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Know Your Leaders

Collegium of Officers of the United Church of Christ

General Minister and President

The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black

Associate General Minister

Ms. Edith A. Guffey

Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. Linda Jaramillo

Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries
The Rev. Stephen L. Sterner

Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries
The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte

Learn More about the Collegium

Mr. James K. Robertson has been a member of First Congregational Church in Watertown, Connecticut for 35 years and has served there as Moderator, Deacon and Trustee. He recently completed a two-year term as Moderator of the Connecticut Conference.  Mr. Robertson is an Honors Graduate of Yale University and the University of Connecticut Law School.  He is a graduate of Hartford Seminary where he served as the Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees.  Mr. Robertson is the past Managing Partner of Carmody & Torrance and a former Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court.  Mr. Robertson and his wife JoAnn are the parents of two grown children and have a grand daughter, Hannah

Assistant Moderators
The Rev. Patricia Aurand is the senior pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City, Iowa.  A native of South Dakota, Rev. Aurand graduated with a BS in Psychology and Theatre/Speech from Northwestern College and a Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary.  She was ordained in 1997 and previously served congregations in South Dakota and Iowa before being called to First Congregational. She is active in all settings of the Church - local, association and Conference, and now the national setting, as well.  She describes herself as a “Synod junkie.”  Rev. Aurand is married to the Rev. Charles Aurand. They have two children. 
Ms. Caroline Belsom is a member of Waiola United Church of Christ in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.  She is a former Moderator and Vice Moderator of the Hawaii Conference.  Ms. Belsom is an attorney in private practice.  She previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for South Dakota and Iowa.  She is a former high school math and physics teacher in Iowa.  Since returning to Hawaii, where she grew up, she serves on a number of church, civic and charitable boards.  Ms. Belsom is married to the Rev. Dr. Jack Belsom, senior pastor at Iao Congregational United Church of Christ in Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii.  She enjoys reading, hula dancing and quilting.

Mr. Robert Frieberg will serve on the platform with the moderators while the Rev. Mal Bertram will be at the parliamentarian’s table on the plenary floor. Mr. Frieberg is a member of the Congregational United Church of Christ of Beresford, South Dakota. He has held numerous positions in his local church and in the South Dakota Conference, including chairing the South Dakota Foundation of the UCC. He has severed several times as Synod Parliamentarian. Professionally, he is an attorney. The Rev. Bertram has served as parliamentarian for several General Synods and serves in this role at the Massachusetts Conference Annual Meetings. Prior to retiring, Rev. Bertram served local churches in the New England area; he now lives in Massachusetts.

Chairperson of the Executive Council
Mr. Pierson Kemp is the retired civilian Special Assistant to the Comptroller of the Defense Logistics Agency at the Department of Defense and a resident of Reston, Virginia. He is a member of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington DC and involved in a new church start, Community of All People UCC in Reston.  Mr. Kemp comes to the Executive Council as a representative of the Board of Directors of the Office of General Ministries from the Central Atlantic Conference.  The Chairperson of the Executive Council is elected from the membership of the Council to serve for a biennium. The Council acts for the General Synod at all times when Synod itself is not in session (Bylaw Paragraph 226, 2005 ed.).  During the General Synod, the Council serves as the Synod’s Budget Committee, Business Committee, and Committee of Reference. As Chairperson, Mr. Kemp will present to the General Synod those items which have originated with the Executive Council and those on which previous Synods have directed the Council to act. He will chair the meetings of the Business Committee and is responsible for dealing directly or through subcommittees with matters of reference, budget, and agenda. He will work closely with the Moderators, the Officers of the Church, and the Synod staff to oversee the functioning of the plenary sessions.

Nominating Committee
Ms. Eppie Encabo is the Chairperson and the Rev. J. Matthew Deal serves as Vice-chairperson, of the 27 member General Synod Nominating Committee.  Ms. Encabo is a member of Faith Community United Church of Christ in Oakland, California.  She serves on the Nominating Committee as the representative of the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries.  Rev. Deal is pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in Somerset, Pennsylvania. He serves on the Nominating Committee as an At-large member, nominated from the Penn West Conference.  The slate of the nominees of the Nominating Committee will be posted on the United Church of Christ website's General Synod Section in late spring.  At the General Synod, Ms. Encabo will officially present the report of the committee and will be present at a hearing on Friday, July 1st, to explain the nominating process.

General Synod Registrar

Office of the General Minister and President
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115