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General Synod
Kit Novotny
Young Adult Minister

 

Last week, I traveled to Milwaukee for the 32nd UCC General Synod. Highlights included: 

  • A night of lively storytelling in a downtown pub sharing stories of “off the map” new church experiments (watch my friend Ryan’s whole drag storytime story at http://bit.ly/
  • The deep, mutual support of reuniting with beloved colleagues...
  • The sociologist Matthew Desmond’s powerful keynote on his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted, on the devastating realities faced by the urban poor and hopeful paths forward...
  • The blessing of a local Planned Parenthood and over 500 marching to local ICE offices in a rally calling for a change in policies that separate immigrant families, chanting, “Classrooms, not cages,” “UCC is loud and clear; Immigrants are welcome here!” and “This is what the love of God looks like!”

This was my first time attending General Synod, the UCC’s biennial national gathering, where nearly 3,000 delegates, clergy, and church nerds of all kinds gather to worship, shmooze, and go about the business of being the wider church together, including working through and voting on proposed resolutions. In our non-hierarchical denomination, where local churches are both autonomous and in covenant with one another, these resolutions voted on by Synod speak “to and not for” the local church. As such, the work and witness of Synod is meant to inspire, influence, and encourage us as we move about our shared ministry.

The Synod looks within and beyond the local church, proclaiming everything from urging churches to avoid styrofoam cups, to denouncing acts of white supremacy, addressing the global migration crisis, and calling on the US to pull back from brink of nuclear war. Synod voted on many visionary, justice-seeking resolutions, calling for bylaws to be revised with non-binary gender language, and officially recognizing both the Mental Health Network of the UCC and Colectivo de UCC Latinx Ministries as Historically Underrepresented Groups. Synod supported observance of “Break the Silence” for sexual violence, a resolution against private prisons, and a call to engage in national conversations over Jesus’ call to “Follow me.” We also became the first denomination to endorse the Green New Deal. 

Part of being in covenant together also means disagreement and strong emotional engagement. There was respectful and emotional debates around the (successful) reelection of our General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer. Synod voted to table a move to exclude a non-LGBTQ-affirming group from the Synod exhibit hall (about which there is plenty more to say and reflect).

If you’re curious to learn more about Synod, you can read more at http://bit.ly/2JcueOl, or feel free to ask me, Molly, Robin, Trust, Joe, Kelly, Helen, Richard, Carmen or others!