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The following materials have been compiled to provide an overview of Consensus Decision Making, including definitions and suggested procedures. -- Nancy Irons, a past member of W&R in CMwD.

Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections.  This strategy involves everyone playing a role in the decision making of the group.  In order for this to be successful it is important to be open to compromise!

Consensus is usually defined as meaning both general agreement, and the process of getting to such agreement. Consensus decision-making is thus concerned primarily with that process.

While not as common as other decision-making procedures, such as the parliamentary procedure explained in Robert's Rules of Order, consensus is used by a wide variety of groups. Religious denominations such as the Quakers. . . .

HelenPopenoe2010Walhonding Road, at the end of my street, is my pre-dawn destination for not-so-regular walks. Why? The urban symbolism of what I experience there gives my day’s work, usually for social change, much inspiration. It reminds me that sustainability is at the heart of any workable action plan. It reminds me to endure without giving way to power-over circumstances that can control my “balance”, “expressiveness,” “playfulness” and “openess to spirit.” (Note – all words in quotes come from a “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” resource, Carol Lee Flinders’ Rebalancing the World’s Belonging Values list.)

I seek to live with others in the pre-patriarchal forager ways (a redux for today’s needs.) It can be achieved by partnering with consensus decision making that employs complementarity, “mutuality” and “inclusiveness,” “generosity”, “deliberateness”, “egalitarianism”, “non-violent conflict resolution” (or management), and “self-restraint.” For my additional spiritual guidance, my Walhonding Road experience sparks awe-filled awareness of my “connection with the land”, my “empathic relationship to animals”, and to be a helpful inhabitant in my part of Earth’s biosphere, supporting healthy growth in the natural world (“custodial conservatism” which includes the motto, “What you have, you share.”)

These days many factors are often involved in making decisions, so that “ordinary deductive reasoning processes aren’t equal to the task.” So, with “affinity for alternative modes of knowing”, I try “to allow intuitive wisdom to come to the surface.” (Flinders quotes, again, to complete the Belonging Values list) All the Occupy consciousness raising brings a different national dialogue to the surface.

2011_Fall_Retreat_UU_Womens_Connection_DancesStill hummin' from the beautiful weekend in Kenosha and Racine Wisconsin at the 29th UU Women's Connection Fall Retreat October 21-23.

The waters of the world blessing given by [retreat leader] Peggy and a couple dozen of the participants who walked the 5 minutes to the shore, was so appropriate on the ocean that is Lake Michigan ... Foot prints in the sand, tide pools teeming with life, water well-wishers collecting chips of glass and shells worn by motion and the dynamic nature of the the water's edge. No other shore in sight, demonstrating the vastness and mystery of this body of water. Curiosity and lure of the harbor fishing sites by the hotel where fishermen caught King Salmon who came to spawn; giant covered-for-winter sailboats look like icebergs from our hotel vantage point. Kind generosity of Heather Poyner and Carley Mattimore and Claudine Miller, Juli and Sage and so many other workshop leaders who had something juicy to share.

Thanks to planners and those in attendance for makng it a memorable weekend and something to look forward to next year.

Visit our Facebook group for more photos!

Women and Religion committee members Lucile Shuck Longview (center left) and Rosemary Matson (right) meet with UUA trustees Theodore Machler and Nell McGlothlin in 1980. (UUA Archives) Ministerial Sisterhood UUThe Fall 2011 issue of UU World contains a letter from Rev Dr Linnea Pearson mentioning two of the foremothers of the Women and Religion Resolution, Lucile Longview and Rosemary Matson.

UU World's Summer 2011 issue has an article on the impact of women ministers in the UUA by Carolyn Owen-Towle. She mentions the Ministerial Sisterhood, a group that seems to have disappeared from view. A photo of their banner is at right.

It is with great sadness that I report to you that as of our registration deadline we do not have enough women to hold our retreat scheduled for 9/30-10/2. It was our hope that becoming part of the district would free up our energies for programming at the retreat, but we simply do not have enough workshop leaders or participants to go forward.

There is another issue which I see needs to be addressed: a very small group of women have been shouldering the organizing of these retreats for many years. There has been an urgent call for new volunteers for more than two years now, and only one new person has stepped in to help.

We see this cancellation as a natural consequence of this dynamic. It is impossible for only a few to continue to have the energy, time, and resources to create value for such a large group.

New women must step forward. We have received many sincere and concerned suggestions for how we could have prevented this cancellation, but I'm left with a heavy heart wondering where was that energy and commitment when so much work (by so few) was being put into: finding a new site after Rockcraft, allying with the District, and planning /this/ retreat. It is too little, too late.

We have a tentative date for a retreat at Geneva Point Center for next year. It is not guaranteed however and may be released. The current planning committee is largely taking a step back.

The question is posed: How much do you value our weekends of connection and restoration and community?

Susan Gorman and Faith Barnes

Northern New England Women and Religion