Over the last 2 and half years, the Presidential Search Committee has engaged in a deep discernment process about the way we select the President of our Association, the work of that person, and who we would nominate for this monumental job. Our task was set by the delegates to the General Assembly, in response to longstanding desires of our movement for a process that was more democratic, inclusive, and spiritually grounded. We are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done, and we are on schedule to announce our nominees by the deadline of Feb. 1st, 2016.
Yet our process and the intent of the delegates and the board has now entered dangerous waters. We are dismayed that some information about our decision-making process regarding our nominees has become a subject of gossip among people who should not have any information as yet. We need every Unitarian Universalist to commit to stopping this gossip in place. If this is impossible, we will be forced to move up the timetable for our formal announcement and abandon the proposed start date of the election campaign affirmed by the Board and voted by the General Assembly when the Presidential Search Committee was created.
The timetable for the formal beginning of any campaign is February 1, 2016, the date by which we are obligated to release the names of our nominees. This timing is particularly important to parish ministers who put in candidacy applications. Out-loud gossip, presumptions, detective work, and deductions by process of elimination will almost certainly violate the privacy and confidentiality we offered to all candidates, and make more difficult the process of notification that a congregation with a ministerial candidate for President is entitled to have. Our UUMA guidelines require ministers, in particular, to respect the integrity of the call.
In these next few months, we need your help to maintain the integrity of our process, protect the current ministries and congregations of our nominees, and keep our covenant together. We ask anyone who has been given information by anyone, whether they are entitled to knowledge about our decision-making process or not, to cease and desist from public or private gossip. We ask President Morales, in particular, to immediately notify his staff that they are to cease and desist from any public or private speculation about the nominees we are putting forward.
We recognize that people who have been given information about where we are in our process, whether they are our nominees or not, are in discernment and planning for themselves. We believe that this conversation can and should be limited to a very small group of campaign advisors who are willing and able to maintain confidentiality.
This first time through the Presidential Search Committee process has, in our view, gone very well thus far. To have this process degenerate into a gossip-driven “false start” to the campaign period which violates the agreements and limits made by the General Assembly would be a shame, and will result in some serous re-evaluation of the process. As is, our final report to the delegates, after the 2017 election, will surely include recommendations to address this issue.
We will be very excited to tell you about our nominees on, or before, February 1st, 2016. We believe they are wonderful people and leaders. The conversation they will lead and encourage over the next 16 months will be vitally important for our future. We hope their vision, their plans, and their presence will delight, engage, and even surprise you. But until then, we offer you a special invitation to the advent season of patient expectation. Enjoy your holidays, and you’ll hear from us in the New Year.