Committee Experiences and Resolutions at General Synod 34
General Synod delegates are randomly assigned to sit on a committee that corresponds with one of the proposed Resolutions of Witness that are brought to the General Synod. According to the Standing Rules, "Items that are complicated or controversial that require background discussion and study, that merit and need a hearing process, or that have a system-wide impact [are] assigned to a committee." There were a total of 14 committees at this General Synod.
For each committee, there is an educational session led by an unbiased expert to inform delegates on the subject matter of their resolution before they vote. Committee members then spend time reviewing their assigned resolution in depth, hearing from the original proponents of the resolution, discussing questions and concerns as a group, and often making amendments to the text of the resolution. They have the opportunity to suggest changes to the "therefore be it resolved" clauses that would not change the intent of the resolution, but aim to improve or strengthen the resolution. Once a committee finishes its work, they can choose to make a motion for the General Synod to adopt the (amended) resolution. Once the motion is on the floor, people can speak in support of or in opposition to the motion/resolution before the General Synod body votes.
In the middle of the committee process, Hawai‘i delegates were asked to share one to two words capturing their experience serving on a resolution committee:
At this year's General Synod, there was one Prudential Resolution submitted by the Hawai‘i Conference (originally from ‘Aha O Na Mokupuni ‘O Maui, Moloka‘i, A Me Lāna‘i; passed by delegates at the ‘Aha Pae‘āina in 2023) and two Resolutions of Witness that came directly from the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches.
WHAT IS A PRUDENTIAL RESOLUTION & RESOLUTION OF WITNESS?
According to the Standing Rules of the 34th General Synod A Resolution of Witness is an expression of the General Synod concerning a moral, ethical or religious matter confronting the Church, the nation, or the world, adopted for the guidance of the Officers, Covenanted, Associated or Affiliated Ministries, or other bodies as defined in Article VI of the Bylaws of the United Church of Christ; the consideration of Local Churches, Associations, Conferences and other bodies related to the United Church of Christ; and for a Christian witness to the world. It represents agreement by at least two-thirds of the delegates voting that the view expressed is based on Christian conviction and is a part of their witness to Jesus Christ. The text of the proposed Resolution The text of the proposed Resolution should be so phrased as not to bring into question the Christian commitment of those who do not agree.
"A Resolution Calling for a New Study by our Church on our Relationship with the Indian Boarding Schools and the Boarding Schools in Hawai’i" submitted by the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches
"A Resolution to Urge All Responsible Entities to Join in Reparations to Fund Christian Hawaiian Language Education Programs to Undo a Century of Extinction. Americanization and Indoctrination Policies Extinguished the Original Christian Hawaiian Alphabet" submitted by the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches
A Prudential Resolution establishes policy, institutes or revises structure or procedures, authorizes programs, approves directions or requests actions by majority vote.
"Affirming Licensed and Commissioned Ministers as Authorized Ministers in the United Church of Christ" submitted by the Hawai‘i Conference UCC
Sources: A Resolution or Other Formal Motion may be submitted by:
General Synod Delegate or Delegate-elect with the written concurrence of at least ten additional General Synod Delegates or Delegates-elect from two or more Conferences;
a Local Church with the written concurrence of at least five other Local Churches of the United Church of Christ;
a Covenanted, Associated or Affiliated Ministry or other body as defined in Article VI of the Bylaws of the United Church of Christ; and
the United Church of Christ Board.
View a list of our Hawai‘i representatives and delegates and the committees they were assigned to. You may ask them about their experience or resolution to learn more!
Kristen Young (O‘ahu) - Committee 1: Denouncing the Dobbs Decision and Proclaiming Abortion as Healthcare
Jann Kojima (Maui) - Committee 4: A Resolution Urging Planning for and Implementing Electrification
Heather Barfield (O‘ahu) - Committee 5: Faithful Advocacy for Intersectional and Transformational Healing in Harm Reduction
Wendell Davis (O‘ahu) - Committee 6: Affirming Guns to Gardens and Other Gun Violence Prevention Ministries
Clyde Fujikawa (Kaua‘i) - Committee 7: A Resolution to Urge All Responsible Entities to Join in Reparations to Fund Christian Hawaiian Language Education Programs to Undo a Century of Extinction. Americanization and Indoctrination Policies Extinguished the Original Christian Hawaiian Alphabet
Josann Jenks (O‘ahu) & Eric Anderson (Associate, voice no vote) - Committee 8: Encouraging a Plant-based Life
Linda Ka‘auwai-Iwamoto (Kaua‘i) - Committee 9: Free from Plastic Pollution
Wryen Kiwaha (Hawai‘i) - Committee 10: A Resolution Supporting Public School Educators, Academic Freedom, and Equity Efforts in Schools
Robb Kojima (Maui) - Committee 11: A Resolution to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans
Jack Belsom (Maui) - Committee 12: A Resolution Condemning Prolonged Solitary Confinement as a Form of Torture
Lawrence Walter (Hawai‘i) - Committee 13: Actively Affirming the Human Dignity of Transgender and Nonbinary Persons
Danielle White (Hawai‘i) & David Popham (Associate, voice no vote) - Committee 14: A Resolution Calling on United Church of Christ Local Churches to Witness “A White Supremacy Free Zone” & Confronting White Supremacy
View the resolutions as proposed and amended: generalsynod.org/proposed-resolutions
All resolutions but one (Committee 8: Encouraging a Plant-based Life) were passed by the 34th General Synod.
No matter what the results of the votes were, it is important to note that while the General Synod may reflect the denomination's stance on a certain issue, the covenantal polity of the United Church of Christ means that General Synod speaks to local churches, associations, and conferences, but not for them. Other settings of the church may disagree on issues and are not required to embrace or act on the resolutions.
Now that the General Synod has spoken, we are encouraged to listen! All settings of the church—Conferences, Associations, churches, individuals—are encouraged to review the resolutions and see how they can live it out in their context.