Synod affirms Outdoor Ministries, letter on gun violence, and relationship with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Written by Eric Anderson
July 2, 2013

The United Church of Christ's Executive Council presented three matters to General Synod 2013 delegates, affirming ministries of the UCC and a developing relationship with congregations rooted in the charismatic tradition. All three won the approval of the body by wide margins.

Silver Lake Conference Center co-Director Anne Hughes brought the feel of summer camp to the cavernous hall of the Long Beach Convention Center, inviting the body into a "repeat after me" song that proclaimed the importance of outdoor ministry. Camp experiences, she said, help young people develop their faith, find their sense of calling, and join their church community. "We reunite all God's children with God's creation," she declared.

The resolution, which received 95 percent of the vote, raised the warning that camps are threatened in the UCC. Nearly half have been closed since 1995. Though the Michigan Conference and a consortium of clergy were able to re-open Camp Talahi last year, which Michigan delegate Julia Lebrell celebrated, that is an unusual occurrence.

Rebecca Kesting put it best when she quoted a younger sister: "She is her trust self at camp."

Delegates voted to affirm the relationship with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multidenominational group of congregations with roots in the Pentecostal and Holiness traditions, most of them African American. Several of these congregations are members of the UCC, including City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco, whose senior pastor Bishop Yvette Flunder is Presiding Bishop of the Fellowship.

General Synod also received and affirmed the pastoral letter of April 17, written by the UCC National Officers in response to the United States Senate's failure to take action on "sensible, common sense legislation to address the scourge of gun violence by expanding backgrounds checks on commercial gun sales." Congress has passed no legislation addressing gun violence since twenty-eight people, including six educators and twenty children, died in mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

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