Departing publisher: 'God has richly blessed us in this ministry'
Written by Robert Chase
August - September 2007
August 1, 2007

"In some small ways, I believe we have made a difference in the UCC and beyond."

I have a unique "view" of General Synod. No, I don't mean a distinct "perspective" on our biennial gathering, I am referring to the actual place where I view the events in the plenary hall.

As director of the gavel-to-gavel image-magnification screens that appear in the plenary hall, I see the action through multiple television monitors wired to our five cameras. So, I get to view the action simultaneously through multiple lenses, most of which does not appear on the screens.

Like Santa, "I see you when you're sleeping and know when you're awake."

The power of worship, the electricity of an inspirational keynote, the beat of music, moderators' frustration when things don't run smoothly — all are magnified for me by bright backstage monitors. Since I must be attentive every minute — lest cameras wander or cues get missed — it is an exhilarating and exhausting experience.

This year, the emotion of it all was further intensified by knowing that two days after General Synod, I would share the news with my staff — who had performed so brilliantly throughout our 50th anniversary year and at General Synod — that I would be leaving my post as the UCC's director of communication.

A few days earlier, I had been named by the Collegiate Church of New York as founding director of Intersections, a new global initiative based in New York City. This interfaith venture hopes to bring together groups with fundamentally disparate perspectives and life experiences to forge practical strategies that address peace, justice and reconciliation in our world.

It is my task as founding director to chart the course for this new venture — to narrow its focus, develop a strategic plan and implement programming that heals the rifts in our society. We will seek common ground while still embracing diversity. And we will strive for measurable outcomes that have a real impact on individuals and communities fractured by violence, alienation, bigotry and greed.

And so as I watched the action unfold at General Synod from the unique position of the director's chair and from the perspective of knowing that I would soon be leaving the position that has so shaped my life these past eight years, I found myself in one of those "thin places," where God is very near indeed.

I have cherished my time in this work, including my role as publisher of this esteemed newspaper. The team of gifted professionals we have built at our Cleveland-based Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry and our Washington, D.C,- based Office of Communication, Inc. has been an extraordinary gift to the church and to me personally, consistently striving for excellence.

In some small ways, I believe we have made a difference in the UCC and beyond, especially among those who have been wounded by the church in the past and have taken the risk to renew their spiritual journey by responding to our welcome.

I am one of those who have come in from the outside, having chosen the UCC to be my church. During Synod, I found myself giving thanks to God for the privilege of working in your midst. I will truly miss this work; but I will not be far away. As my wife, Blythe, and I move on to New York, we know that God has richly blessed us in this ministry and that we have found a home in your midst, a place where we will always be welcome, now matter where on life's journey we may be.

The Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC's communication director since April 1999, is leaving his post at the end of August to become founding director of Intersections, a new global initiative based in New York. He will be missed. 

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Rev. J. Bennett Guess
Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3801
guessb@ucc.org