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The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess is Executive Minister of the United Church of Christ's Local Church Ministries and a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.

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The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

United Church of Christ

United Church of Christ

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess is Executive Minister of the United Church of Christ's Local Church Ministries and a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.

Nominated by the 55-member Local Church Ministries' board of directors, Guess was elected by General Synod delegates in July 2011.  He is the first openly gay person to serve as a national officer of the church.

Local Church Ministries' purpose is to encourage and support congregations in the fulfillment of God's mission, especially in parish life and leadership; book, curricula and resource production; and congregational vitality and discipleship, including evangelism, stewardship and church finances, worship and education, and church buildings and loans.

Guess has worked for the UCC's national setting since 2000, first as Justice and Witness Ministries' communications minister and, later, as editor of United Church News and the UCC's news director. In 2007, he was named the UCC's communication director, where he helped steer the UCC's Stillspeaking Ministry; United Church News; video, web, and social media; print design and production; marketing and distribution; special events, including General Synod; and the denomination's historic advocacy work in media justice and reform. In March 2010, Rev. Guess was asked to oversee the creation of a new, cross-ministry department called Publishing, Identity and Communication that successfully merged staff from the Office of General Ministries and Local Church Ministries and fostered more cooperative and strategic work for the whole national setting.

Guess has written more than 500 articles on all aspects of the church, earning him more than 60 awards. His writing demonstrates his broad knowledge of the UCC and local-church life and his demonstrated capacity to think critically as well as creatively about the opportunities and challenges we face as a denomination. He is a member of numerous ecumenical organizations.

Guess earned a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. He completed graduate studies in public administration and public policy at Murray State University, and earned his M.Div. degree in 1991 from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He received his D.Min. degree in preaching from UCC-related Chicago Theological Seminary in 2001.

Prior to coming to the UCC's national offices, Guess was a local church pastor for 12 years, including eight years as pastor of Zion UCC in Henderson, Ky., a congregation that grew from 12 elderly members to a vital, justice-focused, multiracial, open and affirming congregation of more than 300 people. He also helped create the Paff Haus Justice and Peace Center, a justice cooperative that housed offices for more than a dozen regional and statewide advocacy organizations in Kentucky and southern Indiana. In 1992, he co-founded the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, now the state's largest and most visible LGBT rights organization. Guess received the UCC's Just Peace Award at the 1997 General Synod in Columbus, Ohio, in recognition of his life-long commitment to justice advocacy.

Guess and his spouse, Jim Therrien, are members of Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Cleveland.


Latest Content by The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

The Cost and Joy of Discipleship

Mark 8:31-38

Second Sunday in Lent

March 16, 2003

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess (UCC)

Clarence Jordan was just 12 years old in 1922 when he made his profession of faith during a Baptist tent revival in Sumter County, Georgia. At the evening service, Jordan took notice of a man in the church choir who was robustly singing one of his favorite hymns, "Love Lifted Me." The following night--the night after Clarence Jordan became a Christian--he was awakened by an agonizing sound coming from a prison yard located near his boyhood home. A black man was being tortured in clear view of Clarence's bedroom window. As he watched that horrific scene, Clarence soon discovered that the tormentor, the warden of the prison, was actually the same person who had been singing "Love Lifted Me" only one night before.

Read full transcript...
The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

God Is in the Details

Mark 2:1-12

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

February 23, 2003

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess (UCC)

We can all remember defining moments from our childhood when we lost a piece of our innocence--
· like the first time you learned just how hot a kitchen stove can get,
· or to watch out for bumblebees in the honeysuckles,
· or why on the 4th of July it really isn't wise to try to make your own fireworks.

Read full transcript...

Other Recent Content by The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess Transcript

January 26, 2003

Follow, Follow, Follow

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess (UCC)

The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Guess is Minister for Communication and Media Education for Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio.