The United Church of Christ has elected its first woman president.
The announcement came after the denomination voted during its 34th UCC General Synod in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson was elected with 626 votes in favor, 43 against, and seven abstaining from the vote, The Christian Post reports. She will succeed Rev. John Dorhauer, who had served eight years in the top post.
Thompson will be the first Black woman to be elected president of the denomination, and she is only the third person of African descent to lead the group, the UCC reported.
Thompson is from Jamaica.
“Today, United Church of Christ, we created a first together,” Thompson said shortly after the vote. “It won’t be the last first. … The enormity of this moment will be with me for many years to come.”
Thompson has served as associate general minister for UCC’s Wider Church Ministries and co-executive for Global Ministries for the past four years.
She will start in her new role on Aug. 1.
In her nomination speech last week before the General Synod, Thompson told attendees that the denomination is a place “where we have seen the Spirit of God poured forth among us in many ways.”
“We are not the same church we were in 1957,” she added. “Sixty-six years beyond the moment of becoming a united and uniting church, there are yet possibilities to unfold among us as we create new firsts and new commitments to justice and to realizing God’s kin-dom here on earth.”
The UCC has largely become known in the past few decades as becoming more progressive when compared to other denominations. In 2005, the UCC became the first American mainline denomination to allow same-sex couples to be married at its churches.
According to the UCC’s “2022 National Eleven Year Report,” there are some 712,000 UCC members in the U.S. In 2012, that number was 998,000.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.