General Synod switches gears: Resolution committees begin work

General Synod switches gears: Resolution committees begin work

June 28, 2009
Written by Staff Reports
Teddy S. Llana of Honolulu Marshallese UCC speaking in the single governance committee hearings at General Synod 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
| Paul Davis photo

Following the excitement of River City Saturday, the business of General Synod 27 now moves into higher gear.

In addition to the work of  13 committees, Synod delegates must review reports from the Executive Council and the Collegium of Officers, elect two Collegium members, adopt a national basic support allocation, install moderators for General Synod 28, plus Speakouts, special presentations and worship.

"There is still a lot of business to conduct in the next 36 hours," says Lee Foley, Minister for Governing Body Relations.

Abigail Reichard, a first time delegate from St. James UCC in Hamburg, N.Y., expects a lot of activity before Synod closes Tuesday evening. After Saturday's events, "today [Sunday] will be relatively peaceful, but it is the calm before the storm." She hopes that there is not conflict but "passion" for the work of the church.

General Synod committees, each with about 65 voting delegates assigned at random, began meeting Sunday evening to review resolutions submitted by local churches, Associations and Conferences. Most resolutions were submitted prior to Synod. Some were introduced Friday as new business and referred to committees.

Among items being reviewed by committees are a statement on responsible meeting practices, a call on the President to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement, advocacy for a single-payer national health care plan and three items regarding Iran.

Most interest is being placed on the committee considering nine resolutions concerning the structure of the national UCC office in light of a report by the Restructure Evaluation Oversight Committee. The report describes several instances of ambiguity in responsibility and supervision in the national office.

"After laying out the various responsibilities of the major bodies of the UCC," the report states, "our heads were swimming with soft verbs: correlate, guide, facilitate, consider, coordinate, enable and provide leadership."

Other pressures have been placed on the national structure by the state of the economy, which has led to a drop in endowment income as well as national basic support gifts. The current national structure has been in place since 2000.

Various proposals were developed by advisory boards and the Executive Committee to address the Oversight Report findings, including a proposal to further reduce the current structure of three Covenanted Ministries and the Office of General Ministries to a single governing, or "common," board.

The competing resolutions call for the adoption of a Governance Follow-up Team recommendation for the common national governing body, the continuation of the existing structure with changes made for efficiency, or a pause to allow all parties to catch their breath.

Each committee's responsibility is to prayerfully consider their assigned items; make alterations or amendments to better clarify the intention of the item; and forward the item to the Synod with a recommendation to adopt, defeat, or take no action.

Committee items not completed by the close of the Tuesday afternoon plenary are sent to the Executive Council for action.

"I knew it was going to be hard work," said Martha Clement, another first time delegate from Laconia (N.H.) Congregational UCC. She now knows it will not be hard work as much as it will be "significant work."


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