With the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black newly installed as its general minister and president, the UCC is turning its focus to forming search committees to select successors for the three members of its Collegium of Officers who will be leaving their positions in 2011.
The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, executive minister of Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, and the Rev. Steve Sterner, executive minister of Local Church Ministries, recently confirmed their decisions. Edith Guffey, associate general minister of the Office of General Ministries, is ineligible to seek re-election due to term limits.
"It is an incredible privilege to serve as your executive minister, an officer of the United Church of Christ and co-executive of Global Ministries," Rogers-Witte said in a letter to WCM's board of directors. "That part of God's global mission which we support around the world is absolutely amazing, and I cannot imagine any higher honor or privilege than to lead this ministry."
Sterner cited a pledge he had made not to complete the term to which he was elected. "The intent was to provide a little more stability during the time of a transition to a new general minister and president, as well as move through the conversations of governance," said Sterner. "Those will both be complete by General Synod in Tampa. It seems reasonable to make a transition in leadership for LCM at that time." General Synod 28 will be held in Tampa, Fla., July 1-5, 2011.
Board chairpersons for WCM and LCM are currently assembling committees that are expected to begin the search process this fall.
Guffey's role, a called position limited to two four-year terms, is the lead administrator for the UCC's national offices and architect of General Synod. Guffey has held the position since the UCC's national offices were restructured in 1999. After an initial term designed to stagger the five officers' departure dates, she served two full terms. She served the national offices as elected secretary from 1991 to 1999.
A 14-person committee was appointed last November to oversee the nearly two-year AGM search process. The position description will be posted within the next few weeks, and applications will be accepted through Sept. 1.
Addressing a joint meeting of the Executive Council and the UCC's four covenanted ministry boards – just hours before his installation April 17 – Black acknowledged "the elephant in the room" regarding the challenges ahead. He spoke to the reality that three of the five members of the Collegium of Officers would be replaced, and recognized the significant gifts that Rogers-Witte, Sterner and Guffey have contributed to the national setting.
Black added that he was looking forward to the 15 remaining months of their leadership, expressing faith that God would lift up the new leaders who succeed them.