Written by Anthony Moujaes
The Best Minds Event Series is bringing United Church of Christ members, lay leaders and clergy from across the life of the church to join in a continuous conversation with each other about designated topics, including philanthropy and branding.
The series kicked off last month with a discussion on philanthropy in Boston that explored giving and the financial health of wider ministries, reconsidered the current UCC policy on giving (the "Pattern of Giving," established in 1986), and discussed a potential General Synod action in 2015 to create a new financial covenant.
Sylvia Ferrell Jones, member of the UCC's Executive Council and president and CEO of YWCA Boston, facilitated the Boston meeting of philanthropic consultants, pastors, non-profit executives and attorneys. The group concluded that the "Pattern of Giving" policy doesn't reflect the UCC's contemporary understanding of financial responsibility and relationships, so a new financial covenant between individuals and the national, regional and local settings of the church must be a priority.
The second Best Minds Event is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 in Dallas, and will discuss branding strategies for the UCC. Ann Poston, director of the UCC's Publication, Identity and Communication ministry, will facilitate the Dallas meeting, which will bring pastors, conference ministers, IT professionals, and executives in marketing and branding to the table.
One of the UCC's bold, inspirational goals is 'bold, public voice.' These bold, inspirational goals (BIGs) are a part of the UCC's recently announced Vision Plan for the National Setting of the church.
"In order to support the achievement of this bold, public voice goal, we must participate in an even greater level of thought leadership, consultation, and engagement with all settings and persons within the United Church of Christ," Poston said. "The upcoming Stillspeaking Best Minds event will be one of the first steps in this deeper level of engagement."
This event will try to answer questions about furthering the Stillspeaking brand to new audiences through traditional and emerging media, ensuring that the UCC's message is relevant and timely to those audiences, and how the church can better embrace new technologies and creative ways to deliver a message that reaches a "spiritual but not religious" generation.
Poston said the desired outcome is an actionable plan that the national setting of the church can live out in partnership with conferences and local churches.
Led by the Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree, consultant to the National Setting and former Connecticut Conference Minister, the Best Minds Event Series will continue in 2013 with additional topics and work to continue the conversations on branding and philanthropy that started in 2012.
"We have a great many challenges in all the settings of the Church, whether national, global, seminary, Conference, health and human services institutions -- juicy challenges big enough to tap the capacity of these outstanding 'Best Minds' on a short-term basis" Crabtree said. "I applaud our national leaders' vision of engaging with people with expertise in a way they have never been invited before."
If you're interested in being a part of future Best Minds conversations, contact Davida at firstname.lastname@example.org.