Monday, 13 July 2009

New Staff at the ICUU

Adopting a new staffing model designed to launch the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) into its next stage of growth and development, the Executive Committee is very pleased to announce the hiring of Rev. Steve Dick as Executive Secretary and the creation of a Program Co-Ordinator position to be filled by Rev. Jill McAllister. Both appointments take effect August 1, 2009.

“Thanks to the Internet, the ICUU, Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism has become accessible to interested people in many more countries where we have had no presence,” said President Brian Kiely, “The requests for service and support are increasing weekly. This shared leadership model sets us on a direction of growth and expansion and prepares us to meet this growing need. Let me assure member groups that we are working within our budget constraints, but that developing new sources of revenue and funding is quickly becoming a top priority.”

Cross-cultural Unitarian minister Steve Dick is to be the next Executive Secretary. He will succeed the current post holder, the Rev John Clifford who is retiring after four years of service. He will assist Rev. Clifford at the biennial ICUU Council meeting this September at the Unitarian Student Center in Kolozsvár, the city of the headquarters of Unitarians in Transylvania.

Until recently the Rev. Dick served as Chief Executive of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches – Unitarian congregations in Great Britain. Steve is American by birth and a British Unitarian minister by training. The majority of his life has been lived in Europe married to Jenneke, a Dutch woman whose grandfather was a liberal religious minister. In addition to serving as a congregational minister and District Executive in England, Steve was a founder of European Unitarian Universalists and he was employed part-time by IARF. His broad perspective and spirituality benefits from his cross-cultural experience.

Steve noted this is a challenging time for ICUU (founded in 1995) saying “ICUU is at a crossroads and I hope to help it develop through adolescence to adult vitality. Some amazing things have been achieved so far and future possibilities are exciting. I am particularly looking forward to working in partnership with the Rev Jill McAllister, newly-appointed Program Coordinator.”

Rev. Jill McAllister of the United States is a founder of the ICUU and a Past-President. She is also a former member of the UUA Board of Trustees. For the past 15 years she has been active in developing and delivering the programs of the ICUU. Stepping into this Program Co-Ordinator role is something of a natural progression.

Since 1998, Jill has served as Minister to the congregation of People’s Church in Kalamazoo, MI.  She has been active in the UU Ministers Association Heartland Chapter as President and Program Chair, and has been a speaker and consultant for many congregations in her district and around the USA.  She is a vice-president of ISAAC, an inter-faith community organization which focuses on grass-roots organizing around social justice issues.   She has led ICUU task forces, leadership conferences, youth conferences and symposia around the world, and has spear-headed ICUU publications.  She says:  “My dedication to this organization is part of a much larger devotion to the ideals of religious community.  I am always thinking strategically for the ICUU, because it is so important to me that it live up to its potential to be a model of right relations, mutual aid and support, so that the liberal religious movement will only grow stronger, and offer more of its gifts to a world in need.   I'm excited about the potential our of our new staff arrangement for the development of the ICUU, and I look forward to working with Steve to bring the best we both can offer."

Both the Executive Secretary and Program Co-Ordinator positions are currently set as half-time. Steve and Jill will work from their respective homes in London, UK and Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists is a body devoted to fostering connections between Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist groups around the world. In 2007 the ICUU adopted the following statement:

The Mission of the ICUU is to:
* Build relationships through communication and collaboration;
* Develop spiritual community among member groups and their leaders;
* Identify and nurture prospective and emerging groups;
* Foster our U-U faith for mutual inspiration, development and growth.

It is comprised of delegates appointed by national bodies that meet in full Council meetings every two years. At those gatherings the formal business of the Council is decided, policies are set, budgets and financial statements approved, and program directions chosen.

In between Council meetings, the programs of the ICUU are managed and developed by a volunteer Executive Committee supported by a paid Executive Secretary and a team of volunteers around the world.

ICUU was founded in March 1995 at Essex, Massachusetts, after years of discussion. Representatives of Unitarian, Universalist, and UU congregations from around the world came together to form this new organization.

There are about 500,000 Unitarians and Universalists in the world today. Many belong to large church organizations while others rarely meet another Unitarian face-to-face. The oldest groups, who are Hungarian speaking, have a continuous church history of more than 400 years. Some of the English speaking groups go back over 200 years. Many of the newest member and emerging groups have a much shorter history.