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Every denomination needs one of these...

Dissent over restructuring is growing

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the United Church of Christ's proposed restructuring plan. When you look at the current structure of the national office with the boards and committees, it is easy to appreciate the inefficiencies that the new plan is trying to correct. The big problem is the manner is which the national office would like to centralize the functions of how it is governed. Rather than extract effeciencies by making the existing governing bodies flatter (same organizational structure, just fewer layers) they are trying to make it narrower by creating a single governing board. While that might work for other denominations, it will never work in the United Church of Christ.

One group, the Joshua Generation Leadership Team, is trying to make a difference and is trying to make it's voice heard regarding the restructure with an online petition form. Why do they need our help? From the online petition:

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?
I would encourage you to review the information and consider signing the petition. I think the points they make are completely accurate and reflective of where we are as a denomination.

The leaders of the UCC don't like this petition at all... and they shouldn't. As the petition states, the catalyst for the restructure is money, not mission. The leaders of the United Church of Christ have not proven themselves to be honest nor have they proven themselves to be good stewards of our financial resources... and the best example is to see is how the television advertising campaign has been run. When the ad's were rejected by NBC because they "inappropriately suggested that churches other than the UCC are not open to people of diverse races and backgrounds," UCC leaders falsely claimed that the ad was rejected because it's "welcoming" message was "too controversial". To compound the problem, the national office continually fell short of fundraising goals to pay for the ads and it's presummed that the covenented ministries picked up the tab.

So why reject the restructuring? Because restructuring is dependent on trust that a centralized body will act in the best interests of the whole denomination, not just the best intentions of those at the top. Our leaders have not earned that trust.

Read the petition and consider signing it today.
posted by UCCtruths, Tuesday, October 21, 2008


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