“At its most recent meeting, the UUA Board rejected the applications of 15 of the 17 organizations who were re-applying for Independent Affiliate Status … The official document trail does not provide any real insight into the reasons and purposes for sudden disaffiliation of 15 of 17 applications for IA status. So, why? What purpose is being served? What was the precipitating event?”
The UUA seems to feel that Independent Affiliates have strayed too far from focusing on UU congregations and may not be serving the best interests of the UUA as a whole.
“…we wonder how our longstanding structure of Independent Affiliates has served the UUA, as an association of congregations. To us, it appears that we have developed a growing number of separate groups, each of which may be doing excellent work, but with little or no connection (that we can discern) to other Independent Affiliates or the congregations that make up the UUA. In light of this situation, the Board began to wonder what it means to be an Independent Affiliate of an association of independent (and interdependent) congregations.”
This is echoed by UUA board trustee Tamara Payne-Alex, who worked on the new regulations for Affiliate status.
“We are an association of congregations, not an association of independent affiliate organizations and non-profits … The board’s work to clarify the appropriate role for the organizations that are not congregations in our Association is part of a much broader and very intentional movement to ground our ministries in congregational life.”
“It looks as if the definition of IA status has changed in such a way that (I am quoting from a letter to me from Ms. Payne-Alex) ‘Organizations which foster exploration of a particular theology, perspective or subject do not meet the new criteria for Independent Affiliate status.'”
The results of this rejection means that CUUPs will lose official recognition within the UUA, will not be granted a program space at future General Assemblies (though they will be included at this years’ GA), and will have to pay higher participation fees at UUA events. It also throws into doubt the fate of other theologically focused IAs such as the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship and the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship.
In response to this upheaval, the UUA is sponsoring a series of networking meetings for the IAs at this years General Assembly in Portland. So it remains to be seen what will happen to the theologically-focused affiliate groups. Philocrites seems to hint that the GA will ask them to “band together” in some fashion, creating a “Ministry and Theological Perspective” affiliate from the Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, Christian, and Humanist groups. But we won’t know for sure until later this summer what will happen.