be really, truly in any soul changing way different in another four or eight years than we are right now, and I can’t see it. I’m not feeling it, so…
I’m looking forward to the NEXT president. This thinking and reflection was spurred by a combination of my lack of enthusiasm for the current campaign and a note from a friend that suggested the UUA has been led by Baby Boomers for years and folks should get together here (at GA in Salt Lake City) and talk about who should be next. So, I started thinking about it and talking about it. I even sat down and asked a friend and colleague who I thought would be a good UUA President if he’d ever thought about it. We had an interesting talk.
I think the next UUA president should be a Gen X or Gen Y minister who understands the cultural shift of doing ministry in a postmodern, American religious landscape (and wouldn’t let a GA happen without free WiFi in the convention hall, let’s say). I think the next UUA president should be younger than 50 years old, hopefully even younger than 40 when they take office. I think he or she should be someone who fully engages a transformational ministry and has a background working with youth, young adults and religious education or who has spent their formative years in UUA youth groups. I think the next UUA president should be someone who is not doing the job as a career move or a career stepping stone or as a way to ease into retirement. I’m not accusing either of the present candidates of these things, but the UUA presidency does seem to come at a certain career point. What would it look like to have a President who, instead of accepting a call to that large charge at that height of the career moment, accepted the call to lead the movement instead?
I think the next UUA president should be someone who has served a small or medium sized congregation or perhaps even been a religious educator. I think the next UUA president is someone who works in an open source, networked model and wouldn’t accept an endorsement of their candidacy if you offered him or her one. I think the next UUA President should be an openly evangelical UU who loves to talk about the transformative power of religious and spiritual experience and is one of his or her generation’s (X or Y) most powerful preachers. I think the next UUA president may come into office with a team, so they can play to their strengths, modeling the type of collaborative ministry we can use in our congregations. I think the next UUA president shouldn’t have to wait eight years to run even if whoever is elected this week is having no major problems because it’s impolite to question the status quo. I think the broader UU world may or may not yet have heard of him or her and I would love to gather a group of Gen X and Y ministers, young adults and youth who have some game to talk about who’s got NEXT?