Reflections from Day 2 of General Synod 34: HCUCC Council Chair shares
One of the highlights of General Synod is always the variety of guest speakers chosen to preach or deliver a keynote address, and General Synod 34 is no exception. In addition to the Opening Worship preacher, Jamar Doyle, we have had opportunities to hear from incredible, inspiring, insightful speakers:
Pictured above: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Keynote Address READ MORE: Comfort, not keynote: Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks to General Synod about hope amid ‘fear, anxiety, worry and regret’
Pictured above: Bryan Stevenson, Valerie Russell Luncheon speaker READ MORE: Bryan Stevenson urges luncheon attendees to do justice, get close to those suffering
Pictured above: Carmen Landsdowne, Moderator of the United Church of Canada; Community Worship leader and preacher VIEW: Community Worship
HCUCC Council Chair shares
We had a chance to talk story with Eric Anderson and get his reflections (below) at the end of the second day of General Synod. Eric is pastor of the Church of the Holy Cross in Hilo and serves as the Conference Council Chairperson. He has been to every Synod since 2007, plus the one in 2003, and is a self-described “full-on Synod junkie.” For the majority of those General Synods, he was functioning as a reporter—for the Connecticut Conference, for the national setting and UCC News, and most recently, for the Hawai’i Conference. For this Synod, Eric is an Associate Delegate by virtue of his role as Conference Council Chair.
On Educational Intensives:
Educational Intensives give delegates a pretty good sense for where committees’ thoughts are and whether the committees’ work will be primarily wordsmithing and honing the language of a resolution, or, like iron work, taking something and reshaping it so that it serves the intended purpose better.
Some agenda items coming before the General Synod are not part of the committee process—e.g., amendments to the UCC Bylaws that propose changing the frequency of General Synod from every two years to every three. Eric is expecting a fair amount of discussion during floor debate. Most people at General Synod tend to really like being here. This is the UCC’s family reunion and we are not that big of a family. Asking the body who likes being here to hold the gathering less often is a really tough ask.
Assistant Moderator Rushan Sinnaduray took the delegates through a humorous demonstration on how to reach consensus. The question: Should pineapple be a pizza topping? On a more serious note, Eric points out that aiming to reach consensus on an issue may not be a good thing. One of the things that consensus puts at risk is the power of the minority voice. Those in the minority get swept aside. And consensus doesn’t always help make a decision (as illustrated by the demonstration). Not everyone may feel great about a decision reached by consensus in the end. Minority voices are important and consuming them under consensus devalues those voices.
Frequency of General Synod:
We need to keep in mind that any decision regarding the frequency of General Synod has real-world consequences that most people don’t see. For each Synod, monies going toward the event means that much less is available to go towards other ministries. National staff, who begin planning for the next Synod as soon as the previous one concludes, has less time and resources to devote to other ministry responsibilities. The sheer numbers of staff and volunteers required to do General Synod are staggering. At the same time, the size of the national staff has been dwindling at an appalling rate due to financial constraints. Ministries suffer at the national level and this affects ministries and every other level—conferences, associations, and local churches.
Thank you, Pastor Eric, for sharing your thoughts and impressions!