Synod delegates meeting in Tampa, Fla., were
asked to change the UCC bylaws so General Synod would meet “every 3 or 4
years” rather than the current 2-year cycle.
Rich Fluechtling, a delegate from the Wisconsin Conference
and chair of the committee which brought the action to the floor, shared the
committee’s concern that there was not enough information contained in the proposal
to understanding the “direct impact” and the “unintended consequences” of its
adoption. The committee’s recommendation to defeat the motion also included a
request that the UCC Executive Council appoint a working group to address “all
aspects of Synod issues” and seek alternatives that allow for effective
governance and help “maintain community” — a hallmark of the biennial meetings.
The original proposal from the Illinois South Conference
cited the increasing costs of meeting every two years and the financial strain of
those expenses on both the national setting of the church as well as conferences,
many of which underwrite some or all of the costs for sending their delegates.
Costs for holding the meeting increased 115 percent between 1982 and 2003. The
actions of General Synod have increased as well, putting a strain on a
decreasing number of national staff who are asked to investigate, coordinate
and implement those actions.
But less frequent meetings have other non-financial
consequences including the cycle of selection of church officers and board
members, “off-Synod-year” activities such as regional and national youth
events, and the community building which occurs during the gatherings.
Ken Wells described his Iowa Conference’s caucus that
morning where they read the New Testament passage about the woman anointing
Jesus with oil. While acknowledging that General Synod is “an expensive
ointment,” Synod is “How we anoint our youth” and prepare them to serve the
church, Wells said.
In addition, several delegates expressed concern that with
the approval of a new “unified” administrative structure for the national
setting of the church, less frequent General Synod meetings could inhibit