Single (or 'unified') governance vote due on Tuesday
Written by W. Evan Golder
June 30, 2009
After more than three years and in excess of $250,000 in legal and meeting expenses from a shrinking national budget, the issue of a single governance structure is finally coming to the General Synod floor on Tuesday.
Racial and ethnic constituency groups, concerned about losing their hard-earned representation on the current Ministries governing boards, are fighting hard against a single governance board. But, with the exception of Justice and Witness Ministries board, three boards and the Executive Council, concerned about the economic, logistical and theological problems of the current structure, voted for a single structure.
Since the "new" structure was set in place in 2000, five distinct boards have guided UCC policy and decision making. After considerable review and evaluation, a "newer" streamlined single structure was designed and pointed toward this Synod for approval.
Committee 6 was charged with finding a consensus in nine separate resolutions submitted on the single-structure issue. After meeting for six hours, committee members voted unanimously on a resolution to submit to Synod.
Titled "Toward a Unified Governance," the resolution contains five parts.
Primarily, it asks this General Synod to affirm the principle of a unified governance board. It also asks Executive Council and the Covenanted Ministries Boards to continue the conversations on race, but separate from the discussion on governance.
It asks for a Working Group with very broad representation to work toward a unified governance proposal to be submitted to General Synod 28. And it asks local churches, Associations, Conferences and Historically Underrepresented Groups to engage in dialogue and discernment regarding unified governance and report back to the working group by Fall 2010.
Lastly, it asks the Executive Council and the Covenanted Ministry Boards to bring to the next Synod a proposal for a unified governance board with necessary constitution and by-laws changes.
The issue has captured the attention of many at Synod. The Committee 6 meeting room was standing room only, as more than 250 persons squeezed into Ballroom C.
While Balaam's Courier did not cover the debate, Christians for Justice Action's CJA's News ran articles looking at both sides of the issue. Governance is not merely a question of polity or of economics, wrote J.F. Wickey, it's a matter of justice. And, added Michael Vosler, "Justice within any structure that is measured only by the few is rightly suspect by the many."
However, Ron Buford, originator of the Still Speaking campaign, wrote in the same issue that he could not help recalling how difficult it was to shepherd a new idea like "God is still speaking" through the current structure.
The issue will be presented to the General Synod today.