When the 16 members of the General Synod Nominating Committee begin looking over a field of board of director candidates in January 2017, they will not only seek out people with great minds and skills, but also those with a passion to collectively serve the national setting of the United Church of Christ.
"Part of our discernment is to consider why people want to do this. Most often, the greatest asset of a person, no matter their skill set, is their devotion to serve the church out of humility and sense of carrying the UCC forward," said the Rev. Dan DeLeon, chair of the General Synod Nominating Committee. "The more [devotion] we have, the stronger we will be."
The Nominating Committee will identify a dozen members to serve on the 52-member UCC Board of Directors for a six-year term from 2017 through 2023. Nominations for board members are open through Nov. 1 to anyone in the denomination, and can be submitted by conferences of the UCC, ministers, members of historically underrepresented groups, and even self-nominations from people hoping to serve the church.
"We are not just looking for people with particular skill sets — be it administrative, or accounting, or public speaking —but how these work with each other. The body of Christ can’t function without its myriad of parts," said DeLeon, who is also pastor of Friends Congregational Church in College Station, Texas, and president of the UCC’s South Central Conference Board of Directors. "We want to look at how the varied skill sets among the members of the board work together and are not detrimental to each other."
The Nominating Committee must follow specific diversity guidelines in the makeup of the board membership that are outlined in the UCC bylaws. Of the 52 members on the board, 36 are at-large positions, 12 of which are filled every biennium. DeLeon also said that he was encouraged by UCC General Minister and President the Rev. John C. Dorhauer's words that the church needs to be about justice, reconciling differences and speaking across religious borders.
"To remain authentic to who were are and who we are trying to become as a church, we are intentional about promoting diversity in the highest positions of leadership in the denomination," DeLeon said. "We want to make sure we are appreciative of gender, age, race, persons with disability, people in the LGBTQ community, and any number of backgrounds."
The Nominating Committee is responsible for drawing a list of people to serve on the board and submitting that report to the General Synod for acceptance. The committee also makes recommendations on the General Synod moderator and vice-moderator — the individuals who help move the agenda of the Synod along — but nominations for those roles are not open yet.
"Of all the committee work I do — in local church settings, conference settings, and national settings — this is some of work I relish the most, because the nominating committee is composed of a wide swath of people from across the denomination who are eager to serve with integrity," DeLeon said.
After the nomination period closes, the committee will begin its selection process in mid-January 2017, and will recommend a slate of candidates in early May. The final election will take place in late June during General Synod 2017 in Baltimore.
The UCC Board meets twice each year for four days, in the spring and fall (and usually for a day or two before General Synod). The meetings are almost always at the UCC’s national setting in downtown Cleveland, and travel and lodging costs are covered.
Nominations may be submitted online between now and Nov. 1 on a secure page on the UCC website, and information will be treated with the highest confidentiality.