Welcome to General Synod 34 notes event’s ‘deep significance’
At the Indiana Convention Center on Friday, June 30, the Indiana-Kentucky Conference welcomed participants, including more than 700 official delegates, to the United Church of Christ’s 34th General Synod, while noting the “deep significance” of the time and place of the gathering.
Speaking on behalf of his two-state Conference and its 122 congregations, Conference Minister the Rev. Chad Abbott opened by acknowledging “the historic nature of this moment, the first General Synod in-person post-COVID; a saying ‘farewell’ to our general minister and president; an historic vote of our next leader; and the consideration of significant resolutions. . . . Oh friends, what a Synod it is going to be!”
He made a point of highlighting the things that Indianapolis and the hosting states are known for: “our love of basketball, horse races and derby hats, race cars and kissing bricks, hot browns and bourbon, pork tenderloin sandwiches and sugar cream pies. We are the home of Cole Porter and Muhammad Ali, John Mellencamp and Wendell Berry, Madam C. J. Walker and Oscar Robertson, the home of a fictional upside downtown and such movies as A League of Their Own and Hoosiers.”
But Abbott then turned serious, noting that the two states were also known for recent legislative sessions that had produced “harmful” policies “seeking to erase our transgender and nonbinary friends,” easing eviction protections, restricting the reproductive rights of women, relaxing gun controls and cutting funds for mental health crisis systems.
“Perhaps,” he said, “that’s all the more reason that we should be here in this moment.”
A comforting welcome
But he asserted that the UCC in Indiana and in Kentucky “remains committed that there is another story to be told about our faith here in this place.”
He described how Conference churches had worked to stop a 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka, welcomed refugees and asylum seekers, and protested the 2020 murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. In addition, Abbott pointed out that for the first time in two decades, the IKC Conference had submitted a resolution to General Synod, this one calling for reparations for African Americans.
Abbot also highlighted the work church members had done more directly for General Synod, including creating more than 900 prayer shawls for attendees and staffing a “Community Care Place” where participants could take a break from the hectic proceedings.
“While there may be many things that could define our two states or our Conference,” he said, “I pray we will most be known by the end of our mission statement, which is a call to love and to serve like Jesus.”
Before Abbot spoke, Synod moderator Bob Sandman opened the first plenary by banging his gavel, then calling the session to order at a dead microphone. The months and years of meeting on Zoom were jokingly recalled when a poster of a muted microphone was waved at Sandman, and a member of the audience called out, “We can’t hear you.”
The microphone was turned on, and Sandman greeted all of the attendees by saying, “God, it’s good to see you!”
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