We are the 1%. No, we are not the super-rich. But our delegation of about 30 people from the South Central Conference made up about 1% of the total attendance of General Synod 30 in Cleveland, Ohio, from June 26-30. 3,000 UCC folks doing the business of the church, praying, learning and singing together is a powerful witness.
In one workshop I learned more about how to heal the invisible wounds of war. Warriors journeying home need a safe place to open up and sometimes PTSD can be triggered decades after they returned from WWII, Korea, Vietnam.
I also attended a workshop on breaking the silence about mental illness. One in four adults suffers through a period of mental illness in their lives. That is nothing to be ashamed of and opening up and finding help are crucial for all of us. The church has the sacred responsibility to help wounded souls heal.
General Synod coincided with the Cleveland Pride Festival and the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality has been celebrated in many ways. In our tradition marriage is understood to be a covenantal relationship: Two persons entering a covenant just like Christ has entered a covenant with his church. For that commitment all persons require God’s blessing because as human beings we cannot make that work on our own.
Our theme has been “Unexpected Places”. Where warriors heal, where mental illness loses its stigma, where love is just love, that’s where we can be surprised to find the face of God in unexpected places.
General Synod is the body of our church that gathers as sort of a nationwide family reunion. It’s also where business is done and elections are held: The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer is our new General Minister and President (GMP). In the UCC we do not have a Bishop neither are we autonomous. Our 5,000 congregations with 1,000,000 members are in a covenantal relationship with one another. The national setting does not speak for the church but to the church, just like our congregation speaks with the Houston Association and the South Central Conference. The church of Jesus Christ is fully realized in St. John’s United Church of Christ, however at Synod our South Central Conference amounts to 1%. We have a big and beautiful family all over the place.
To hear and see more about what was going on in Cleveland please find #GS2015.