General Synods of the United Church of Christ

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The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is the national decision-making body for the denomination, responsible for giving general direction to the evangelistic, missionary, and justice programs of the UCC. Because the UCC holds to an explicitly congregational polity, though, any decisions made by the Synod are not binding upon the UCC's congregations (or its associations or conferences) in any way, though the national offices expect serious consideration to be given them. The Synod is the legal successor the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches and the General Synod (its namesake) of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The Synod is responsible for authorizing budgets and electing board members for the "Covenanted Ministries" (formerly known as instrumentalities) of the UCC; those agencies have evolved over the years from a number of separate entities, with different organizational structures, into a more coordinated configuration in order to serve the denomination more efficiently. The home and international missions agencies in particular were the descendants of Congregationalist (originally interdenominational) boards founded in the 19th century; they were "recognized" when the UCC began during the period between 1957 and 1961. The Synod usually makes pronouncements and passes resolutions on social and political issues judged to be of concern by delegates as well; most if not all have historically reflected liberal theological and political perspectives, including support for civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, and rights for homosexuals.

Delegates[edit]

The Synod itself is composed of delegates, either clergy or lay, from the 38 conferences of the UCC, apportioned in a manner similar to states in the United States House of Representatives, with each conference assigned a minimum of three delegates regardless of its membership size as a proportion of the national membership. The national bylaws permit a minimum of 675 delegates from all conferences, but no more than 725. Others receiving vote in Synod include the denomination's officers, the corporate members of the United Church of Christ Board (formerly the Executive Council; functions as the Synod ad interim between meetings), and representatives of so-called "Historically Underrepresented Groups," such as racial minorities, the disabled, young adults, and gay and lesbian persons. Conference delegations larger than the minimum of three are required to have at least half their numbers be composed of lay people and, to the extent possible, include as many of the HUGs as previously described.

The chart below shows the moderators and assistant moderators, and the places of Synod meetings, since the United Church of Christ was founded on June 25, 1957. From that time until the 1961 General Synod, Synods had co-moderators, one each from the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, since both bodies were still in existence during that period. On July 4, 1961, the UCC constitution and bylaws was declared in effect, and, until a 2013 revision, provided for a single moderator with two assistants. Beginning with the 30th Synod in 2015, moderators will have only one assistant.

Moderators and Assistant Moderators of United Church of Christ General Synods[edit]

Number Date Place of Meeting Moderator(s) Assistant Moderator(s)
1st ("Uniting") June 25–27, 1957 Cleveland, Ohio The Rev. Louis W. Goebel,
George B. Hastings
2nd (regular) July 5–9, 1959 Oberlin, Ohio Frances Kapitzky,
The Rev. Ray E. Phillips
2nd (adjourned) July 6–8, 1960 Cleveland, Ohio Frances Kapitzky,
The Rev. Ray E. Phillips
3rd July 3–7, 1961 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mrs. George Kahlenberg,
The Rev. Ernst Press
4th July 4–11, 1963 Denver, Colorado The Hon. Donald Webber The Rev. Stuart LeRoy Anderson,
Mrs. Alfred C. Bartholomew
5th July 1–7, 1965 Chicago, Illinois The Rev. Gerhard W. Grauer Elmo L. Fischer,
Mrs. Robert C. Johnson
6th June 22–29, 1967 Cincinnati, Ohio Hollis F. Price The Rev. George G. Parker,
Mrs. Martin Burger
7th June 25-July 2, 1969 Boston, Massachusetts The Rev. Gibson I. Daniels Mrs. Henry E. Hefty,
Horace G. Ports
8th June 25–29, 1971 Grand Rapids, Michigan Richard C. Pfeiffer Mrs. Thomas R. Wagner,
The Rev. Theodore S. Ledbetter
9th June 22–26, 1973 St. Louis, Missouri The Rev. David G. Colwell Manford Byrd, Jr.,
Velma M. Shotwell
10th June 27-July 1, 1975 Minneapolis, Minnesota The Hon. Margaret A. Haywood Charles W. Elicker,
The Rev. Louis H. Gunnemann
11th July 1–5, 1977 Washington, D.C. The Rev. Robert K. Nace Erna Ballentine Bryant,
Gary E. Mistlin
12th June 22–26, 1979 Indianapolis, Indiana Milton S. Hurst The Rev. Donna Schaper,
Dorothy B. Shimer
13th June 27-July 1, 1981 Rochester, New York The Rev. Nathaniel M. Guptill The Hon. William Cousins, Jr.,
Virginia Held
14th June 24–28, 1983 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Helen I. Barnhill Richard F. Boyer,
The Rev. Carl F. Schroer
15th June 27-July 2, 1985 Ames, Iowa The Rev. John H. Krueger Guy T. Outlaw,
Janeece L. Dent
16th June 25–30, 1987 Cleveland, Ohio Kenneth P. Stewart The Rev. G. Melvin Palmer,
Aletha Kaohi
17th June 29-July 4, 1989 Fort Worth, Texas The Rev. Robert D. Sherard David P. Gerth,
Alida I. Millham
18th June 27-July 2, 1991 Norfolk, Virginia Charlotte Penfield Gosselink Franklin W. Thomas,
The Rev. John Rogers
19th July 15–20, 1993 St. Louis, Missouri The Rev. David Ruhe Lilia L. Enriquez,
William A. Malaski, Sr.
20th June 29-July 4, 1995 Oakland, California Victor Melendez The Rev. Anthony L. Taylor,
Donna J. Debney
21st July 3–8, 1997 Columbus, Ohio The Rev. David Dean Margaret MacDonald,
Frank Thomas
22nd July 1–6, 1999 Providence, Rhode Island The Hon. Denise Page Hood The Rev. Jana Norman-Richardson,
Robert B. Frieberg
23rd July 13–17, 2001 Kansas City, Missouri The Rev. Nancy S. Taylor Richard M. Harter,
M. Linda Jaramillo
24th July 11–15, 2003 Minneapolis, Minnesota Nathaniel A. Lewis, Jr. The Rev. Chris Smith,
Carol Wassmuth
25th July 1–5, 2005 Atlanta, Georgia The Rev. Norman W. Jackson Annie Wynn Neal,
Eric C. Smith
26th June 22–26, 2007 Hartford, Connecticut Merlyn Lawrence The Rev. Elizabeth King,
Kevin Manz
27th June 26–30, 2009 Grand Rapids, Michigan The Rev. Marvin L. Morgan John Humphrey,
Jane Tedder
28th July 1–5, 2011 Tampa, Florida James K. Robertson, Jr. Caroline Belsom,
Patricia Aurand
29th June 28-July 2, 2013 Long Beach, California The Rev. Elizabeth J. Tigner Dale Bonds,
The Hon. Brian Holeman
30th June 26–30, 2015 Cleveland, Ohio The Hon. Brian Holeman The Rev. Susan E. Artt
31st 2017 Baltimore, Maryland
32nd 2019 to be determined

Sources[edit]

Past Constitutions and Bylaws of the United Church of Christ
General Synod Minutes from 1957 to 2007
General Synod Minutes from 1999 to 2011
Current UCC Constitution and Bylaws, as adopted on July 2, 2013