Written by Barb Powell
Delegates to the United Church of Christ General Synod have several pieces of business to consider as they meet this week in Long Beach, Calif. For the Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock and the Rev. Quinn Caldwell, it’s important to remind those who are deliberating that “there is danger in too much focus on work.” Brock and Quinn are leading theological reflections, which bring an end to each business session during the United Church of Christ General Synod this week.
The reflections “link the spirit to the business,” helping delegates remember the larger purpose of their time in Long Beach, they say.
Using stories, anecdotes and liberal references to business items from the day’s agenda, Brock and Caldwell help delegates see the big picture of how their work effects the work and future of the church.
Which is how delegates heard the story of Brock’s encounter with a pigeon in the park stomping on the ground for worms. Watching the pigeon took time from her day, but Brock reminded delegates, “Too much focus [on work] makes us too tired for wonder.”
Caldwell later held up the electronic voting clicker to remind delegates “you have this because we care about God’s opinion.”
Making reference to the often-tedious nature of serving as a delegates, Caldwell suggested, “This [clicker] is a symbol of your sainthood, not your martyrdom.”
While Brock and Caldwell discussed some topics based on the Synod advance agenda, they left lots of room to be able to respond to specific events from each session. “We wanted to have a conversation” about Synod activities, Brock said. “We want to put everything that happens into the context of ‘making meaning.’”
They also want delegates to be able to look at their work in new ways “The work in Synod may be a little boring,” Brock admits, “but it does matter.”
“There is very little [that we do here] that does not have a theological basis,” Caldwell says.
As Synod delegates journey home, Brock hopes they remember their experience not as a time of casting votes, but as a beginning of change as they bring church actions to their communities.
“I hope they take one transformative thing and decide to take it seriously.”