The appointment was made possible by an amendment to UBE's bylaws that enables board members to be elected as honorary board members with voice and no vote.
A life member of UBE, Baxter is the Episcopal Church's 1,010th bishop in succession and its 38th black bishop.
As honorary board chair, Baxter will provide guidance and counsel to UBE's president and officers as the organization seeks to implement a comprehensive strategy of inclusion of Episcopal communities of African descent and restructures to serve the church in the 21st century.
Baxter served as dean of Washington National Cathedral from 1991 to 2003 and as rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before he was elected in July 2006 to serve as the 10th bishop of Central Pennsylvania.
John E. Harris Jr., long-time UBE treasurer and board member, will serve as its president and COO and as a member of the executive leadership team. Other members of the team include: Bert Jones, first vice president; the Rev. Karen Montagno, second vice president; Richard Miller, treasurer and CFO; and Jeri Robinson, secretary.
Harris said that he sees his three-year term as president to be "a time of transition to a new phase of call and identity" as UBE implements the restructuring project that was adopted at its 2010 annual meeting in June.
The six components of the restructuring project include: vision/mission, leadership, program, youth and young adults, communications, and finance. The full project report is available here.
The new board held its organizational meeting Aug. 6-7 at the Bishop John T. Walker National Learning Center in Washington, D.C., UBE's new national headquarters. The move is part a venture with Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, where the Walker Center is located.
In a joint statement, Baxter and Harris said, "As we go forward, we will be launching a number of distance learning projects."
According to the statement, UBE -- in collaboration with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Black Ministries, Episcopal Church Foundation, the Walker Center, the ethnic offices and other mission units at the Episcopal Church Center in New York -- will offer these projects as part of the "Partners in Mission" initiatives which seek "not only to serve our Episcopal communities of African descent but the larger church and society as well."
The UBE by-laws also were amended to increase the number of at-large members on the board to include representatives from the Liberian, Caribbean, Haitian, Central American and Sudanese communities.