2021 General Synod Delegate Summary:
Betsy Happel

This was my first General Synod experience, so I don’t have the benefit of comparison with previous years. Even without comparison it was clear the virtual nature of the Synod didn’t allow for a full sense of camaraderie and engagement as Christ’s body. And yet…the bold messages and passionate hearts of the preachers and keynote speakers were felt, despite their two-dimensional presentations. There were musical moments that filled me as much as live experiences would have, and I sang out loud and danced in my home, which, candidly, I would not have done in person. I give thanks to all who moved my soul, from honored speakers, to hard-working committee leaders, to courageous and thoughtful co-delegates.

 

Most notably, though, was the awe I felt as I witnessed the process of resolution discernment at work. I can’t emphasize this enough: the process worked, even in the midst of remote circumstances. I served on Committee 6, which engaged in discernment over the resolution entitled, “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel.” While the overall spirit within the Committee was in support of this resolution, there were concerns among some delegates surrounding specific verbiage. Through a process of consensus-building, a few key words were deleted, resulting in an amended Resolution that was moved to Synod for vote. Then, during Plenary 4, an interesting thing happened: motions were made by delegates outside Committee 6 to reinstate the words of original concern. When a vote of all Synod delegates was taken on the amended document, which included the stronger language, 86% of the plenary body voted to approve it. The process had worked, no matter what your position on the outcome.

 

Another Resolution, #5 “A Resolution Encouraging to End 128 Years of War Between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom,” was initially defeated during Plenary 3. This defeat fostered much reflection, angst and conversation in the hours that followed. Through the workings of the parliamentary process, a motion was made and passed during Plenary 4 to reconsider the Resolution. Incredibly, within this reconsideration, the Resolution was ultimately approved - just minutes before General Synod 33 came to a close. The process had worked, no matter what your position on the outcome.

 

I feel privileged to have been part of the Body that engaged in this thoughtful work, especially this remarkable, virtual General Synod.

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