Written by Michelle May
Using liturgy found in the Book of Worship of the United Church of Christ, delegates and visitors to General Synod 28 were able to offer thanks, praise, and prayer one more time to outgoing Collegium members, and to witness to the installation of the moderators for the 2011-2013 biennium.
Associate General Minister Edith Guffey, Local Church Ministries Executive Minister the Rev. Stephen Sterner, and Wider Church Ministries Executive Minister the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte were joined onstage by representatives of the associations where Sterner and Rogers-Witte have their standing and by a representative from Guffey’s local church as thanks was offered, forgiveness asked for, and promises made to encourage their ministries as they unfold in new ways.
An awkward moment followed the question to Synod delegates as to whether “you release these ministers from relying on and turning to you.” The words of release were not yet shown on the screen so all that followed the question was silence. Once the slide caught up to the question, delegates promised to do so, relying on God’s grace. With a look of relief on their faces, outgoing Collegium members and delegates shared a laugh.
The Rev. Hamilton Throckmorton, pastor of Guffey’s home church, Chagrin Falls Federated UCC, offered the closing prayer, thanking God for the richness and grace of the three distinctive and hallowed ministries and asking for God’s love to surround them in the days ahead.
Following the service of farewell, a service of Installation was held as new Moderator Libby Tigner and Assistant Moderators Brian Holeman and Dale Bonds were installed. Outgoing Moderators James Robertson, Caroline Peters Belsom, and Patricia Aurand led the service.
Praying for God’s grace, the moderators promised to carry out their responsibilities diligently and faithfully. In response, General Synod delegates promised to love and honor their leadership.
Outgoing Moderator Robertson offered a closing prayer followed by a proclamation stating the new moderators installed for the upcoming biennium.