As a specially-appointed task force hammers out details for the United Church of Christ's transition to a unified board of governance, UCC leaders involved in the process have experienced a sense of hope and excitement in their collaboration at this week's three-day meeting from Sept. 13-15.
The 12-person Governance Implementation Task Force is using its second full meeting to start outlining how the UCC will transition to unified governance.
"We are working forward with government implementation, and we're about to set this new board on the best possible path we can to leading our church to where it needs to be," said Bernard Wilson, a member of the UCC's executive council.
The task force was formed in February by the UCC's Executive Council to recommend the rules and structure that should be approved at General Synod this summer. In the past six months, subcommittees formed within the task force examined the finer points of the transition, and are reporting back during the three-day meeting.
At the conclusion of the meetings, the picture for what the new governing body should look like will become clearer. But there are likely two more meetings – one in January 2013, and another in Spring 2013 to propose recommendations – before the process reaches General Synod 29, which convenes in late June in Long Beach, Calif.
Wilson, who has been involved with governance since 2009, said he is encouraged by how willing the UCC is to accept change, and by how seriously his colleagues have taken the important work of outlining the direction for unified governance.
Anita Bradshaw, a former chairperson on the Office of General Ministries board and consultant to the task force, also is excited to see the pieces of the process come together.
"The energy gets us through some of the details," she said. "The new UCC board can adapt and change, and we'll provide them with the foundation. We're all excited seeing the change happen and there's a great deal of unity in this group."
The new board will have 52 members, 16 ex officio members and 36 at-large members to be presented by the General Synod Nominating Committee in Long Beach. Currently, there are more than 250 people sitting on the boards of the various covenanted ministries in the UCC.
Also on the docket this week is a discussion by a task force subcommittee to examine the form and frequency of General Synod.
Lee Foley, the UCC's minister for governing body relations, said questions about the form of Synod will focus on whether the event should be a business meeting, celebration, worship, or some combination of the three, and whether it should last three or five days. As far as frequency is concerned, the subcommittee – whose six members are mostly UCC conference ministers – will examine whether Synod should remain a bi-annual event, or take place every three or four years.
"We've assembled a wonderful group of folks both new in the church and in the church for decades. It's always great to hear different perspectives," said W. Mark Clark, associate general minister. "Everyone affirms the important role General Synod plays in defining our beloved church."