‘We are one body’: Worship, faith formation resources bring Synod to local churches
There’s a brand-new way to engage with the General Synod of the United Church of Christ later this month without traveling to Indianapolis.
General Synod @Home is a collection of worship and faith formation resources available for local churches to use on July 2, the Sunday that General Synod holds community worship in Indianapolis. They include liturgical elements, the communion liturgy, faith formation resources and a video sermon and text.
The Rev. Cheryl Lindsay, UCC minister for Worship and Theology, regularly provides local church resources for Sunday worship and sermon preparation. She also serves as director of General Synod worship. Offering Synod @Home is a way to bring these together.
“There’s so much disconnection in the world,” she said. “We know the pandemic has left people feeling a greater sense of disconnection, and if there are ways through our worship that we can remind ourselves that we are a community gathering together, whether that happens in person, through a platform or using the same liturgy and themes, it reminds us that we are one body as the United Church of Christ, as a national church and in our local settings.
“It reminds us that we are not alone, that we are connected, and it reminds us that we are part of the kindom joined together through the love of God.”
‘A way to embody connection’
Synod @Home resources are available through Worship Ways and remain consistent with the Revised Common Lectionary and the Sermon Seeds Roadmap, which offers the theme “The Prophetic,” Lindsay said.
The materials include a communion liturgy which will be celebrated at Synod’s Sunday afternoon worship service. Lindsay noted that it’s also a first Sunday when many local churches celebrate communion, and she invites congregations to use the shared liturgy, written by the Rev. Michelle Torigian, pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville, Ill.
“The UCC really espouses the commitment to unity within the body of Christ,” she said. “Having a shared communion is a way to embody connection to one another.”
Sermon and faith formation
Local church pastors who attend Synod are often responsible for finding pulpit supply, Lindsay noted, and so she plans to video-record a sermon that congregations can use in their services, either by playing the video or having a worship leader read it. The sermon recording and text will be available mid-June.
Synod @Home also includes materials for intergenerational worship and faith formation based on the theme “Holy Welcome.” These were created by Debby Kirk, faith formation team leader for the Southern New England Conference, and can be used for Sunday school or church activities within or beyond the service.
‘One church, gathered in many places’
She hopes that Synod @Home will help the broader church “be drawn closer, by the Spirit.”
“We also invite the local church to pray for the church at General Synod,” Lindsay wrote in an introduction to the materials. “We are one church, gathered in many places. Let us celebrate that connection as God is making all things new.”
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