Written by Connie Larkman
Board members for the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries decided unanimously Saturday morning to approve the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo's nomination for a third and final term as executive minister.
"I believe that God is calling me to stay the course, to continue to serve as an officer of our beloved United Church of Christ," said Jaramillo. "We never know what might happen if we don't interrupt God who speaks to us when we least expect it."
Jaramillo, fluent in both English and Spanish, is the first Latina to serve as an officer of the United Church of Christ. She has been active in various UCC settings, including the UCC's former Commission for Racial Justice and former Coordinating Center for Women. She worked with the UCC's Central Pacific Conference, was a member of the denomination's Executive Council, and served as ssistant moderator at General Synod.
Justice, Jaramillo continued, inspires her work. "In the midst of all the transitions before us, I am especially inspired by leaders throughout the church who are energized by the missional future for the United Church of Christ that boldly proclaims justice and peace for all –– a church that holds justice at its very core."
The Rev. Alice Harper-Jones, representing the JWM Board, said her friend and colleague's feelings about her work are reflected in her leadership. "Under Linda's inclusive, knowledgeable, leadership and guidance, I have grown tremendously in my position as president of the JWM Board," Harper-Jones said. "The success of our joint boards meeting last week at Franklinton Center at Bricks with its Board and the FCB community members, is just an example of Linda's commitment to bring partners together to work in a spirit that is reflective of God's love."
"Colleagues across the UCC praised Rev. Jaramillo's pastoral and prophetic gifts," said Kiely Todd Roska, re-nomination committee chair. "Words like integrity, collaborative, open, grounded, and prophetic permeated the feedback forms describing Rev. Jaramillo’s work. She was praised by members of the JWM staff as a good listener who solicits feedback and allows for different points of view to be heard with respect."
Jaramillo's nomination will go before delegates to General Synod 29, June 28-July 2, 2013 in Long Beach, Calif. If re-elected, Jaramillo's third term begins Oct. 1, 2013 and ends Sept. 30, 2017. It would be Jaramillo's final term as JWM's executive minister. The UCC Constitution and Bylaws allow executive ministers to serve a maximum of three four-year terms.
Jaramillo needed at least two-thirds of the votes from the JWM board for the nomination. At General Synod next summer she'll need 60 percent of the vote from approximately 865 delegates.
There are three members of the collegium of officers up for re-election at General Synod 29. Jaramillo is joined in the re-election process by the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president, and the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of Local Church Ministries. Black and Guess were unanimously nominated by the Executive Council and the LCM Board of Directors, respectively, earlier this month.
Jaramillo received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Portland State University in 1990, and an M. Div. degree from UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. in 2005. She has more than 30 years of management experience working with state, county, and federally funded programs in Oregon, including Head Start, migrant services, child welfare, violence prevention, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and adult community-based education.
"I am deeply grateful to the Boards of Directors of JWM for their affirmation, support, and encouragement during the last seven years," Jaramillo said. "I am humbled to work with brilliant and committed colleagues who teach me something new every day. I am reminded of a Kenyan Proverb, "If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But, if you want to walk far, walk together with others." It is truly a blessing to walk with so many others on this journey."