One of the things we can count on at any upcoming General Synod is that we will be asked to consider and make decisions on a number of matters: resolutions, etc. We will deal with these and other matters and will be guided in our deliberations by our Constitution and Bylaws, the General Synod Standing Rules, and Robert's Rules of Order. It will be helpful if delegates have reviewed these materials.
More importantly perhaps, it might be helpful if we prepare for Synod by first remembering who we are and reflect upon why we are gathering. We gather as the church and as part of the church to enable the mission of the church, God’s mission. As such, our decision-making is not so much a matter of making up our own minds, but rather of seeking to discern God’s yearning for us and for the mission to which God is calling us.
Therefore, let us prepare ourselves so that as we engage in making decisions, we will do so with:
- A prayerful attitude.
- An attitude that is reflective upon the facts about the issue and one’s feelings about it.
- An attitude that is trusting of oneself, of all others as partners in a common search for God’s leading, and of the movements of God’s Spirit within and among us.
- A willingness to listen carefully and to respond thoughtfully and compassionately.
- An openness to other viewpoints and to alternative responses to issues which may emerge.
- A commitment to work to resolve issues on the basis of what is most expressive of who we are at this moment and who we are called to become.
- A graciousness that is reflective of our God.
Let us prepare ourselves to gather as a community of faith, as children of God, as sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus, whose aim in decision-making is discernment.
The Work of General Synod Committees
The General Synod Committee Process offers an opportunity for members of the General Synod to more fully consider and faithfully reflect upon items of business than is usually possible for the whole body. The process offers space and time for diverse points of view to be heard and honored. It also provides a smaller group and setting in which to express thoughts and perspectives on issues before the General Synod.
Before the committees meet each delegate will have the opportunity to attend an Educational Intensive on the overall issue the committee will deal with. It’s hoped this new addition to the Synod schedule will allow delegates to be fully informed by the time they reach the committee step where the final language and intent of the resolutions will be decided.
To consider the business of General Synod, Delegates and Associate Delegates will be assigned on a random basis to one of up to sixteen Committees. Committees are thus composed of the approximate mix of thoughts and perspectives represented in the full General Synod. They will deliberate on the Resolutions, and Other Formal Motions assigned to them by the General Synod, acting on the report of its Committee of Reference.
After the Educational Intensive on Friday afternoon and a period of deliberation Sunday morning, each Committee will report its recommendations to the General Synod in a plenary session and suggest a specific action in the form of a main motion.
Delegates who have agreed to chair Committees will attend a training session on the day before the General Synod convenes that will provide them with the resources necessary to facilitate the work of the Committees.