Note: Over the next few days, Pastor Jeff is attending the UCC's General Synod, the denomination's biennial national gathering, in Baltimore. He'll be sharing reflections on his experience.
The first part of General Synod is always kind of like a party. There is worship, there are keynote speakers, there are workshops and hearings, there is time to wander the exhibit hall. Some of these things go all the way through to the end, but for the most part there is this shift that happens about midway through where the collective minds of those who have gathered begin getting down to the business of the denomination. The delegates who have been meeting in committees on their assigned resolutions settle in at their roped-off tables up front and begin deliberating and voting on these items together. That portion of this event began on the evening of July 2nd and will continue until around lunchtime on the 4th.
Before we got to that point, however, there were still some other activities that people had the opportunity to experience. On the morning of the 2nd, several hearings were held where people could weigh in on various matters and have a sort of conversation about them. I elected to attend a hearing on proposed revisions to the Manual on Ministry, a policy document that sets forth the process for people to become authorized ministers in the UCC. As a longtime member of the Eastern Ohio Association's Committee on Ministry, I've had to work with the existing document quite a bit and wanted to hear fellow UCCers' opinions on what might change. It was a packed room, and many diverse views were shared.
Mid-afternoon on the 2nd, we gathered for public worship, meaning that anyone could attend and not just those who registered for Synod. This service included reflections on the history of the UCC in honor of its 60th anniversary, as well as communion. Every time I attend, communion at Synod has always been a special moment for me. There is something about 3000 people engaging in this sacrament together that always inspires awe in me.
The evening of the 2nd, the delegates began their work on discussing and voting on business items. This included several resolutions as well as the budget. This work continued the morning of the 3rd, and as this is written it will go on through the afternoon and evening before worship begins around 9:00 p.m. Tomorrow the delegates will be back at it before closing worship in the afternoon. You can read about all business actions taken at the Synod website.
I am convinced that if more local church members were able to experience what happens at General Synod, they'd come away with a new appreciation for everything our denomination offers and stands for. There is a great diversity in thought and spiritual expression here that reflects who we are across the country, no matter who we are and where we are on life's journey. I am thankful that I was again able to attend, and look forward to heading to Milwaukee for the next one in 2019.