Why I am Running for Election
I would be representing the heartland of our country to help deal with the sense of a lack of representation on this board, from all the different areas of the country.
A growing number of members are concerned that our Unitarian Universalist principles and practices are being undermined. I believe Unitarian Universalism should be allowed to maintain its historic integrity and proceed along its progressive path.
I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach. But we do not need to be antagonistic toward one another. UUs have always been welcoming of other perspectives and opinions. I would wholeheartedly support helping another branch of UUism to be formed, that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks, (Maybe named 21st Century UUs) if attempts to respectfully discuss differing positions continue to be thwarted.
Vote for me and allow me to help mitigate the conflict that has been growing between local congregations’ members and various identity groups.
The Unitarian Universalist ideals of Reason, Tolerance, and Freedom are a magnificent bedrock for beloved Unitarian Universalist community.
With them, we have been able to achieve advances in many areas of justice-building and living in community over the past decades, and must always continue that process. This is not to say that we have reached the goals articulated in our Seven Principles. We will always be trying to improve situations for all living beings.
In recent years, I see these tenets being ignored and trampled-on by leaders at all levels of our religious structure. Our principles are not being adhered to, in many cases, when concerns with our leadership are expressed. Dissent and alternate views are being disallowed, as in the case of there being no Letters to the Editor allowed in the UU World Magazine any longer.
I have served as a UU congregational minister for the past eleven years, along with an active community ministry. I received my Master’s Degree from Meadville Lombard School of Theology, in Chicago, where my areas of specialization were Pastoral Counseling and Worship Arts. I have served on the board of the UU Multiracial Unity Action Council for three years, and am the co-chair of the Religious Professionals task force.
I grew up in Modesto, CA, as a Church of the Brethren pacifist, and have taken training for non-violent resistance. I participated in marches for anti-nuclear weapons proliferation, Climate Concerns in D.C. in 2013, the National Women’s March in 2017; and a Poor People’s Campaign march in 2021.
I served on the board, was a youth group advisor and directed the choir at my denomination's local church when I moved to Indiana thirty years ago. After growing impatient with the slow pace of instituting gay rights and diverse liberal religious thought, I changed my affiliation when I found a home with the Lafayette UU Church. There I served as Choir Director, Religious Education teacher, Ministerial Committee member and chair, and President of the Board, before deciding to attend UU Seminary.
Credentialed in Music and Consumer & Family Science, I taught in California, Oregon, and Indiana. I worked as a college academic advisor, and spent ten years as a counselor/academic advisor and ESL instructor at a state Adult Education Program, working with immigrants and young people to gain their U.S. citizenship and High School Equivalency Diplomas.
I am active in my rural community, serving on several boards, and volunteered three years as a “Big Sister” to a young teen mother.
I also worked for a number of years in retail management and am now the owner/host of an historic B&B. I love music making, gardening, reading, quilting, and other creative arts. With husband, Carl, I enjoy visiting our daughter, in Denver, and son, close-by in Indiana.
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I tried to tag you but it didn't work - I don't like talking behind people's backs so you can see the post here. TL;DR - I think you are outrageous to believe and campaign that you as someone who is only in covenant with one congregation (not the UUA, UUMA like other ministers) and have only been UU for a few decades - have more right to the denomination than anyone who disagrees with you. Us "21st Century UUs" have been here longer than you and are in covenant with each other - not working on individualistic motives. Disgraceful.
The proposal that proposal "younger and/or marginalized-identifying members" can leave and create "another branch of UUism to be formed, that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks" is outrageous. - Tom ClowesReplyDelete
Hi, I’m trying to learn more about this campaign. I am a younger queer UU who has been UU their entire life and have been in denominational leadership since middle school. I am connected to many UU folks who are younger and/or have marginalized identities.ReplyDelete
It was painful and confusing to read these words of yours:
You wrote “I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach.”
This “wrong approach”, for example our anti racist anti oppressive transformation efforts, have been part of many young UUs faith for many years. It was back in the 1990s that UU young people started officially organizing this work. We have been mentored by elders who, among else, were youth leaders during the Black Empowerment movement in the 1960s which tore our movement apart and prompted countless Black UUs to feel pushed out of our faith. That pain is still there and the losses are many, but the work for transformation and building a just and inclusive community continues.
You also wrote “I would wholeheartedly support helping another branch of UUism to be formed, that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks.”
So That leaves me wondering, Do you have Gen Z and millennials In support of your campaign? If not, what relationships do you have to UU youth and young adults? What is your vision of a multigenerational denomination? How would you go about building that? If you are not interested in working with youth and young adults and supporting their efforts, why? And. If elected how would you relate to the marginalized groups, which you singles out as having a “wrong approach” and suggests leaving our denomination?
A friend just notified me that the Rev Chris Rothbauer wrote a piece related to my comments above, titled "Whose Unitarian Universalism Is It Anyway?"ReplyDelete
Dear Reverend Seese,ReplyDelete
Thank you for your participation in any way candidate forum. It was very illuminating.
I was disappointed that you did not respond to one of the questions posed, which I was curious and eager to hear your response to. I imagine it was challenging to respond to all the questions in the time allotted, so I hope that you will respond here so the delegates can gain the information they need.
To paraphrase the question: Given that you are eligible for ministerial fellowship as well as membership in the UU Ministers Association, why have you chosen not to pursue these avenues of covenant and accountability, which include codes of ethics and conduct? (As a sidenote, I believe you also expressed need a need for an interest in for ministers gatherings. Know this is one of many excellent resources the ministers association provides.)
I look forward to your response. Thank you in advance.
Please excuse any errors in this message, I am using dictation. Let me know if you need any clarification.Delete
Apologies, Rev Seese. I realize I made an assumption about your eligibility for ministerial fellowship and membership in our UU ministers association. I do not in fact know weather you have pursued steps toward ministerial fellowship, such as a Masters of Divinity degree, career assessment, supervised congregational internship, clinical pastoral education, etc.Delete
If you are eligible, and pursue the options available to you, I believe you would be able to avail yourself of ministerial gatherings and collegial support, which it sounds like you are interested in and hope to benefit from.
Thank you again for your comments in the candidate forum.
Hi! I just have a clarification question. Meadville Lombard offers three Master's degrees: MA in Religion, MA in Leadership Studies, and Master of Divinity. They have quite different profiles and requirements: for example, ranging from 36 credits to 90, from no internship to a two-year, 20-hour-a-week internship. Which degree did you receive?Delete
I know you're busy. Just pinging in case you missed this question, as it will take no time to answer and the vote is soon.Delete
Dear Rev. Seese,Delete
Following up on my early comments:
There are multiple organizations a UU minister could join which involve codes of ethics and conduct (along with covenant with colleagues, accountability, etc). The UU Ministers Association is not the only one.
For example, one could instead (or also) join the UU Society of Community Ministries, or the Liberal Religious Educators Association. I have been a voluntary member of both, and would recommend them to any religious professional, lay or ordained. Membership is a relatively simple and rather affordable option, with significant benefits both to oneself and to the communities one serves.
I do not know whether you a member of any of these organizations. If you have chosen not to join either of these organizations nor the UU Ministers Association, then I am quite curious about why.
There is no one singular path for UU ministers to abide by codes of ethics and conduct, be in covenant with colleagues, in relationship with the denomination at large, etc. However, to me there is a significant difference between a minister who chooses such an option and one who does not. I hope you'll share more of your perspective on this as delegates discern their votes.
Wishing you a safe and healthy General Assembly.