Written by Anthony Moujaes
The first business session of the United Church of Christ's General Synod 2013 passed quickly Monday morning July 1, as delegates overwhelmingly passed several of the first resolutions that came to the floor. Moving forward, UCC settings will broaden an ecumenical relationship with the United Church of Canada, extend an extravagant welcome to all war veterans and their families, and further a dialogue to examine redrawing UCC conference boundaries.
General Synod 2013 is convening from June 28 through July 2 in Long Beach. Calif.
The UCC's growing relationship with the United Church of Canada will continue to develop as the resolution on the ecumenical relationship between the two denomination's received 99.7 percent approval from delegates, with not a single "No" vote – the remaining 0.3 percent of the votes were abstentions.
Monday was Canada Day, so Michael Blair, the United Church of Canada's ecumenical officer and an international guest at General Synod, had two reasons to celebrate after the passage of the resolution.
"This is a first for us because we work in partnership with many denominations, but no formal relationships like this resolution would produce," he said. "We can be more intentional about working together and building our relationship."
The resolution, which came from the Executive Council, was unaltered in committee hearings and on the floor.
South Dakota Conference delegate Kathleen Batchelder thinks the resolution "confirms the value and broadens the scope of the relationship," she said. "It can be a home away from home."
In its adoption of the resolution on recognizing the need for compassionate care and healing for the nation's veterans, the discussion from General Synod floor echoed the need to bring the resolution to life in local UCC congregations.
The Rev. Shari Prestemon, a member of the Executive Council, pleaded with her fellow Synod delegates "not just to bring veterans into your churches, but to bring veterans in to safety and into your homes," she said.
Charles Kuthuru, committee chair and delegate from the Penn Southeast Conference, invited all veterans to stand during plenary to be recognized for the service and sacrifice. The motion passed with 99.2 percent of the delegates voting in favor of adopting the resolution.
The father of an Iraq War veteran, Jim Clausing, a delegate of the Ohio Conference said "If all we do is vote for this resolution, we're not accomplishing anything."
The resolution on restructuring conference boundaries changed with a substitute resolution out of committee, which committee chair the Rev. Darryl Cruz said was "an opportunity to revise the language in such a way that that the original language would be clarified." The substitute resolution invites each of the 38 conferences and their covenant partners to assess their needs to ensure a sustainable future, called on the officers of the church to collaborate with and revitalize conferences, and that any proposals for restructure come before General Synod 2015.
Cruz said the committee "believed the conversation [on conference restructure] is necessary in moving forward" in the UCC, that the process be deliberate and transparent.
The full text of the resolutions as passed by the General Synod will be available in the Minutes from General Synod 29 online.