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I’m Rev. Jess Chancey, filling in for John as he is in the Middle East on his final overseas trip as our GMP.
I’ve been greatly enjoying John’s 100 Days of Gratitude. If you haven’t seen any of these posts yet, I encourage you to check them out on our various social media platforms. Each day as I look through all the cute animal pics and Star Trek memes that come through my Instagram, I also see a new post showing something John is grateful for in these 100 days leading up to the end of his term as General Minister and President. Imagine my surprise when I saw one the other day that featured a face that is quite familiar to me. The picture was of the ordination of one of John’s friends, and right in the middle of that picture, taking part in the ordination, is one of my dear friends who also happens to be one of my colleagues at the hospital we serve. Turns out that he had been pastor of the church where this new minister was ordained. I called John, we did the requisite singing of a certain Disney ditty, and laughed at how the UCC really can feel like a Small World.
Sometimes it seems like every meeting I have with someone I’m supposedly meeting for the first time in this denomination, I’ve actually met them before at some function of the wider church. Maybe we met at AM21 or maybe they represented a national ministry at a Conference annual meeting or maybe we were introduced to each other by a mutual friend at General Synod one year. There are so many connections that we have in our church life, so many opportunities to encounter one another, to share stories and experiences, to marvel over God’s works or over the awesome responsibility of serving God’s people. These connections are part of what I love so much about our church. We embrace diversity, striving to be inclusive and accessible to everyone, regardless of orientation, gender, ability, race, or even theology. We have a long way to go still, to be sure, and we keep that forward momentum towards a just world for all through our interconnectedness.
If you’ve never been to General Synod before, I highly encourage you to consider it if you are able. I’ve referred to it as Comic Con for church nerds, and not just because we geek out over polity and go to town in our exhibit hall. And we really do go to town, with some very creative displays, informational offerings, and swag everywhere. Surely I’m not the only one who remembers the rubber ducky nativity set from a few years back! But it’s the connections with other church nerds that makes it so much fun. I don’t get to see friends and colleagues from Hawai’i every day, you know, and breaking bread with seldom-seen friends as you discuss the movement of the Spirit is truly an amazing experience.
We come together from all our different life experiences and perspectives to work in this covenant community towards unity in our message to the world. Not uniformity, as is obvious by the rigorous debate we often have, but in a joining of hearts as we share the call to embody God’s kin-dom on Earth. And as the psalmist says, how very good and pleasant it is to live in unity. Whether you make it to General Synod or not, I pray that you will find ways to connect, to experience that joy of living in unity with others in our UCC family. We were not made to go alone, but in relationship with God and with each other on this, our journey into the mystic.
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