Report to the church from the UCC Board: October 2023
Julia Gaughan, chair of the United Church of Christ Board, has issued the following report on the board’s recent meeting. She is an authorized minister serving Peace United Church of Christ in Alma, Kan., and a member-in-discernment with Plymouth Congregational UCC in Lawrence, Kan.
Greetings siblings and friends in Christ,
The United Church of Christ Board of Directors (UCCB) just concluded our first regularly scheduled meeting for this biennium. Earlier this fall, we held a specially called meeting over Zoom to appoint the Rev. Shari Prestemon as our Acting Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Co-Executive for Global Ministries. This past weekend, though, we were able to meet in person in Cleveland for the first time as a new UCCB.
We welcomed to Cleveland all of our new members, elected at General Synod or otherwise appointed, to the offices of the National Setting on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 19, for an opportunity to meet each other and National Setting staff, as well as to explore the still-very-new offices. We opened our meeting with worship led by Board Chaplain Rev. Shernell Edney Stilley on Friday, Oct. 20. Our primary work on Friday involved engaging in team building and beginning to explore consensus decision-making and our commitments to each other as board members across the diversities of experiences and identities present in our group.
Friday evening, the UCCB, alongside the Council of Conference Ministers, local church leaders and members, the Heartland Conference, the Living Water Association, and ecumenical partners from around the world, installed the UCC’s 10th General Minister & President, the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, in a moving and historic ceremony at Lakewood Congregational United Church of Christ. This service was live-streamed and is available for viewing by those unable to participate on Friday evening. We marked this beautiful occasion with incredible music from C. Anthony Bryant and a moving sermon from the Rev. Dr. Merlyn Hyde-Riley, the General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Jamaica W.I., and Vice-Moderator of the World Council of Churches. So many people across the breadth and depth of the UCC and our ecumenical and interfaith partners helped create a singular experience in our UCC history. The UCCB extends a heartfelt thank you to Rev. Dr. Andrea Vassell, Bishop of Global Ministries for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, who served as the convener of the Installation Service Committee, and to Rev. Joanna D’Agostino and all of the wonderful folks of Lakewood Congregational UCC for their generous hospitality.
Even after all the excitement and joy of Friday’s Installation, we began work as the UCCB again Saturday morning, Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. and concluding Sunday, Oct. 22 at noon, with worship beginning and centering our work each day. Our Saturday and Sunday agenda included more traditional business, including receiving a report from Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson about her first 90 days in office. The UCCB received this initial report with enthusiasm and productive questions, offering support for our new GMP’s vision for our National Setting and the Church. Mr. Peter Makari, Transitional Executive for Wider Church Ministries, offered a report about his time serving WCM. We thank Mr. Makari for his continued service until our recently-appointed Acting AGM, Rev. Prestemon, assumes office in January 2024. Our Associate General Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries and Local Church Ministries, Rev. Traci Blackmon, is currently on sabbatical, and we hope that her time is restful and restorative — and are so thankful that Rev. Blackmon took a break from her sabbatical to call us into worship with Mr. Makari during Rev. Dr. Thompson’s Installation.
The UCCB adopted the recommended 2024 draw amount from the Investment & Endowment Committee and the recommended 2024 Combined Budget from the Finance & Budget Committee. The UCCB also adopted a number of recommendations from the Governance Committee to amend our governing documents for the purpose of aligning our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with the Bylaws amendments adopted at General Synod 34. The UCCB also received the Audited 2022 Financial Report from the Audit Committee.
In June, we changed our Standing Rules to create a standing UCCB committee called the Common Global Ministries Board Committee. This new committee offered its first report to the UCCB as the full Common Global Ministries Board prepares to meet in November. We also received reports that required no action from the Marketing Committee, the Ministry Committee and the Development Committee. We also thank the Council of Conference Ministers, United Church Funds and the Pension Boards for providing updates and a Q&A for the UCCB over the course of our meeting. We concluded with a generative conversation about General Synod 34 to help inform our preparations for GS 35 and beyond.
As we build on the relationships formed, strengthened and deepened this weekend, the UCCB anticipates a busy season ahead as we undertake work on the variety of resolutions adopted at General Synod 34 and continue preparations for General Synod 35 in Kansas City. The full UCCB will meet again in March 2024, though our very active committees will continue our work between now and then.
We humbly request your prayers and offer our service to the Divine through our beloved UCC with the fullness of our hearts.
Grace & peace,
Julia Gaughan, Chair
United Church of Christ Board
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