A New Focus: Three Great Loves

Instead of my usual chronological approach, I’ll begin with the unveiling of the big new UCC theme, our fresh, shared mission, for the next two years. It’s not that it was so much a surprise, since we’ve been seeing the theme and its new logo all over the place since we arrived in Baltimore. But, tonight the President and General Minister offered more of the vision and plan:

Three Great Loves

Love of Children

Love of Neighbor

Love of Creation

A Just World for All

This will help guide and frame our work and connection together as a national church, seeking to find ways to hear from local churches on how they are already living out this mission, as well as new stories for how churches find renewal of mission through this vision.

In the midst of all of the business and resolutions, the discussions and all of the messy parliamentarian issues, the unveiling of the theme was a nice bright spot that helped me see beyond what often seems like a lot of slogginess in the business of the Synod and the moments—which seem all too frequent—of pettiness. Through the resolution debates, we squabble over language and punctuation. Sometimes, we endure commentary that seems not so connected to the actual content of a resolution. And, then there is what often feels to me like empty theological reflection at the end of our business, with someone speaking in breathless terms about issues that are really not so breathless.

For the most part, though, we somehow manage to witness to a shared experience of the presence of God. Sure, it’s muddy and messy. But, there is in the midst of us the way of being God’s people, where everyone is invited to speak, to participate. We are not about the business of sitting and listening to pronouncements offered to us from on high. We gather as a diverse body of people—lay and authorized—to work together to be the church, the wider church, stretched and stretching to live out God’s vision of love and hope.

Since my last post, we have waded through quite a lot of business.

Committee #9: On Establishing Procedures for Cultural Diversity Training for Authorized Ministers. This was a contentious issue, especially as we debated time and whether or not we can authorize such a thing. In the end, it overwhelmingly passed.

Committee #6: The Disparity of Rights of Adoptees to Access Birth Certificates for Adults. This was also a contentious issue, with lots of questions and concerns. It did not pass.

Committee #14, Part 1: The Earth is the Lord’s, Not Ours to Wreck. Passed with 97% support.

Committee #11: Affirming and Supporting the Authorized Ministries of Under-represented Clergy in Local Congregations: A Call for Greater Representation and Economic Justice. This also inspired quite a lot of discussion and debate. An amendment offered by the Maine Conference added “age” to the resolution. One of the comments that received a lot of affirmation from the assembled observation, that while we as a denomination hold the clergy to standards of accountability, we do not hold churches to standards of accountability. Good point. We should do something about that! Resolution passed with 93% support.

Committee #14, Part 2: On Recognizing and Studying Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency. Passed with 97% in favor.

Committee #10: Resolution of Witness in Support of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect. This was another resolution that garnered a fair amount of discussion regarding language. In the end, it passed with 98% support.

Though tired and spent, we ended with wonderful worship. Although it was tempting to sneak out and head right to bed before worship began, I’m glad that I didn’t. It was a great way of ending a very long day. I’ll try to write more later about the content.

It’s now Tuesday morning. The penultimate plenary has just started.

On this 4th of July, let us Make Glad!  Let us consider not so much our Independence, but our dependence on each other.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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