Thursday, February 24, 2011

PCD Ministers' Statement on Firing of District Executive (and Commentary)

The PCD UU Ministers Association (UUMA) has launched a spin campaign justifying their role in firing the District Executive, Cilla Raughley. I have posted a full copy here. In this post I comment on selected portions of that message.

This preamble was included on one Facebook posting and a number of ministers took it to heart:
Please forward this letter (attached and included below) today to your congregations, boards, key leaders, UU email lists, etc. Post it on your blog, FaceBook page, tweet a link, send it to colleagues from other districts who have inquired about the situation here in the PCD.

We do not have access to an email list that would reach all the recipients of PCD Currents - but I know we can reach just as many folks, if not more, grass-roots style.

Onward and upward,
Meghan Cefalu
The preamble implies the UUMA has some urgent need to get their "side" of story out. Is that where the ministers want to be - in opposition to lay leaders? It's certainly contrary to the final paragraph, "We have full confidence in our congregational leaders, [and] the PCD Board…" and hardly strikes me as "onward and upward" or the path to right relationship. I am curious what triggered this stance - the only statements via the PCD Currents newsletter were the initial announcement of Cilla's firing and a joint statement from the Board and UUA.
... we write to share our understanding of Cilla Raughley's departure ...
Departure?  It sounds like maybe she went to a sunnier clime for vacation.  Please drop the Orwellian double-speak - you told the UUA to fire her and they did.
At our Fall 2010 minister's meeting and retreat in October, it became apparent to those attending that Cilla's relationship with many ministers and congregations had become strained to the point that, from our perspective, she was no longer serving the whole effectively. In a congregation, if a minister is no longer effective with a large percentage of the congregation, the minister is no longer in good ministry with the whole congregation. Similarly, when the District Executive is no longer in right relationship with a large percentage of the congregations, something vital is no longer working. In our business meeting, we expressed with a 40-0 vote (5 abstaining) our lack of trust and confidence in Cilla's leadership as District Executive, and we requested new leadership for our district.
Several points on this paragraph. First, the part about problems with congregations is not true. One of the signers of this note has already admitted to her congregation that the problem was with the ministers, not the congregations. Second, the argument about a strained relationship is specious. The District Executive is not a minister to the ministers. She is their co-worker and colleague.  She is not even a minister to the congregations. And even if she were - can you name a single example of a minister who has been dismissed with (a) no knowledge of the charges against her, (b) no chance to respond to her accusers, and (c) a secret vote against her?
We first conveyed the results of our October 2010 … The PCD Board's Personnel Committee invited seven of these ministers to a meeting a few weeks later, to ask further questions and hear their concerns. The meeting lasted three and a half hours and was both frank and respectful.
And after hearing them, the PCD Board did not view those concerns as rising to the level of cause for dismissal, but sought additional conversations with both ministers and laity throughout the district. This proposal was rejected by the UUA.
The contracted employment agreement with the District Executive stipulates that if any of the three parties to the contract (the UUA, the PCD Board or the DE) withdraw their consent, the contract is ended. As we ministers are not one of the three parties to this contract…
So your hands are clean?

Is it consistent with Unitarian Universalist values of justice and mercy that Cilla was asked to resign without hearing your anonymous charges or having a chance to respond?

Meghan, the ministers won. Cilla is fired. Do letters full of half truths serve our congregations or our ministers?

"What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"


  1. I have been seeing the ghost of Kafka wandering about of late. Wonder if he had something to do with this.

  2. Probably.

    I have had my own Kafka*esque experiences with Unitarian*Universalist clergy and UUA administrators and do not see and end in sight just yet. . .

    Tom said: Please drop the Orwellian double-speak - you told the UUA to fire her and they did.

    I have pointed out how U*U leaders use Orwellian double-speak before. I call such U*U double-speak -


  3. I always thought highly of Cilla and her tireless work and dedication to PCD. It grieved me enormously on how she was treated. I say AMEN to someone who knows Cilla very well who commented: "Consider this: no parish minister is removed without being able to hear and counter charges made against them; no minister is removed based on a meeting in which charges are brought when the agenda does not indicate that such charges will be solicited, made, and acted on; and in any action and/or vote to remove a minister there must be an open advocate for the minister during the whole process. None of these were in effect when the UUMA chapter ministers met to solicit Cilla's removal."

  4. "Consider this: no parish minister is removed without being able to hear and counter charges made against them"

    Really? That's never happened? Citation needed.