Report to the church from the United Church of Christ Board, March 2022
The Rev. Cameron Barr, chair of the United Church of Christ Board, has issued the following report on the board’s recent meeting. He is senior pastor of United Church of Chapel Hill, a bilingual and multicultural UCC congregation in Chapel Hill, N.C.
To all members of the Body of Christ:
The United Church of Christ Board met for seven hours via Zoom on March 11, 2022, for its annual spring business meeting. The meeting included routine business for us in the first spring after a General Synod, but this year our meeting included special time set apart for discernment of the steps before us in searching for our next General Minister and President.
Among the routine business, we finished up work delegated to us by General Synod 33. Last fall, the board appointed a special committee to consider the Resolution to Protect Church Workers. Headed by UCCB vice-chair, Julia Gaughan, the board’s committee treated the resolution with a process for discernment akin to any resolution heard by committee at General Synod. The committee heard from proponents of the resolution, engaged in a period of discussion and discernment, and brought a recommendation to the UCCB. Following the committee’s guidance, the UCCB sympathized with the need to protect employees of congregations and other religious institutions from discrimination but defeated the resolution on the basis of legal and polity concerns. The board followed up with proponents of the resolution to provide detailed suggestions for a future resolution in hopes that a second attempt will win the support of General Synod delegates.
Also in the category of routine business, the board approved plans for General Synod 34, which we anticipate to be a hybrid gathering in Indianapolis with means for digital participation. The General Synod Program and Planning Committee presented its selected theme, “Making All Things New” from the prophecy of Isaiah. An all-church campaign — Join the Movement for Racial Justice — will build up to General Synod by promoting practices for racial justice in every setting of the church. The National Setting has sought to be a role model for this work by conducting an internal racial equity audit. The board received a preliminary report on this audit and will have more to share about our own learnings in racial justice in the months to come.
In addition to the board’s regular business in the spring of 2022, there are two significant leadership decisions before us in the year ahead. In her report to the board, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson announced that she would seek reelection as Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations, and Co-Executive for Global Ministries. The board received this news with enthusiasm and appointed a committee, this one also headed by vice-chair Julia Gaughan, to bring a recommendation on Rev. Thompson’s renomination to our fall business meeting.
The process for General Minister and President transition also took significant steps forward at our March business meeting. The board received a report we commissioned last fall from the GMP Support, Empowerment, and Structure Team headed by Darrell Goodwin on how the board can best support a new incoming GMP and lay the groundwork for their success. We also heard the report of the Search Process Team, headed by Emma Brewer-Wallin and Lew Zeidner, and we took action to finalize the appointment of the GMP search committee and the executive search firm that will aid the search committee. We will share the details of the GMP search process publicly with announcements planned for April.
On a personal note, I wish to express my gratitude for the board’s leadership this spring. The UCCB consists of 52 members who come from different communities throughout the church. We have different life experiences and points of view on ministry together. Yet even through some very consequential decisions we have operated with a spirit of mutual respect and kindness that has yielded a remarkable degree of consensus. It is truly a privilege and a joy to serve with this highly capable board. I look forward to sharing the fruits of this board’s work with the wider church in the coming months and welcoming all of the communities of the church into our search for the next GMP. Please look for information we’ll be sharing about that important process in the coming weeks.
In faith, hope, and love,
The Rev. Cameron Barr Chair, United Church of Christ Board
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