The Rev. Felix Carrión, known widely across the church for his preaching and organizing, has been named coordinator of the UCC's Stillspeaking Initiative. He will begin in Jan. 3.
Carrión will follow in the position most recently held by Marilyn Dubasak, whose leadership ended at the end of August when Stillspeaking ceased to be a stand-alone ministry and was incorporated back into the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry, where it was first developed.
"Felix has broad experience and connections across the UCC, as well as a demonstrated passion for the Stillspeaking Initiative and for the inclusive 'extravagant welcome' of the church," wrote the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, in an Oct. 1 e-mail to Stillspeaking churches and supporters.
Carrión, pastor of Euclid Avenue Congregational UCC in Cleveland since 2003, is a former member of the UCC's national staff. From 1994 to 2000, he led the implementation of the UCC's multiracial, multicultural church pronouncement while working jointly with the former Office for Church in Society and the Commission for Racial Justice. Before that, he worked for the former Office for Church Life and Leadership in the Middle Atlantic region. He also has served local church pastorates in Ohio and Massachusetts.
Known for his dynamic speaking, Carrión was a featured preacher at the UCC's 2003 General Synod in Minneapolis.
"Felix is respected for his ability to relate equally well to people in large groups, small audiences and one-on-one conversations," Thomas said. "He comes to us with a passion for the 'invitational' dimension of the Stillspeaking Campaign. We are excited about his return to national staff, especially in this highly visible and important role."
Since 2006, Carrión has been heavily involved with the progressive clergy networks, "We Believe Ohio" and "We Believe Greater Cleveland."
A 1986 graduate of UCC-related Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Mass., he received his B.A. from The King's College in New York.
Carrión said he regards the Stillspeaking campaign as more than a media campaign, but also a significant contributor to the church's ongoing theological conversation — especially around the importance of "invitation."
"I believe that one of the most exciting calls in the United Church of Christ resides in the Stillspeaking Coordinator," Carrión told United Church News. "This call responds to our church's historic commitments and actions to embody Jesus' prayer, 'That all may be one;' a prayer Jesus lifted up 'on behalf of' the very existence of the community of all of his followers.
"In the context of this biblical and ministerial understanding I join with all who are UCC to discern and engage the new and wonderful opportunities the Stillspeaking Campaign will offer us in our common pursuit to render a more excellent service to the gospel of Jesus Christ, on behalf of the whole world," he says.
Gwen Thomas, an experienced administrator, marketer and grants writer, started work in mid-November as Stillspeaking's new assistant coordinator.