2021 General Synod Delegate Summary:
Karen Aitkens

REFLECTIONS ON GENERAL SYNOD 33

 

General Synod 33 was a first!!  We gathered as the body of Christ virtually for worship, to look at the booths in the Exhibit Hall, to hold our business in the plenary sessions, to visit the many workshops available, to attend committee meetings as assigned delegates discussed the resolutions, and to hear the inspiring words of our keynote speakers Valerie Kaur and Adam Taylor.  This virtual challenge was met by the UCC governing body of our amazing church. The technical team went above and beyond my expectations! I have to admit I missed that ‘people connection’ you get when attending in-person: the noise, the conversation, the great interaction at the booths, the beauty of the mainstage known for exhibiting such an awesome creative setting enhancing the theme.  This year the theme was “Rooted in Love” and although I loved the tree on the backdrop virtual backdrop that was displayed on the screen, I could only imagine how the main stage might have looked with draping, set pieces, probably some kind of water fall and amazing lighting.  I admit that I missed that.  It always spoke to my soul to walk into the main gathering space and get connected by looking at the creativity on stage.

That being said, because of the hard work of the national staff and volunteers, the United Church of Christ moved forward and did the business of the denomination as we addressed the ten resolutions set before us (check them out at ucc.org-General Synod 33 resolutions).  I was able to visit five committees as they determined changes or additions to the original resolution.  The process that takes place in these settings allows for inclusive sharing and every assigned delegate being heard. I honor the hard work of all those who gave their time and commitment to these committees.

After addressing all the resolutions and with some convoluted and lengthy voting on the Hawaiian resolution, all of them passed.  Again, the voting procedure, which included amendments, discussion, calling the question etc. was an event in itself-handled by the tech people and Nathan the tech director with amazing competency!  Sunday was a full day as there was more voting and re-visiting one of the resolutions that had been defeated the day before.  It was tiring and I have to admit, I contemplated skipping out on the closing worship, but then I heard Ken Medema, a musical phenomenon. His gift of using theological reflection and composing on the spot, transitioned us into worship with his amazing song that took the whole of synod and centered us back around the tree rooted in love, planted in a city and not by a stream and what is required of us to keep that tree healthy, bearing fruit, providing shade, being a nesting place for those in need. 

I was thrilled to be a part of this ‘first’ virtual synod and peace and blessings to all who made it a reality.

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