God’s vision for the UCC taking shape at General Synod 2013
Written by Anthony Moujaes
June 27, 2013
What is "God's Vision" for United Church of Christ? That question will be explored, dwelled on and shared extensively during General Synod 2013. To find the answer, the church will look to its delegates, clergy, lay leaders, youth and staff to define and proclaim what "God's Vision" is for them.
"I feel that God's Vision is using our gifts, and living into that idea that God wants us to use those gifts for the betterment of humanity," said Sam Waugaman, a delegate from the Ohio Conference of the UCC.
"God's Vision" is the theme for General Synod 2013, which begins on Friday, June 28 in Long Beach, Calif., and concludes on Tuesday, July 2. Over the course of the next five days, the UCC will explore and live out what God's Vision means to the denomination as it unifies its governing board structure, celebrates the past and embraces the future.
The theme is displayed prominently everywhere you look in the Long Beach Convention Center, with an array of words people sent in to Synod planners - personal testimonies and portraits of God's Vision: people of the UCC. Prayer. Advocacy. Beauty. Compassion. Action. Diversity. Peace.
The 2013 all-church gathering is a transitional moment for the denomination, as it streamlines its structure, and unifies governance by combining five independent boards into a single United Church Board. The outgoing form of governance was composed of one board four each of the four covenanted ministries (Office of General Ministries, Local Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, Wider Church Ministries) and the Executive Council. The new 52-member board will be introduced to General Synod and take effect on Monday, July 1.
"For me, 'God's Vision' is collaboration," said Jake Joseph, a delegate for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries from the Rocky Mountain Conference. "I'm excited about where we're going as a church in the future, and for unified governance."
During the five days delegates and visitors spend together, they'll see God's Vision reflected in each of the worship services that take place.
On Friday, the church is called into God's prophetic vision that is risky and calling on people to minister for justice through the leadership of the Rev. Neichelle Guidry Jones of Trinity UCC in Chicago. Saturday morning worship focuses on God's vision of accepting Christ's Invitation to "come away and rest," in a prayerful and contemplative time. The Rev. Martin Copenhaver of Wellesley UCC in Wellesley, Mass., preaches during Sunday's community-wide communion service and explores God's vision of diverse communities of justice and peace.
On Monday, when the United Church Board takes effect, God's vision of transformation comes to life through the words of the Rev. Julian DeShazier of University Church in Chicago. Finally, the Rev. Jo Hudson, former pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, guides General Synod to God's vision of new life, with the help of New Orleans-style funeral jazz to help the church celebrate an extravagant history and the beginning of a joyful future.
Chris Bobo, part of the Local Arrangements Committee, hopes that God's Vision "is one of the church being energized and revitalized, with a lot of youth and vitality," he said. "In my mind, those are essential things that every person and society needs."
Share your interpretation of what "God's Vision" is for you and the UCC on social media by using #UCCGS29 on Twitter. For continuing coverage on General Synod 2013, visit the website.