The Reverend Dr. Jim Antal serves the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ as the Conference Minister and President.
Since being called by the Annual Meeting in June 2006, Antal’s leadership in the areas of the environment and climate change is noteworthy. Most recently, he authored the resolution to divest from fossil fuel companies. When the UCC’s Synod passed it in July 2013, this became a new UCC first. He has also engaged the spiritual discipline of civil disobedience numerous times, most recently at the White House to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. He provides leadership for the Mass. Conference Environmental Ministries group and regularly convenes the New England Regional Environmental Ministries reps from the six New England UCC Conferences. He speaks frequently in churches, regionally and nationally on the essential role people of faith must play to counter climate change.
Prior to his current calling, Rev. Antal served as the Senior Minister of Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a multi-staff UCC congregation with about 750 members. Plymouth is located in a culturally and racially diverse first ring suburb of Cleveland. Between 1996 and 2006, Antal led Plymouth through a transformative process which included dramatic commitments in mission and stewardship, a vote to become Open and Affirming, a thorough rewrite of the constitution, and the formation of an effective small group ministry program.
In 1998, Rev. Antal received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Andover Newton Theological School and was also the recipient of the Rabbi Murray Rothman Prize for his contributions to interfaith community relations. In June 2000, the Alban Institute published his book, Considering a New Call-Ethical and Spiritual Challenges for Clergy.
Before moving to Cleveland, Antal served in Massachusetts for nine years as the Senior Pastor of the Newton Highlands Congregational Church. As Vice President and President of the Newton Clergy Association (1990-1994), he led rabbis, priests and ministers of Newton in responding to issues such as anti-Semitic threats and a potential school strike. He also served on the Board of the City Mission Society of Boston.
Prior to coming to Newton, he worked as Executive Secretary of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest and one of the largest national religious interfaith peace organizations in the United States. His responsibilities included representing the F.O.R. nationally and internationally, and supervising a staff of thirty.
Antal served as a minister in the central part of Massachusetts from 1980-1984 as the Chaplain of Northfield Mount Hermon School. After his ordination in 1980 Antal’s very first church was a small summer congregation in Mount Washington, Massachusetts, near Great Barrington.
Antal grew up in New Jersey and California. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University in 1972 and Cum Laude from Yale Divinity School in 1978. While there, he assisted Fr. Henri Nouwen in a variety of courses. He is married to Cindy Shannon, who is chair of the Theology Department of Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, MA. They have two sons in their 20s.