UCC History and Polity Consultations on Unified Governance – A Summary
1. Three different consultations (2006, 2008, and 2010) affirmed that the single governance structure does not violate our covenantal polity and may allow us to be more faithful to who we are and the mission we are called to by God.
2. The proposed governance structure reflects a covenantal polity consistent with our principles and practices. Nothing in these principles and practices specify the size or number of entities with which the covenant is to be kept. In our history and that of our predecessor bodies, we have had many different configurations and numbers of decision-making bodies. But, the trajectory of that history is towards fewer and fewer decision-making bodies.
3. The consistent value and practice of the UCC and its predecessor bodies is concern first about the mission of the church in the world and for the sake of the world, not just for the sake of the church, and to an openness to the leading of the Spirit in each time and place. We are called to respond and adapt the church to follow the leading of the Spirit in the mission we are called to and not to maintain ourselves for the sake of keeping with that with which we are most familiar.
4. The role and authority of our leaders must be clearly articulated. Our historic understanding of church calls us to be clear about such matters for the sake of covenant and unity. When the role and authority of our leaders is unclear, it hampers our ability to act in mission to and for the world. We become bogged down on internal matters, less attentive to God’s mission.
5. Unified governance is more faithful to who we are – one church. The legacies we are called to steward belong to the whole church, not to one particular part of the church. While efficiency is important, the most important thing is discernment of the Sprit’s call and to have that done
with one decision-making body opens the possibility for more effective and faithful discernment.
6. Transparency is a core value and the single governance proposal promotes this value with appropriate lines of responsibility and accountability.
7. Faithfulness to our past and history does not demand that we adhere to a particular structure or form. It demands that we respond in our day and time, faithful to discerning the mission before us. Our world is very different from even the one faced in 2000. We must respond differently to this new world. Our ancestors in faith shaped the structure of the church to meet the mission they understood they were called to and we must do the same. Faithfulness is in following in their footsteps to courageously go forward, making changes in the way we are structured in order to be good stewards and carry out God’s mission that we are called to here and now.
Ms. Kimberly Whitney
Executive Associate to the Collegium
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115