by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister  

Dear BCCUCC,

You might be wondering where I am from June 20th to June 26th.  I will be attending the 32nd General Synod of the United Church of Christ as part of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative.  “What’s General Synod?” some of you might ask… well let me tell you.

General Synod is a meeting of delegates, visitors, and guests from throughout our church, our whole denomination, and it happens every two years.  This year it’s going to be in Milwaukee! Go Brewers! (I promise I will revert to praying for the Red Sox upon my return.) General Synod provides many opportunities.

It’s an opportunity for our whole denomination, The United Church of Christ, to gather together. General Synod is an occasion for worship and sharing information.  It’s a business meeting governed by certain rules, a place for leadership and policy making, an electing body, and what many have called a life-changing experience. The constitution of the United Church of Christ names General Synod as one of four official components of the United Church of Christ along with local churches, associations, and conferences.  It’s important to note that General Synod is not the basic unit of our denomination. Synod, “speaks to and not for the other settings of the church.” Our denomination’s constitution states that Synod is important because the actions, decisions, and advice of Synod are meant to be held in the highest regard by the local church. (Us.)

What exactly happens at Synod?  

There are speeches and sermons and responses to urgent matters of the world.  For instance, in 1973, delegates at Synod got on a plane to join striking united farm workers on a picket line and Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined local church members in throwing sandbags during the 1973 St. Louis flood.  Throughout the week, different groups have opportunities to join in service projects and workshops. There are also opportunities to meet the diverse communities who make up our church and share culture, experiences, and faith.   This year, workshops will provide information to strengthen the local church and education on a variety of topics ranging from global events and justice issues to youth ministry and using social media.

How does Synod work?  

Having never been, Synod sounds a bit like an enormous church council meeting on a national scale. Motions are considered by the Synod that come from all over our church. Resolutions are the most common kind of motion.  The General Synod board reviews and approved resolutions in March. There are resolutions about moral, ethical, or religious matters that guide our missions as the church.  Those resolutions require a 2/3 vote. “Prudential resolutions,” establish policy structures and procedures. They require a majority vote. Resolutions are reviewed by committees of delegates from all our churches across the country.  Delegates approve, disapprove, amend, consolidate, or refer resolutions. My job at Synod as part of my Next Generation Leadership Initiative cohort will be to follow a resolution through the decision making process to its final outcome.  

I’m very excited to be participating in General Synod for the first time and I’m very grateful to the Next Generation Leadership Initiative for sending me and supporting me while I’m there. I look forward to giving you all a full report back on the experience when I return.

Blessings and joy,

Brendan