United Church of Christ Press Release
M. Linda Jaramillo, a seasoned lay leader in the United Church of Christ and a longtime justice advocate, is being recommended to succeed the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson as executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries and as a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.
Jaramillo, 57, was chosen by a search committee and her name was forwarded to JWM's Executive Committee, which affirmed the recommendation last week. Her candidacy became public today (April 13) in a letter by Rose Lee, JWM's board chairperson, to the covenanted ministry's full board of directors.
"Linda Jaramillo is a distinguished member of the United Church of Christ, serving in a number of leadership capacities," Lee said in her letter. "In her professional life, she has extensive management experience [with more than] 30 years in state- and county-funded programs in Oregon, including Head Start, migrant services, Hispanic services, violence prevention, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and adult community-based education."
Jaramillo now must receive a two-thirds majority vote of JWM's board, which will meet just prior to General Synod 25 in Atlanta. If affirmed, she will then need the approval of General Synod delegates before beginning a four-year term on Oct. 1.
Although eligible, Jackson -the first and only executive of JWM since its founding in 2000 - announced last fall that she would not seek an additional term in office.
Jaramillo has served in numerous capacities in every setting of the UCC - as a member and moderator of Ainsworth UCC in Portland, Ore.; as moderator, vice moderator, treasurer and search committee chair in the Central Pacific Conference; as a member and committee chair of the Executive Council; and as assistant moderator of General Synod. In 2002, she was a UCC delegate to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe.
She received a B.S. in Business Administration from Portland (Ore.) State University in 1990 and will graduate with a Master of Divinity degree from UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., this May.
Jaramillo, a Chicana who is fluent in both English and Spanish, is poised to become the first Hispanic to serve as a member of the UCC's Collegium of Officers. She is a former president and vice-president of the Council for Hispanic Ministries and co-convener of the Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries. She has served on the board of the U.S.-Mexican Centro Alberto Rembao Theological Study Center and as a visitor to the Latin American Council of Churches Assembly.
With offices in Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and the historic Franklinton Center in Whitakers, N.C., JWM is the successor organization of several justice-related church agencies, of which Jaramillo had extensive involvement. She is a former board member and committee chair of both the Commission for Racial Justice and the Coordinating Center for Women.
Jaramillo is a member of the UCC's Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns and has been a member of its Open and Affirming Task
"On various occasions, I have been described as a person relentlessly seeking justice, passionate about peace, and ready to challenge powers and principalities that threaten equality for all. I consider it an honor to be assigned such labels," Jaramillo wrote in her letter of application for the post. "Kinship with God and each other requires that everyone be treated with dignity and respect - nothing less."
Jaramillo told United Church News that her friends and family view her candidacy as the culmination of lifelong preparation. For her, she says, it comes with a strong sense of God's call.
"I believe discernment is not a personal experience, but a communal experience" she said. "I had this sense of call, and people around me have been saying, 'This is what you've been preparing for.' Now I think I know what God is telling me - and telling the church."