Report to the church from the United Church of Christ Board, October 2020
Yvette Wynn, chair of the United Church of Christ Board, has issued the following report on the board’s recent meeting. She is a member of Community Church of the Pelhams, Pelham, N.Y., and an associate member of Holy Covenant UCC, Charlotte, N.C.
The United Church of Christ Board met via Zoom on Friday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 3. Like churches and other organizations, board members miss their in-person opportunity for connectivity and relationship building. But as board members hail from across the country as far away as Hawaii, perhaps jet lag is not missed. Our meeting began with a devotional from the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister. The board’s regular 2 ½ day meeting was completed over 8 hours.
Significant Affirmative Votes:
- Associate General Minister Traci Blackmon’s renomination.
- Maintaining the UCC’s Draw Rate at 4.75% on the unrestricted investment portfolio based on the preceding 20 quarters.
- 2021 Budget and routine annual votes.
- Proposed UCC Bylaws updates, to be considered by General Synod 33:
- UCCB to appoint GS Credentials committee from UCCB members.
- Common Services Corporation requirements removed to allow flexibility for this company.
- Language relating to diversity in Conference delegates is amended to more generalized gender expressions. Amendments are partially in response to General Synod 32, Resolution 12.
- Language related to race and gender makeup of UCCB revised and new language added for one transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming person. Amendments are partially in response to General Synod 32, Resolution 12.
- Roberts Rules of Order language removed as governing General Synod meetings to allow more flexibility particularly for electronic meetings.
- The UCCB chair will appoint a Board committee that will seek to engage the wider church in a conversation about General Synod frequency.
- Reallocation of unused approved travel expenses from UCCB Budget to award 1 percent bonus to UCC staff (received net of tax) for their dedication and hard work during COVID-19 pandemic.
In August, the UCCB called on the National Setting to engage in an institutional race assessment. While both the UCCB and National Setting are racially diverse, the United Church of Christ is still a denomination of predominantly white ministers and congregations, and non-white enculturation remains challenging. A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been extended until Oct. 31, 2020, and a support resource document is now available. The UCCB chair has appointed an RFP Review Committee and is pleased to share the following roster of participants. The committee will begin its work after the close of the RFP process and expects to announce the selected consulting firm and scope of the work at General Synod 33.
- The Rev. Geoffrey Black, former UCC General Minister and President
- The Rev. Sylvia McDonald-Kaufman, Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice
- Zillah Jackson Wesley, United Black Christians
- Rachel Chapman, UCCB member; former UCC Disabilities Board member
- The Rev. Alice W. Hunt, UCCB member; Executive Director, American Academy of Religion
- Edith Guffey, Conference Minister, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference; Chair, United Church Funds
- Emma Brewer-Wallin, UCCB member; student, Harvard Divinity School
- Kevin Graham, UCCB member; Senior Director, Davita Healthcare Partners
- Co-Chairs: The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister; Yvette Wynn, UCCB Chair
- Staff: The Rev. Velda Love, Minister for Racial Justice; the Rev. Kent Siladi, Director of Philanthropy
Further, we are pleased to share the following updates:
- Our General Minister and President, the Rev. John Dorhauer, and Associate General Ministers, the Revs. Traci Blackmon and Karen Georgia Thompson, engaged the Board in their work, which continues powerfully through the pandemic. The initiatives are too numerous to capture here so please continue to visit UCC.org for upcoming programs.
- Audited Financial Statements were provided to the UCCB and now available at this link: https://www.ucc.org/about-us_annual-report.
- General Synod Behavioral Covenant update, regarding the discussion of tabled Resolution 8 at General Synod 32: After several presentations to the UCCB, the UCCB Ministry Committee completed a draft document, which was then sent to General Synod Planning for the GS 33 Exhibit Hall. It will be made available when General Synod registration opens and we hope other UCC settings find it a useful model.
- GS 32, Resolution 4, regarding a listening campaign: The UCCB Ministry Committee, as directed by the resolution, met with members of Council of Conference Ministers to discuss how we might address this resolution. Questions were added to the survey sent by the UCCB Governance committee which informed changes that Governance made, including introducing the “implementation conversation” aspect of the resolution process. The UCCB may revisit after virtual GS 33.
- Finally, the UCCB received reports from affiliated and associated ministries, Council of Conference Ministers and closed out several task forces, including the Seminarian Debt Task Force, whose work can be implemented more fully within initiatives of the Pension Boards UCC. Prior to the board meeting, the UCCB and CCM held the first of two parts of a joint retreat on Zoom.
We are excited about the work ahead and incredibly grateful for our dedicated national officers and staff. If you have any questions about our work or would like a member of the board to join your local meeting by Zoom, please contact Donyale Copeland at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
This article was updated on Oct. 12, 2020, at the request of UCC Board Chair Yvette Wynn, with a correction about a task force on the frequency of General Synod. As originally written, the report mistakenly implied — in Item 5, under “Significant Affirmative Votes” — that a resolution on that subject would be submitted to General Synod 33 in 2021.
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