General Synod 24, meeting in Minneapolis, gave overwhelming approval on Sunday, July 13, to a wideranging new pronouncement calling for "a more just, humane directionÓ to worldwide economics.
Delegates from across the UCC seemed to agree with Margaret Ann Ellis, a member of Trinity UCC in Canton, Ohio, who said, "We [in the United States] live very well at the expense of others, many of whom starve in order for us to be so comfortable.Ó
Ellis urged approval of the pronouncement that now becomes a major policy statement for the denomination.
The pronouncement, first submitted to the churches for study and response by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, points out that "economic globalization could work for good or ill. It could benefit all people or just a few.Ó
The document also acknowledges that the debate around the world is not about "whether globalization should take place but how it will happen.Ó The new pronouncement includes a carefully reasoned analysis of the institutions and practices that result in the chasm between rich and poor nations, together with a biblical and theological perspective that leads to proposals for actions that individuals, local churches and the denomination as a whole can take.
One delegate, Robert Ellis, a member of St. John's UCC in Booneville, Ind., cautioned the Synod not to be so critical of wealthy persons and corporations. "If it weren't for the rich,Ó he said, "we would all be in a sad state.Ó
The Synod acted on the recommendation of a review committee chaired by the Rev. Keith Mills, pastor of Congregational UCC in Minot, N.D. During committee deliberations, the Rev. Marvin Morgan, a member of First Congregational UCC in Atlanta, Ga., urged that the proposal for action be extended to include "both national and internationalÓ grassroots partnerships.
Among recommendations for individual members of the denomination is a commitment to "individual or family lifestyles consistent with € our faith and vision, including changes in our consumer practices.Ó
Local churches are encouraged to examine their own stewardship, especially their investments, to be sure that they will be "responsible, just particilanguages. pants in the global economy.Ó
Congregations also are urged, among other things, to develop partnerships with a church in a developing country in order to understand how it is impacted by economic globalization.
Conferences, Associations, Covenanated Ministries and seminaries are urged to work "in the spirit of JesusÓ to reform the principal international trade and finance institutions so that "the needs and concerns of all persons, especially the poor and marginalized, may be addressed € through policies and actions.Ó
J. Martin Bailey, a member of Union UCC in Upper Montclair, N.J., serves as co-convener of the media working group of Peaceful Ends through Peaceful Means, a Christian witness for peace in the Middle East.