The UUA, the association of Unitarian Universalist congregations of which this Fellowship is a member, will be electing a new president this summer. The nominating committee has announced a candidate, Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt. I’m excited about her candidacy and the vision she articulates for our faith moving forward.
For context, the UUA elects a president every six years. In the short history of Unitarian Universalism – which has really only existed since the Unitarian Church and the Universalist Church merged in 1961 – there have been eleven people to serve as president.
· Susan Frederick Gray (current: 2017-2023)
• Sofia Betancourt, William G. Sinkford, and Leon Spencer, 2017
· Peter Morales, 2009-2017
· William G. Sinkford, 2001-2009
· John A. Buehrens, 1993-2001
· William F. Schulz, 1985-1993
· O. Eugene Pickett, 1979-1985
· Paul Nathaniel Carnes, 1977-1979
· Robert Nelson West, 1969-1977
· Dana McLean Greeley, 1961-1969
Of course, the Unitarians and the Universalists had their own presidents prior to the 1961 merger. Rev. Dr. Betancourt served briefly in an interim role as co-president in 2017.
I have been outspoken in my admiration for Rev. Susan Frederick Gray, our current president. I find that she leads with warmth, passion, energy, love and ferocity. I expect that Rev. Sofia Betancourt, if elected, would continue in a similar vein and with similar priorities.
The Presidential Search Committee (PSC) describes their work on the UUA website, in announcing their nomination of Rev. Dr. Betancourt. They interviewed mostly women of color for the position. They planned to nominate two candidates. One declined the nomination, and the committee decided to nominate only one candidate. An alternative path to nomination exists, however: nomination by petition. If another candidate wants to run for president, they have until February 1st to complete the petition process. Here’s a bit of the Presidential Search Committee’s report:
The PSC received applications from Unitarian Universalists who represented a range of experiences and talents, including ordained ministers and non-ordained leaders. The candidate pool was comprised of majority women and transgender/non-binary individuals, and a majority of people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
At the conclusion of its process, the PSC unanimously nominated two exceptionally qualified leaders to be candidates for President. One of those nominees declined the nomination. Once the nominations were made, the committee determined that the only fair and appropriate course of action was to move forward with the nomination of Rev. Dr. Betancourt, rather than reopening the application process.
Rev. Dr. Betancourt now has a website for her candidacy. There she explains that she will campaign from now until June whether or not another candidate emerges by petition to run against her:
[the presidential campaign] offers us a profound opportunity to discuss the values of our faith, our spiritual commitments, and the work of our collective liberation. No matter how many names are on the ballot in June, we will be available to discuss my vision, your hopes, and what facing the unknown together asks of us as a community.
She also offers this statement about her priorities for our faith:
I believe in a Unitarian Universalism that draws on its noble heritage of freedom, reason, and justice to be nimble in responding to the needs of our faith community. While we cannot know what will come in the next six years, we can commit ourselves to radical inclusion, faithful witness, and the embrace of a wide range of voices and leaders for our faith. Together we will empower youth and young adult leadership, encourage collaboration across our communities and congregations, deepen our theological engagement, and invest in religious leaders of all kinds. All this while dedicating ourselves to the work of justice in the world.
I encourage all Unitarian Universalists to engage with the broader work of the UU movement as it is reflected in important decisions like this one. Like the revision of the statement of values that we hold as UU’s, the election of a new president is a moment to affirm who we are and where we are headed.
May all those who are called to leadership in this faith tradition be grounded in love and in the purpose of creating a better world for all people. May our leaders inspire us to the full power of Unitarian Universalism for inclusion, transformation, and liberation.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Comments are closed.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
In-person and via Zoom:
Wednesday 1-3 & 8-9pm
Office Hours Zoom Link
Outside of Office Hours, Drew is reachable at any time via text, phone, or email.
Day off: Monday
Contact for emergencies only
Pastoral Care Concerns
For support with life's challenges, please contact Drew during his office hours or make an appointment with him.
For specific needs such as rides to medical appointments or meals for people recovering from illness or surgery, please contact the Arms Around team via Gisela Moffit at email@example.com or 989-772-1602. Every effort will be made to lessen the burden on the individual or family who is dealing with a difficult circumstance.