Honoring the outgoing Council of Elders
Dear people of God,
Today we thank and honour the Elders who completed their term of office on the Council of Elders on 31st January 2021. Rev. Elder Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Elder Tony Freeman, Rev. Elder Hector Guterriez, Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson and Elder Nancy Maxwell were appointed by Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson when she was Moderator, with the intention that they would guide and lead the denomination through a time of transition to a new Moderator, following Rev. Elder Wilson’s retirement from the post. They served alongside the Interim Moderator, Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown, and, for the past 18 months, have supported, guided and encouraged me in my role as Moderator.
The Council of Elders has offered pastoral and spiritual support to thousands of people around the globe, as Point Elders. They have responded to churches affected by natural disasters, supported those communities affected by racist violence and offered prayers for individuals who are struggling, sick and grieving. The Elders have spoken out on issues such as gun violence, racism and, most recently, marriage equality. Every week, through the Call to Prayer, the Council has lifted up prayers written by MCCers, allowing many different voices, diverse understandings and experiences of God to be heard. As we all began to comprehend the scale and significance of the COVID pandemic, the Council of Elders responded with regular online spiritual nourishment sessions and support for the staff Church Development Team virtual tea and chat gatherings. The Elders also offered our global community sacred space to grieve, engaging with local churches in different time zones to develop and lead 7 culturally relevant online virtual memorial services to remember those we have lost to COVID-19.
As well as their pastoral and prophetic role, the Council of Elders has oversight of church affiliation and church leadership. Among other things, the Elders worked with MCC staff to explore a way forward to authorize pastoral leadership that meets the current and future needs of our congregations. The Council also reviewed the criteria for the affiliation of churches and have drafted a bylaw proposal, which reflects the diversity of MCC churches and reviewed the MCC judiciary process. They also guided me, as I developed the Commission on Pathways of Healing and Reconciliation
On a personal level, the Elders have been a source of strength, wisdom and teaching for me, as I continue to learn what it means to serve you as Moderator. I will always be grateful for the many ways that each Elder has helped me to see more aspects of any issue, has been willing to support me in thinking through possibilities and has offered real solutions to challenges, which really serve the common good. All this has been done with integrity, grace, patience and humour. I am honoured to have served alongside them.
Please hold all these Elders in prayer as they continue to serve. And, take time to thank them for their ministry as the spiritual leaders of our denomination.
Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston,
Rev. Elder Ines-Paul Baumann is the pastor of MCC Köln, Germany and will serve on the Communications Commission, to be established this year.
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner serves as the pastor of MCC New York, USA, and Director of the Global Justice Institute.
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman has retired as Clergy and embarked on a new adventure. He will continue in ministry as opportunity presents. A forthcoming email will have more details and acknowledgement of his service.
Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez continues as the Team Lead for the Community Development Team on MCC staff and has particular responsibility for our churches in Latin America.