2021 General Synod Delegate Summary:
Hannah Rice

I have attended a few Synods before – When I was the director of the Eden Seminary Bookstore I took the store to Synod in 2013 and 2015. I spent almost all of my time in the convention halls during those Synods, so I didn’t get to experience any of the action. I attended Synod in 2019 as a visitor and while I watched the plenaries, I knew I’d like to be a delegate in the future. I didn’t expect my first time as a delegate to be during a special edition online General Synod, but life is rarely what we expect.

 

I’m grateful for our Presbyterian friends who created the online platform we used for Synod. It was easy for me to understand and use and the process for plenary worked the same as it does in person. I appreciate our denomination’s care for the health and safety of our people, and while being online together is certainly inferior to in-person Synods, it was still a very meaningful experience. The three worship services were outstanding, workshops continue to be insightful as I watch them online, and I was still able to connect with folks during special gatherings.

 

I was assigned to Committee 1: The Alliance of Associate Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ Request to be Recognized as a Formal Group. I encourage you to read the entirety of the short resolution, which ultimately passed without any revisions. My committee used two of the three available time slots for committee resolutions. We heard from the chair and vice-chair of the Alliance of Associate Conference Ministers (AACM), which is a group created by ACMs and people serving in ACM-like roles out of a desire to better connect, support, and share resources with one another. The work of ACMs can be challenging and isolating and their request to be recognized as a formal group came from a desire to have better infrastructure in place to become connected with others in the denomination.

 

There was much discussion in our committee deliberations, which mainly revolved around the tangible benefits if this resolution were to pass, and if it was appropriate to name the AACM as a self-created group in the bylaws. Until now all of the self-created groups in that particular section of the bylaws are HUGs – historically underrepresented groups. Adding the AACM would be a change, but there is currently no other place in the bylaws for them to be recognized. The dialogue in the committee remained respectful and we decided no changes were needed to the resolution. More debate occurred when the resolution was before the plenary, and the resolution did end up passing.

 

What I took away from the deliberations around this resolution is a greater respect and admiration for our UCC Associate Conference Ministers. Their roles are so vital to the work of our conferences, and I understand how it can be very isolating, especially when there is only one ACM in a conference, like in ours. So I give a huge shout-out to our ACM, Rev. Damien Lake, who works so hard to connect to our whole conference in Memphis, Arkansas, and Missouri. The challenges of this ministry are great, and he serves our conference with enthusiasm and creativity. Thank you, Damien, for your ministry with us! 

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