Metropolitan Community Churches 2019 Moderator Search Process Final Report

Issued by the Moderator Nominating Committee April 2019

As Metropolitan Community Churches prepares for the election of its third Moderator, the Moderator Nominating Committee submits this comprehensive final report regarding the global search process and the selection of the slate of candidates for Moderator to be presented for election at General Conference XXVI in Orlando, Florida, USA.


“We are five people who were not necessarily willing, but were called. With the Spirit’s nudging, we answered the call of God and have operated in, through and under that Divine calling ever since. We have been open and transparent about our process while remaining committed to upholding the MNC charter and covenant, including the covenant to maintain total confidentiality, in its entirety. We have prayed, labored, learned and listened together, focusing on doing God’s work in a manner pleasing to God. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we believe we have been faithful to complete the task entrusted to us as outlined in the UFMCC Bylaws.”

Kellie Taylor-White, MNC Member

 


Table of Contents

(click on a title to jump to that section)

I.      Introduction
II.     The 2019 Moderator Nominating Committee
III.    Getting Started: The Orientation . . . Becoming A Unified Team
IV.    The 2019 MNC Process
V.     Confidentiality
VI.    The Foundational Framework Guiding Our Work as the MNC
A.   Primary Responsibilities of the Moderator
B.   General Core Attributes Required of the Moderator
C.   What Are We Looking for in a Moderator Today?
D.   Required Qualifications and Criteria for Prospective Candidates for Moderator
E.   Desired Qualifications and Criteria for Prospective Candidates for Moderator
F.   Proposed Focus Areas for the Next Moderator of MCC
VII.   The 2018 Global Survey
VIII.  MNC Applicant Evaluation Rubric
IX.    Face to Face Meeting at Sanctuary in the Woods, Austin, Texas
X.     Interviews of Candidates on the “Short List”
XI.    Time of Prayer, Discernment and Clarity
XII.  The Final Slate of Candidates
XIII.  Reference Verification Process of the Final Slate of Candidates
XIV.  Submission of the Final Slate to the Governing Board and Public Announcement
XV.   Final Slate of Candidates
A.   Ms. Elizabeth M Bisordi
B.   Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston
C.   Rev. Elder Tony Freeman
XVI.  Expressions of Gratitude
XVII. Final Thoughts: The MNC Journey: Trusting the Path

 


 

I.         Introduction

In May 2018, the Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC) was appointed by the Governing Board of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and charged with the critical task of developing and implementing a process to solicit, recruit, screen and evaluate prospective candidates for the Office of Moderator.

Following the successful implementation of the search process, the MNC would be required to present a slate of strong, called and qualified candidates for MCC voting delegates to vote upon at our 2019 General Conference and 50th Anniversary Celebration in Orlando, Florida, USA.

For nearly ten (10) months since our appointment, the MNC has prayerfully and fervently sought the leading of the Holy Spirit for guidance, clarity, and a sense of direction. As we began our work together, we also continually prayed for protection from self-interest, a sensitivity to both conscious and unconscious bias and an openness to where the Spirit may be calling MCC as we look to and prepare for MCC’s future as a global movement.

From our very first meeting, our search process was intentionally designed to be Spirit-led, Spirit-fed, prayer-filled, deliberate and thorough. The MNC’s deliberations and decisions regarding the applicants selected for the final slate of candidates for Moderator were made based on the task outlined in the UFMCC Bylaws, the Moderator Qualifications and Selection Criteria Guide (based on the 2018 Global Survey), the nomination and application assessments, the evaluation process and candidate reference verifications.

Per the Bylaws of MCC, the MNC had the responsibility to actively solicit candidates for the position, review any and all applications, and select up to five (5) qualified candidates to be presented by the Governing Board to the General Conference for consideration and election to the Office of Moderator.

Similarly, per its Charter, the MNC was tasked by the MCC Governing Board to:

  • Develop and implement a best practice process to solicit, recruit, screen and evaluate prospective candidates for the Office of Moderator;
  • Determine the qualifications and criteria for the selection of prospective candidates;
  • Facilitate opportunities to receive input from the global movement of MCC, and;
  • Maintain total transparency throughout the process while maintaining absolute confidentiality of its specific contents.

Since our work commenced, the MNC has been unapologetically committed to working with transparency and the utmost integrity in keeping with our charge from the Governing Board, as well as the Charter and Covenant of the MNC.

In addition, the MNC also developed its own internal and external communications guidelines, including an MNC social media policy, which were informed by the MCC MNC Charter and Covenant.

We are five people who were not necessarily willing, but were called.

When we began this journey together, all of us did so understanding both the burden and the blessing we had undertaken.

On the one hand, it was the heavy burden of knowing the MNC, regardless of its composition, would be scrutinized from a place of suspicion and skepticism, given the individual and collective experiences of so many during General Conference XXVI in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

On the other hand, however, we have been tremendously blessed to be on this team – together – and part of a process which has afforded us the opportunity to be part of the “new” next chapter of MCC’s global movement, work and witness.

Spirit-led and Spirit-fed, we have worked together faithfully and diligently to complete the tasks entrusted to us. Now, with gratitude to God, we believe we have done so and done so in faith – with grace, integrity and love – for the people of God and for Metropolitan Community Churches.

It has been an absolute honor and privilege for us to be of service to God and MCC at this critical juncture in our history.

All of us on the MNC have worked hard for MCC. We really looked forward to our meetings. We laughed a lot, talked a lot, and this helped us to be fully open, honest and accountable with each other in a productive and healthy way. And we have become life-long friends.

  • For those who trusted God, thank you for having the faith.
  • For those who trusted us as a team, thank you for having the faith.
  • For those who trusted the process, thank you for having the faith.
  • For those who were open to share their voices along the way, thank you for taking an active role in the process.
  • For those who prayed (and continue to pray) with and for us, thank you for holding space for us.
  • For those who believe in the mission and ministry of this movement, thank you for being MCC.

Faithfully,
The 2019 MCC Moderator Nominating Committee
Rev. Gavin Ward, Co-Chair
Velma Garcia, Co-Chair
Rev. Brendan Boone, Vice-Chair
Stan Kimer, Project Manager
Kellie Taylor-White, Clerk and Communications Liaison

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II.         The 2019 Moderator Nominating Committee

Velma Garcia – Co-Chair

Velma Garcia is from Austin, Texas and has a strong legal background as a civil litigation paralegal. She is highly experienced in advance and complex administrative platforms and organizational leadership. She has been a member of MCC Austin since 1992 and currently serves as a Deacon. Velma has served as a Worship Team Leader, attended LEAD in 2013, and has served as LEAD faculty member and as a Network Leader. Velma currently serves as one of four Lay Delegates for MCC Austin. She has attended 5 General Conferences overall and believe she is called to serve at such a time as NOW!

Rev. Gavin Ward – Co-Chair

Rev. Ward lives in Sydney, Australia and brings a strong pivotal international essence and spiritual leadership as a Pastor. He has been involved with MCC since 2001 and has served in several different Churches and yet never fails to be surprised to see where God is working and leading. Rev. Ward has served in MCC as a Pastor and Board Member. He brings several competencies to the MNC such as ministry and music experience and secular experience in information technology, education and training, risk management, auditing and safety management.

Rev. Brendan Boone – Co-Chair

Rev. Brendan Boone is currently the Senior Pastor of MCC of First Coast MCC in St. Augustine, Florida. He has served in MCC for 35 years and brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and professional skill-set needed for the arduous task ahead of us.

In his years of ministry, Brendan has served as Lay-Delegate, Student Clergy, on the Board of Directors, Theologies Team, and much more extensive work in various capacities of leadership.

Rev. Boone loves UFMCC and believes in the future of this great denomination. He further suggests that he is called to this work in this season of the Church and movement.

Kellie Taylor-White – Clerk and Communications Liaison

Kellie Taylor-White brings a wealth of experience as an Educator and Executive. Kellie currently serves as the Director of Workforce Investment Council (WIC). Kellie is also a part of the subcommittees of the WIC including the Executive Committee where she aids as a designee on Boards and commissions including: Agriculture Education Commission, College and Career Readiness Council, Health works Commission, Early Childhood Advisory Council, and La. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Commission. She trains board members and learning methodologies.  Kellie loves MCC and believes God is calling her for the greater good.

Stan Kimer – Project Manager

Stan Kimer brings a wealth of corporate knowledge and experience with 30+ years of global IBM experience in Marketing, Finance, Development, Operations, Human Resources (Diversity) and Management. Stan currently serves as President/CEO of a consultancy with a focus on Diversity Management with a specialization in LGBTQIA career mapping/skills development.

Stan has led worldwide business and community conferences on the business imperative of LGBT Diversity and has served on various community Boards. He is a member and lay delegate of Neema MCC, Nairobi, Kenya since 2012.

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III.         Getting Started: The Orientation . . . Becoming A Unified Team

One of the first questions we asked ourselves (after the reality of our appointment really settled in) was, “where do we begin? Which ‘door’ do we open first?” Realizing this was the 2nd MNC to be convened in MCC’s history and the timeline established for this team to complete its process from beginning to end was approximately ten (10) months, we believed it would be invaluable for us to have a conversation with the Chair of the 2016 MNC to help orient us as a team and to share any insights gained or best practices learned from that team’s experience.

On June 30, 2018, we met virtually with Rev. Victoria Burson, Governing Board Member and Governance Chair, and Elisa Vega-Burns, the Chair of the 2016 MNC, for an “MNC Orientation.” One of the first things shared with us was the importance of understanding the difference between “group decision-making” and a “group discernment process.” Referencing the article, “Building a Discerning Team” by Susan Beaumont, (former Senior Consultant for the Alban Institute), we spent some time discussing the importance of being a team unified in faith, focus, prayer and discernment.[1]

This conversation and the discussion on the difference between the two (2) approaches was very instructive and helped to inform us how we would journey through our process.[2]

Group Decision-Making vs. Group Discernment

Steps in Group Decision-Making
Defining the problem
Looking for root causes
Gathering the data
Interpreting the data
Brainstorming alternatives/options
Establishing decision criteria
Evaluating alternatives
Assessing risk and return
Selecting an optimal solution

Stages in Group Discernment (Morris & Olsen2)
Framing the focus of discernment
Grounding in guiding principles
Shedding egos and biases
Rooting in the tradition and values
Listening for promptings of the Spirit
Exploring through imagination
Weighing options
Closing; moving toward selection
Testing the decision with rest

[1] Beaumont, Susan. “Building a Discerning Team” http://www.susanbeaumont.com/building-a-discerning-team/
[2] Morris, Danny E. and Charles M. Olsen. Discerning God’s Will Together: A Spiritual Practice for the Church. Revised. The Alban Institute (2012).

Following that discussion, we then spent some time hearing about the lessons learned from the 2016 MNC Process which were very helpful as we prepared for our work.

The remaining portion of our orientation time was dedicated to reviewing the documents pertinent to our work and the MNC process. Among the documents discussed were:

  • The roles and responsibilities of the MNC
  • The MNC Covenant
  • The MCC Confidentiality Statement
  • MNC Search Process Timeline and Expected Outcomes
  • MNC Search Process Key Milestones and Deliverables
  • MNC Charter and MNC Expectations

The Orientation session was informative, instructive and illuminating as we finalized our initial preparations to begin this work.

During our first meeting as a team, we focused our time on discussing the importance of the MNC during this time in the history of MCC, of being committed to work together as a team and continuing to trust God and the Holy Spirit throughout the entire process.

We also spent time making sure all the necessary confidentiality statements had been signed and were on file. Throughout this process the MNC was committed to maintaining confidentiality and ensuring the security of all information submitted to the team. Everyone on the MNC and those we liaised with were required to sign a confidentiality agreement, regardless of their position or role in MCC.

In organizing how we would best work together as a team, we discussed the importance of “playing to our strengths” in order to be effective and successful in our work. We unanimously agreed to have Co-Chairs for the team (one outside of the U.S. and one from the U.S. in the interest of diversity and inclusion), a Vice-Chair, a Project Manager and a Team Recorder who would also serve as the Communications Liaison with MCC. The Co-Chairs would serve as Liaisons between the MNC and the Governing Board.

As we began our work, we agreed to create introductory videos to be shared globally to give those in and outside of MCC an opportunity to see, hear and at least meet us virtually. When and where we could, we made ourselves available to attend Network Gatherings to answer any questions that we could and to hear the thoughts and suggestions from other MCC’ers as it related to the MNC process. We are grateful to all those who participated in those conversations!

The MNC also agreed, in order to maintain open communication channels between the MNC and MCC, to host two (2) webinars for MCC’ers to attend.

  1. The first webinar was an introductory webinar where everyone had the chance to see and hear from the MNC, to hear about the process and timeline for our work, to talk about the upcoming global survey and to ask questions.The first webinar was held at the following times:
    • In English on 1 October 2018 at 2300 UTC.
    • In Spanish on 2 October 2018 at 1500 UTC.
  2. The second webinar provided an update on our work, a summary of the MNC survey, the status of the nomination and application process and what the next steps were for the team. A time for people to ask questions of the MNC was also included.The second webinar was held at the following times:
    • In English on 8 January 2019 at 1600 UTC
    • In Spanish on 8 January 2019 at 12 midnight UTC
    • In English on 10 January 2019 at 12 midnight UTC.

During the first webinar, we shared the below timeline that had been established for us. We feel incredibly blessed to have met and, in some cases, delivered earlier than the deadline dates set.

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IV.         The 2019 MNC Process

When we began our work, we went back to the mandate to the MNC as per the UFMCC Bylaws, Article V.E.2.a.:

“The responsibility of the Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC) is to actively solicit candidates for the position, review any and all applications, and select up to five (5) qualified candidates. The qualified candidates shall be presented by the Governing Board to the General Conference for election.”

For our purposes, the MNC used this general definition of “qualified” for our work:

a.     fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose: competent;
b.     having complied with the specific requirements or precedent conditions (as for an office or employment).

The MNC also unanimously agreed that we would not directly contact or approach anyone to request a nomination or application. We would stay faithful to the movement of the Spirit in the hearts of those who would feel called to nominate someone or to apply.

As a team, the MNC was committed to transparency to guide in our work. To further expand on this value, we asked the following question of ourselves, based on the responses to the 2018 MCC Global Survey:

Based on the definition provided, listening to the global survey responses, and in view of the UFMCC Bylaws, how does the MNC define the determining “qualification factors” for potential candidates?

The answers included, but were not limited to:

  • Integrity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty
  • Writing skills
  • Communication skills
  • A Call or a Calling to serve in the position of Moderator
  • MCC Experience
  • Vocational or Secular Experience
  • Financial Experience
  • International Experience
  • Diversity Experience
  • Clean Background Check
  • OFLD licensing verification (if MCC Clergy)
  • Quality of the Interview
  • Quality of the References
  • Survey responses
  • The leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit for the MNC

On 29 November 2018, the MNC opened the application process and released the nomination and application documents, with a closing date for completed applications of 30th January 2019. In total the MNC received 10 completed applications to be considered.

The MNC carefully read through each nomination and the application packet which consisted of:

  • The application
  • A two (2) page statement of purpose
  • The nomination form(s)
  • A resumé
  • Written essays to 6 questions (maximum of 6 pages)
  • A writing sample (e.g. a published article, theological reflection, sermon, a link to a personal blog website)
  • A video of the Applicant presenting a sermon or speech.
Each of these were “weighted” by each MNC member, the process was such that each member was required to individually study and evaluate each candidate prior to our face to face meeting in Austin at the end of January, 2019.

To assist in this evaluation, a spreadsheet rubric was developed. (see section VIII).

Along with the information provided in the application packets, several additional variables went into the development of the rubric.

Specifically, the MNC relied on:

  • The 2019 Moderator Qualifications and Criteria Selection Guide, especially around spiritual leadership, executive management, and denomination governance;
  • The background checks, the interview process, the reference checks;
  • The leading of the Holy Spirit throughout this entire process, and;
  • The survey responses especially around character traits, attributes, primary responsibilities.

Through the 2018 MCC Global Survey, 567 members, friends, lay delegates, clergy, allies, MCC staff, and Elders from around the world shared their ideas, hopes, aspirations, and prayers for the next Moderator of MCC.

The MNC has been delighted that our collective voices—richly diverse in our geographies, ethnicities, theologies, life journeys, and many other characteristics —were, for the most part, harmonious in our understanding of what we expect of the person who will lead MCC into our future.

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V.         Confidentiality

We are aware and acknowledge that there have been questions raised about the 2019 MNC process, particularly regarding the rubric tool utilized and the composition of the final Slate of Candidates.

However in the work entrusted to us, as we have stated from the outset of our work and reiterated at some of the public webinars, the only information about the process that will be made public will be in the final report, which we trust will help folks to more fully understand how we worked together as a team and how we went about our work, including the evaluation tools utilized by the team to arrive at our final slate of candidates.

We have worked tirelessly on this report to include as much information as possible that will help people understand the entire 10-month detailed and complex MNC process.

The MNC also would like to reiterate that the only statement the 2019 MNC will be making now and into the future regarding our work is as follows:

“The Slate of Candidates chosen and put forward by the MNC contains the most qualified candidates from those who applied. The decision of the MNC regarding the slate was unanimous.”

In addition to the UFMCC Bylaws, the MNC was also tasked with working within documents given to us by the Governing Board. These documents highlighted the importance of confidentiality and limited the amount of information the MNC could release.

Therefore, no information will be released now or at any time in the future regarding the MNC discussions, decisions or deliberations.

Names and identifying characteristics of any prospective candidate (e.g. age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, geographic location, etc.) as well as meeting deliberations and conversations will be held in the strictest confidence, and will not be shared.

We sincerely hope that there can be understanding as to the very confidential nature of our work. We have undertaken to put as much detail into this report as possible in the hope that the processes of the 2019 MNC can be more fully understood.

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VI.         The Foundational Framework Guiding Our Work as the MNC

The UFMCC Bylaws provided us with the basic framework for the role of the Moderator and included the following responsibilities of the Moderator:

  • Serves as the primary visionary and futurist of MCC
  • Exercises a voice of prophetic challenge, creativity, spiritual, and pastoral authority and leadership
  • Nurtures global, ecumenical, and community relationships
  • Serves as the Chief Executive Officer and the primary spokesperson of MCC
  • Moderates the meetings of the Governing Board, Council of Elders, and General Conference
  • Appoints Elders
  • Supervises MCC Senior Leadership
  • Visits and encourages the local Churches

In addition, candidates would be chosen from those who could fulfill the following:

Who is:

  • A Transformational and inspirational leader who can work effectively with others
  • A Visionary who is able to present a picture of what MCC could look like
  • A Preacher/Teacher who understands and knows how to share MCC’s message of God’s inclusive love for the world

Who will:

  • Work with the Governing Board to develop a strategic direction for MCC
  • Serve as the primary pastoral and prophetic leader of MCC and its global movement
  • Serve as the primary spokesperson for MCC to the media, other Churches, denominations, and LGBTQQIA organizations

Who has:

  • Integrity, humility, compassion and a strong character
  • Faith, confidence, loyalty, and trust
  • Conflict Management and mediation skills

Who can:

  • Restore trust between MCC Leadership, Staff, and the Local Church
  • Discern the direction and vision for MCC’s future
  • Develop a plan to restore MCC to financial health and stability

The challenges of the next Moderator are indeed many and include being a bridgebuilder and catalyst for healing, to unite MCC, Networks and local Churches, to have a vision for the future of MCC, including preparing for the next generation of MCC’ers, to grow MCC and to have a realistic perspective of a worldwide Church.

The MNC prayerfully and carefully sought to include on the final slate individuals who embodied the qualifications and characteristics desired and could meet these challenges with great faith, boldness, and courage.

 

A. Primary Responsibilities of the Moderator

Based on the description of the role of the Moderator as defined in the UFMCC Bylaws, the MNC summarized the overall responsibilities of the Moderator into the following four (4) major areas of focus:

1.   Spiritual Leadership

  • Nurtures the spiritual life of the MCC global movement and denomination as the primary spiritual leader by preaching and teaching the message of MCC to the world
  • Serves as the primary pastoral and prophetic leader of the MCC denomination and its global movement by:
    • Leading the MCC movement in shaping and living its values, mission, and vision and serving as MCC’s primary visionary and futurist
    • Fulfilling a pastoral leadership role with the leaders of MCC congregations and inspiring new pastoral leadership within the denomination
    • Participating in the gatherings and cooperative processes of MCC congregational leaders and networks, offering guidance and modeling MCC’s core values
    • Leading and encouraging the Council of Elders in its spiritual and pastoral role

2.    Executive Management

  • Serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MCC by:
  • Acting as head-of-staff in the leadership and management of MCC denominational staff
  • –       As head-of-staff, building a highly effective senior leadership team, as well as leading, coaching, and developing other implementation teams
  • –       Providing strategic direction and leadership in the development of a strategic plan, and management in assuring alignment of all denominational staff and volunteers in the organizational achievement of the MCC strategic plan
  • –       Assuring sound financial management of MCC and fiscal accountability to its congregations and worldwide constituents
  • –       Acting as the President of the MCC Corporation in all legal matters
  • –       Giving fundraising direction, communicating with donors, and building relationships with strategic donors to support the budget and advance the financial stability of MCC

3.   Denominational Governance

  • Moderates General Conference
  • Serves as the Moderator of the Governing Board in its governance role
  • Serves as the Moderator of the Council of Elders in its governance role
  • Serves as leader of the Strategic Leadership Team
  • Oversees the implementation of all policy decisions of the Governing Board and General Conference

4.   Other Key Responsibilities

  • Serves as the primary spokesperson for MCC
  • Serves as the official representative of MCC in the areas of public and community relations
  • Represents MCC in public, governmental, ecumenical, and interfaith relations
  • Actively promotes and plans for the effective implementation of the mission, vision, and core values of MCC
  • Serves on the board of the Global Justice Institute by virtue of the Office of the Moderator
  • Recruits and cultivates the leadership of MCC

 

B.   General Core Attributes Required of the Moderator[3]

Core attributes are the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required to fulfill the role and primary responsibilities of the Moderator. The individual in this leadership role will have strengths in some areas and room for growth in others. The MNC considered the attributes in the table below essential to the role of the Moderator based on input received from around the world.

[3] This list, below, was originally published in the 2016 MNC Moderator Qualifications Guide and Final Report and edited by the 2019 MNC for inclusion in the 2019 Moderator Qualifications Guide.

Decision-Making Skills

  • Makes effective, timely decisions, balancing analysis and intuition
  • Recognizes the short and long-term implications of choices made
  • Defines problems and issues clearly
  • Offers solutions and suggestions that are efficient and pragmatic
  • Evaluates when to make a decision under conditions of risk and uncertainty and when to wait for better information

Ego Strength

  • Demonstrates strong and appropriate personal boundaries in relationships
  • Appreciates the distinctiveness and value of self, without being arrogant
  • Is spiritually and emotionally mature; maintains a non-anxious presence in the midst of turmoil
  • Does not overly depend upon outside affirmation; maintains a strong personal support system

Organizational Agility

  • Is astute about how congregations work
  • Understands the importance of supporting good policy, practice, and procedure
  • Appreciates the power in the culture of MCC
  • Is politically astute
  • Knows how to get things done through board, team, and committee structures, as well as through informal relationship networks

Process Management Skills

  • Designs practices, processes, and procedures that allow managing from a distance
  • Understands how to create efficient workflow; knows what to measure and how to measure it
  • Identifies opportunities for synergy and integration; simplifies complex processes

Personal Resilience

  • Learns from adversity and failure
  • Discerns when to change personal, interpersonal, and management behaviors
  • Deals well with ambiguity
  • Copes effectively with change; comfortably handles risk and uncertainty
  • Seeks feedback
  • Expresses personal regret when appropriate
  • Demonstrates a strong spiritual centeredness

Public Presence

  • Demonstrates a comfortable ease in speaking in a variety of settings in both small and large groups inside and outside of MCC
  • Knows how to be strongly present in the room without commanding the room
  • Effectively addresses both straightforward data and controversial topics
  • Projects a clear sense of the MCC identity through personal demeanor

Strategic Leadership Skills

  • Is future-oriented and can articulate a clear picture of MCC’s preferred future
  • Effectively involves others in the discernment of the vision
  • Identifies strategic objectives consistent with the vision of MCC
  • Keeps staff and lay leaders focused on critical priorities
  • Prevents vision drift

Preaching & Worship Leadership Skills

  • Inspires from the pulpit
  • Is a consistently effective preacher and worship leader
  • Projects the identity and character of MCC through their presence as a preacher and worship leader
  • Communicates a clear and consistent message through sermons that are carefully prepared and artfully delivered

Leadership Empowerment

  • Provides intentional direction and teaching for the development of leaders
  • Gives up power and control to others to strengthen them for a larger purpose
  • Identifies apprentices for each key leadership role
  • Improves personal skills in coaching and mentoring
  • Empowers new leadership through the use of self-directed teams
  • Demonstrates appreciation of accomplishments through recognition of leaders

Cultural Competency & Embracing Diversity

  • Reflects awareness and appreciation of the diversity within MCC
  • Engages in encounters, dialogue and relationships with people of differing religious, ethnic and cultural perspectives
  • Reflects awareness of the dynamics of oppression based on race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation
  • Includes people from different races, cultures, genders, and sexual orientations in personal social networks
  • Listens carefully to diverse individuals and points of view
  • Participates in personal learning to grow in cross-cultural competence for ministry

Supervision Skills

  • Is good at establishing clear expectations and setting clear direction
  • Sets stretching objectives
  • Distributes the workload appropriately
  • Delegates effectively; provides regular and ongoing feedback about performance
  • Proactively deals with substandard performance
  • Engages disciplinary processes in a timely manner

Team Orientation

  • Identifies and recruits good talent for the team
  • Sets clear strategic direction for the team
  • Negotiates team difficulties, including the conflict that emerges around diversity and inclusion issues
  • Creates strong morale and spirit
  • Shares wins and successes
  • Creates a feeling of belonging and pride in the team

 

C.   What Are We Looking for in a Moderator Today?

The 2018 MNC Global MCC Survey asked respondents to give their views about the responsibilities, characteristics, skills, attributes and qualities they considered most important for our next Moderator. The results for these questions have been summarized in graphical form as reverse pyramids, with the largest top line being the most important, the line below being the next most important, and so on. This allows for an easy way to see what is most important in the view of MCC.

 

When asked about the primary responsibilities of the next Moderator and what should be most important when considering candidates for Moderator, the results were:

When asked about the most important characteristics the next Moderator should embody, the results were:

When asked about the most important skills, attributes and qualities the next Moderator should embody, the results were:

D.   Required Qualifications and Criteria for Prospective Candidates for Moderator

Based on feedback received in the 2018 MNC Global MCC Survey, the MNC identified the following qualifications and criteria that aided us in identifying up to five (5) prospective candidates for the office of the Moderator.

The next Moderator of MCC will:

  • Be comfortable and competent in assuming the primary responsibilities of the Moderator
  • Have a solid foundation in the core attributes required of the Moderator
  • Be a transformational and inspirational leader who can work effectively with others
  • Have demonstrated maturity and giftedness in pastoral and spiritual leadership who is a model for pastors and Church leaders
  • Has the capability to serve as the primary pastoral and prophetic leader of MCC and its global movement
  • Have demonstrated skill, experience and a proven record of building, leading and sustaining a sizable, healthy organization
  • A visionary leader who has a strong character and is a person of integrity, honesty, humility and compassion
  • Possess the skills and abilities to restore trust between MCC Leadership, Staff and local MCC Churches
  • Possess the ability to discern the direction and vision for MCC’s future
  • Possess the ability to work with the Governing Board to discern and develop a strategic direction for MCC
  • Develop a plan, with the Governing Board, to restore MCC to financial health and stability
  • Be able to face and handle conflicts openly and honestly
  • Be a leader who fosters faith, confidence, loyalty and compassion
  • Be a “bridge builder” with the ability to promote unity and harmony in MCC and beyond
  • Possess demonstrable theological depth
  • Have a demonstrated capacity to think, act, and lead strategically
  • Be skilled in communication, including public speaking, media relations, writing, and interpersonal interaction
  • Have a proven record as a lifelong learner who actively pursues personal and professional growth
  • Evidence global and cross-cultural experiences with a personal history of embracing diversity, working in diverse settings and among diverse people
  • Be committed to global justice
  • Model excellence and high standards in ministry
  • Possess the ability to be actively engaged in ecumenical and interfaith ministry settings
  • Evidence knowledge of and commitment to the mission, vision, and core values of MCC
  • Be well-grounded in the dynamics and experience of congregational life
  • Be willing and able to travel frequently, extensively, and internationally

 

E.   Desired Qualifications and Criteria for Prospective Candidates for Moderator[4]

[4] The table, below, was originally published in the 2016 MNC Moderator Qualifications Guide and Final Report and edited by the 2019 MNC for inclusion in the 2019 Moderator Qualifications Guide.

Professional Skills & Abilities

  • Ability to frame a shared vision for MCC, facilitating the development of global ministry goals
  • Managerial skills with proven success in identifying and developing new and future leaders
  • Proven abilities as a facilitator and change agent who works well in a collaborative setting
  • Negotiation/Mediation skills with proven success in gaining consensus and resolving conflict
  • Demonstrated ability to identify and develop new and creative solutions to difficult problems

Personal Qualities & Characteristics

  • Someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit for building and leading a global movement
  • An advocate for justice and human rights who can lead in creating a movement and denomination where every person matters
  • A competent strategist who is able to present a compelling picture of what the future of MCC could look like
  • A confident and engaging preacher and teacher who knows how to share MCC’s message of God’s inclusive love to the world

Background & Prior Experience

  • Experience working in diverse settings and among diverse people
  • A proven record of building and sustaining a healthy organization
  • Proficiency in taking a Church and/or organization to the next stage of growth
  • Demonstrated experience and ability working in a complex setting with competing priorities

Other Knowledge, Commitments & Perspectives

  • Have a working knowledge of the history, polity, practices, and theological traditions of MCC and a sense of personal identity in the MCC movement
  • Be MCC clergy or a graduate of the MCC lay leadership development program, Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship (LEAD)
  • Have broad leadership experience and local Church involvement in MCC
  • Be persuasive and diplomatic with the capability to function within political realities (that is, be politically astute without being overtly political)
  • Be open to the organizational transformation of MCC in response to changes in local and global realities

 

F.   Proposed Focus Areas for the Next Moderator of MCC

Listed below are the challenges, opportunities, and priorities for the next Moderator of MCC deemed the most important to worldwide MCC congregants and friends of MCC as shown in the 2018 survey.

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VII.         The 2018 Global Survey

 

Listening to the voices of MCC has, of course, been a challenge due in part to the worldwide location of Churches and people and the limited resources available. From the outset the MNC realised how important it would be to have a survey, and the planning started for this process soon after the team was formed, as part of the ‘listening’ phase. In developing the survey, the goal was to make it as short as possible while still asking all the necessary questions to help with the work of the MNC.

There were 567 completed responses to the survey.

The MNC worked together over many months, several meetings and many hours to create and then analyse the survey. To ensure the quality of the survey, it was very important to all the team that the survey questions:

 

  • Asked participants what characteristics they wanted the new Moderator to have,
  • Be focused on areas important to the Moderator selection process,
  • Cover the challenges facing MCC and the new Moderator,
  • Ask about the responsibilities of the new Moderator,
  • Include demographic information,
  • Be simple and easy to complete, be written in Church-focused language, and
  • Include an option for free response comments.

The MNC finalized the survey with 18 questions, and it was decided that the survey would be made available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German. The questions were translated and loaded into Survey Monkey. A private account was created for this purpose, accessible only by the MNC.

The survey was advertised via MCC email and was available to be completed online for 27 days. There were 567 completed responses to the survey, with the following responses completed in each language:

  • English: 550
  • Spanish: 14
  • Portuguese: 2
  • German: 1

The average time to complete the survey was 9 minutes.

The results of questions 1-17 are published in the survey report which is available on the MNC website here.

Question 18 on the survey was a free-response question which gave every participant the opportunity to share with the MNC views and opinions that had not been covered by the previous questions.

These responses were constructive and helpful and we are thankful to the 248 responses that we received to this question.

The responses were organised into the following categories:

  • Messages of Support to the MNC
  • Comments and Opinions about the next Moderator
  • Comments and Opinions about the Leadership of MCC
  • Comments and Opinions about MCC
  • General Thoughts, Opinions and Comments
  • Comments and Opinions Regarding the Survey

The MNC read all the responses and we are very thankful for the messages of support and prayers.

There were 72 comments regarding the next Moderator and the selection process, all of which the MNC took very seriously. Included in this section were comments regarding the number of candidates on the slate, all of which asked the MNC to have a smaller slate of 1, 2 or 3 candidates.

In the spirit of transparency, communication and constant improvement, the MNC provided a report to the Governing Board containing the comments from Question 18. All names were removed before the report was sent, and the MNC asked that the Governing Board to consider showing the report to the incoming Moderator.

A comprehensive report was made available on the MCC MNC website in early November 2018 and a summary of the survey report was covered in the January 2019 MNC Webinar.

There were 72 comments regarding the next Moderator and the selection process.

We believe that providing survey data to MCC in this report can assist Members and Friends to have some awareness of the current state of MCC, and for everyone to understand what are seen as the important characteristics, roles, responsibilities and goals are for the next Moderator of MCC.

As part of the analysis process, the MNC approached Barb Crabtree and asked if she could provide an analysis comparing this survey with the previous MNC survey. This was provided to the MNC and was very helpful. We would like to thank Barb for her hard work in completing this task.

The MNC would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey. It gave us vital information and the responses given in the survey were used to help the MNC create the “Qualifications and Criteria Guide” and to assist in the assessment of applications.

We encourage everyone to read the survey report, along with the “Qualifications and Criteria Guide” that made use of the survey data.

A Wordle diagram showing the words that were used by survey participants in their Question 18 responses. A larger size indicates words used more frequently.

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VIII.         MNC Applicant Evaluation Rubric

We entered into this process prayerfully discerning and earnestly seeking to be guided by the Holy Spirit throughout. In the initial stages of reviewing the applications the MNC unanimously decided to use a Rubric tool as part of our process. This would be used to evaluate each candidate on a standard set of criteria. A similar rubric tool was employed by the North Carolina Council of Churches during their search for a new Executive Director.

One of the reasons for the use of a rubric was to remove as much bias as possible from the MNC process in an effort to ensure we maintained focus on our task of selecting the most qualified candidates regardless of gender, ethnicity, country of origin, country of residence, primary language spoken, ordination status, Church background, age, history within or outside of MCC and so forth.

The rubric was built upon the components of the application packet and the qualifications of the Moderator, as outlined in the UFMCC Bylaws and the desired qualifications of the new Moderator expressed through the 2018 global survey.

A numeric spreadsheet was utilized and contained the following areas for evaluation:

a.   From the application:

      • Statement of Purpose
      • Resume / Experience
      • Speaking Sample
      • Writing Sample
      • Answers to the six questions included in the application package

b.     Assessment of their application material, using the Moderator Criteria Guide, which included significant input from our denomination-wide survey:

      • Primary Responsibilities
      • Personal Characteristics
      • Skills and Attributes
      • Desired Qualifications

c.     A small “additional factor” was included to consider the tone of the application and the sense of calling.

Each MNC member independently completed the rubric for each applicant before commencing group discussion of each applicant.

We shared with an open mind, especially in areas where there were significant differences in rubric assessments, so we could view applicants from our differing and diverse points of view.

We then reached complete consensus on which applicants to interview.

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IX.         Face to Face Meeting at Sanctuary in the Woods, Austin, Texas (January 31st – February 3rd)

By the end of 2018, due to the nature of the work we were doing, we understood we were at a place in the process where dialogue, deliberation and discernment could only go so far in being productive and effective via a video conference call.

The team collectively decided to schedule a face to face meeting. We initially reached out to the Governing Board to inquire if there were monies available to the MNC for this one face to face meeting given the significance of the work we were doing at this time in the history of MCC.

In response to our inquiry we were informed no monies were available for us to hold the meeting. We decided as a team to move forward with the meeting and fund the cost ourselves.

During the face to face, the team used both scientific and spiritual gifts to discern the decision-making process.

We were also mindful at all times of confidentiality and keeping secure the names and details of those who were nominated and those who applied. As such we took the following precautions:

  • All staff members at the Sanctuary were required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • No names were used during our discussion and deliberations regarding nominations and applications. As the nominations and applications were received, they were assigned a number. During our discussions, only this number was used to identify the candidate.
  • The MNC setup a private shared drive to store our files, that was only accessible to the MNC.

In an effort to weed out any potential conscious or unconscious bias, the MNC employed a rubric analytical tool, (see section VIII) based on the five sections of the application and the qualifications guide based on the input from the global survey, which was used prior to and following our unconscious bias training.

The agenda was established ahead of time so we would know the roadmap for our work upon arrival.

We agreed to meet from 31 January to 3 February, 2019 at The Sanctuary in the Woods in Manor, Texas.

On 31 January 2019, we began our meeting time together with a time of centering, meditation, sharing and communion led by Rev. Elder Ken Martin which laid the groundwork for the rest of our time together.

Following our devotional time, we participated in an unconscious bias[5] training session led by Lisa Blackwood and Sherri Woodworth.

Without question, this training session equipped us with the necessary tools to be aware of any conscious or unconscious bias that may have surfaced during our work together, and served us well as we moved forward.

After another review of the MCC global survey and lunch, we began the process of reviewing the applications until the end of our first day.

On 1 February 2019, we began our time together with a time of meditation, prayer and communion led by Rev. Jo Bell.  After a review of our work together on Thursday, the rest of our day was dedicated to reviewing applications that had been submitted. In total, the MNC received:

  • 18 Nomination Forms submitted for 13 individuals, and
  • 10 Completed Application Packets.

Utilizing the rubric tool, we were able to narrow the number of applications from 10 to 5, with work yet to be done on the remaining 5 applicants outside of our face to face meeting.

On 2 February 2019, we began our time together with prayer, meditation and communion led by Kellie Taylor-White and Rev. Brendan Boone.

We then recapped the events of 1 February 2019.

Our day was then devoted to developing a list of questions to be asked of the short list of candidates and discussing a time to schedule the interviews.

[5] Definition of unconscious bias

 “Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.”

A total of twenty-three (23) interview questions were agreed upon (see section X), with room for follow-up questions of the candidates if warranted or needed. If possible, we agreed we would strive to conduct the interviews in a week’s time frame in an effort to keep up with our timeline for our work.

On Sunday, 3 February 2019, our time began together with a review of our work from Saturday, followed by a time of prayer, reflection, meditation and communion with the team and our Sanctuary in the Woods hosts and hostesses, led by Rev. Gavin Ward and Stan Kimer.

Following our discussion of the next steps, our time together was closed in prayer by Velma Garcia and concluded with many expressions of thanks and gratitude for the team, our friends at Sanctuary in the Woods and the entire tribe of animals who helped to keep us focused while offering a time of rest and respite when we needed to “be still and know.”

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X.         Interviews of Candidates on the “Short List” (February 11-13, 2019)

Given the short timeframe we had to meet the deadline to submit the final slate of candidates to the Governing Board, the MNC scheduled and interviewed the final short list of candidates between February 11-13, 2019.

As part of this process, the MNC worked with the Governing Board liaison Rev. Victoria Burson to engage Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West to conduct criminal history background checks and Clergy license checks (if required) for the short list of candidates. After confirming that Rev. Dr. West had signed a confidentiality agreement, the MNC provided Rev. Dr. West with the names of the short list of candidates. After the checks were conducted, the MNC was provided with a one-page summary confirming all the checks came back clear and that there were no adverse findings against any of the candidates.

During the interview process each of the candidates were asked the same questions. An additional question was asked of the lay candidate given the uniqueness of a lay person placing their name in for consideration for a position that has otherwise been viewed as a position for a clergyperson. For the interviewees, the following questions were asked:

  1. If you could describe yourself as an animal, what would it be and why?
  2. Please briefly share one or two interesting things about yourself unrelated to MCC?
  3. Briefly, what is your sense of the purpose and vision for MCC?
  4. What do you see as the 3 top challenges facing MCC?
  5. The restoration of trust was one of the priorities outlined in the survey. How do you see yourself facilitating a process for this to begin?
  6. What do you see as some of the options to begin to address the fracture that exists between MCC Clergy and MCC Laity?
  7. What do you see as some of the options for engaging with the Governing Board to create a sense of unity both within the Governing Board and between the Governing Board and MCC?
  8. What role does accountability and sound financial management play in leading a successful non-profit?
  9. How can MCC begin to address the reality of being a US-centric Church whilst proclaiming to be a global denomination?
  10. How do you intend to reach out and build bridges with global Churches? (for example in Europe, Australasia, Ibero-America, Brazil, and Africa et.)
  11. How would you address MCC supporting the advocacy of social justice and human rights around the world?
  12. Given the increase in welcoming and affirming Churches, in what ways would you lead MCC in a process of rebranding and distinguishing itself for the future?
  13. What would be your Inter-Generational strategy to fully include and engage all generations?
  14. As Moderator, how would you lead the denomination in providing additional resources to local Churches?
  15. How will you continue to grow spiritually and nourish your soul while serving as Moderator?
  16. Describe a situation where your integrity was being questioned? How did you address the situation?
  17. Tell us about a situation where you felt ill-equipped. How did you address this situation?
  18. What does it mean to be the “spiritual leader of MCC?”
  19. What is your understanding of the phrase “Church growth?”
  20. What do you personally see as the next place of need for MCC?
  21. We have talked a lot about beginning and vision. However, some of the most destructive times in the Church have involved unhealthy leaving. So, what does it mean to you to healthily transition out of a role and how important is healthy exiting to you?
  22. Is it your understanding that the role of moderator is a full-time job?
  23. Question for Lay Candidate(s):
    Even though for decades the UFMCC Bylaws have made it possible for a lay person to hold the position of moderator, this has never been seen in practice. How would you help people to understand the role of a lay Moderator, and what would you see as possible opportunities for growth and transformation as potentially the first Lay Moderator of a global movement?

Additional questions were able to be asked of MNC team members if needed for follow-up or clarity.

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XI.         Time of Prayer, Discernment and Clarity (February 13-14, 2019)

 

At the conclusion of interviewing the final candidate on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and in light of the fact the team would be holding its weekly video conference call on the next day (7 pm, EST, Thursday, February 14th), it was suggested that we end the call at that point.

Each team member was then encouraged to enter into a time of prayer, discernment and reflection for the next 24 hours focusing on one question:

“If you were tasked with presenting only three (3) individuals to be on the final slate of candidates, who would be selected?”

The team was unanimous in its agreement to end the call and take this next step to “pause, ponder and pray” in an effort to:

a.     filter through and out any “conscious” or “unconscious bias” that could arise in the process of making the decision, and;

b.     to allow individual team members to actively discern, with the Spirit’s guidance, who they would elevate to the final slate of candidates without being influenced, persuaded or convinced by another team member to decide otherwise.

With that said, the meeting was closed in prayer until February 14th.

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XII.         The Final Slate of Candidates

 

On 14 February 2019, the MNC gathered for its weekly video conference call via Zoom. After opening our meeting in prayer and reviewing the team’s project plan, we moved to the discussion items. The primary question we were asked prayerfully to consider the evening prior was:

“If you were tasked with presenting only three (3) individuals to be on the final slate of candidates, who would be selected?”

Each team member was given an opportunity to respond to the question. At the conclusion of the responses, each team member had named the same three (3) candidates as their selections.

After taking a deep breath for a moment, it was more than clear we, as a team, had unanimously and prayerfully arrived at a decision, without any prior discussion and, as a result, set the final slate of candidates to be put forth for the Office of Moderator.

With all that said, as a team, we want to be very, very clear here: ALL of us were totally surprised at our unanimous decision. As such, the question was raised, following everyone’s response, about the “optics” of not having a clearly identifiable person of color on the slate. After discussing the question among ourselves and from many different perspectives, we were in total agreement about the following:

  1. We intentionally included a training session in unconscious bias as part of our face to face meeting, and the diversity of the team ensured that many, many different viewpoints were brought to the discussions. We were (and continue to be) very much aware through conversations and by the results of the 2018 MNC Survey of the need for healing in MCC as it relates to race, gender, class and U.S. Centrism.
  2. We understand diversity and inclusion can “look” a variety of ways. As the MNC, our charge was to submit a slate of up to five (5) qualified candidates for the Office of Moderator. Utilizing the rubric approach in our discernment and deliberations was vital in helping us to be aware of any conscious or unconscious biases that may influence a fair and clean process. While the slate of candidates may not “look” the way some would want, like or expected it to look, it is diverse slate nonetheless . . . just in a different way.
  3. As a team, we are keenly aware of the history of race and racism in the United States, as well as the current social, economic and political atmosphere in the U.S. that appears to continue to fuel, encourage and support it. We are also aware of the struggles and deep seeded pain around race and racism in MCC and the fact those struggles continue. The task of the MNC, however, was to present a slate of candidates based on the qualifications and criteria framed and established by the responses and input received through the 2018 MCC Global Survey, the parameters outlined by the charge from the MCC Governing Board, as well as the MNC Charter and Covenant. We believe we have been faithful to this task.
  4. We are also aware that for many years, MCC has been viewed and, in some cases, is still seen as a U.S. centric denominational movement which has not always been seen or received in a positive light by our Churches outside of the U.S. If we understand the Dominion of God to be the place where there are no stepchildren or orphans and if we believe MCC is called to be a global movement, how MCC “looks” on a global scale will look very different than viewing MCC strictly from a U.S. perspective.
  5. We know there will be those who will be hurt, disappointed, offended and in some, if not many cases, angry that there is not a person of color (specifically, an African-American individual) on the slate. We anticipate there will be those who will express their thoughts, dismay and angst in a myriad of ways, including on various forms of social media.

Yet, even with knowing this to be true and being prepared for any potential “backlash” and reaction against the announced slate of candidates, we maintained our belief in the MNC process.

We trusted the safeguards we put in place to avoid conscious or unconscious bias based on past or present realities.

We trusted using the rubric metric tool developed to assist us in our discernment and analysis of applications and references.

We were always trusting the Holy Spirit to order our steps and lead us to the place where the final slate of candidates would be made clear to us without further need for discussion.

Most of all, we have confidence and faith that each of the three candidates selected for the final slate would be an excellent Moderator of MCC.

We believe the Spirit has been faithful to reveal to us the direction in which we should proceed and to lead us to the slate of candidates we should put forth to General Conference 2019.

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XIII.         Reference Verification Process of the Final Slate of Candidates

 

After reaching agreement on the proposed slate, the MNC divided calling the references among the team. We developed a set of 10 questions we would ask each for the four (4) references for each candidate, using a rubric scorecard to rate the responses of the answers to each of the ten (10) answers. The questions focused on communications and leadership skills, dealing with challenging situations, and integrity.

Below is the list of questions asked of candidate referees:

  1. How long have you known <Name of candidate> and in what capacity?
  2. <Name of candidate> has applied to be a candidate for the office of the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). With roots in the LGBTQ+ movement, MCC is an inclusive, Christian denomination with a long-standing history of linking spirituality, sexuality, and social justice. The Moderator of MCC is the spiritual and organisational leader, worldwide ambassador, and primary face and voice of the denomination. MCC’s next Moderator must be a strategic and visionary individual who can lead a global movement and denomination to the next phase of growth.
    Given this description, why do you feel <Name of candidate> is qualified and equipped to serve as Moderator?
  3. In what ways does <Name of candidate> engender faith, confidence, loyalty, and trust of and from others?
  4. How would you describe <Name of candidate>’s ability to effectively communicate?
  5. How effective does <Name of candidate> function or work in hierarchical systems of power?
  6. From your perspective, how effective is <Name of candidate> when it comes to making difficult decisions, particularly when under pressure and/or dealing with incomplete or ambiguous information?
  7. Have you experienced <Name of candidate> dealing with unexpected situations? How did they respond?
  8. From what I’ve shared with you about this position, what do you perceive as <Name of candidate>’s greatest learning curve coming into this position?
  9. From your perspective is <Name of candidate> fit to assume the role of Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches?
  10. Are there any additional insights or comments that you wish to add?

Without exception, every reference submitted was extremely positive on the candidates’ capabilities. We felt that these unanimous exceptional reference interviews confirmed that we had made the correct spirit-led selection of the three candidates.

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XIV.         Submission of the Final Slate to the Governing Board and Public Announcement

 

On 25 February 2019, Rev. Gavin Ward sent an email to Linda Brenner and Chris Baker of the MCC Communications Team to let them know that we, the MNC, were very close to informing the Governing Board about the final slate of candidates for Moderator. We were required to inform the GB by the 1st March.

As part of our job, we had asked the slate of candidates to supply the MNC with materials that will help people to get to know them.

While we were not sure of the actual time and date the Governing Board would publish the slate, we wanted to be able to put information about the slate on the MCC website as soon as possible after the slate had been made public.

We asked to have a static box and a banner on the MCC home page and one page created on the MNC site for each candidates.

The slate of candidates was asked by the MNC to provide the following information:

  • A maximum one-page introductory biography (supplied in a MSWord document and put on the candidate’s page as text);
  • A headshot photo of professional quality of the candidate;
  • A resumé́ of no more than two (2) pages (made available on the candidate’s page as a pdf download);
  • A video of a maximum of 5 minutes (embedded in the candidate’s page)
  • A written transcript of the 5 minutes video for translation purposes. (provided in MSWord format and then placed on the candidate’s page in pdf format once translated)

We asked for the information to be published on the website as soon as possible and then the translated documents were to be added when they were available.

On 27 February 2019, Rev. Miak Siew, in his capacity as the Governing Board liaison (while Rev. Victoria Burson was on sabbatical), informed the MNC that we would be the ones making the public announcement of the slate.

While the Governing Board members would be receiving the slate at their February 28 meeting, they would not be informed of the slate prior to the public announcement.

We were grateful for the demonstration of the level of trust placed in the MNC by the Governing Board.

Rev. Miak asked Linda to work with the MNC to complete the public announcement expeditiously. The MNC thanked Rev. Miak for letting us know and that we would work with Linda to facilitate the announcement.

The MNC Co-Chairs (Rev. Gavin Ward and Velma Garcia) released the slate of candidates on February 27, 2019 and worked with Linda and Chris to formally announce the slate of candidates to the whole body of MCC.

On 1 March 2019, the slate of candidates for Moderator was formally released by the MNC to the whole of MCC via email and the MCC and MNC websites. The announcement included the names and photos of each candidate and the details of the webinars where people could meet the candidates. It also included this statement from the MNC:


“1 March 2019

Dear Saints of Metropolitan Community Churches,

Nine months ago the 2019 Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC) was formed and tasked with the following:

Charge to the Moderator Nominating Committee per UFMCC Bylaws Article V.E.2.a.:

‘MODERATOR NOMINATING COMMITTEE: The Governing Board shall appoint a Moderator Nominating Committee of five (5) persons. The responsibility of the Moderator Nominating Committee is to actively solicit candidates for the position, review any and all applications, and select up to five (5) qualified candidates. The qualified candidates shall be presented by the Governing Board to the General Conference for election.’

All five members of the MNC have undertaken this task with the utmost commitment to ensure a process that is respectful, transparent, honest, and accountable. We have all worked very hard to listen to the voices of MCC, to be in prayer and fellowship with one another, and to think deeply and carefully regarding every decision that has had to be made during this process. We have been committed to be continually focused on the goal of providing the General Conference with a slate of candidates, each of whom we believe would be an exceptional leader for the future of MCC.

After careful consideration, discernment, and prayer, we are pleased to inform you that we have selected a slate of three (3) candidates for the Office of the Moderator position. The MCC Moderator Nominating Committee has truly appreciated the opportunity to be in dialogue with each one of the candidates during the interview process. We very much enjoyed interviewing each one of the candidates to discuss the Office and role of Moderator. It was a pleasure to learn more about each of the candidates’ skills and accomplishments and their aspirations for the future of MCC.

We are sincerely thankful for the time, thought, and prayers that were offered on each one of the candidates’ part, and for providing us with their credentials for consideration.”


After the announcement of the slate, the MNC worked tirelessly with slate of candidates and the MCC Office of Communication to develop and implement a process for the whole body of MCC to be introduced to and get to know the candidates, to ask them why they feel equipped and called “for such a time as this,” and to hear more about their vision for the future of MCC.

This was achieved through a series of webinars and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) published on the MNC website. The FAQ guide was made up of all the questions asked during the webinars.

The following three (3) webinars with the candidates were held:

  1. A “Meet the Candidates” webinar which included the MNC and the three candidates. The MNC shared a short update on the process and then had a time of moderated questions for the candidates.It was held at the following times:
    • In English on 2 April 2019 at 1500 UTC
    • In Spanish and Portuguese on 2 April 2019 at 2300 UTC
    • In English on 4 April 2019 at 2300 UTC.
  2. A “Town Hall” webinar for each candidate which involved each candidate individually participating in a one-hour moderated question and answer session.There were held at the following times:
    • Ms. Elizabeth Bisordi on 23 April 2019 at 2300 UTC
    • Rev. Elder Tony Freeman on 30 April 2019 at 2300 UTC
    • Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston on 7 May 2019 at 2300 UTC.
  3. A final “Meet the Candidates” webinar, which included any updates from the MNC and a final chance for people to ask questions of the candidates in a moderated question and answer time.This was held on 5 June 2019 at 1900 UTC.

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XV.         Final Slate of Candidates

The final slate of candidates is presented here in alphabetical order with a short biography written by each candidate.

A.   Ms. Elizabeth M Bisordi

Liz Bisordi has spent over 38 years working as a financial and business operations leader within the IBM Corporation.  A tried and true leader, she has worked closely with employees  and clients from around the globe to transition and transform their businesses and to resolve complex business problems.  Over the past 18 years, Liz has also developed her ministry within MCC at both the local Church and denominational levels, leveraging both her financial and business acumen, with her spiritual gifts to produce positive outcomes.

Liz was born just outside New York City in Mount Vernon, NY, the third child and first daughter of Ed and Wini Bisordi.  From an early age, Liz observed her Father’s business prowess and her Mother’s strong faith, both of which have had strong and lasting impacts on how she has managed her life.

Liz credits her education at the Ursuline School, a small private Catholic girls’ school, with defining her core beliefs.  The school’s motto is “Serviam,” Latin for “I will serve,” and it still resounds with how she manages her life.  Liz also attended the College of New Rochelle earning a BA in History and minor in Religious Studies.

Immediately upon graduation, Liz began working for the IBM Corporation.  Throughout her career she has taken on more responsibilities.  Some key roles in her career include 17 years leading IBM’s Financial Due Diligence and Transition team.  In 2011, Liz moved to IBM’s Resiliency Services group where she was responsible for extensive cost optimization across 17 data centers and recovery sites throughout the US.  She also assumed revenue accountability including driving almost $8M in incremental transactional revenue annually.   In 2015 Liz moved into IBM’s Cognitive Solutions Unit and ultimately in to their Global operations team, responsible for P&L oversight of multiple business units within IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Solutions organization.  Last May she became certified as an executive coach and looks forward to growing her footprint in this important leadership development arena.

In addition to her career, Liz has served MCC in a variety of capacities since first coming to MCC in 2000.  She has served the local Church in several key leadership positions including Vice Moderator, Chair of the Capital Campaign and Strategic Planning and as part of the Stewardship team.  At a denominational level, Liz served on the MCC Governing Board as the Treasurer for three years and as a Network Facilitator responsible for Networks in the US and Canada.  She has also completed MCC’s Interim Training Program, is a LEAD graduate and CLM Trainer

Liz and her wife, Charlene, have been together for 30 years and “legally” married since 2005 and have lived in Sarasota, Florida since 2000.  They are both active members of SunCoast MCC in Venice, Florida. They have two grown children, as well as Jessie (an African gray parrot) and Stella, their Norfolk Terrier.  In her leisure time, Liz enjoys cooking, opera, reading a good mystery, and golf.  Liz looks forward to God revealing the next steps in her ongoing Journey with the Divine!

 

B.   Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston

Cecilia Eggleston has been passionately involved in MCC for 30 years, starting as a young LGBT activist who helped to plant a local Church. She has served as European District Co-Ordinator and as Regional Elder, working with our Churches in Western Europe and Africa. She is one of the few MCC leaders who has served at a denominational level with both Rev. Troy Perry and Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson as Moderators, learning from them both about what it means to lead a global movement and international denomination.

During her time as local Church pastor at Northern Lights MCC, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, she was featured in a photography exhibition, “Inspirational Women of the North East”, commissioned by Newcastle University, in recognition of her ministry. She led the Newcastle Pride parade twice and spoke at the Pride festival to over 32,000 people. During her tenure as Pastor, Northern Lights MCC was presented with the Moderator’s Award for the Church’s work with LGBT asylum seekers. She has spoken at public events to mark IDAHOT, International Women’s Day and World AIDS Day.

Reverend Elder Eggleston delights in building up people and seeing them grow. She has worked as a teacher, a trainer, a community development worker and a community facilitator. Mentoring leaders is a particular passion and she recently served on the faculty of the European Readiness to Enter Vocational Ministry Retreat. She is a trained Spiritual Director and loves “holy listening” – holding that sacred space, so that individuals can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit within their own lives. She is trained in consensus building and has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a common vision and then develop a strategic plan, which works towards that vision.

Whilst undeniably English, Reverend Elder Eggleston loves travelling and experiencing other cultures. She speaks some French and German. After serving for nine years as Pastor at Northern Lights MCC, she spent a year travelling and fulfilling her wish list, including volunteering for three months in Swaziland, Southern Africa. She was so inspired by her experience there that she looked for opportunities to continue this justice work. She currently works for an international development charity, Send A Cow, which trains and equips farmers in Eastern Africa to overcome poverty. This forms her AAA ministry.

Reverend Elder Eggleston has been interviewed many times over the years by the media in the UK, South Africa and Germany, including on BBC radio. She was featured in the grounding breaking Channel 4 programme “Out on Tuesday” in the UK when it was still very challenging to be “out” and there was little protection in law. She is an engaging preacher and public speaker, as well as enjoying writing for pleasure and for work. She loves learning and returned to further study at Durham University, which has one of the leading theological departments in the UK. She gained a distinction for her dissertation on “Gay Men and Disenfranchised Grief”.  Although she is extrovert and has plenty of energy, she is spiritually a contemplative, needing silence and stillness to feed her soul. Quiet time every morning and time set aside for retreat are important ways for her to keep spiritually healthy.

Family is important to Reverend Elder Eggleston. She was born in Sheffield, in the north of England, the sixth child of seven. She has an enormous number of relatives and enjoys spending time with all the different generations. She currently lives in Somerset, in SW England, where she enjoys watching the birds in the garden and learning to ballroom dance.

 

C.   Rev. Elder Tony Freeman

Rev. Elder Tony Freeman was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Northern Virginia, USA. He has two sisters, Lise and Vicci, one younger and one older. Tony also has a 23-year-old son, Mario, who lives in San Diego, California, USA. Growing up, he says that he liked dogs and basketball more than school!

Prior to Rev. Freeman starting his ministerial journey, he was employed in the home building business, along with real estate and insurance. Tony also started and managed several small businesses.

Before making his first MCC connection in Key West, Florida USA, Tony was a self-described “spiritual but not religious.” That changed after one Sunday in the sanctuary at MCC Key West, where he first fell in love with the inclusive gospel and became a passionate follower of Jesus. He completed his internship for the ministry there almost 30 years ago. Rev. Freeman then went to assist in starting a “new work” at MCC South Beach before heading west to MCC of the Rockies as their Interim Pastor. Afterwards, he was elected as the Senior Pastor at MCC San Diego, where he over doubled the size of the congregation (from 200 to 450 in weekly worship attendance), and he was always active in the community serving on numerous boards and committees, including the Police Chief’s Advisory Board, the Mayors Advisory Board, and the San Diego State University President’s Advisory Committee on Equality.

One of the hallmarks of his ministry has been teaching and growing leaders. Rev. Freeman created Leading With Love – a congregational leadership development program, which he readily shared with other MCC’s around the globe. Much of the curriculum he created was based on the work of Robert Greenleaf on servant-leadership.

Tony feels incredibly blessed to have had the privilege and experience of using his teaching gifts internationally. He has led leadership development workshops in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, facilitated conflict resolution in Europe and the Philippines, and presented on stewardship in Monterrey, Mexico.

After leaving MCC San Diego, Rev. Freeman was employed as a Director of Corporate Giving and then as the Executive Director of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. In both positions, he was able to facilitate significant growth and vitality, including tripling the Foundation’s assets during his 5-year tenure there. He also became a student of fundraising and attended numerous seminars by the renowned fundraising guru, Jerold Panas.

While working at these jobs, Rev. Freeman also volunteered with the denomination and served as Chair of the Structure Review Team and was elected to the first MCC Governing Board. He stayed connected to the local Church during this time by serving as the Consulting Pastor at MCC Sacramento, flying up regularly to lead worship and move them through a pastoral search process.

After five years at the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, and his son growing up, he accepted a call to MCC Toronto to serve as the Director of Congregational Life and Executive Pastor.

In 2013, Rev. Freeman joined the MCC staff and Senior Leadership Team as the Director of the Office of Church Life and Health. During this period, he was also appointed to the Council of Elders. Rev. Freeman reconfigured the Office to better align with MCC’s strategic priorities and implemented several new programs in collaboration with OCLH staff, including (re)Vitalization and Growing a Culture of Generosity. He also completed an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving.

Rev. Freeman is currently serving as the Interim Senior Pastor at MCC of the Palm Beaches (Florida, USA). He enjoys the challenges and blessings of being a solo pastor, and is grateful to be near the ocean again so he can follow another of his passions, boogie boarding. However, the inclusive gospel and MCC will always be at the heart of his faith and his life-long passion.

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XVI.         Expressions of Gratitude

 

The 2019 Moderator Nominating Committee had a tremendous task charged to us in May of 2018. Time was short and there was much work to do.

After 10 months of conference and video calls, reams of papers, one (1) three and a half day face-to-face meeting, a series of interviews, intensely prayerful consideration and reference verifications, we presented to the Governing Board a Candidate Slate of three (3) individuals.

We believe that each candidate embodies the qualifications outlined in the Bylaws for the Office of Moderator, as well as the criteria and qualifications as determined by the 2018 MCC MNC Global Survey for MCC’s next Moderator.

All of this work, however, was not accomplished in a vacuum; there were many persons, MCC Offices and MCC affiliated and non-affiliated organizations that partnered and worked with us to bring our work to its successful completion. With that said, we want to express our gratitude to:

  • Rev. Victoria Burson, MCC Governing Board Liaison and Governance Chair;
  • Rev. Miak Siew and Rev. Doretha Williams-Flournoy, Liaisons to the MNC during Rev. Burson’s sabbatical;
  • Ms. Elisa Vega-Burns, Former Chair, 2016 MCC Moderator Nominating Committee;
  • MCC Office of Communications:
    • Linda Brenner, Director
    • Mike Hasse, Information Technology
    • Chris Baker, Website
    • Enrique Zenteno, Spanish Translation
    • Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez, Spanish Translation
    • Leo Rossetti, Portuguese Translation
    • Rev. Cristiano, Portuguese Translation
  • Sanctuary in the Woods, Manor, Texas:
    • Rev. Elder Ken Martin
    • Rev. Jo Bell
    • Tom Cole
    • Cheryl Meyer
    • Darlene Hernandez
    • All the animals at Sanctuary
  • Lisa Blackwood, LPC and Sherri Woodworth, MA, LPC-S, Unconscious Bias Trainers
  • Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West, MCC Office of Formation and Leadership Development
  • Ms. Barb Crabtree, Survey Data Comparison and Analysis
  • Elder Nancy Maxwell, Prayer Partner and Spiritual Support
  • Spouses/Partners of the 2019 MCC MNC
  • Entire MCC Global Movement

Thank you all for the many ways you assisted us in this work. Your support was far-reaching, and for that, we are forever grateful.

The MNC is so thankful for all the messages of support, prayer and love we have received as we have done our work.

These have meant so much to all of us to know that there are people praying for us.

Through all this process the entire MNC team has believed in, and continues to believe in, the hope and love that MCC can bring to the world.

We believe in MCC.

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XVII.         Final Thoughts: The MNC Journey: Trusting the Path

Shaman[6] Velma Garcia

 

On this path, after introductions and prayer as a team, as it is with all journeys… we began ours together.

We took the first step. Which way do we go? Do we go right? Do we go left?

The path to the right took us on a journey through “discerning God’s will.”  We gathered and circled around that for a period of time. At that place, we were reminded this journey is not about our, a people or a people’s will, but, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, about God’s will being done. Moving from that place, we journeyed onward.

As we continued on, we came upon the sign, “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” and were invited by Spirit to “be still” and contemplate this for a while. Reflecting on the invitation to just be still, we journeyed on. Along the way, as we moved on, we kept seeing road signs reading, “discovering God’s direction and will.” What direction is “God’s direction?”

We would eventually find ourselves facing a sign which read, “tough decisions ahead.” It would be there where we would take time to breathe, discern, contemplate, pray and meditate for a while before proceeding . . . “not our will, but Your will be done, God.” As we moved from there, the next sign that appeared was “results.” Of course, we naturally asked, “but what does that look like”?

We came upon more directional signs: “This way or that? We stopped and pondered the questions: “Is this a calling or is this the natural progression of a vocation? Is this person called to this position? Where is the calling as I cannot see it? Spirit, can you help us see the calling?” Not our will God, but Yours be done . . .

The journey continues, leading us to a place where we circled and sat for a spell contemplating the “For such a time as this you have been created” sign and proceed to press onward. We now make our way to the left side of the road . . . “let’s see what is over there.” We then notice a new sign that says “Wisdom, God’s first creation.” We continued making our way along the path . . .

It is here again the same road sign on this journey kept appearing as we follow this path, “discovering God’s will.”  What direction is “God’s direction?” As we move forward, we once again find ourselves facing a sign we’ve seen before . . . “tough decisions ahead”. Not our will, but Yours God . . . lead us . . .

After all the surprises, hair raising experiences, wows and breathless moments, we finally reach the center.  As it turns out, our journey was really a maze and not a pathway at all. As we move toward the center, there we discover the signs of “CELEBRATE! . . . MCC GENERAL CONFERENCE GOLDEN FLAME SHINES BRIGHTLY! . . . NOW IS THE ACCEPTABLE TIME!” upon our path. Then we see the sign we had seen earlier on the journey, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh with God’s ascending bright light in the shape of a dove.”  The trail finally ends at the 2019 MCC MODERATOR CANDIDATE(S) sign. May Divine wisdom continue to prevail . .

As we began to conclude this phase of the most critical part of our journey together, we were once again invited by Spirit to “come and see.” Following Spirit’s lead, we received an aerial view of our journey together and it was then we actually saw the maze and were also able to see what we believed were Jesus’ foot prints in the sand leading us along the same journey we just experienced.  But how can this be? There were 5 of us on this journey. “Yes and no my sons and daughters,” Jesus says. “In those moments when you questioned, attempted to second guess yourselves or questioned how others would feel, react or respond, it was then I picked you up and carried you, just as I have from the time you began this journey! I wanted to make sure you stayed on THE path with Me.”

St. Teresa of Avila was once asked, “How can we determine, that the whispers, nudgings, dreams, and visions come from the Divine?” She replied, “True visions leave more than they found when they got there. They impress a subtle wholeness on the soul, a sense of peace, serenity and alertness, and a kind of delicious longing. Like the whiff of bread baking through a door that opened and then closed again. Like the fresh footprint of a unicorn in the snow. True visions change you. Irrevocably, and for the better.”

I know all of us have been forever changed for the better by journeying through this experience as a unified team, committed to living out our full understanding of “not my will, but Your will be done.”

We are so blessed and grateful for the journey and especially the presence of the Holy Spirit through it all. Thank You God!

[6] Shaman: A tribal healer who can act as a medium between the visible world and the spirit world.

Gifts from Mother Earth set out at the Sanctuary during our face-to-face meeting to remind us to be focussed, humble and always aware that it is from God that all things come.

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