IT’S A FRIDAY in May, 2016. People are entering a large room with rows of seats for about 100, and a head table where the CUC President is being joined by members of her Board. With the exception of the smaller room, looks like the usual set-up for a CUC Annual General Meeting.
But there is another difference. Behind the head table is a large screen. Projected onto it are live images of other meeting rooms in three cities across Canada. In those rooms too, people are entering and taking their seats.
The President calls the meeting to order, welcoming the delegates assembled in the room. Then she welcomes those watching her from the three cities, as well as the others who are watching on their home computers, ready to call in and participate in the discussions.
The possibility of electronically observing, speaking and voting at CUC meetings and other events is just one area under review by the CUC Active Democracy Study Group.
The ADSG is tasked with undertaking a national conversation about our democratic processes.
The Study Group is considering how the Council (i.e. the member congregations along with the individual members) and the Board share decision-making. They are examining how delegates are selected to attend CUC annual meetings, what information-sharing opportunities are available to the membership before meetings, and how to ensure all generations and interests are represented in our democratic processes.
Broad participation is necessary in order for the report to be meaningful. The group encouraged congregations to hold workshops over the last ten weeks, to gather input for the Study Group’s report to be issued in April. An easy-to-use guide for the workshops was made available online.
If you have not submitted input at the workshop in your congregation, or want to comment further, the Active Democracy Survey is open through Saturday, March 17.
The questions asked in these workshops, and the survey, affect all of us:
- How should the CUC Board and Staff consult with the membership?
- How and where should decisions be made?
- How could allowing electronic participation in meetings serve our democratic process?
- What issues should we be aware of when implementing electronic discussion and voting?
- Should associate members of the CUC (such as Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice and Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada) have the right to appoint delegates, and should credentialed ministers have delegate status?
- How can we ensure youth and young adults are fully represented in our processes?
You can find related resources on the Active Democracy page.
It is up to us to create the kind of association that will best express who we are today. ‘Democracy’ has meant different things at different times. Often we focus on the right to vote, but that is not the only measure of democracy: the ability to participate in an informed conversation about the important issues, the ability to listen to each other, to share opinions and shape each other’s thoughts—these, too, are a part of democracy.
Come, be a part of the conversation as our democratic processes evolve to meet the needs and desires of the Canadian Unitarian Council today and into the future.
Let your voice be heard!
— Active Democracy Study Group, Canadian Unitarian Council