The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, former conference minister of the Southwest Conference of the UCC, is the ninth general minister and president of the United Church of Christ.
Prior to his role at the Southwest Conference, Dorhauer served as associate conference minister in the Missouri Mid-South Conference, and also served local churches in rural Missouri. He has a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary, where he studied white privilege and its effects on the church. His new book, Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World, will be released in June.
Dorhauer is passionate about justice. Two statements that shape his theology are: "God is love. God is just." Along with his passion for justice, Dorhauer has a passion for and love of baseball – specifically the St. Louis Cardinals – music, literature and poetry. He has been married to his wife for nearly 31 years and they have three children.
Dorhauer was chosen as the GMP candidate by an 18-member search committee in February 2015. His candidacy was confirmed by the UCC Board of Directors by a two-thirds vote in March. He was elected at the 30th General Synod, which met June 26-30, 2015 in Cleveland.
The Rev. Traci D. Blackmon is Acting Executive Minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, having been appointed to the position by unanimous vote of the UCC Board in October 2015.
Blackmon also is the 18th installed and first woman pastor of the 156-year-old Christ The King United Church of Christ in Ferguson, Mo. She became nationally recognized as a prominent voice for social change when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, just miles from her church. She immediately worked to help organize the Black Lives Matter movement, effectively assisting and collaborating with people in the community working for justice.
The committed civic leader, gifted preacher, and much-loved pastor is the founder of the Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational symposium designed to assist women toward spiritual and sexual wholeness. She also co-founded "When Women Gather …," a monthly ecumenical gathering committed to facilitating the spiritual growth and development of women by studying the Word of God through the unique lens that is womanhood.
Initially ordained in the AME Church, Blackmon holds a B.S. degree in nursing from Birmingham-Southern College (1985) and a Masters of Divinity degree from UCC-related Eden Theological Seminary (2009). She is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis, and has served on numerous boards, including the St. Louis Effort for AIDS, The Kidney Foundation, Magdalene House St. Louis, St. Louis Minority Business Council, and Planned Parenthood St. Louis, among others.
Blackmon "treasures the privilege" of being mother to Kortni, Harold II, and Tyler Blackmon.
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.
Elected by General Synod to fill an unexpired two-year term in July 2011, Rev. Guess was subsequently elected to a four-year term in 2013. 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 through faith formation, worship and youth ministries; ministerial excellence, support and authorization; congregational assessment and advancement; church-wide analytics and research; church building financing and support for new and renewing congregations and their leaders.
Rev. 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 2010, Rev. Guess was asked to lead the creation of a new cross-ministry department called Publishing, Identity and Communication which has since fostered more cooperative and strategic work on behalf of 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.
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 congregation of more than 300 people. In 1992, he co-founded the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, now the state's most visible LGBT rights organization. Guess received the UCC's Just Peace Award at the 1997 General Synod, in recognition of his life-long commitment to justice advocacy. In 2014, he received the distinguished alumni award from Chicago Theological Seminary.
Rev. Guess is a trustee at UCC-related Andover Newton Theological School near Boston, chairs the UCC's Church Building & Loan Fund board of directors, and is an ex-officio member of the Cornerstone Fund board of directors. He is a member of numerous ecumenical organizations.
Guess and his spouse, Jim Therrien, are members of Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Cleveland.
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.
Presidents and General Minister and Presidents
Fred Hoskins & James E. Wagner – Co-Presidents (1957-1961)
Ben M. Herbster – President (1961-1969)
Robert V. Moss – President (1969-1976)
Joseph H. Evans – President (1976-1977)
Avery D. Post – President (1977-1989)
Paul H. Sherry – President (1989-1999)
John H. Thomas – General Minister and President (1999-2010)
Geoffrey A. Black – General Minister and President (2010-2015)
John C. Dorhauer – General Minister and President (2015-Present)