The Rev. Geoffrey Black, who has served for nearly a decade as minister of the UCC's New York Conference, was called by election Tuesday evening to succeed the Rev. John Thomas as General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Thomas was ineligible for an additional term.
The announcement of Black's election was greeted with a standing ovation. In brief remarks, the new general minister and president thanked the delegates and spoke of his high expectations of working with other members of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers. Echoing his remarks at the time of his nomination, Black affirmed, "We are in this together."
The Executive Ministers of two covenanted ministries also were called by election to new terms. The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo was re-elected as Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries and the Rev. Stephen L. Sterner was chosen as Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries. All will serve four-year terms beginning Oct. 1, 2009.
Jaramillo oversees the denomination's work in human rights and social, racial, and economic justice. She told delegates earlier in the day when she accepted re-nomination that "when we are told that the church should not meddle in politics, we need to answer that justice is not political — it is theological." She also said that justice work requires interdependent leaders. Ours is not an isolated task but requires many hands, she said. "A leader is most effective when he or she is barely visible."
Sterner originally was elected to complete the term of the Rev. Jose Malayang, who resigned. The present election was for a full four-year term. Before coming to Local Church Ministries, Sterner had served local churches and as a staff member of the former United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. His pastoral experience was in historic old churches and in a new church start.
Other members of the Collegium joined the three who had just been elected on the stage. Following warm mutual greetings, Thomas stepped to the microphone and offered a prayer written by Dale Bishop four years ago, when Bishop completed his service on the Collegium.