Party never over for church that proclaims Jubilee

Party never over for church that proclaims Jubilee

General Synod 26 — the UCC's 50th anniversary celebration — was a magnificent family party. After spending over a week in Hartford, I saw just how much work went into this incredible event.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to General Synod, the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee and the hundreds of staff and volunteers that made it all happen. And, a special word of thanks to my colleague, Edith Guffey, for her dedicated leadership and able administration. As with any family gathering, much preparation was needed to make things ready for all the company.

However, the party is not over, and as after any celebration, there is housework that remains.

I agree with the hundreds of UCC family members who have said that this Synod was truly like no other. For each of us, there were those special moments that we will always remember.

For me, there are too many to list. But among my high points were the powerful speeches heard throughout our time together, the demonstration of solidarity when delegates and visitors received the Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War, and the diversity present on stage during worship and plenary sessions.

In contrast to seeing the historic photographs of the 1957 union — which was symbolized by a pilgrimage of church leaders, who were all Caucasian men, culminating in a handshake of communion — a significant moment at the 50th anniversary worship was when three women celebrated the service of Holy Communion.

For a church of extravagant welcome, the party is never over.

Speakers congratulated the UCC for its consistent prophetic witness in the face of adversity. We could sit back and relish in the aftermath of our light shining brightly and publicly in Hartford. We could even rest in Bill Moyers' praise by applauding our "prophetic voice against the militarism, materialism, and racism that chokes America's arteries."

Or, we can be challenged to stay the course in the midst of difficult times. We must continue to raise our Christian voice and make it known in the midst of societal indifference. The party is not over; there is witnessing to do if we are to be a peace with
justice church.

This General Synod was also a demonstration of the church at work with engagement and debate on important business facing the church. We should applaud this clear expression of the "democracy of the pew," as Moyers described it.

We have reached our 50th year, a year for taking stock, a year of "Jubilee." When Jesus inaugurated his ministry as written in Luke's Gospel (chapter 4), he used the language of Jubilee to describe his purpose in our midst: "to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives."

As we celebrate the UCC's significant milestone, let us also step up and step out to realize Jubilee as our mission: to put things back into balance, to bring things back into equilibrium.

The Rev. John Gregory Davis, chair of Justice and Witness Ministries' board of directors, calls these crucifixion times that require resurrection faith.

The party is not over, there is much preaching, teaching and praying to do.

The Rev. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries and a member of the five-person Collegium of Officers. 

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Contact Info

J. Bennett Guess
Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
216-736-3801
guessb@ucc.org