This past Sunday, our service was offered by the Pacific Western Region (PWR) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The service honored the coming together of four districts into one region, acknowledging our diversity and celebrating the contributions of each area.
The Pacific Western Region (PWR) is one of five regions of the Unitarian Universalist Association in the United States. The PWR is made up of four districts that have existed for many years. Olympia is part of the Pacific Northwest District or PNWD, which includes the rest of Washington, Western Idaho, Alaska, and Oregon. The other three districts in the PWR are the Pacific Central District, which includes northern California, Northern Nevada, and Hawaii; the Pacific Southwest District, which includes Southern California, Southern Nevada, and Arizona; and the Mountain Desert District, which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The PWR is big geographically but makes up about 19% of adult UU’s in the US and containing 18% of UU congregations.
The process of regionalization started in 2011, which was the restructuring of how the UUA delivered services to congregations, changing from funding staff positions to serve smaller districts to having staff specialize and serve a larger area. Initially each district had its own Board and entered into an agreement for the PWR to provide services. As of this month, all district boards in the PWR have disbanded, creating one large region in the west.
The PWR provides many services to congregations, including Start Up seminars for new ministries, Healthy Congregations training, help with revising covenants, consultation to congregations in conflict or struggling, and information and support in many areas such as stewardship, anti-racism, and other justice issues.
Every congregation in the PWR has an assigned liaison. The liaison for OUUC is Annie Scott, a religious educator, who you will meet at the Installation in June.
The main advantages of regionalization are the opportunity to have increased specialization, teamwork, and accountability. For example, the PWR staff has a youth ministry specialist, a communications technology specialist, and a stewardship specialist, among others who make up a staff team and work together.
Having regional staff also means increased accountability. In the past, district field staff were co-employed by both the district board and the UUA, which meant two distinct groups were responsible for supervising and evaluating each staff member’s performance. Now all regional staff are UUA employees, and each staff member has a single supervisor, which increases accountability.
As with any change there are downsides. Regionalization meant that more local relationships became harder without district meetings and gatherings. Some people miss having more local people to go to for assistance. Some miss the opportunity to serve on a district board. For some, it was one more change.
Congregations still retain the power to set their own vision, mission, and goals, raise funds, and hire ministers and staff.
Congregations still join together in the UUA, which is a voluntary association of autonomous, self-governing congregations.
Although it can sometimes seem like we are isolated, it serves us to remember that we are connected to UU congregations throughout the region and the US. We are not alone. We can do so much more together.
Blessings on your week,