The following is the full text of the official PCD Board response to the firing by the UUA of the District Executive, Cilla Raughley. This text has previously been sent individually to persons making an inquiry at PCDTransitions@gmail.com.
Thank you for your comments, concerns, and questions. We pledge to provide straight answers to your many specific questions as soon as possible. Meanwhile this letter provides some background.
We understand the stress our sudden announcement of Cilla's Raughley’s termination as Pacific Central District Executive has caused. The extremely short transition period has turned many lives upside down. We deeply regret that.
Obviously the announcement raised many questions. Many of you have asked why Cilla’s contract was terminated by the UUA. The reasons are complex – and not completely transparent to the PCD – but we assure you that there was no suggestion (by anyone) of malfeasance on Cilla’s part.
Per the hiring letter of agreement for Cilla (and other District Executives who are co-employed by their District Boards and by the UUA), any party to the agreement may terminate the agreement without the concurrence of the other parties. That is what happened in this case.
The PCD began this process when a UUA staff member came to the PCD Board requesting that Cilla’s employment be terminated. When the PCD Board would not support the UUA’s recommendation without going through a discernment process, the staff member continued to contact ministers to obtain feedback on the PCD DE’s performance. The following month, the topic of concerns about Cilla was brought up at the UUMA retreat. There, 40 ministers who were present (of the 100 PCD ministers in the district) voted “no confidence in Cilla” (with 5 abstentions).
At that point the UUA began termination negotiations, which ended before the PCD Board could finish our discernment process. It must be noted that many of the 40 ministers who voted in solidarity with their colleagues have since reported to PCD Board members and to Cilla that they personally had never had an issue with her work with them or their congregations.
This vote at the retreat was taken with no advance notice to the PCD Board, no advance notice to Cilla, no opportunity for Cilla to defend herself in any way and no way for anyone who was not already present at the meeting to have any input. The current members of the PCD Board had never been told by any minister of any dissatisfaction with Cilla's performance. Members of the board were shocked to learn of the vote at this meeting.
In addition, other members of the UUMA Chapter, in whose name the request for new leadership was made, were not made aware of the vote or the request. The PCD Board discovered this fact in their discernment process, talking with ministers.
The PCD Board had been in conversation with the UUA, but had no reason to believe that things would come to such a precipitous end. We got the news at our Board meeting on Saturday, January 29. Monday and Tuesday were spent negotiating an 11-day transition period (the original effective date was January 31) and crafting a statement for release via PCD Currents. We felt very strongly our responsibility to provide as much notice to our District's congregations as we could.
We are reorganizing PCD Board Committees to ensure as little disruption of District services as possible and met with UUA representatives on February 12 to discuss interim staffing needs. Once we have the work of the District on track we will turn our attention to answering more questions.
We did not take lightly the decision to oppose the UUA's action publicly. We feel that the UUA’s process violated both polity and fundamental UU values of justice. We believe that respectful but vigorous dissent is called for where moral issues are at stake.
The PCD Board and staff are working together to ensure that planned events, such as District Assembly, will take place. An exciting DA is scheduled for May 13-15, in Fremont. Watch for more information.
We will keep the lines of communication open and continue to welcome your comments and questions.