Written by Daniel Hazard
"I have for a very long time had a sense of outrage about many of the injustices in our society."
This is how Edith Guffey described herself and the passion she brings to her work as the UCC's associate general minister. In that role, Guffey serves as the managing executive of the Offi ce of General Ministries and administrator of General Synod.
Guffey was the only candidate nominated by the Executive Council to be "called by election" to the position, her third and final four-year term. Prior to first being elected in 1999, she had served since 1991 as the elected secretary of the UCC's national setting.
In her afternoon speech on June 25, Guffey described growing up in the inner city of Kansas City, Mo., not only seeing injustices first hand, but living many of them. These included "attending substandard schools where options presented to us were limited," she said, "and too often possibilities seemed out of reach for way too many."
"That outrage is what likely led me to major in social work and what attracted me to join a local UCC church that was actively engaged in the community," she said. "I cannot imagine not being part of a church that doesn't speak out or speak up, even when the cost is significant."
"You might ask," she said, "if my commitment to justice is so strong, when then am I in an administrative role rather than working in an area like Justice and Witness Ministries or in an area of more direct service and engagement?
"I came to realize," she explained, "that we must all find the way to live out our commitments in the way that best fits our gifts and is comfortable for who we are. For me, I am most able to support the work of the United Church of Christ in this administrative role.
"We have accomplished a great many things administratively," Guffey said, praising her "exceptional" staff, but acknowledged there is more to be done. As examples, she named "systems that are inefficient and not using our limited resources wisely" and a structure that is "still in many ways ineffective and inefficient."
She added that every time she has given a "candidate speech" she has lifted up the need for "honest engagement and conversation" about the realities of race in the UCC. "If I am re-elected," she said, "these last four years will be my only opportunity left to actually find creative ways for us to have those kinds of conversations."
Later the same evening, General Synod enthusiastically re-elected Edith Guffey as associate general minister.