Robert West originally declined to run for the post of second president of the UUA. But he was talked into it eventually, with the deciding factor being his fear that a younger person would be elected (he was 39 at the time). Faced with a looming racial division, financial crisis, and unresolved issues over what the still new UUism was to be, West felt that the younger candidates’ priorities were limited and unbalanced.
West’s years as president were the most contentious that UUism has ever faced, due not only to developments within the denomination at the time but also situations that had been building well before he arrived. It was entirely possible that the UUA might have dissolved permanently, though that was avoided.