Written by W. Evan Goldner
Olivia Masih White, a seasoned national and international church volunteer, has been "called by electionÓ by General Synod 24 to be the Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministry and a member of the UCC's fivemember Collegium of Officers.
She will succeed Dale Bishop, who resigned from the position after one term. Her four-year term will begin on Oct. 1. Church officers may serve for up to three four-year terms.
White, 66, will retire from her position as an assistant professor of biology and genetics at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, to move to Cleveland with her husband, Terry, also retired.
"My personal hope is to see the vision of the UCC come to fruition,Ó she says. "I hope that I will be able to bridge gaps and help people communicate with one another so that we may indeed all be one.Ó
Olivia White was born in India as a third-generation Christian, and is fluent in both English and Hindi. Besides two Bachelors degrees (in education and biology) from Jabalpur University in India, she has earned Masters degrees in Religious Education from Perkins School of Theology in Dallas and in Biology from the University of North Texas, where she also earned her Ph.D.
The Rev. Marvin Morgan of Atlanta chaired the search committee for the position. He describes her as a "person with an extensive and rich combination of academic training and broad local, national and international experience.Ó
As a member of Central Congregational UCC in Dallas, she has taught Sunday school, played in the handbell choir, was president of the women's fellowship and has served on the board of trustees, the board of deacons and the board of mission. She also was active in the Greater Dallas Community of Churches, the Dallas Family Gateway (a family shelter) and Church Women United.
She also has served on the boards of Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., the UCC Coordinating Center for Women, the UCC Office for Church Wider Church Ministries calls Olivia White as exec Internationally-recognized volunteer set to succeed Dale Bishop as WCM exec in Society, and the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. She chaired UCBHM's Division of Education and Publication, served as vicechair of the executive committee, and served on its Science and Technology Task Force.
She currently serves as vice-chair of the Justice and Witness Ministries Board of Directors, on the Committee on Form, Frequency and Function of General Synod, on the Board of Trustees of UCC-related Huston-Tillotson College and the Board of Directors of UCC-related Eden Seminary.
She was a member of the National Council of Churches' Exploratory Commission on Human Genetic Technology and is currently in the middle of a seven-year term on the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) where she serves as vice-president and moderator of the Department of Partnership of Women and Men. As a WARC officer, she has traveled to countries from Australia to Zambia, including Cuba, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico and Togo.
"I'm grateful that I have been able to meet with church leaders in many different countries,Ó she says. "This gives me the experience and outlook that I hope will be helpful to the UCC's global perspective.Ó
"I am really passionate about the UCC and very committed to its ministry,Ó she adds. "This position will give me the opportunity to devote full time to this work, instead of all the volunteering I have done over the years.Ó