The tale of a Minnesotan, living in Maine, Traveling to Tampa for the UCC General Synod 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

And so I'm back home after my long journey. I took the train again and it was a much more solitary trip then the trip out, which I think is what I needed.

Some personal highlights of Synod for me were as follows:

*Time spent with my sister and her friends "just hanging out"
*Time spent with my sister, her friends, and my friends in the Minnesota Conference talking about options for the future a.k.a. ministry, or laity?
*The moderators! We had some very nice moderators, including the one from Hawaii who was very nice and funny when I spoke with her on an escalator, and the one who asked us funny questions when we were sitting in plenary (who would you sit down with? John the Baptist or Judas?)

And absolutely above all else, UNANIMOUSLY passing the Right of LGBT Persons to Adopt resolution. Isn't it amazing how far we have come since 2003's Marriage Equality vote in Minneapolis? I had a testimony prepared in case there was opposition, but when only affirmatives came up, I didn't feel I needed to. But my feeling boiled down to a paraphrase of Steve Simon's quote:

"How many Gay parents does God need to create before we accept that God wants them to be parents?"

I hope my blog gave you some idea of what this Synod was like. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them in a post! Thanks for reading!

Frequency of Synod

Yesterday was rough, I won't lie. It felt disjointed, it felt awkward, and it felt, well, not very Christ like. Whichever way you or I may feel or have felt about the Unified Governance proposal, feelings were hurt, and we should all be saddened by that.

Today's morning Plenary session included a prayer at the Point of Privilege mic by a very well spoken young man (so nice to see one up there for something other than calling the question!!) that spoke to the healing this group will need.

Sigh. Whoever said being church was easy probably never was.

Now we are discussing the matter of how frequently Synod will meet - continuing with every 2 years, or switching to every 3 or 4?

This is very hard and I personally feel there are totally valid points on both sides.

and we're voting...

It didn't pass. We will be sticking to the 2 year schedule for the foreseeable future.

(written on July 5th at approx. 9am)

Passing Resolution #8

Yay!! The resolution to Reflect and Advocate on behalf of the Democratic Republic of the Congo passed!!

I don't know what this will mean for everyone, but I hope that in the church's I am a part of it will mean observing Congo Week in October, when we raise awareness in our church, communities, and government about the DRC.

This resolution was also the first we've had with NO OPPOSITION!! It feels good to know that, as a Mercy with Justice church, we can stand together, undivided on something so important.

(written at 10:10am, Tuesday, July 5th.)

Unified Governance

(Written on July 4th at 3pm)

One of the biggest issues at this Synod is the change to our Constitution and Bylaws regarding the structure of governance.

This is a very complicated issue that I am going to give you a horribly simple description of.

We have five boards who run the various ministries of the National UCC - that's over 300 members combined. We are (considering) having only one board to combine these Ministries. I believe, if I understand correctly, that some of the goals of this change will be: saving money, more unified infrastructure, and "so that all may be one."

A lot of the dissent surrounding this proposal has to do with the diversity - or perceived lack there of - of this unified board. We had a wonderful speaker at our conference caucus this morning who explained things very well... but I don't want to out words in her mouth when I may not have understood her correctly.

However, the feeling I came away with is that we as a church still have a ways to go in gaining and giving trust to one another. As a young, white woman, I have to trust that a middle-age Black man can, and, more importantly, WILL, speak for me in a just and faithful way. The problem of course, is that I, because of my privilege, am able to give that trust more freely and easily than a person who, historically, does has not had such privilege.

whew. At the time of this typing (3:40pm), we are currently in a quasi committee and asking questions to gain more understanding of this issue.

On To Plenary!

(Written on July 1st at 6:06pm)

Did you watch it streaming?! You can you know! Just head over to - see if you can spot me in the delegates section (today we were sitting near the front, and I saw myself on the big screen at least twice, but I think both times I may have looked not-to-excited... allergies will do that to you, though!)

We saw people representing all the new church starts there have been in the last 2 years - actually, we've had the most new churches in a 5 year period since the first decade of the UCC! WOW!! One of the church's I spotted was called "Not Yo Mama's Church" I am so gonna look that one up on the web! If you want to see more about UCC Church Starts, head to

We had a bit of a shocking moment, when one of the wonderfully exuberant participants in the church start parade was injured at the back of the stage. I am hoping they'll give us an update when we reconvene, but in the meantime, will you keep her in your prayers? Thanks.

BTW, I want to be Edith Guffey when I grow up. Just sayin'.

What can I say about the speech by the speech by Rev. J. Bennett Guess, nominee for Officer of the United Church of Christ and Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries? I am guessing you can watch it online, again on I really liked his speech, and him.

I will say, it's interesting to me when people say things like, "Like many of you, I came to this church hurt..." or similar, referring to the many people in our denomination who come to us after leaving other denominations. The thing is, I didn't. Like I said, I was baptized into a UCC church and don't know what it's like to not feel welcomed by your own faith community - at least not as a whole, as so many LGBT people have felt. I wonder if the UCC will ever become a church where there are more people born into it then re-born into it, if you'll allow me to use such a term. Just something his speech got me thinking about.

Well, it's off to find some dinner (and a place to connect to wifi to post this... that you're reading... woah. I feel like I'm in "Back to the Future IV: General Synod")

Catching Up 2: Committee Assignment #8

(Written at 5:30 on July 1st, between plenary sessions... this one's going way back... I'm not editing it, because I think I gave some good info here)

Just came out of Plenary, which I'll speak to in a minute, but I want to catch you up a bit on the morning.

As I referenced in my last post, my committee assignment is #8: Reflection and Advocacy on Behalf of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This year, we are trying something new at Synod and starting out by having educational intensives so that all delegates will be prepared with knowledge pertaining to their resolution committee assignments before the discussion and voting begins. My committee will meet on Sunday morning to further discuss the Congo and this resolution and then vote, but for now we are all on the same page as to why this resolution was even created.

Our presenter was Eyambo Bokamba, a professor at the University of Illinois, who was born in the DRC and has continued to be an advocate for the Congolese people after his move to the United States in 1962.

For me, a lot of what Mr. Bokamba spoke about were things I was aware of, if not fully informed on. However, although his lecture was riddled with horrific and sobering facts and information, what it gave me that I didn't have before was hope.

I have a cousin who runs an NGO in the DRC (Working Villages International, if you're interested) and so DRC has been on my radar for a while and I have read a bit more about then perhaps your average American. Because of this, I was already aware of the rich natural resources they have that draw exploitation and violence to the region; and, honestly, I was full of cynicism and skepticism - "How will this resolution change anything? Aren't we just whining without taking any real action?"

But Mr. Bokamba spoke to this fear of inadequacy in pointing out that during Congo Week, in October, a letter writing campaign to our political leaders could have a significant impact - which struck me as true, since it wasn't till I arrived that I remembered how many of us there really are!

So, with that, I now feel prepared to address this committee assignment with an open heart, mind and spirit.

Catching Up

To Anyone who was following this blog and wondered where I went - so sorry!! I had a little, shall we say, mishap with funds going into Synod, so I was unable to purchase the wi-fi access needed to sign on during plenary. That was fine to begin with, because I could easily make time to find free wi-fi access, but as the week wore on, that became impossible. So, the Following posts are ones I wrote while in Plenary, but am only able to post now. I won't edit them to much before posting, so what you're getting is really what I was feeling/thinking at the time.

Thanks for checking back in!