by Rev. Brendan Curran, Associate Minister    –     July 18, 2019   

What Happened at Synod?

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8

I wanted to take this month’s letter as an opportunity to give a quick update of General Synod 2019.  For those who did not know, I was able to go to the national governing meeting of the UCC at the end of June. (For those who don’t know, the United Church of Christ, “UCC,” is our denomination.)  It was a wonderful opportunity to go.  I was able to participate in worship as well as observe the process of how our denomination makes important organizational decisions and meaningful statements in the form of resolutions.

It might seem that we as a denomination make so many resolutions, we can’t possibly accomplish them all.  (At this recent Synod, our United Church of Christ passed a total of 19 resolutions!)  It’s helpful to remember that these resolutions are aspirational and are passed at the national level to offer us direction on our path of “doing justice and walking humbly with God,” both as local churches and people of faith.  In this letter I’m reporting on three resolutions that I followed closely while at Synod.  All of them passed!

One of the resolutions passed calls on all of us as the church to work for the abolition of private prisons.  The church acknowledged how we are living in a time when corporations profit from people like desperate families and children being put in for-profit camps where we know they are being abused, and in some cases, neglected to death.   In this current state of moral emergency, by passing this resolution, the church is holding us who follow Jesus to a higher and more Christ-like standard of wisdom and compassion than the evil of the society we find ourselves in.  In protest of the camps and the humanitarian crises at our border, the several thousand in attendance at General Synod, poured into the streets on one of the afternoons to surround the ICE facility.  Our denomination’s entire national meeting officially joined human rights groups in a non-violent action that effectively shut down the ICE facility, at least for an afternoon.  Holding signs that said, “Never Again, “ and “People belong in communities not cages,” people sang, “We are Marching in the Light of God.”  They chanted, “This is what the Love of God looks like.”  A teenage girl in my section got the hundreds on my block chanting, “We are here to show our rage, no more children in a cage!”  The downtown display of true patriotism and holy indignation by our church reminded me of the Proverbs 1:20 passage about the Holy Spirit.  It reads, “Holy Wisdom shouts in the streets!  She cries out in the public square!”  And there she was in downtown Milwaukee!

But that’s not all our denomination did at General Synod!  In response to the way white nationalist, nativist, and hate group ideology is currently being normalized in our mainstream discourse; a time when members of congress are told to leave the country because of their skin color, our church passed a resolution officially denouncing violence, hate, and racism carried out in the name of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies.  Our Church also passed a resolution declaring denominational support for the Green New Deal.  In a time when the possibility of continued life on the planet is threatened by climate change denial and anti-science thinking, the national church is reminding us of our responsibility to act as stewards of God’s creation, think realistically, educate each other, and get active in organizing.  Working for and on behalf of the actualization of these noble resolutions is a way the United Church of Christ is inviting us to live our faith.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go to Synod. I remain moved to see how our church is raising her voice for justice when still perhaps too many in our society choose to remain silent and complicit with evil.  Our United Church of Christ is showing all of us as well as our nation, what it means to be a relevant and meaningful Christian witness for the historical moment we’re living in.  We are empowered to fight for the love and justice we know to be possible for the world through the Christ that lives in our hearts.  The humble walk with God continues, even in today’s wacked world.

In Christ,