Opening Words from Sun. August 1 by Board Past-President Stephanie Sigala

Hello out there in Zoomland! I am reaching out across the ethernet to talk to you for four minutes about the American Ethical Union Assembly business meeting.

The Assembly Business meeting is coming up next Saturday. In the bad old days, the Assembly required days of travel to a beige motel in Cornfield, Ohio (say) and mucho dinero to register. Now thanks to our friend Zoom, we have more convenient input into AEU affairs.

St. Louis is represented by a full quotient of delegates this year. This is my second year as Lead Delegate. Other delegates are James Croft, Alan Easton, Jim Rhodes, Andy Stanton, Mary Ellen Stanton, and Kayla Vaughan. Lance Finney is the alternate. I want to use my Opening Words time to let you know what our delegates are voting on this year. We urge you to ask questions about anything you’d like to know more about. More information is also on the AEU Website.

It is a quiet year and that’s good news. We have four areas of business to vote on:

  1. Budget and Finance
  2. Board Candidates
  3. Bylaws amendments
  4. Resolutions

Let me dive right in.

The AEU budget is in great shape. It is balanced with an income of around $366,000. Because of unspent COVID monies, there is a surplus which is proposed to be used in the upcoming two years to give grants to smaller societies who want to hire a leader and cannot afford to do so.

The slate of Board candidates is competitive. Because St. Louis already has a Board member, the cast of candidates come from five other societies representing a range of states. Current Board Officers also come up for a vote to retain their office each year. The current Officers are Sonja Kueppers, Liz Singer, our own Casey Gardonio-Foat, and Tom Castelnuovo.

Because there are more candidates than Board positions, ranked voting has been used to identify the top candidates. Proposed bylaws amendments will allow easier ranked choice voting options and allow ranked choice voting to be used on any Assembly issue. An extension of possible committee terms from 6 years maximum to ten years will assure that experts will not be term-limited out. Finally, the AEU Finance committee is now reviewing expenses monthly and quarterly so that fewer expensive audits are proposed for the future. Bylaws amendments are not exciting to many of us, but the process is diagnostic of a well-functioning organization.

The final category for voting is Resolutions. There can be many resolutions but this year there is only one. It calls for a Culture of Peace. Last year we had an electrifying discussion of systemic racism, but it’s hard to think of anyone objecting to peace. The resolution comes out of the National Ethical Service, a partner organization which works primarily with the United Nations. The resolution notes that House Bill 1111 supports the establishment of a Department of Peace in the presidential cabinet. It also urges active support in individual societies for action on such issues as climate change and economic injustice which are seen as contributors to war. My personal opinion is that the resolution is pretty wimpy and limp, but the time for revisions is now over.

Have you thought about the American Ethical Union lately? Even once this week? I thought not. But from time to time, you can think about our parent organization, since you pay for it! The good news from this four minutes is that the democratic process is working– in our corner of the world at least!

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.