Upon walking into the Meeting House at the UCC’s Church House in Cleveland, the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black received a standing ovation from members of the UCC’s Executive Council. They unanimously voted Friday to re-nominate him for a second term as the denomination’s general minister and president.
Black’s nomination will be voted on at General Synod 29 in July 2013 in Long Beach, Calif. If re-elected, his second term will begin Oct. 1, 2013 and end Sept. 30, 2017. The UCC Constitution and Bylaws allow general ministers and presidents to serve a maximum of three four-year terms.
Black said he was both pleased and humbled by the re-nomination, and looks forward to the next phase of his work if re-elected. “We are in the middle of important work around the transition to [unified governance], and implementing strategic visions and strategies for the future life of the church,” Black added. “I’m looking forward to seeing those implemented.”
Black needed two-thirds approval from the 74-member council for his re-nomination, and at General Synod next summer will need 60 percent of the vote from approximately 865 delegates. He waited in a hallway of the Radisson Hotel as council members met in a closed-door executive session for about 10 minutes before announcing the vote to re-nominate him.
Executive Council chair the Rev. Penny Lowes said that Black “embodies the necessary gifts and creative abilities that will serve our beloved church for the next four years. He has a deep passion for, and strong commitment to, the United Church of Christ. We praise God for his dedication and his service.”
Before arriving in Cleveland for his first term in 2009, Black was the UCC’s Conference Minister for the state of New York from 2000 to 2009, and a pastor at the Congregational Church of South Hempstead (N.Y.) for almost 15 years (1980-1994). He also worked for the national setting from 1994 to 2000 in the UCC’s Office for Church Life and Leadership.
While he returned to Cleveland in his executive role for the second time, he hasn’t stopped traveling the country, and is afforded opportunities to meet UCC members in various settings and gather feedback on the life of the church.
“When I move around the country and talk with church pastors and lay leaders, I find they’re often ahead of us in what the church needs to become, or they’re in sync with us, and that’s very encouraging,” Black said. “I’m encouraged we’re moving in the right direction for the United Church of Christ.”
The Executive Council, which convenes twice a year, scheduled its next session for March 8-10, 2013.