Edith approached me on 30 December 2018 after the worship service at Plymouth Church. She said, “I think you should go to General Synod this summer”. I responded, “I don’t know what that is”. She smiled and said, “I know. That’s okay”!
Fast forward to today, and I have now had an amazing first Synod experience and have agreed to be one of the local arrangements co-chairs for Synod 2021! This alone should give you a pretty good idea of the quality of the Synod experience.
Edith asked for a ‘post card’ of our Synod experience, so I’ll keep this brief assuming that’s why she called it ‘Post Card’. Trust me when I say there were enough experiences to write a 5,000-word essay, but I will spare you the same!
The most amazing moment I had at Synod was following my 14-year-old son as he raced off tirelessly to join his first protest march – he is and always has been, committed to protecting immigrant children and families. As we prepared for the march, I suggested grabbing some lunch. His response was, “We need to hurry, Mom. I need to make a protest sign”! Who needs lunch! The lump I felt in my throat as I followed him down the street as he was chanting and waving his sign (the same lump I have now as I write this) would not have mixed well with lunch, anyway.
Synod to me was about empowerment. It is an incredible feeling to be in one huge conference space surrounded by thousands of supportive, kind people dedicated to putting their faith into action by fighting for what is right. This powerful group provides light during dark political times. The sheer size of the group and the strength of their convictions helps one realize that action can be taken beyond internet posting and constant fretting. We can fight for safe space for all . . . the immigrant community, the LGBTQ+ community, those who live in poverty, those who live with disabilities, and any others needing a hand up. This group of people embodies the promise, the truth, that God is Still Speaking!
Synod is a powerful, educational, and sometimes sobering experience. It was crushing, for example, when I learned that not all UCC Congregations are open and affirming. (I come from the Catholic Faith tradition and was not as familiar as I should have been prior to attending Synod with the structure of the UCC.) I texted my Senior Pastor and struggled to work through this realization. The support I received as I worked through this process, and more importantly, the larger understanding that ‘all are welcome at the table’ means ALL are welcome at the table, was extraordinary. One Synod attendee (and someone I would call a close friend, even though I have known him for 32 days – thanks, Mark!) explained to me that opposing sides at the table listening and engaging actively has much more potential for change than screaming words shouted across an imaginary barrier. The work, activities, and chance happenings at Synod are Transformational. This is YOUR UCC!
I cannot possibly convey to you all that Synod can and will be. You will have to see for yourself. Please join me in Kansas City for Synod 2021 as we engage the United Church of Christ to Change Lives!