Written by Barb Powell
The leadership of the United Church of Christ stepped into the future at the conclusion of General Synod 2013. The church that proclaims “That they may all be one” completed its long-awaited transition into one board, the United Church of Christ Board (UCCB).
The new 52-member board is responsible for governing each of the UCC’s covenanted ministries, which previously had their own individual boards. The new board also selected the Rev. Bernard Wilson as its first chairperson.
“I’m looking forward to being part of a new thing,” said Wilson, a pastor at Norfield Congregational Church UCC in Weston, Conn., and previous vice-chairperson of the UCC’s Executive Council.
During the final plenary of General Synod 2013 in Long Beach, Calif., delegates honored the work of the previous boards and their members, and recognized the new board.
“It is fitting that we celebrate the old, while looking forward the new,” General Synod Moderator the Rev. Libbey Tigner said, inviting board members from the outgoing four ministry boards and Executive Council to be recognized.
The new United Church of Christ Board members walked down the center of the plenary hall, flanked by the former members of the board from the four covenanted ministries (Local Church Ministries, Wider Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries and the Office of General Ministries) and the Executive Council. As board members moved toward the stage, they were given Hawai’ian lei by outgoing members and youth at General Synod to symbolize the spirit of Aloha, which means both “hello” and “goodbye.”
“The United Church of Christ celebrates the significant contributions of the board members of the outgoing boards,” said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC. “We recognize that this time of passage brings both joy and sadness.”
Later that afternoon, after the July 2 plenary was complete, the United Church of Christ Board sat together for the first time, and selected Wilson as its chairperson and Dale Bonds as its vice-chairperson. Wilson believes that the UCC’s current Bold Inspirational Goals — a bold and public voice, reachable and welcoming congregations, engaged discipleship among the members, and excellent diverse leadership — are the right direction for this moment in the church.
“I want the church to operate out of an abundance of wealth,” Wilson said. “We have what it takes to make our vision tangible.”
Wilson chaired the Unified Governance Task Force that crafted and negotiated the revised structure voted on at General Synod 2011, and now in place. He previously was a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
Bonds was an assistant moderator at the recently adjourned General Synod, and is a member of Central St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans.
The United Church of Christ Board will meet at the UCC’s national offices in Cleveland for its first full agenda in October.