Unified Governance Dialogue and Discernment - Local Church Ministries Board of Directors

Unified Governance Dialogue and Discernment - Local Church Ministries Board of Directors

Diane Bennekamper LCM Board of Directors Chairperson, reviewed the Unified Governance Working Group Documents for Dialogue and Discernment that were developed by the working group at the December 2009 meeting.  She then led the group through the dialogue and discernment process, beginning with prayer.

Board member discussion included the following responses to the following questions.

What do you believe God is calling the UCC to be now and into the future?

• God calls the UCC to be both current and future.
• Honor and include UCC traditions and values in future church plans, while remaining in dialogue and moving forward.
• What theological foundation drives the unified governance plan?
• All settings of the church must be viewed as ministry. 
• A united and uniting church can not live with fractured leadership.
• God calls us to serve the world and to save the world – to save the whole body of Christ, not just the UCC.
• If we serve the world, we will be the church.
• God calls us to unify the entire body of Christ; to be a ministry of reconciliation; to be healed as a body.
• Let go of our fears and trust God and one another.
• Denomination – abomination!  God calls us to be one.
• Move toward "We shall all be one." 
• We have eight arenas of autonomy in the UCC today (General Synod, four covenanted ministries, conferences, associations, local churches).  This is too much autonomy.  Autonomy has created barriers and tensions, destroyed partnerships, etc.  God calls us to be connected. 
• The UCC must engage youth and young adults in order to grow new life.
• Be a uniting church.  Many boards (Home Mission, etc.) were ecumenical in their original shape.  Work ecumenically with and on behalf of local congregations or other places of ministry. 

What is your response for the Unified Governance Working Group?

• Think outside the box in partnership with others via best practices, bench marks, and in the developments of concepts such as the Center for Progressive Renewal.
• Continue to work at unified governance.
• Strive for efficient corporate structure combined with theology.
• The Board should be a generative force.
• Hold on to the fluidity in current work.
• New structure will move us out of a "box" and toward the ecumenical spirit of the future.
• We are all honored as unique gifts of God.
• We need to move back to the early church model: communal living, share resources, trust in each other, provide for each other, look out for each other.
• Clarify very simply the unified governance proposal to all people in the UCC.
• Clarify how a new structure will allow the national setting to be more responsive to local churches and settings of the church in a changing world. 
• Local church members are surprised at the complexity of the current national setting.
• People in the pews believe that resources will be better used in a new structure.
• Do our churches understand the implications of being a multi-racial multi-cultural; united and uniting; just peace; open and affirming; accessible to all; global mission church?  What does it mean to be accountable to these words?  We must move beyond the notion that we are this kind of a church simply because we state that we are this kind of church.
• If we are to be a uniting church, we must center on the principles stated above with other denominational structures.  We must find places where we connect with partners.  How can we work within the circle or around the circle, rather than outside the box?  (Our God is not able to fit in a box, no matter how big we make it!)
• How specifically will the work of the church get done in a new structure?  This must be detailed.
• Create a corporate Christian culture (using gifts and talents) as opposed to a church using business models with capitalistic, economic pitfalls.
• Recognize that most youth and young adults believe that being active in a church does not mean serving on a church Board.
• Focus on God's mission.  Nothing in the unified governance plan addresses a commitment to the poor and oppressed.  A reflection of Luke: 4 is needed.
• Where is the financial projection?  We need a comparison of the current operating costs and operating costs under a unified governance model.  What are the savings? 
• Realize that not everyone cares about church governance.  A church of one primary conversation can turn people off (especially young people).  We must honor the importance of other issues (justice issues, etc.). 
• Appreciate that there is life in the church on the local level.  Local church members may not be interested in church governance discussions, but are doing good works for the poor, oppressed, etc.  However, some type of structure is needed to make these good church works possible. 
• It was clarified that every Conference is asked to participate in this Dialogue and Discernment exercise.  Each Board member was asked to inquire when his/her respective Conference will do so. 
• The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries will coordinate the Dialogue and Discernment conversation with young people who are interested.