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Put Yourself in the Picture: Synod 2013 Story III: An Invitation to Simply Be

Put Yourself in the Picture:  Synod 2013

     Why do UCCers gather together every two years, traveling long distances to plunge headlong into the intensity and immensity of a General Synod?  Why should YOU attend?  What’s in it for YOU?  

     Gregg Brekke, Editor of the United Church News, summed his “why” up succinctly when writing of his very first Synod in 2009.  “We seek an experience of God’s peace – through worship, renewed connections, new relationships and an immersion into our identity as people of the UCC.”

     The editors of Connecting Voices recently asked a number of past attendees (delegates and visitors, clergy and laypeople alike) about their “whys” and their Synod experiences – what “coming together” meant to them.  Their responses will be presented in a series of mini-articles over the next few months.  We hope that, stirred to “go and do likewise,” YOU will join us at Synod 29 in Long Beach, CA.


An Invitation to Simply Be:  Synod Story III
by Rev. Dave Pomeroy, First Congregational Church UCC, La Vegas, NV


     My wife Ann and I were visitors to the 28th General Synod in Tampa where we took in all of the Synod events.  I was particularly impressed with how the theme, “Imagine What’s Possible,” was woven into nearly all of the programmatic elements.  Although at times it felt like over-kill, it became increasingly important to see that imagination and possibilities are twin foci around which much of the UCC functions.
     One workshop that really spoke to me as a local church pastor was Marcia McFee’s “Spirituality and Worship.”  Some notes I jotted down from her talk:  “Shift happens:  from guardians of religious practice to midwives of sacramental moments; from presiders to residers; from story-tellers to story-dwellers.”  In this way worship becomes “an invitation to simply be.”
     For me worship times were the highlights of the Synod.  To experience worship in a Synod setting is to have your spirit lifted as powerfully as possible.  At one service the Rev. Laurinda Hafner, senior pastor of Coral Gables (FL) Congregational UCC offered two quotes that I feel should be uppermost in the minds and hearts of UCCers as we move into the next years:  Quoting Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, she said, “The vocation of the United Church of Christ is to walk the theological frontier….. No church that forces engagement with new thinking will ever appeal to the masses…”  She then concluded:  “Friends, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as a dying denomination and start thinking of ourselves as a movement for living water change.”
     This was my fourth General Synod experience.  I would covet such an experience for each of you.

Dave Pomeroy is pastor of First Congregational Church/United Church of Christ in Las Vegas, NV, where he has been for six years.  Tampa was his 4th Synod experience as a visitor, beginning in 2005, after having successfully avoided going to Synod for the previous 36 years.  He worked for 30 years with the National Council of Churches’ Communication Commission and for three with Faith & Values Media developing a streaming video web site.  He chairs Section N of the Eastern Association’s Committee on Ministry.

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