Subject: Memo from UCC Board Chair, Bernard R. Wilson
August 13, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ
Today I received official notification from our General Minister and President, Geoffrey Black, of his intent to retire early, specifically with the conclusion of the 30th General Synod in June 2015. Geoffrey has graciously agreed to serve until his successor is ready to take office, sometime next summer.
I want to express my gratitude to Geoffrey for his leadership during his time in office – through the challenging and difficult discussions over the governance of the United Church of Christ to the successful transition to a new and unified governance structure. Geoffrey has been tireless in his ecumenical work with both our domestic and international partners. Moreover, he has spoken to the tough issues of our time, whether they are natural or human caused, Geoffrey has been a kind, gentle and thoughtful manager of our affairs in the national setting of the Church. We cannot begin to thank him enough for his service as General Minister and President, as New York Conference Minister, as a national staff member and as a local church pastor.
As we look ahead and move forward, I want to outline the task before us and how I hope to help us accomplish it. I will immediately put together a search committee tasked with the responsibility of recommending a new General Minister and President. With United Church of Christ Board (UCCB) confirmation, I hope to have the search committee up and running by the end of August 2014.
The search committee will require careful, prayerful discernment but will also need to adhere to a tight timeline. The committee will need to collect and review the profiles of those called to apply for consideration. The committee then will need to interview those candidates it considers worthy of the tremendous responsibilities of the Office of the General Minister and President, and it will need to select one candidate and present that candidate at the March 2015 meeting of the UCCB. At that meeting, a two-thirds confirmation vote is necessary to forward the recommendation to the 30th General Synod for call by election in Cleveland next summer. I am tasking the search committee with finalizing its recommendation for UCCB consideration by early February 2015, so the board of directors will have a month to reflect, discern and decide. That’s roughly five and a half months from now.
Geoffrey will continue to serve until his successor is prepared to assume his or her new position, sometime after the General Synod. The bylaws require transition to occur sometime within 90 days of the call by election.
I ask for your prayers for Geoffrey and his wife Pat, for those who will serve on the search committee and for those who will come before it. I also ask that you pray for our beloved United Church of Christ as we move into the future God has before us.
Yours in Christ,
Bernard R. Wilson
Chair, The United Church of Christ Board of Directors
You may read Rev. Black’s retirement letter here.