The next generation of the United Church of Christ will inherit the newly proposed structure. We have concerns and our voices deserve to be heard. Will you join us as we seek to assist in charting the course ahead?
Originated September of 2006
The mission of the Joshua Generation Leadership Team, supported by the Urban Ministries, of the United Church of Christ seeks to:
Here are just 5 of the many reasons why we need your help:
1) The process has been unjust.
a. Despite the multitude of serious and legitimate concerns that have been raised by several different branches of the church, including the historically underrepresented groups (HUGs), the concerns have been ignored and the process has continued ahead.
b. In a restructure of this magnitude, it would seem very appropriate that each of the incorporated board of directors of the Covenanted Ministries would have their own specialists, consultants, and legal counsel advising them on what is in their best interests as an independent corporation of the church. Instead, this process has been facilitated by one sole consultant, who was hired by one arm of the church.
c. Not all of the historic, elder leaders of the church were consulted about the proposed restructure in a timely fashion, despite public claims that the key past leaders were included in the process.
2) We have been a church that has historically chosen not to place power in any one place. Because of our congregational culture, power has always been in the local church however, this proposed restructure shifts the power to a central place. Also, where is the decision making checks and balances of a single governance board? A single governing board is a condensation of power with no checks and balance system. It also seems largely staff driven given that staff will have both voice and vote at the Executive Committee level.
3) We have always been a church who has fought, and continues to fight, against elitism. The single-board structure promotes elitism for the following reasons:
a. A smaller, single-board structure limits the amount of participation (and thus, the development of new leaders) from every single segment of the UCC.
b. We have always fought for economic justice, yet what about the class implications in a single-board structure? Because the board would shrink, the amount of decisions and responsibility of each board member would increase. Board meetings would thus be much longer. Only those who had a surplus of free time would be able to serve.
4) This has not been a mission-driven restructure; it has been a financially-driven restructure. We are a church, not a corporate entity driven by product. The missions of the church have not been the first priority in this restructure; instead it has been motivated by efficiency and money.
5) It is as if we are erasing the rich history of our church and are starting from scratch. The rich history of this church seems lost in this proposed restructure. It is as if we are beginning from ground zero and remaking the identity and culture of the church. We would be appalled if certain chapters of American history were removed from the textbooks, why should the history of the UCC be any different?
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We the undersigned belive:
The heartbeat of our denomination is vast and deep. Through it has flown the blood, sweat and tears of so many who have placed their lives on the line, all in the name of a mandate for justice. This heartbeat has marched in uncharted territory when the American Missionary Association sought to educated and empower former slaves in the south; when we apologized for our historical complicities in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarch of 1893; when we cried with mothers in foreign countries who were objectified as product by the Nestle Corporation; when we took legal action against teams that used Native American images as profitable symbols for entertainment and when we delivered petitions to the President of the United States of America in opposition to the war in Iraq.
The heartbeat of our denomination has been to add seats to the table, to welcome each and every person to come into the doors of God's Church and serve. We have not limited the table to one or two people; instead, we have sought to welcome all of God's children that they may all be one.
The heartbeat has flowed to a rhythm, a rhythm which discerns in a spirit of unity that God is still speaking. We have been intentional about responding when injustice has arisen, yet stood to discern a direction and decision that is relevant to the time, that recognizes the intrinsic value of every person and strives for a better future.
As much as we love our United Church of Christ, we are aware that our heart beat has become arrhythmic. Arrhythmic because:
2. The roots of our history are at risk of being severed and disregarded as empty rhetoric of the past.
3. Rather than adding chairs, welcoming our brothers and sisters we are rushing toward a model which will minimize and even marginalize the perspectives of so many people whose thoughts need to be heard
4. We are rushing to meet a deadline set by the head and not by the heart.
With this in mind, we are requesting that you join us in asking the decision making bodies of the United Church of Christ, who will vote on our future governance, to pull back in prayer. It is our prayer that those sitting at the table will consider asking the question: Does our rhetoric match our reality?
We understand that change is imperative for our future. It is our desire that that the original heartbeat of justice which has guided us along the way will return in such a way that with passion we lift our voices and declare with great pride that we are the United Church of Christ.
Have you checked your pulse lately?