Grand Finale: The Final Joseph Priestley District Assembly

by Ann Davis

It was a bittersweet time of seeing long-time and newer fellow like-minded friends of the Unitarian Universalist persuasion. Familiar faces to UUFE folks were Rev. Paula Maiorano and Rev. Gabi Parks. There were interesting and helpful workshops to entertain the mind, worship to elevate the spirit, and music by Emma’s Revolution to energize and get one’s toes tapping and heart warming.

Rev. Sue, Ann and Jack Davis, met up with about 200 other Unitarian Universalists of the Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, in York, PA, April 8th and 9th. It was to be the final such gathering. At the business meeting on Saturday afternoon, led by the members of the Joseph Priestley District Board, a vote was taken. There was a resolution before the assembly whether to permit the Board to dissolve the District, at such time as it deems appropriate. (This will likely happen by the end of 2016.) There was time permitted for questions and comments about dissolution and the move into the Central East Region (CER). In a near unanimous vote the resolution was upheld.

It is the end of an era. For that reason, it was a nostalgic for those who have lived, worked as leaders, and worshipped in the 70-congregation community of “our district.” As we all know, change can be very challenging, but this change can also “shake things up” and offer new ways of doing our UU faith. The theme of the Assembly was about “covenant and interdependence.” Being members of the eight-congregation Delmarva Cluster is an environment for inter-congregational activities. With this group we can develop relationships of mutual support. This may happen through shared programming, possibly shared staffing, ministry, pulpit exchanges, youth activities and more such as Beach Day in Lewes and the Delmarva Cluster Retreat at Camp Tochwogh.

The wider circle of CER will bring new opportunities to be served by regional staff that will specialize in particular areas (sometimes called porfolios) of congregational life: finance, diversity, conflict resolution, stewardship, governance, etc. Each congregation will be connected to CER through its Primary Contact. Our Primary Contact will be Rev. David Pyle, who many of you have met, a very capable and energetic man. Whereas, he has been responsible to 70 congregations, he will now oversee 25. This will allow for sustained and close interaction between UUFE and Rev. Pyle.

A finale ends one production and clears the stage for a new cast to create a new show. I’m looking forward to the curtains opening on the new Unitarian Universalist era and what role UUFE will take in the new show.   Break a leg!

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