Report to the church from the United Church of Christ Board, July 2021
Yvette Wynn, chairperson of the United Church of Christ Board, has issued the following report on the board’s July pre-Synod 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 held its last meeting of this biennium on July 1. The two primary items on the agenda related to 700 Prospect, the Church’s national offices in Cleveland, and to sit as the Business Committee of the 33rd General Synod.
The 700 Prospect building
For some time, the UCCB has been in discernment about 700 Prospect. The pandemic and reorientation to space requirements post-COVID-19 have deepened this discernment in unanticipated ways. Staff surveys revealed a desire from most employees to work hybrid schedules that will require less denominational space going forward. Additionally, prior to the pandemic, costs of maintaining the building at nearly $1 million per year and significant deferred maintenance needed to be addressed and were under prayerful consideration.
The way we are using our tools for ministry has evolved over the last 30-plus years since the UCC relocated from multiple sites in New York City to 700 Prospect. This is a trend that will continue. The UCCB, as good stewards of the church’s resources, must evaluate the dynamic and changing needs of the church in real time. About six months ago, in consultation with General Minister and President John Dorhauer, I appointed an office space committee to evaluate our options and make a recommendation to the board.
The committee, which met biweekly over this time, consists of the chief executives of our five financial ministries, the UCC controller and CFO upon hire, Conference ministers, the GMP and several UCCB directors, including myself. The committee considered the staff surveys and local real estate market information, which presented us with significant advantages and opportunities for leased space as a result of the pandemic. This included leveraging and reimagining our existing space in ways that allow interested parties to enhance our downtown community.
We voted to affirm the GMP’s exploration of these possibilities for the best stewardship of the 700 Prospect office building, including:
- affirming the GMP’s authority as President of 700 Prospect Corporation to lead the 700 Prospect Corporation Board of Trustees in selling the building if appropriate analysis warrants,
- affirming the GMP’s authority to review, select and lease a new office space location in Cleveland for the National Setting of the UCC, and
- affirming the GMP’s authority to take all other necessary actions to accomplish any such sale and lease.
This action follows a board discussion at our May 28 meeting. Rev. Dorhauer also updated the church of these possible actions in his open letter to the church earlier this spring.
Addressing Synod business
In addition to the action on 700 Prospect, the UCCB, sitting as the General Synod Business Committee, took three actions, which were:
- to grant voice without vote to resource persons to the General Synod,
- to approve General Synod committee liaison appointments, and
- to approve the 33rd General Synod agenda.
At this meeting, we also approved the formation of a task force to explore creating a foundation to fulfill the General Synod resolution around donor-centered-giving.
Other actions included approving an amendment to the UCCB Standing Rules, hearing updates on the work of the Racial Equity Assessment & General Synod Frequency committee and getting routine updates from the General Counsel. Lastly, we heard a report from the Franklinton Center at Bricks, which has deep, historical connections to the UCC and whose work in their local community is making a difference.
- Please join a webinar on July 8, featuring our consultant partners Culture Brokers for the Racial Equity Audit. Register for that webinar here.
- Also join us for a discussion about General Synod frequency, at an optional event hosted by the UCCB on July 13, at 5 p.m. ET.
This is my last update to you as UCCB chair, and I thank you for your prayers and support for the work of the United Church of Christ Board. My best wishes and prayers to the incoming leadership and please keep them in your prayers as well.
Peace of Christ be with you all,
United Church of Christ Board Chair, 2019-2021
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