Meet Our Officers
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black was elected General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ in June 2009. Prior to that, he served as Conference Minister of the UCC's New York Conference for nine years beginning in 2000.
Geoffrey Black previously served as a Minister for Church Life and Leadership with the then-Office for Church Life and Leadership (currently Parish Life and Leadership), a national agency of the United Church of Christ housed at the UCC's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio.
Prior to joining the staff of OCLL in 1994, he served as Pastor of the Congregational UCC of South Hempstead (N.Y.). During his years in ministry, Black also has served as assistant chaplain at Brown University, associate minister at St. Albans Congregational UCC in Queens, Lecturer in the Field Education Department at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Protestant chaplain at Adelphi University.
In his capacity as Minister for Church Life and Leadership, Black was active in several key aspects of the ministry. In addition to engaging in the work common to all OCLL staff such as ministerial authorization and search and call, he devoted special attention to ecclesiastical endorsement, ministerial formation, congregational life and the development of resources for the multiracial/multicultural church.
During his tenure as a local church pastor, Black also was active in Association and Conference life, serving on several committees and holding a number of elected offices. He served on the Ordination and Standing Committee and the Committee on Church in the Metropolitan Community of the New York Metropolitan Association. He was chairperson of the New York Conference Commission on Mission Priorities and he served as moderator of the Conference.
Ecumenical commitment, concern for equal justice, African-American empowerment, and community improvement have shaped Black's ministry in the church and in the communities in which he has lived. This has resulted in his work with organizations such as the Nassau Coalition for Safety and Justice, The Long Island Interracial Alliance for a Common Future, and the Amistad Cultural Center of Long Island, which he co-founded. While living in Ohio, he has been an active member of Caring Communities of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Partnership 2000 of the Shaker Public schools.
Rev. Black is married to Patricia Williams-Black. They have one daughter, Makeda Black, who resides in Hyattsville, Maryland.
The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess is Executive Minister of the United Church of Christ's Local Church Ministries and a member of the UCC's four-person Collegium of Officers.
Nominated by the 55-member Local Church Ministries' board of directors, Guess was elected by General Synod delegates in July 2011. He is the first openly gay person to serve as a national officer of the church.
Local Church Ministries' purpose is to encourage and support congregations in the fulfillment of God's mission, especially in parish life and leadership; book, curricula and resource production; and congregational vitality and discipleship, including evangelism, stewardship and church finances, worship and education, and church buildings and loans.
Guess has worked for the UCC's national setting since 2000, first as Justice and Witness Ministries' communications minister and, later, as editor of United Church News and the UCC's news director. In 2007, he was named the UCC's communication director, where he helped steer the UCC's Stillspeaking Ministry; United Church News; video, web, and social media; print design and production; marketing and distribution; special events, including General Synod; and the denomination's historic advocacy work in media justice and reform. In March 2010, Rev. Guess was asked to oversee the creation of a new, cross-ministry department called Publishing, Identity and Communication that successfully merged staff from the Office of General Ministries and Local Church Ministries and fostered more cooperative and strategic work for the whole national setting.
Guess has written more than 500 articles on all aspects of the church, earning him more than 60 awards. His writing demonstrates his broad knowledge of the UCC and local-church life and his demonstrated capacity to think critically as well as creatively about the opportunities and challenges we face as a denomination. He is a member of numerous ecumenical organizations.
Guess earned a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. He completed graduate studies in public administration and public policy at Murray State University, and earned his M.Div. degree in 1991 from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He received his D.Min. degree in preaching from UCC-related Chicago Theological Seminary in 2001.
Prior to coming to the UCC's national offices, Guess was a local church pastor for 12 years, including eight years as pastor of Zion UCC in Henderson, Ky., a congregation that grew from 12 elderly members to a vital, justice-focused, multiracial, open and affirming congregation of more than 300 people. He also helped create the Paff Haus Justice and Peace Center, a justice cooperative that housed offices for more than a dozen regional and statewide advocacy organizations in Kentucky and southern Indiana. In 1992, he co-founded the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, now the state's largest and most visible LGBT rights organization. Guess received the UCC's Just Peace Award at the 1997 General Synod in Columbus, Ohio, in recognition of his life-long commitment to justice advocacy.
Guess and his spouse, Jim Therrien, are members of Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Cleveland.
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, responsible for the church's work on human rights and social, racial and economic justice. Jaramillo has been active in various UCC settings; as a member of the Commission for Racial Justice and the board of the Coordinating Center for Women; as a member and moderator of Ainsworth UCC in Portland, Ore.; as moderator, vice-moderator, treasurer and search committee chair in the Central Pacific Conference; as a member and committee chair of the Executive Council; and as assistant moderator of General Synod. In 2002, she was a UCC delegate to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998. She is a former president and vice-president of the Council for Hispanic Ministries and former co-convener of the Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries.
Jaramillo has over 30 years of management experience working with state, county, and federally funded programs in Oregon, including Head Start, migrant services, child welfare, violence prevention, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and adult community-based education. She received a B.S. in Business Administration from Portland (Ore.) State University and a Master of Divinity degree from UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she is the first Hispanic to serve as a member of the Collegium.
The Rev. James Moos is Executive Minister of the UCC's Wider Church Ministries and Co-executive of UCC/Disciples' Global Ministries.
Following his ordination in 1986, Moos was called to Adams County Parish, UCC, where he served until 1991. Moos then became senior pastor at Bismarck (N.D.) UCC, serving 15 years before accepting the call as executive minister of UCC Wider Church Ministries.
Moos' involvement at the Conference and national levels includes serving as chair of the Northern Plains Conference council (1990-1991), multiple periods of service with the Conference's Church and Ministry Committee and Mission and Outreach Committee; and on the Wider Church Ministries/Common Global Ministries Board of Directors (1999-2005).
A Global Ministries short-term volunteer to East Timor in 2002, Moos has served as president of the East Timor Education Foundation, a funding agency for Global Ministries, from 2004 to the present.
In 2005, Moos began a six-year stint on the UCC Executive Council, including two years as its chair.
Moos enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1976 and was on active duty until 1980. Five years later, he became a reserve chaplain for the Air Force and served for 18 years.
Growing up on a farm near Streeter, North Dakota, Moos went on to earn his bachelor of arts degree at Seattle Pacific University in 1983 before obtaining both his M.Div. (1986) and Ph.D. (1996) from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Moos is married to Sharon Moos, whose career is in the health-care administration field.
Jim has been deeply engaged with Global Ministries in support of its partnership with the Protestant Church in East Timor. He brings experience in administration and finance, a commitment to the prophetic witness of the United Church of Christ, a passion for connecting local churches to the global body of Christ, and an understanding of the collegial and ecumenical nature of serving as Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries and Co-Executive of the UCC/Disciples' Global Ministries.