The Rev. Geoffrey Black, who has led the UCC's New York Conference for nearly a decade, has been nominated to become the UCC's next general minister and president. The nomination is scheduled to be voted on by the UCC's Executive Council at its March meeting.
Black was previously a program staff member in the UCC's Office for Church Life and Leadership. During his career he has served as assistant chaplain at Brown University, associate minister at St. Albans (N.Y.) Congregational UCC, pastor of Congregational UCC of South Hempstead (N.Y.), lecturer in the Field Education Department of Union Theological Seminary in New York and protestant chaplain at Adelphi University. Black currently is a member of the board of trustees of Lancaster Theological Seminary.
The Rev. Henry T. Simmons, pastor at St. Albans (N.Y.) Congregational UCC and chair of the GMP search committee, said the search committee is excited about Black's selection and the year-long exploration that led to the nomination. "It was a tough process – the candidates we interviewed were all very qualified," said Simmons. "In the end, we felt we had interviewed the best possible candidates and found the finest person to lead the UCC at this time."
Prior to his move to Cleveland in 1994, Black ministered in local UCC congregations for over 15 years where involvement in the life of the denomination provided opportunities to participate in association and conference committees and to hold several elected offices.
"The phrase 'servant leadership' encapsulates his understanding and practice of leadership. Leadership, in his view, is about serving God and God's people," said the Rev. Jim Moos, pastor of Bismarck (N.D.) UCC and chair of the UCC's Executive Council. "He does not believe that leadership is the exclusive purview of a single person, but the shared responsibility of the many."
Ecumenical commitment, concern for equal justice, African-American empowerment and community improvement have shaped Black's ministry in the church and the communities in which he has lived. He has worked the Nassau Coalition for Safety and Justice, the Long Island Interracial Alliance for a Common Future, and the Amistad Cultural Center of Long Island, which he co-founded, and Caring Communities of Shaker Heights, Ohio.
UCC bylaws require that Black's nomination be affirmed by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Council prior to his presentation to the General Synod for call by election. If recommended by the Executive Council and elected by delegates at General Synod for the four-year term, Black will succeed the Rev. John H. Thomas, who has served in the post since 1999 and is not eligible for re-election.
The Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries and GMP search committee member, expressed her appreciation for the search process. "Throughout this year of thoughtful discernment, it was clear that every person on the committee loves the United Church of Christ and considered each candidate through that lens," said Jaramillo. "We were blessed by a diverse group of candidates who felt called into this discernment process, each expressing his or her commitment to fully support our next general minister and president."
Black earned his B.A. from Lincoln University in 1969 and an M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School in 1972. He is the spouse of Patricia Williams-Black and the father of Makeda Black. He and his family reside in Dewitt, N.Y., and Black is a member of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Syracuse.