Dear Pastors and Members of the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ,
I’m writing to inform you of a recent action taken by our Conference Board of Directors. In response to a concern raised and considered by the Eastern Association of the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ, a Conference Minister Fitness Review process has been initiated.
As of January 29, 2021, our Conference Minister Rev. Dr. Felix Villanueva has been placed on paid administrative leave. This action by the Conference Board is without prejudice, is in accordance with the United Church of Christ’s Recommended Guidelines for a Conference Minister Fitness Review, and includes full salary and benefits during the time of leave and until the concern is fully adjudicated. Being placed on leave helps ensure there is no actual or perceived conflict of interest as the information-gathering and adjudication take place.
The Conference Minister Fitness Review process is coordinated by the United Church of Christ’s Office of the General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer and in consultation with the Office of Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization. The adjudication will take place in another Conference. This is also in alignment with the Conference Minister Fitness Review process and is done to minimize the conflicts of interest among the Committees on Ministry (or Unified Fitness Review or Ethics Committees) within our Conference.
The Conference Board of Directors has hired our former Associate Conference Minister, the Rev. Libby Tigner, to serve as the Acting Conference Minister throughout the Conference Minister’s leave of absence. As most of you know, Libby has considerable conference ministry experience, and will bring her wisdom and expertise to this position. Her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a people of prayer and grace. In that spirit, I appreciate your understanding, patience, and cooperation during the Fitness Review process. As the Board Chair, I understand some of you will want to communicate with me so I have created a secure and temporary email account for that purpose (SCNCBoardChair@gmail.com )
You may also leave a message for me at the conference office (626-798-8082) and I will return your call. Because of confidentiality, I will not be able to answer all of your questions, but I can assure you of our trust in the process, in you, our colleagues in ministry and mission, and in the Holy Spirit. I will keep everyone updated as I am able.
In God’s Peace,
Rev. Sarah Averette-Phillips
SCNC-UCC Board Chair