UCC GMP committee prepped for next stage of search
The men and women charged with seeking out the next leader for the United Church of Christ concluded the first face-to-face gathering on Friday, Nov. 21, ready to dig into the work ahead in the coming months.
The 18 members of the General Minister and President Search Committee emerged from their gathering at the UCC national offices in Cleveland with a clear sense of purpose, responsibility and direction.
“People have echoed that we came together as a committee, but we are leaving as a team,” said the Rev. Kent Siladi, conference minister for the Connecticut Conference of the UCC and co-chair of the search committee.
Nine days remain before the Dec. 1 deadline for candidates to submit their profile for consideration.
The Rev. Marilyn Pagan-Banks considers the work of the committee to be a “holy privilege.”
“All the members left with hopefulness for the direction we are taking,” said Pagan-Banks, a former member of the UCC Executive Council. “We see this as a moment of transformation and new vision. We are excited and energized to call a new leader for the church.”
During the two days together, the committee laid out next steps in the timeline of events in the GMP search process. Beginning in December, the members will split into two groups of nine people, and after the deadline, each team will begin to independently review and rank the profiles submitted for candidacy. Both teams will select their preferred candidates, and from there the full committee will decide which candidates to consider for phone interviews that are scheduled for mid-January.
In mid-February, the committee will meet for face-to-face interviews with, ideally, the top three candidates. The final candidate will be introduced to the United Church of Christ Board at its spring meeting on March 19, and that candidate will be voted on by the General Synod in late June.
“We’re proceeding in a deliberate and intentional way, according to schedule, in this process,” said the Rev. Bernard Wilson, chair of the United Church of Christ Board and co-chair of the search committee.
“There’s a significant time commitment that is necessitated by this process, and we are all aware and understand our role in that,” said Eric C. Smith, a former vice-moderator of the General Synod.
The open position has been broadly shared across the church, beyond the UCC website, to groups such as affiliated and associated ministries of the UCC, the Cabinet of Conference Ministers, seminary presidents, and a range of minority and historically underrepresented groups.
The committee also received an updated position description for the role of general minister and president, which Siladi and Wilson said will help inform their search.
“I think it strengthens the role of the general minister and president in keeping with the intention of unified governance,” said Wilson.
“I think we all understand the importance of this, and have come together as a team, like-minded, confident in our role,” said Dale Bonds, a former vice-moderator of the General Synod. “We understand that we are responsible to the whole church, and not a particular constituency.”
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