General Synod 31: Justice Recap

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is the national decision-making body for our denomination, responsible for giving general direction to the evangelistic, missionary, and justice programs of the UCC. From June 30 – July 4 members of our denomination gathered to consider a number of resolutions or statements of witness on social and political issues that we (members from throughout the life of the church) believe are of concern.

Here’s a brief recap, featuring coverage from United Church News, of some of the actions taken by the General Synod that relate to our work as justice advocates:

Actions Taken

UCC Honors Standing Rock Youth Water Protectors
The United Church of Christ presented the inaugural Movement Makers Award to the youth of the Standing Rock Water Protectors on Saturday, July 1, to a standing ovation from the entire house. Ten young people stood as representatives of their movement, testifying both to the work they have done and to their commitment in the continuing struggle. (Read more.)

Traci Blackmon elected overwhelmingly to lead UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. Traci Blackmon was elected the executive minister of United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries by delegates to General Synod 2017 on Sunday evening, July 2, after serving in that capacity as acting executive minister for 19 months. (Read more.)

UCC marchers demand immigration justice
In its first action as an Immigrant Welcoming Church, the United Church of Christ marched with the family and friends of an Annapolis, Md., artist and grandfather, seized outside his home on his way to work and detained the past three months by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Some 275 people, chanting in English and in Spanish, gathered to support the family of Guillermo Recinos Morales and to urge the ICE chief counsel to reopen his case so he can apply for asylum and remain with his wife and children in his Annapolis community. In the blazing July sunshine, the group rallied outside General Synod at the Baltimore Convention Center and headed to the Baltimore ICE headquarters a few blocks away for a vigil and prayer service. (Read more.)

Resolutions Passed

United Church of Christ emphatically affirmed an Immigrant Welcoming Church
Underscoring the love of neighbor, with several speakers proclaiming that no human is illegal, delegates to General Synod 2017 overwhelmingly declared itself an Immigrant Welcoming Denomination and called on all settings of the United Church of Christ to do the same. (Read more.)

GS-youth.jpgSynod votes to support Palestinian children in Israeli military detention
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution calling for an end to what is being described as “traumatic” practices by Israeli military against Palestinian children. The resolution, brought forward by 16 individual UCC churches, calls on the state of Israel to guarantee Palestinian children younger than age 18 their basic due process rights and to prohibit any use of torture or ill-treatment of detained juveniles in the occupied territories. (Read more.)

Cuban embargo causes suffering, General Synod resolves to open doors
A resolution that began with UCC delegations to Cuba and exchanges in the Southern Conference produced a strong Synod resolution to end the United States embargo that blocks normal cultural, educational and economic exchange between nations that are neighbors.  (Read more.)

Declaring the Earth is the Lord’s, UCC calls for environmental imperatives for a new moral era
The United Church of Christ, noting both the urgency of climate change and the continued debate over its existence, is “raising its prophetic voice” to urge the “healing of the Earth.” On Monday, July 3, the delegates of the General Synod passed a resolution that calls on clergy across the life of the church to preach about the moral obligation to protect God’s creation, and appeals to its members to lead efforts to educate and advocate for legislation to reduce the human impact on the environment. (Read more.)

Youth voices lead the way on gun violence resolution
Guided in large part by the voices of youth, General Synod 2017 enthusiastically passed a resolution of witness Monday urging the recognition of gun violence as a public health emergency deserving of federal funding for scientific research. (Read more.)

Delegates Approve Economic Justice Resolution Calling for Living Wages, Job Creation, and a $15 Minimum Wage
Delegates to the United Church of Christ’s General Synod 2017 approved a resolution calling for all jobs to pay a living wage, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, job creation so everyone who wants a job has one, and support for workers seeking better wages and working conditions. The final resolution was a combination of two resolutions brought before Synod for consideration from the Connecticut Conference and the UCC Economic Justice Movement. (Read more.

GS-mic-5.jpgGeneral Synod addresses need to promote opportunities for people with disabilities
Approved by 98 percent of the General Synod delegates on Tuesday, July 4, the resolution “Toward Disability Justice” is, at its core, a guideline for the wider church on how to include persons with disabilities in their ministries and social justice witness. The resolution calls the church to “points of justice,” such as the ADA, access to public education, fair wages and unemployment, police brutality, health disparities, and disaster preparedness—all of which build on what General Synod has spoken to. But it also adds to what it has not—for instance, addressing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (Read more.)

Synod Affirms Wendy’s Boycott
General Synod voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ boycott of Wendy’s restaurants. That resolution cited Wendy’s refusal over the past 10 years to join the Fair Food program, which has sought to improve working conditions in the Florida tomato fields. The resolution noted that 14 other major food retailers participate in the program, and have agreed to purchase tomatoes only from suppliers who meet a worker-designed code of conduct that prohibits slavery and sexual harassment, establishes a grievance procedure and provides a penny-a-pound pay raise for tomato pickers. (Read more and sign the petition to boycott Wendy’s.)


Categories: Column Getting to the Root of It

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