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Imagine The Possibilities

By Sally Buffington, member of University City United Church, San Diego, CA 

     “Imagine the Possibilities!”  was the theme of 28th Annual General Synod of the UCC (held in Tampa, FL).  Accompanied by my husband Andy (a visitor), I was one of nine hundred delegates in attendance this year.   Synod is a heady affair which involves four days of meetings/business, several worship services and SunCoast Saturday – a grand full-day buffet of workshops, speakers and presentations.   I came home tired, exhilarated and full to the brim with possibilities and ideas!

     Going to Synod is rather like visiting some marvelous UCC kingdom!  Both meeting place and convocation, it’s also a democratic place:  talkative, honest and respectful of opinion.  I was continually impressed:  the UCC is an articulate church.  Leaders and moderators call alternately on pro and con speakers; however, no one really speechifies much due to a two minute limit. That said, though, business meetings require patience.  All business and speakers were instantly captured on large screen video throughout the hall.

     I came home uplifted, too!  Though both worship and business sessions were held in a vast place, the stage and worship area were beautifully decorated with a “beach” down in front. Before Sunday worship any children in attendance were encouraged to play in the sand and bless the worship setting.  I loved seeing wonderful sacred dance: a trio of professional dancers and a group from a church in which both boys and girls danced.  All of us were stirred by the “Nuttin’ but Strings” duo which performed on Saturday morning.

     Our Southern California/Nevada delegation included two very active youth delegates with full vote, as did other delegations.  I was personally inspired by a workshop with three military chaplains who talked about how our churches can support the troops:  those serving, their families at home and veterans in general.  It was a deep privilege to meet those chaplains, and one of their wives, who had endured his deployments – and she’s a minister also.  Another source of inspiration was a salute to new churches in the UCC – and our Conference won an award for starting the most new congregations!  This recognition highlighted our Samoan churches in particular.

     A particular joy of attending Synod:  cookies! Churches in the area around the synod location furnished dozens and dozens of homemade cookies!  There were always boxes of cookies in the meeting rooms, and hundreds of assorted cookies awaited us on tables outside entrances to the main meeting venue.  I began to think of the whole synod experience as a Cookie Communion.

     Now our chance is coming!  Many of us in southern California churches will be baking cookies for the next one!  The 29th General Synod will take place in Long Beach in June 2013. Hopefully, we’ll offer typical UCC extravagant welcome as well as cookies — and more.  Be watching for announcements and volunteer opportunities — and plan to come. Anyone can visit Synod – and you can probably tell, I think it’s a marvelous opportunity!


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