When the Spirit Says Move, You Gotta Move, Uh Huh | General Synod 34 reflection
Reflection by Robb Kojima—pastor of Wailuku Union Church on Maui; delegate of the ‘Aha O Nā Mokupuni ‘O Maui, Moloka‘i, A Me Lāna‘i.
The General Synod decided to move its meeting from every 2 years to every 3 years because of reduces finances and less national staff.
The conversation over the move from a biannual meeting of the Synod to a triennial cycle with officer terms lasting 9 years ensued. Delegates stood at the mic against those changes, while others spoke at the other mic about prudent changes. Arguments for the feeling and connectives of the larger church, while others spoke about how we don’t have the assets to pay for this gathering.
At the opening worship of General Synod 34, Jamar Doyle proclaimed Isaiah 43 “God is making all things new.” Coupled with what outgoing General Minister and President John Dorhauer said in a pre-Synod podcast on change, “How might we step out of the Holy Spirit’s way?” I saw the Holy Spirit moving towards something new. This was an example of how we can be resistant to change when we hold on to what we know, and perpetuating it, even when the Spirit is moving in another direction. The church is moving in another direction. The settings of the church are moving in another direction and the organization of the National Church must move in another direction lest it stand in the way of the the Spirit. Even our polity may have to change to make room for how the Spirit forming its church. We made changes to the process of authorizing of persons called into the ministry. We are having a difficult time letting go of our tried, true and familiar ways of being the Synod for the dismantling movement of the Spirit trying to create something new.
Let’s face it, we would all like to eat at a fancy restaurant every night and have the church pay for it, but that isn’t what God’s resources for the church are for. If we didn’t meet every two years, what other kinds of things could the National Church be doing?
Meeting old friends and making new ones is the hallmark of the Synod. These connections are important to Synod delegates, with bonds of belonging and the fostering of our denominational identity, but travel, convention center rentals, support staff, hotel rooms and dwindling church budgets make our old way of gatherings luxurious. Even the way we used to communicate in the 60s is different from how we communicate today. I am imagining a viral, 3D holographic meeting in the future, where we put on our goggles and roam the halls and sit down next to each other in conference rooms, having holy conversations from the comfort of our own sofas. Something of the Spirit? The new church? I am sure if this is the movement of the Spirit, we will be able to figure it out.