Impressions of General Synod
This past weekend the folks of the United Church of Christ met in Baltimore for the 31st General Synod. It is a combination of business meeting, educational experience, expo, worship, family reunion, and party. There were a few thousand people there, including a bunch of Cleveland Park people. Here are some of my impressions, along with those of other CPC folks.
- Lots of white folks were wearing “Black Lives Matter” buttons.
- Seeing old friends that you had forgotten would be there.
- Collectible rubber duck nativity sets.
- People wearing clothing that identified their home or their church—Hawaii, Minnesota, New England, etc.—reflecting that the church is rooted in place.
- The exhibition hall was a marketplace of things to buy, to take, to learn. People said, “here, take, take!” Which is a pretty good model for church.
- The booths reflected the diversity of the church, with caucuses of Samoans, Native Americans, and conservatives.
- Books. Lots of books.
- Young people finding peers who are excited by church.
- It’s very easy to get cynical about denominations, but these kinds of events are a good antidote.
- A display of panels from the AIDS quilt in the back of the plenary hall, inescapable through all the meetings and worship.
- One speaker outed himself as the pastor of a conservative church.
“I most enjoyed hearing and seeing all of the missions and groups we have available within the UCC. I learned about several (new to me) programs and initiatives from the Community Worship Service and the booths. Our wider church does much more than I ever realize! I was also excited to hear the national church (leadership) portray a more activist perspective… more so than I feel we have in the past several years. It’s about time to put our words and beliefs into collective action!” (Ashley Holst)
“This was my first General Synod and I am so glad that I went. It was wonderful to meet so many UCC people from all around the country. I learned a lot about the diversity of the UCC. Worshipping together with such a large group was one of the highlights.” (Laura Kisthardt)
“I loved the sense of community that came from hanging out with other CPC’ers, meeting and mingling with people from all around the country, and worshipping with thousands of others on Sunday afternoon. I was inspired and energized by all the speeches, presentations, and sermons. One of the highlights for me was Rev. Traci Blackmon’s address on Saturday morning. She started with a tribute to the ‘powerful preaching women’ of the UCC who came before her, reminded us that we need ‘inclusion, not just the illusion of connection,’ and closed by saying that ‘healing comes in community'” (Her talk is available online and is well worth a listen.) (Lisa Jenkins)
“I have never had communion anywhere other that at CPCC. In Baltimore, I learned that communion works differently in other churches.” (Beatrix Elsberry)
“The rich variety of activities and subjects that somehow fit together like the pieces of a giant puzzle to form a beautiful image. I gained a new appreciation for the our denomination’s rich heritage and its ability to continue into the future.” (Jane Hardin)
P.S. Thanks to those who have already completed the congregational survey. If you haven’t please go to this link and take about 10 minutes to fill it out. Our leadership needs your voice as we make decisions going forward! Survey deadline is July 16. Paper copies available up on request.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Pastor’s Vacation—Pastor Ellen will be away through July 30. She is available for emergencies, but please direct other inquiries to: 202-363-8211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday School Update—Our Sunday School is on summer break through Labor Day. Children are welcome in worship and the Nursery is open for childcare. Questions? email@example.com.
Summer Film Series, 7/19— The next of three acclaimed documentaries will screen on 7/19 at 7 pm in the Sanctuary. Anne Braden: Southern Patriot is a 2012 documentary about the woman Martin Luther King, Jr. named as one of only five southern whites he could count as allies. In this film, Braden recalls sixty years of activism that intersected and linked issues of race with civil liberties, class, gender, sexuality, economic justice, environmentalism and peace: www.annebradenfilm.org.