United Church of Christ

Introduction Letter to the Working Group

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear UGOV Working Group Members,

I want to begin by thanking each of you for accepting the call to serve our church in this most important endeavor. Clearly, our work is cut out for us but what a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the life of the United Church of Christ at this point in its great history.

I am Bernard Wilson and I’ve been asked to serve as your Chair. I know that most of you do not know me, so I’ve attached a brief bio (below). We are privileged to have working with us, Dr. Jacquie McLemore (bio also below) who will support us in accomplishing our assigned task.

Our formation as a working group is a follow-up on the General Synod’s Resolution entitled: "Toward a Unified Governance for the National Setting of the United Church of Christ" [see attached]. Our General Minister and President, the Rev Geoffrey A. Black in his remarks to the Executive Council listed the issue of governance as one of his three main priorities, saying, "No matter what happens with our work specifically on the design of our governance structure, we are going to need to develop a culture of governance here in the United Church of Christ."

We have a mandate from the General Synod and an ambitious agenda to accomplish in order to meet the Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM), Pierson Kemp, the Chair of the Executive Council, has outlined. We are including the POAM to ensure that we are all beginning with the same document. Those milestones include

• The design of a governance dialog process to be used throughout the denomination and constituency groups – December 3-5, 2009
• Providing a written "Status of Activity" to the Executive Council by January 15, 2010
• Provide quarterly report to the Executive Council Chair by July 15, 2010
• Report to the Executive Council by Fall of 2010
• Provide written "Status of Activity" to the Executive Council Chair by January 2011
• Recommendations to the Executive Council and Covenanted Ministry Boards by March/April 2011

As your Chair, I will work to ensure that you have the necessary information and resources to accomplish our assignment. I will also make certain that you receive items for consideration in a timely manner. You will discover that I am open to your ideas, interests, concerns, comments and any input you may have. I want us to work together on our shared goal, even when we disagree on how best to get there. I will also be mindful that we have decisions to make, tasks to fulfill and a deadline to reach to meet our 2011 goal of a recommendation to the Executive Council.

Our first meeting is scheduled for December 3-5, 2009. If you have not made arrangements to arrive in Cleveland by the 3rd of December, please do so immediately. You will receive the agenda for that meeting by November 17, 2009.

I solicit your prayers for our work and our working together. I am confident that with the Holy Spirit guiding our work and our willingness to open our hearts and minds to what we are called to do, we will achieve our goal of a recommendation to the Executive Council on a proposal for a unified governance structure.

I hope we will always remember that this work we are called to is greater than us and can make a difference for the church I believe we all love.  Thank you again for your service to our church. I look forward to meeting each of you in December. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I am your humble servant,

Bernard Wilson
The Reverend Dr. Bernard R. Wilson, CAPT (CHC), United States Navy (ret)
Senior Minister Norfield Congregational Church
Weston, CT 06883

Rev. Dr. Bernard R. Wilson (Bio)

The Rev. Dr. Bernard R. Wilson is the 35th Senior Minister of Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, CT. Dr. Wilson is a retired navy chaplain who served as The Assistant Chaplain of the Marine Corps, The Navy’s Northeast Regional Director of Religious Ministries and as a Chaplain Corps Assignment Officer. He received numerous awards, medals and citations for his stellar military career. He previously served as the Executive Minister at The Riverside Church in the City of New York, and as the interim Senior Minister at Briarcliff Manor Congregational Church in New York.

Dr. Wilson was an Adjunct Preaching Professor at The New Brunswick Theological Seminary and at the Howard University School of Divinity for Continuing Education. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the David and Dovetta Wilson Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization he started with his eight brothers and sisters.

The Fund has annually awarded nine scholarships since its inception in 1990. The Wilson Family was named one of the "Families of the Year" by USA Today, "Heroes for America" by Reader's Digest and featured in the NBC/AT&T special "Images and Realities the African-American Family." Three of his siblings are in full-time ministry; his sisters the Rev. Carolyn C. Blair, the Rev. Dr. Ruby Wilson, pastors the Safe Haven United Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY and his brother, Commander Charles E. Wilson who is an active duty navy chaplain.

Dr. Wilson serves on several community boards:

• The Board of Directors of Homes for the Brave, a non-profit organization providing housing and services for veterans
• The Trident Swim Foundation, an organization seeking to build community-based athletic and academic programs for inner-city students
• The Town of Weston's Veterans Affairs Committee
• And he is the Police Chaplain for the Town of Weston.

Dr. Wilson received his B.A from Morehouse College and an MDIV from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA., an STM from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, an MA from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. He is the author of Meditations for Tough and Testing Times.

Dr. Wilson is married to the former Nereida Torres whom he met while they both were serving in the United States Navy. They have two children, Michael Bernard Wilson, an officer in the United States Navy and Daniel Bernard Wilson, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Bernard and Nereida are the proud grandparents of Mia Jean Wilson.

Jacqueline McLemore, Ph.D.

Jacqueline R. McLemore is the owner and principal of McLemore Consulting Associates.  She has over twenty years experience as an executive coach, consultant and facilitator of change processes. In this role, Jacquie works with individuals, teams and groups as they work to change their organizations and themselves. She works individually with leaders, designs and facilitates team retreats, and helps clients implement strategies to focus their work in critical ways. Jacquie collaboratively designs, manages and facilitates large, multi-stakeholder projects in her role as an AmericaSpeaks Associate. Jacquie earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management and a Master's of Science Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is Academic Dean at The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.  Jacquie can be reached at transform@mclemoreconsulting.com 

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