It had been twenty years since I attended a General Synod, and so I was curious as to what I would experience in Milwaukee. I found that some things have changed; other things have not.
As in the past, this General Synod attempted to mirror the kind of community the United Church of Christ envisions for all its churches: multi-cultural, with a diversity of ages, gender orientations, and perspectives. However, as in the past, the fact remains that 85 percent of the membership of local churches nationwide is still white and fairly homogeneous.
What has changed is the way in which the General Synod makes its decisions. The resolution process has been simplified and less cumbersome. Floor debates, even on issues that are highly charged, were orderly and less contentious, thus leading to a greater sense of unity.
Worship at Synod has changed considerably with the use of a variety of musical styles and a diversity of expressions and ways of communicating. I was particularly moved by the evening worship organized by the communities making up PAAM (Pacific Asian American ministries). I found this particular service quieter, more reverential, and filled with a greater measure of awe and wonder. Sharon McArthur’s sermon was most meaningful.
I am so very grateful to have been part of the delegation representing our Hawai‘i Conference UCC.
O‘ahu Association; Church of the Crossroads
Neal is a retired UCC pastor, having served churches in Hawai‘i for the past forty years.