President of the Board of Directors
Report to the Annual Meeting–April 25, 2009
And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9-RSV)
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the United Church of Christ Metropolitan Association:
It has been an honor to serve as your President these past three years. I step down from this position with no regrets for having stepped into it three years ago. I have had the opportunity to labor in God’s vineyard alongside of committed and willing workers who are also intellectually gifted and most importantly for me, spiritually grounded. Members of the Board whose names appear in this publication, as well as lay leaders, lay church members and members of the Clergy have been instrumental in ensuring that with God’s help, the work of this Association continues.
Having been nurtured in Pentecostalism (the Church of God In Christ), the outpouring of God’s spirit on ALL FLESH, as manifested in the Azusa Street revival back in the early 1900’s, is a reality I experience in my walk with the risen Christ. The coming together of God’s people, as our UCC motto proclaims with trumpet clarity, “that they all may be one”, is a reality we must seek to live out in order to experience God’s reign, God’s realm with us and within us. Let us recall the:
- 2006 Fall Meeting, where UCC churches came together at Evangel UCC; we came from every corner of the SE Region--diverse churches, races, colors, cultures, worship styles, ages, genders, sexual orientation—and the Spirit had her way with us!
- Prophetic vision to call into existence the Blue Ribbon Committee—individuals, in all their diversity coming together to help this Association focus and chart our way for the future, just in time; right before the economic collapse with global consequences!
- The Church in the Metropolitan Community pushing for the cause of justice, speaking the truth to power to the community and to law enforcement in the case of Sean Bell* or as the spiritual voices in the New Sanctuary movement, unafraid to tackle the broken immigration system even when those in power refuse to do so!
- Spiritual and Professional Life Committee calling Pastors together in order to confront frustration, despair and burnout as we retreated from the cares of this world in order to be restored and rejuvenated!
- Investment in the future of this denomination and this Association as we target young people and challenge them to begin taking their places in the life of the Church!
- People who united in a powerful prayer service for The Rev. Dr. Ronald Wells, my predecessor, as he headed off to the war in Afghanistan!
During this three year term, we have welcomed returning missionaries from the field of service, rejoiced with those churches who installed new Pastors, wept with those who wept, visited the shut-in, and celebrated the news about our New York Conference Minister, The Rev. Geoffrey Black. Our prayers will always be with those who have taken their place to lead and guide us with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The financial picture, which seemed so daunting at the beginning of my term, has even begun to take on a manageable shape. I leave the reporting of such matters of budget, property, and assets in the hands of those who are most capable of presenting them verbally or in writing: Harold Chapman, Treasurer; Brigitte Ermansons, Secretary; James Garfield Thomas, Property Committee Chair; and Louise Manigault, Executive Administrator. They work very hard for this Association, more than we can ever know!
Not all has been easy, and I speak to this body as you select your new leaders: be prayerful about those whom you elect to represent this great Association. And to those who are nominated and elected—then serve, with full commitment to the best of your ability. The work is great. The needs are great. It will take a made up mind, hard work and diligence to attempt the task. But do so with all your might. The Association is depending on you.
During my tenure, I was able to take a trip to Germany and work with the Protestant Church there. It is my intention to continue to forge ties with spiritual leaders here and abroad to make the presence of Christ a living reality for all. I also recently took a trip to D.C. for a “No Child Left Behind” Conference. I included with my letter, a message from Jan Ressenger about that conference and what we, as an Association and as individual churches, can do to ensure that our children, our future can lay claim to equality in education.
My last order of business was to present to this Association, a mission statement defining who we are and what we are called to do. I thank Deacon Lennox Grant of The Church of the Evangel and former member of the Blue Ribbon Committee for his role in carrying out that mission. He and his team will present that statement to you for your approval.
I thank all of you for seeing me through these three years with your prayers, support, emails, shoulder pats, expressions of love and all the things you have done to help me lead this Association. I especially thank my church family, Safe Haven United Church of Christ, who makes sure that I indulge in self-care; and the family God in heaven created for me on earth: The Rev. Lisa Robinson, Diamond and Jasmin, who keep me grounded and who enable me to realize every day, WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!
The Rev. Dr. Ruby M. Wilson
President of the Board of Directors
Dear Participant in the Transforming No Child Left Behind Conference on March 13,
I write to follow up on the recent Transforming No Child Left Behind Conference in Washington, DC. Thank you so much for joining us and participating actively. We were so glad to welcome you to what we hope was a stimulating and motivating day.
We know, however, that the real meaning of the day will grow through this year from the work that we all can cause to happen as a result of our getting together. I attach the directory of participants, to ensure that you know who from your communion and your geographic region joined us on March 13. Please do be in touch with these people in an ongoing way! Several participants have requested that I follow up by sending suggestions for action. Here are some steps you, groups within your communion and congregation, and other individuals can take:
- Read and familiarize yourself with the report of the March 13 conference: http://www.ncccusa.org/elmc/specialministries.htm#anchorwgpel. Then circulate a link to this report as broadly as possible.
- Read over the materials in your own packet from the conference, and find ways to encourage others to be exposed to the materials in the packet. Most of these resources are posted on-line, including the materials around our committee’s “Ten Moral Concerns in the No Child Left Behind Act,” http://www.ncccusa.org/elmc/specialministries.htm#anchorwgpel. Even the report, Democracy at Risk, from the Forum for Education and Democracy, is posted on their site: http://www.forumforeducation.org/files/u1/FED_ReportRevised415.pdf. If you are having trouble locating any of the resources, please just send me an e-mail or give me a call.
- Get a group together to read and discuss Linda Perlstein’s excellent book, TESTED. It is easily available in paperback, and a faith-based study guide is posted at the NCC’s site: http://www.ncccusa.org/elmc/specialministries.htm#anchorwgpel.
- Make sure the bulletin insert (http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/eadbulletin.pdf) on the Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education is available as a resource for your congregation and within your communion. This initiative is a sign-on for individuals; go yourself to http://www.boldapproach.org and sign on to endorse this effort. Then encourage others to do so. This is easy and it is informative for those who go to the site to endorse this initiative.
- Be in touch again and again with your senators and representative about the pending reauthorization of NCLB. Encourage others to do so also. Ask your Congressional representatives, as they prepare the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill, to:
- recognize that it is unfair and immoral to demand equal outcomes on standardized tests without equalizing the resources at federal and state levels that create the opportunity to learn;
- address with resources the generational educational debt of poverty and segregation;
- improve the most vulnerable public schools and turn away from blaming teachers and punishing the schools that serve poor children;
- develop the unique gifts of each child, created in the image of God, rather than worshiping standardization;
- test children only in ways that improve instruction, measure real performance, and encourage exploration, imagination, and critical thinking;
- set a visionary and at the same time workable school improvement time line to replace the utopian 2014 deadline;
- address economic and social issues outside the school day that impair learning.
As the year moves forward and there are opportunities for specific and targeted actions, we will definitely let you know. Please do keep us posted about your efforts. In peace… -Jan
Ms. Jan Resseger
Minister for Public Education and Witness
Justice and Witness Ministries
700 Prospect, Cleveland, Ohio 44115