At the nationals

The United Church of Christ held its General Synod – the biennial gathering of the national church – earlier this month in Indianapolis, and I wanted to share some highlights. I’ve been to just one General Synod during my time in ministry, and I found it tremendously energizing and inspirational!

This month the Synod elected a new General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson. She’s the first woman and the first African-American to hold that post, the chief executive of the denomination.

You can read some highlights of the Synod here. There were resolutions about issues as varied as “digital justice,” reparations for past colonialist wrongs, single-use plastics and solitary confinement. Interestingly, one resolution called “Encouraging a Plant-Based Life” was rejected by delegates, some of whom argued that the UCC should not “shame” people for what they eat.

I’m always interested in the resolutions that are brought forth at Synod. These can be sponsored by Associations, Conferences or even individual congregations.

I’m so liberal that trees hug me, but sometimes the proclamations brought to the national church setting push me past my comfort zone. But in our polity, we don’t take orders from the national church. We honor a covenant that expects us to be in conversation with each other at all levels of the UCC, to think about these proclamations and to listen for God’s voice and our own conscience about difficult matters. I value that independence, a holdover from our roots in the Congregational Church.

While you’re looking at Synod highlights, read about Nadia Bolz-Weber’s keynote address. Bolz-Weber (pictured) is a Lutheran pastor and author, and founder of a groundbreaking church in Denver called House for All Sinners & Saints. One thing she said: “Christianity is not supposed to be about controlling the masses. Christianity is not supposed to be some mild Elks Club with Eucharist, it’s not supposed to be about morality and superiority. Christianity is supposed to be about raising the dead.”

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