At Synod, colleagues bid farewell to outgoing UCC president
During the 34th General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. John Dorhauer is closing eight years as General Minister and President.
Following his final State of the Church address the morning of Saturday, July 1, ministerial colleagues from within the denomination and from ecumenical partners extended greetings and congratulations through a prepared video presentation.
Colleagues within the UCC recalled Dorhauer’s dedication to his call as General Minister and President and his support of those around him. The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister, thanked Dorhauer for “allowing me to share my gifts and call with the wider church and to receive a glimpse of the possibilities of beloved communion.”
Associate General Minister the Rev. Karen Georgia Thomson — nominated to be Dorhauer’s successor, if General Synod delegates choose to elect her — was among several who offered thanks not only for Dorhauer but for his wife, Mimi, as well.
“I wish you every blessing on the next journey and call,” Thompson said. “I pray every blessing for you and Mimi on the journey that calls you next. May all things be well with your soul.”
Former chair of the UCC Board Frank Bolden was grateful for Dorhauer’s guidance as the denomination continued a journey of change.
“Under your leadership, the UCC implemented bold, impactful initiative to prepare the church for a bright future,” he said.
‘You shaped me’
From his home church of Avon Lake UCC in Ohio, senior pastor the Rev. Kelly Brill spoke of Dorhauer’s “active participation in the life of the congregation,” which included teaching the confirmation class and working with the youth group, and his “constant encouragement” especially during the recent COVID pandemic lockdowns.
Two current Conference Ministers acknowledged Dorhauer’s role in supporting and advancing their work. When Dorhauer was Conference Minister of the church’s Southwest Conference, the Rev. Lorraine Ceniceros — currently Conference Minister of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference — was a member in the Southwest when “I heard my call to serve God’s people,” she said. “You shaped me.”
The Rev. Tyler Connoley, Conference Minister of the Central Pacific Conference, was also impacted by Dorhauer’s support. “You leveraged your privilege to open doors to other people to walk through. I would not be a Conference Minister if not for you.”
Also offering tributes were Peter Makari, Global Ministries area executive for the Middle East and Europe. Makari recalled the two traveling to places such as refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon and walking the streets of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Gaza.
Olivia Masih White, former executive of Wider Church Ministries concluded, “God is not finished with you yet.”
For those paying tribute, Dorhauer’s departure evoked memories of working together and best wishes for the future.
“Thank you for being such a dear friend and colleague,” said the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “From traveling the world with Global Ministries to the work to dismantle racism with the National Council of Churches; the updated edition of the (New Revised Standard Version of the Bible); strengthening relationships between the United Church of Christ, The United Church of Canada and the Disciples; stories about baseball, Mimi and the grandkids.”
“May you live the best of your life for the rest of your life.”
Tim Kershner is a General Synod newsroom volunteer from Campton, N.H., in the New Hampshire Conference.
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