Day 4: Getting to Business at General Synod 34
Day Four of General Synod was a wild ride—with committee presentations of resolutions for consideration interspersed with historic and momentous votes on other important business.
The UCC made history on July 3 by electing Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson as the next General Minister and President. She is the first woman and the first Black woman to hold that position. As Rev. Dr. Thompson said, “Today, we created a first together. It won’t be the last first.” The vote was 626 in favor, 43 against, and seven abstaining. She officially begins her position on August 1.
The slates of nominees for the UCC Board and for the UCC Nominating Committee were also both elected as presented.
The delegates elected a Moderator and Assistant Moderator for General Synod 35, Rushan Sinnaduray and Jean Avison, respectively. General Synod 35 is planning to be held in Kansas City, Missouri in 2025.
The following committees’ Resolutions of Witness were passed by the delegates:
Committee #4: A Resolution Urging Planning for and Implementing Electrification
Committee #5: Faithful Advocacy for Intersectional and Transformational Healing in Harm Reduction
Committee #2: 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
Committee #10: A Resolution Supporting Public School Educators, Academic Freedom, and Equity Efforts in Schools
Committee #14: A Resolution Calling on United Church of Christ Local Churches to Witness “A White Supremacy Free Zone” & Confronting White Supremacy (as amended)
Committee #3: Closing the Digital Divide: Calling on the United Church of Christ to Seek Digital Justice and Inclusion
The most controversial issue was the proposed amendments to the UCC Bylaws that would change the frequency of General Synod from every two years to every three. The vote could not have been closer, with 425 in favor, 207 opposed, and 15 abstentions. This vote required a two-thirds majority, or 422 voting in favor, to pass. Abstentions are not counted as either in favor of or opposed. After the results of the vote were announced, it was made known that some delegates were unable to cast their votes due to a problem with the voting app.
After fixing the problem with the app, the decision was made to take a re-vote. This time, 454 voted in favor, 226 opposed, and six abstained. This vote required 453 voting in favor to pass, so the amendments passed by one vote.
Following a break for lunch, the group who voted against accepting the amendments to the Bylaws returned with a Minority Resolution, seeking to have their voice formally recorded in the Synod minutes. After some deliberation, the Minority Resolution passed as amended, with
194 in favor, five opposed, and one abstention. Only those delegates who voted in opposition to the original amendments to the Bylaws were eligible to vote on the Minority Resolution.
Finally, the Council of Conference Ministers gathered on the Synod stage to offer one-word prayers for the United Church of Christ. David Popham, Conference Minister of the Hawai’i Conference offered the following: “My prayer for the UCC is momona—meaning fertile ground.”
Other prayers offered: