Written by Gregg Brekke
Meetings of the Governance Follow-up Team II held Sept. 5-7 resulted in a new document outlining their proposal for a single UCC governance board of 85-88 members. Provisionally called the United Church Board (UCB), the proposal will be presented to the existing boards for approval during their respective Oct. and Nov. meetings.
In an effort to simplify denominational governance and provide more cost-effective leadership, the proposal calls for reclassifying the Covenanted Ministries as ministry teams under common board leadership and the removal of the Office of General Ministries as a Covenanted Ministry.
As such, the position of associate general minister would be eliminated and replaced with a chief administrative officer who would oversee shared services and report to the general minister and president.
Under the proposal, the Collegium would be reduced from five to four members represented by executive ministers from Local Church, Justice and Witness, and Wider Church ministries as well as the general minister and president.
If approved, UCB members would serve all the functions of the current Executive Council and will incorporate all the duties of the Office of General Ministries. In addition, all the members of the UCB would govern the corporations of each of the UCC's national setting ministries.
It is recommended that 68 board positions be open through the existing nominating process with a provision for up to three additional members as follows:
- Thirty-eight members, one from each of the UCC conferences;
- Nine at-large youth and/or young adult members;
- Three members from the UCC Disabilities Ministries;
- Two members each from the Council for American Indian Ministry, the Council for Hispanic Ministries, Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice, Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries, United Black Christian, the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns;
- One member each from the Council for Racial and Ethic Ministries, the Council for Theological Education, the Council for Higher Education and the Historical Council;
- Up to three at-large representatives may be added by UCB decision each biennium in order to ensure diversity concerns are appropriately represented.
The remaining 17 members would be represented as follows:
- Six conference ministers, one each from the UCC regions;
- One representative each from the United Church Foundation, Inc., The Pension Boards, the Council of Health and Human Services, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);
- The moderator and two assistant moderators of General Synod;
- The Covenanted Ministries Executive Ministers;
- The UCC's general minister and president.
If approved by the existing boards in the Oct. and Nov. meetings the model will be used to draft constitution and bylaw changes required to implement the structure.
The published timeline anticipates submission of the governance model and constitutional changes to the 2009 General Synod for discussion and vote. If ratified, bylaw amendments will be presented at the 2011 General Synod for approval. Implementation of the new governance model is scheduled for completion in October of 2011 should approval be met through the actions of the General Synod.
In an effort to address the concerns of historically underrepresented groups, the proposal makes explicit provisions to maintain diversity, including at least 50 percent persons of color and 50 percent female representation on the UCB.
To ensure additional diversity the proposal recommends three equal portions of clergy, lay women and lay men along with a commitment to install 20 percent of board members in any nominating period who are younger than age 30.
The Rev. John Thomas, general minister and president of the UCC, is encouraged by the progress made on this latest revision. "It represents a streamlined structure that continues to honor the historic work that has been carried forward by the four covenanted ministries and would respect, legally and morally, the intentions of donors to historic endowments," he says.
The most recent version of the Governance Follow-up Team document can be found at <ucc.org/assets/pdfs/governanceproposal.pdf>