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"A Forty-Year Difference": Jack Belsom reflects on General Synod 34

Jack Belsom of ‘Aha O Na Mokupuni ‘O Maui, Moloka‘i, A Me Lāna‘i is no stranger to General Synod. He shares this reflection after his experience at General Synod 34.

A Forty-Year Difference

In 1983 I was a delegate to the 14th General Synod. It was my first experience. Forty years later General Synod is the same and has changed. Worship was and is amazing. The issues are always challenging. And the pace is demanding. Gone are the raised-hand votes and tellers. Gone are the paper ballots and the huge amount of paper delegates carried filled with resolutions and reports. Concern for those with disabilities and people who have been pushed to the margins remains constant.

In 1983 the issue my committee worked on was a response to the Human Sexuality Report. The resolution wanted to equate any sexual expression other than heterosexual with sin. The result was a statement that said, “Sexual orientation is not sinful.” General Synod 34 was focusing on protecting the rights of those who are transgender and non-binary gender persons who are being denied access to health care.

In forty years the composition of the delegates has changed. No longer are White Euros the vast majority. No longer do those who are in the minority compelled to huddle in caucuses to have their voices heard. I am proud to be part of the United Church of Christ. We don’t fully manifest God’s plan for the beloved community, but we are learning and moving toward that vision.

Jack Belsom and Danielle White sitting at Hawaii table and smiling for camera
Jack sits next to Danielle White, first-time Synod attendee who was grateful to have Jack to answer questions!

Above: Jack shares with the Western Regional caucus (which met at 6:30 a.m. on three mornings) about the Prudential Resolution titled "Affirming Licensed and Commissioned Ministers as Authorized Ministers in the United Church of Christ" which he helped to write.


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