New board debates, affirms controversial scholarship

New board debates, affirms controversial scholarship

Encourages further commitment to biblical and theological reflection throughout the church so that all persons may be more fully received by all UCC members.

At the first meeting of the board of directors of Local Church Ministries since the UCC restructure, held in Cleveland from Nov. 2-5, the board affirmed the action of the former United Church Board for Homeland Ministries in establishing the William R. Johnson Scholarship Fund. This is one of several scholarships available to assist UCC members called by God and authorized by the church to prepare for ordination.

The fund was created in October 1999 to assist openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons "in care" of UCC Associations and studying in Master of Divinity programs toward full-time ministry in the UCC.

Before voting to affirm the fund, the directors, more than 40 clergy and lay members from all over the country, listened to diverse and passionate responses about the fund. For example, some speakers celebrated General Synod resolutions that affirm the full membership and ministry of all persons within the UCC, while others acknowledged that some within the UCC find this commitment, and this fund, troubling.

Others complained that announcement of this fund did not provide for adequate and timely preparation for those who interpret decisions to the church.

The board resolution expresses appreciation to those who have interpreted the fund; those who have extended pastoral care to churches where there was misunderstanding, pain or alienation; and those who remain in covenant dialogue, though in disagreement. It also encourages further commitment to biblical and theological reflection throughout the church so that all persons may be more fully and joyfully received by all UCC members.

In other actions, the board:

Voted to report to General Synod 23 concerning seminarian debt;

Decided to raise $1 million per year for leadership development for new/renewing church leadership;

Elected the Rev. Stephen Camp as Executive Associate Minister.

Allocated $4,458,000 for loans through the Church Building Revolving Loan Fund for projects including accessibility, expansion and new sites.

The Board will meet again in April 2001.

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