Dear Church,

This week is a special General Synod edition of This Week’s Thoughts![1]

Three Great Loves highlighted at the 31st General Synod of The United Church of Christ

Love of Neighbor

  • Synod passed a resolution demanding living wages for all.
  • Affirmed that we are an Immigrant Welcoming Church.
  • Participated in powerful worship that reminded us of our mutual interdependence.

Love of Creation

  • Aaron Mair (the first African American president of the Sierra Club) was a keynote speaker. He credited the 30-year-old report by the UCC Commission for Racial Justice, “Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States” with lighting “the fuse for environmental change” when it focused national attention of the link between communities of color and the location of hazardous waste sites.
  • We declared “The Earth is the Lord’s” and advocated for environmental justice—our action was featured in the Boston Globe.
  • We honored the young Standing Rock Water Protectors.
  • For the first time ever, Synod went paperless! Almost all delegates and visitors used the new GS App to read the daily schedule, resolutions, worship bulletins, maps, and more.

Love of Children

  • Youth took a leading role, choosing three resolutions to follow and several youth from Chicago spoke powerfully from the floor about gun violence in their community.
  • Passed a resolution supporting adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect.
  • Pledged our support to Palestinian children in military detention.

The Rev. Traci Blackmon was elected to lead Justice and Witness Ministries at the National Setting of the UCC. “This is the community of faith I choose,” she said, “and I believe this is the community of faith God has chosen for me… this is not a call I answer alone. The call to justice is a call to us all.”  If you would like to hear some of Rev. Blackmon’s powerful message, here’s a clip!

March for Guillermo Recinos Morales: One of Rev. Blackmon’s first acts was to lead the UCC as we marched with the family and friends of Guillermo Recinos Morales (an artist and grandfather) seized and detained the past three months by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. We heard from Morales’ family, pastor, and other community members as we peacefully marched to the ICE office in Baltimore and bore witness.

Full List of Passed Resolutions and Motions:

  • On recognizing and studying Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency
  • Affirming the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Boycott of Wendy’s
  • On Establishing Procedures for Cultural Diversity Training for Authorized Ministers
  • On a more Just Economy: $15 Minimum Wage, Living Wages and Job Creation
  • Toward Disability Justice: A Call to the Church and Churches
  • On Corporal Punishment of Children in Homes and Institutions
  • In Support of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Supporting Authorized Ministries of Underrepresented Clergy: A Call for Greater Representation & Economic Justice
  • Bring Down the Wall in the Caribbean: Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba
  • Adoption of the Proposed Changes to the Constitution and Bylaws concerning Governance of the National Setting
  • Emergency Resolution: The Earth is the Lord’s, Not Ours to Wreck – Imperatives for a New Moral Era

While the UCC was meeting in Baltimore, the ABC was meeting in Portland, Oregon for Mission Summit, 2017.  Here’s what was shared in the American Baptist Churches of CT Weekly E-News:

“ABCCONN Delegates had an enriching experience at the ABCUSA Biennial in Portland, Oregon. ‘Connecting’ was the central theme of the gathering.

Of his experience at the biennial, our Interim Executive Minister, Rev. Dr. Ken Williams shared: ‘I don’t know that we’ve had a Biennial that was as foundational as this one . . . I’m pondering with thanksgiving Sharon Koh’s invitation to see the whole world as the mission field and to accept diversity as God’s gift. Jeff Haggray’s sermon on the Body of Christ gave me a renewed sense of that biblical image. I’m challenged by Cheryl Dudley’s address to the Baptist Peace Fellowship to know ourselves, the world, and our mission so that we . . . show the love of Christ. I’m convicted by Kathy Longhat’s challenge to ‘stop holding it in’ when Christians are clearly called to be larger than the desperate fear of the culture. And, Dan and Sharon Buttry gave us the delightful metaphor of a ‘peacemaking quilt’ . . . Rev. Zina Jacque spoke at the MMBB Financial Services luncheon at the ABCUSA Mission Summit. ‘Spoke’ is a severe understatement! She preached, proclaimed, energized, and declared!’ We are grateful to those who traveled to Portland to represent us.”

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Lauren

[1] Special thanks to Rev. Zayna Hart Thompson and Rev. Caela Simmons Wood for sharing their summaries of General Synod for their respective congregations with all of us in the Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI) so that we could adapt accordingly!

(This Week’s Thoughts 7.14.17)