United Church Of Christ Elects First-ever Female President

United Church Of Christ elects its first-ever female President, Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson on Monday during its 34th UCC General Synod in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thompson was elected to serve as the president of the mainline protestant denomination by a total vote of 626 in favor, 43 opposed votes, and 7 abstentions.

Karen Georgia Thompson elected to serve as the president of United Church of Christ
Karen Georgia Thompson elected to serve as the president of United Church of Christ

The Jamaican president-elect will be taking over the office from her predecessor Rev. John Dorhaur on August 1. She also emerges as the first black woman elected president, according to a UCC statement. She also is the third person of African descent to lead the denomination,

“Today, United Church of Christ, we created a first together,” Thompson said after the vote. “It won’t be the last first. … The enormity of this moment will be with me for many years to come.”

Thompson expressed gratitude to Revs. Yvonne Delk and Babara Brown Zikmund, stating that they “kicked in the doors,” paving the way for her election. Delk and Zikmund were the first and second nominated Africans to serve the denomination in 1989 and 1999 respectively. Contrary to Delk and Zikmund who were only nominated, Thompson was nominated and also elected.

Thompson has been serving since 2019 as associate general minister for UCC’s Wider Church Ministries and co-executive for Global Ministries. Her previously held office will be occupied by an appointee until the denomination’s next General Synod in 2025.

In last Friday’s nomination speech by Thompson, she noted that “hope springs forth” within the denomination. She said  UCC is a “place where we’ve seen the Spirit of God poured forth among us in many ways. Here is the place where we continue to identify the many accomplishments of the ancestors. Here is where we honor the resilience of those who came before us, took risk and oftentimes did more with less than we currently have. And here is the place we identify as now, as we ponder the call of God to be salt and light to the world.”

“We are not the same church we were in 1957,” she added. “Sixty-six years beyond the moment of becoming a united and uniting church. There are yet possibilities to unfold among us as we create new firsts and new commitments to justice and to realizing God’s kin-dom here on earth.”

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