Written by Anthony Moujaes
The United Church of Christ Board of Directors concluded its regularly scheduled spring meeting last weekend in Cleveland, focused on the future of the church. The majority of the top actions decided during the three days at the denomination's headquarters centered around the fiscal stability of the national setting, and a pair of announcements on the next two General Synods.
The four national officers of the UCC provided an update to a fiscal stability plan for reducing a deficit of $2.3 million in 2014, while the board agreed to take on the task of identifying mission priorities for the national setting. That will help the officers as they finds ways to meet those priorities and further reduce the deficit.
"This was the board's second face-to-face meeting [since unifying in July 2013], and members came prepared to get to the business of our church and addressed key issues that face the church," said board chair the Rev. Bernard Wilson. "We worked on fiscal stability, a dialogue with the Boy Scouts and other matters that will come up down the road. I'm pleased with the work of the Collegium toward fiscal stability, and I want to commend the work of national staff."
Wilson said he also looks forward to hearing the outcomes on what the mission priorities of the UCC's national setting when a board group reports back in the fall. "I hope based on their input we will establish mission priorities," he said.
One of the first items of action was the board's support of an open dialogue between the church and the Boys Scouts of America to develop a Memorandum of Understanding, which would allow UCC-sponsored troops to be fully inclusive.
There were other agenda items addressed during the meeting, as the board agreed to create a committee that will review the method by which resolutions come before the General Synod – partly to encourage a level of partnership between the parties that a resolution might affect.
The theme for General Synod 2015 in Cleveland was announced on Saturday, March 15, as "Unexpected Places," drawing from the Book of Genesis, and the board voted to make Baltimore the host city for General Synod 2017.
The board heard presentations from several affiliated ministries of the UCC. Richard Walters and Kathryn McCloskey, of the Pension Boards and United Church Funds, spoke Thursday night about corporate responsibility to educate members on the church's investment strategies.
Don Hart, CEO of UCF, Michael Downs, CEO of The Pension Boards, and the Rev. Bryan Sickbert, CEO of the Council for Health and Human Services, also made presentations to the board during the weekend on their ministries. CHHSM recently concluded its 76th annual meeting, while the Pension Boards — celebrating their 100th year — and UCF have board meetings March 20-21. The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, executive director for the United Church AIDS Network, shared the church's global work in addressing the HIV-AIDS epidemic with the board.
UCC Board members approved an $185,000 contribution to the Armenian Missionary Association of America, which will be used for projects in Armenia, and church and educational work in Lebanon and Syria — both home to displaced Armenians.
The next regular meeting of the UCC Board is scheduled for October 16-18 in Cleveland.