Jul 6, 2023 - Religion

United Church of Christ makes history with election of new president

Headshot of UCC general minister Karen Georgia Thompson.

Karen Georgia Thompson. Photo: Courtesy of the United Church of Christ

Cleveland-based United Church of Christ has elected Karen Georgia Thompson as its president and general minister.

Why it matters: Thompson, a Jamaican immigrant, is the first woman to lead the mainline protestant denomination of 770,000 worldwide members.

Details: Thompson was elected by more than 600 delegates at UCC's General Synod in Indianapolis on Monday. She'll formally begin her new role Aug. 1.

  • Two women were previously nominated for the post — Yvonne Delk in 1989 and Barbara Brown Zikmund in 1999 — but Thompson is the first to be elected.
  • She currently serves as UCC's officer for global concerns and interfaith relations, and formerly was the denomination's minister for racial justice.

What they're saying: "As I stand here before you as your newly and duly elected general minister and president, I stand here as a Jamaican immigrant woman, a mother and a grandmother, a sister and a friend to many," Thompson said.

  • "The enormity of this moment will be with me for many years to come."

Between the lines: The UCC is a left-leaning denomination known (and sometimes internally criticized) for its social justice activism.

  • UCC congregations were among the earliest to protest the Chief Wahoo logo alongside the American Indian community in Cleveland

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more