Announcing Two Candidates for the UUA Board

Two Candidates Qualified for UUA Trustee Election

Two candidates, Beverly Seese and Rebecca Mattis have qualified to be placed on the ballot at this year’s Portland, Oregon General Assembly (June 22 – 26) for UUA Board of Trustee positions.  Using the UUA bylaws’ provision to run by petition, there will again be actual elections for board positions at General Assembly. At the 2021 General Assembly, Fifth Principle Project co-founder, Jay Kiskel, also used this bylaws’ petition provision to force the first election for a board position in nearly a decade.

Generally we do not have elections at General Assembly for leadership positions. The lack of elections at General Assembly is due to a  bylaws’ provision stating that if the Nominating Committee identifies only one individual, that individual is declared “elected and no ballots shall be required.” By using the petition process, candidates not selected by the Nominating Committee can be placed on the ballot, thus giving GA delegates a voice in selecting UU leaders by an election at General Assembly.

Both Beverly and Rebecca have shown their commitment to UUism by running as candidates by petition. Their petitions were only recently submitted, which leaves a great deal of work to be done in a short time. The Fifth Principle Project has offered to help these candidates..

What You Can Do

Make a Campaign Donation

It is estimated that $2,500 – $3,000 must be raised to support these candidates.  These funds will help defray the candidates’ cost to attend General Assembly and purchase a Virtual Booth and other GA facilities to advertise their candidacies. The Fifth Principle Project will also cover the cost of campaign buttons, flyers and other materials.

Please visit the Make a Campaign Donation page and make a generous donation before June 8. The Fifth Principle Project will then disburse the funds to the candidates.

Submit a Newsletter Insert to Your Local Congregation’s Publication Team

Please submit this prepared statement “Announcement of Elections at General Assembly” to your congregation’s publication team. The newsletter insert informs congregation members and delegates that there is another election for UUA Board of Trustee positions.

Congregation delegates are encouraged to become informed voters and live into our Fifth Principle, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

Delegate voting opens June 1.

Attend a Meet the Candidate Townhall Meeting

Three joint Meet the Candidate Townhall meetings with Beverly and Rebecca have been scheduled to allow you to learn why they placed their names on the ballot to be UUA Board of Trustee members.  These are interactive Zoom sessions designed so you can directly ask questions, share your comments, and interact with them.

Pre-registation is required.

  • May 18, 2022, 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific, Register
  • May 25, 2022, 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific, Register
  • June 2, 2022, 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific, Register

Attend UUA Sponsored Debate

  • June 8, 2022
  • 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Registration details to follow

Candidate Bios and Platforms

Each candidate has a website with more information.  You are encouraged to visit these websites, make comments, and the website links with others. Below is a short summary.

Rebecca Mattis

Rebecca Mattis

Visit Rebecca’s Candidate Website.

One of my mottos is “Democracy – use it or lose it!” This is why I am running for the UUA Board of Trustees. I believe that the UUA has not done what it should to promote democracy within the organization, and that our liberal church is losing its way, becoming increasingly authoritarian and dogmatic, while the UUA Board becomes more insular and remote from everyday UUs.

Unitarian Universalism has been my religious home for 15 years. I have always felt a sense of welcome and belonging among diverse groups, and I cannot think of a more religiously diverse denomination than UUism. Our faith has always encouraged us to do good work in love and in freedom.

But, like many UUs, I am grieved to see the direction our UU leadership has taken in the past several years. The UUA has gone from being an organization that supports its member congregations in our liberal religious work, to a highly centralized group, disengaged from individual congregations, and disturbing in its dogmatism.

As a UU and as a candidate, the three principles that I most wish to protect are the first, fourth, and fifth: the inherent worth and dignity of every person, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process. These principles, particularly dear to me, are also the ones that I see being abandoned by the UUA.

I have many years of experience with the democratic process, both as a church trustee and as an elected official, serving four years on the city council of Rutland, Vermont. As a city council member, I learned to listen to all parties with care and empathy, including my opponents. I worked to build an environment that was no longer “us vs. them” but just “us.” We engaged in constructive debate, did our best to meet the needs of all – never perfectly of course, but often successfully.

I believe that diversity of thought is any group’s greatest strength. UUism was built on the foundation of free thought, and I aim to do all I can to keep us there. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Beverly Seese

Beverly Seese
Beverly Seese

Visit Beverly’s Candidate Website.

I am feeling called to this role of Board Trustees for our Association by a large spectrum of our beloved community who are concerned about the erosion of our precious faith tradition. I will be representing the heartland of our country to help deal with the feeling of a lack of representation on this board, from all the different areas of the country.

A growing number of members are concerned that our Unitarian Universalist principles and practices are being undermined. I believe Unitarian Universalism should be allowed to maintain its historic integrity and proceed along its progressive path.

The Unitarian Universalist ideals of  Reason, Tolerance, and Freedom are a magnificent bedrock for beloved Unitarian Universalist community.

With them, we have been able to achieve advances in many areas of justice-building and living in community over the past decades, and must always continue that process. This is not to say that we have reached the goals articulated in our Seven Principles. We will always be trying to improve situations for all living beings.
In recent years, I see these tenets being ignored and trampled on by leaders at all levels of our religious structure. Our principles are not being adhered to, in many cases, when concerns with our leadership are expressed. Dissent and alternate views are not allowed, such as the case of no longer allowing Letters to the Editor in the UU World Magazine.
I have served as a UU congregational minister for the past eleven years, along with an active community ministry. I received my Master’s Degree from Meadville Lombard where my areas of specialization were Pastoral Counseling and Worship Arts.
I grew up in Modesto, CA, as a Church of the Brethren pacifist, and have taken training for non-violent resistance. I participated in marches for anti-nuclear weapons proliferation, Climate Concerns in D.C. in 2013, the National Women’s March in 2017; and a Poor People’s Campaign march in 2021.

Two Important Things

 

Join the Fifth Principle Project. It’s free. The Fifth Principle Project is an organic grassroots initiative to gather into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governing of our denomination.

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Lee
Lee
2 months ago

I would like to understand more about Mattis’s > But our liberal church has taken a dogmatic and authoritarian turn. Every time I open the pages of the UU World or receive an email from the UUA, I am being told how I should think and what I must do. When I read these same publications I see impassioned pleas from people who hope that I will join in their efforts. In fact, I receive similar messages on many topics from many other organizations. Some of the impassioned pleas resonate with my priorities and some do not. The way I… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

OK. So the 10 commandments were really just “impassioned pleas” hoping the Israelites would join in…

…And Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof didn’t resonate with the “impassioned pleas” of UU leadership so he was “free to pick and choose” ….

Read the Gadfly Papers yet? Or is it still too hard to find a copy?

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The 10 commandments are mandates.

I didn’t see mention of Dr. Eklof in Mattis’s materials. If that’s the only thing that she is talking about then that’s important for me to learn. If she is also seeing authoritarianism elsewhere, in other than these (what I see as) impassioned pleas, I’d like to learn that.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

From the Widening the Circle of Concern Study Guide:

It asks us to acknowledge anti-oppression work as a theological mandate of our faith. How could such a mandate find expression in our worship?

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

What I find curious about this “impassioned plea” framing is the authoritarian dogma it attempts to conceal. The rhetorical device goes something like this: “If you don’t completely accept and follow the dictates of my impassioned plea you are hurting my feelings; you are harming me and are therefore out of covenant.” It is a way to have your cake and eat it too; to exercise oppressive domination over the organization while at the same time wearing the angelically pure garments of an aggrieved victim. Here’s from the Study Guide for Widening the Circle of Concern: Widening the Circle of… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Absolutely you can choose to work towards curing cancer rather than towards curing heart disease even if someone gives an impassioned plea for the latter. That does not make you a mean person. However, if you go around bashing those who have chosen curing cancer vs. curing heart disease opposite of your preference, there are a number of social contexts where that is considered mean.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

There have been countless times through history where the recognition that there is racism has led to very little in terms of concrete change. This impassioned plea requests that we not repeat that error. The impassioned plea is that we have concrete action and concrete results, rather than simply continuing the discussion on whether racism is really happening.

Despite the strong words, you and I remain completely free to instead focus on sexism, environmental devastation, poverty, militarism, …, or to pursue anti-racism via other means.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The Widening the Circle of Concern book includes “theological mandate” in several places. Those that are not discussion of another’s stance are in sections whose title includes “Recommendation.”

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Indeed, I believe that the disfellowshipping of Rev. Eklof is another example of authoritarianism within the UUA and UUMA, as well as other punishments and sanctions that have been handed out to at least four other ministers/lay ministers in the past five years.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca Mattis

Thank you for that reply. I agree that actual sanctions are not merely impassioned pleas. If there are other readers like me, your platform might be more easily understood by explicitly mentioning something about these sanctions.

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

You may well be right. I had been thinking that it would be better to mention my concerns about authoritarianism in a more general way and wait for questions about it before I discuss specifics. The reason is that there are some things I prefer to discuss “live,” face to face (at least on a Zoom screen), and with that particular issue being so very, very fraught, I decided to do it the way I did it. I will think about your suggestion, though.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rebecca Mattis
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca Mattis

I appreciate the dialogue between you and Lee here, and I hope to hear more of this approach at the last “meet the candidates” forum if I manage to attend (it will be difficult on the West Coast for some working people). I do not know if UU can heal its rifts, but trying to listen to one another is a start. The disfellowshipping etc. of Todd Eklof is often cited as evidence of the wrong direction some feel UU is taking, but typically the “facts” used are those that have been presented by Eklof and his supporters. I was… Read more »

Rebecca Mattis
Rebecca Mattis
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, thank you very much for your comment. One example of the UU World telling readers what to do was in 2020, when the fall issue contained an article authored by the Unitarian Universalist Association entitled “Stop Calling the Police” which contained the instruction, “Support community organizations with a commitment to being pro-Black and a commitment to closing prisons and ending policing.” Since (according to a 2020 Gallup poll), 81% of Black Americans want the same amount of policing or more in their communities, I don’t see how *ending* policing is pro-Black. Now, I am aware that this is a… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca Mattis

Not everything I read in the UU World resonates with my priorities, though many things do. More rarely, I read things where I think that the proposed actions don’t even resonate with the speaker’s professed priorities; that is I think the person is barking up the wrong tree. And that’s true in other publications from other organizations as well. And it’s also true of what my minister preaches on Sunday mornings, and so on. But regardless of what I think of the author’s writing, I never think that I am forced to think or act in that way. I never… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

I would like to understand more about Seese’s

> I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction.

I am trying to figure out “different from what?” at a level of detail more specific than “our Unitarian Universalist principles and practices.” Is it that these younger / marginalized want to take us in a direction that is different from the following statement?

> The Unitarian Universalist ideals of Reason, Tolerance, and Freedom are a magnificent bedrock for beloved Unitarian Universalist community.

Beverly Seese
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Yes, it seems obvious that there are two very different approaches to our religious practice being promoted. One is the Enlightenment based approach that many people have been attracted to over the past decades, from which the 7 Principles evolved. The other approach calls for rejection of this approach in favor of a more critical, vindictive approach that looks for the problems for which we haven’t been able to find the solutions yet. I believe that we UUs are continuing to search out those solutions to better relationships and opportunities for all. It takes all voices and valuing of all… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Beverly Seese

You find that the younger and marginalized UUs are vindictive? Strangely, my experience is the opposite. Those who have suffered from racism seek ways to erase the effects that racism has had; it’s about restorative justice not punitive justice.

SinSine
SinSine
2 months ago
Reply to  Beverly Seese

The Enlightenment

  1. a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. It was heavily influenced by 17th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, and Newton, and its prominent exponents include Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith.

Really Beverly? You want us to go back to the 1600-1700’s where truth is found?

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  SinSine

You’re correct. UU should definitely turn its back on the enlightenment values of science, reason, logic and mathematics. The UUA has already appeared to have started down that road.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Beverly Seese

To me, there doesn’t seem much room for interpretation for this statement on your candidate’s website: “I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach. But we do not need to be antagonistic toward one another. UUs have always been welcoming of other perspectives and opinions. I would wholeheartedly support helping another branch of UUism to be formed, that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks, (Maybe named 21st Century UUs) if attempts to respectfully discuss differing positions continue to be thwarted.”… Read more »

Rev Don
Rev Don
2 months ago

I just read the statement released by the Board of Trustees about the contested election. I am shocked, stunned, nearly speechless. First they attacked the democratic process provided for in our bylaws, and then they attacked the two people who chose to avail themselves of those bylaws. This was a calculated act of violence and harm. I have never felt so ashamed to be a UU.

SinSine
SinSine
2 months ago
Reply to  Rev Don

They could have engaged the democratic process provided for in our bylaws months ago. They could have volunteered and talked with the nominating committee like other people did. That is the process.
If they had then not been selected in that process they could choose to run anyway. That would be their next democratic choice.
Instead they calculated acts of meddling, dismissive of whole groups of membership, and vague inaccuracies.

https://unitarian-universalist-association.breezy.hr/p/ee4fdbcc10a9-board-of-trustees

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  SinSine

So you’re saying potential candidates can only go through the nominating committee? How corrupt, especially as you know as well as I that the Nom Committee would never have nominated them due to their views. It looks to me that the UUA is trying to create one-party rule like Hungary or Bulgaria.

They followed the process laid out in the bilaws. I hope many more candidates run by petition in the future. UU isn’t supposed to be an “insider” religion, but a democratic bottom-up one.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

I think running for office in a democracy is being cataloged as meddling.

But thank God the UUA and UU World don’t dismiss whole groups of memberships.

Rev Don
Rev Don
2 months ago
Reply to  SinSine

This is gaslighting at its finest. You know full well that our own bylaws present a perfectly acceptable alternative to the nominating committee. IN OUR BYLAWS. I can only assume that you have no need of the democratic process that the Fifth Principle stands for.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  SinSine

Hi, Sin Sine: I agree that the democratic process allows for the candidates to run exactly as they have chosen to do. In my own wishes for more actual democracy and better transparency regarding governance on the congregational level, I have never felt found the process suggested of having additional candidates presented at the meeting satisfactory, as to my thinking it disadvantages people who are presented at the last minute, as it were, and skip the vetting process. But I also believe these candidates could have taken the path you suggest. To my thinking, candidates explicitly running in opposition to… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rev Don

Regardless of whom I hope will win, I am happy that the process that enables additional candidates onto the ballot works and has brought us these two additional candidates. Does anyone know whether there is a Board of Elections or similar entity at the UUA that handles the mechanics of elections, appeals regarding elections, etc.? If there is no separate entity and if those responsibilities fall to the Board of Directors then I find this statement from the Board of Directors to be improper given its role as adjudicators. On the other hand, if there is a separate entity for… Read more »

Ryan Novosielski
Ryan Novosielski
1 month ago
Reply to  Rev Don

Wait till you find out that the UUA leadership generally is trying to tackle the problem of racism in a more serious way, and actually listening to voices of color, and then hearing people are actually running on a platform against that, if you’re looking to be ashamed of something.

Greg
Greg
2 months ago

Hi, I’m trying to learn more about this group. I am a younger queer UU who has been UU their entire lives and been in denominational leadership since middle school. I am connected to many UU folks who are younger and/or have marginalized identities. It was painful and confusing to read these words from one of your candidates: “I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach.” The Rev Beverly Seese This “wrong approach”, for example anti racist anti oppressive transformation efforts,… Read more »

Ryan Novosielski
Ryan Novosielski
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

All I wanna say in response to that is “seriously.”

Kenneth Christiansen
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg writes, “the Black Empowerment movement in the 1960s … tore our movement apart and prompted countless Black UUs to feel pushed out of our faith.” The part about Black UUs being “pushed out” is questionable.  The most visible leader of the Black Affairs Council (BAC) at the 1968 General Assembly was Heyward Henry (now Mtangulizi Sanyika). When Henry left the UUA in 1970, he promptly became the first chairman of the Congress of African People, an ambitious coalition of Black Nationalist and Pan African organizations. (Komozi Woodward, A Nation Within A Nation, UNC Press, 1999, p. 164) Others in the leadership of the… Read more »

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Rev Bill Sinkford is another of many Black UUs who left our denomination at that time and didn’t return for years. The Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism is a successor of sorts to those involved in the Black Empowerment movement, and includes Sinkford and Sanyika among its advisors. Instead of describing and critiquing this history ourselves, folks (presumably most white folks) who weren’t involved, you could check out the first person report “In Our Own Words”, published by Star King School for the Ministry. I would post the link but I don’t think this page publishes links. You can a… Read more »

Greg
Greg
2 months ago

Looks like my comments are resonating with others. I know this is something a lot of folks are concerned about.

My friend just let me know I was quoted in this minister’s new piece. The Rev Rothbauer makes some great points. Liz Roper too.

https://crothbauer.medium.com/whose-unitarian-universalism-is-it-a-reply-to-beverly-seese-f22cd5dff602?

James
James
1 month ago

Basically these are right-wing curious candidates. Ideological dinosaurs who are scared that UUism might actually do meaningful anti-racism and environmental work and who openly disparage and stereotype the very young people (using the same old right-wing talking points about “dogmatism” [heck might as well add in “wokeness” and “PC culture” to complete the trifecta]) that will be needed to save a declining faith from oblivion.

Liz
Liz
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Name-calling and smears make you look bad. It also comes across to me as misogyny: Independent-minded women who don’t follow the dominant rules must be attacked.

J. H.
J. H.
1 month ago
Reply to  Liz

I have not seen a single personal attack here or anywhere else of the UUA-approved candidates. I find the attacks sickening, and wouldn’t want to see such attacks coming from either side. I assume that all four candidates are good, well-intentioned UUs. We UUs should be above name-calling.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  James

The automatic equating of anyone and all who criticizes critical race theory and/or “woke culture” with being alt-right or right-wing is simply and empirically incorrect. There has been much pushback and criticism from within the Left and Democratic and Socialist parties and even commonly from Marxists. Numerous Left academics have criticized critical race theory and “woke culture” including John McWhorter, Steven Pinker, Irshad Manji, Jonathan Haidt and Jerry Coyne. Most of those who I personally know who oppose CRT and woke culture are on the Left, and include Bernie Sanders supporters and Social Democrats. Former Madison Wisconsin Mayor Dave Cieslewicz… Read more »