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Wearing Our Banners

by Sally Buffington, University City UCC

BuffingtonScarf.  What does the word make you think of?  Cold weather, probably, and keeping warm.  A scarf is something that protects you.  Often it’s brightly colored and decorative, and perhaps someone’s made it by hand.  A scarf’s an article of clothing, sometimes a badge or emblem that indicates your preference or allegiance.  It’s festive, too.

But surely a scarf isn’t what you wear in summer heat in Southern California along with shorts and sandals!

Or is it?

At General Synod 29, it was all these things and more.  The General Synod Scarf Project indelibly and colorfully marked every “God is Still Speaking” person who attended our national bi-annual event.   Conceived as a grass-roots project to signify the UCC’s commitment to end bullying, especially of those of the LGBT community, the scarf project succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.

Months before, UCC members from all over the country were invited to knit scarves in rainbow colors and send them in to be shared at Synod.  Organizers at the host Southern California/Nevada Conference office were soon showered with scarves.  Storage quickly became a problem!  Eventually something over ten thousand (that’s 10,000!) assorted scarves came in, rainbow upon rainbow of colors and styles.scarves3

While touring the GS29 Exhibit Hall, delegates and visitors were invited to pledge their commitment against bullying.  The pledge’s provisions were clear:  to be a caring adult who works against bullying related to sexual orientation or gender identity or anything else; to help bullied youth; to listen carefully and then act on a bullied individual’s behalf; and to work with other caring adults.  Having taken this pledge, each chose a scarf or scarves.  Most wore them every day of Synod.  It was as though we’d all become stole-wearing clergy!  Glancing down the lines of chairs in the convention hall or around a discussion circle, you’d see rows of rainbows! Not only did they function as marks of our commitment to this important issue, but the scarves also protected us from chilly air conditioning – and served as wearable banners.

Scarves1Best of all, the rainbow scarves came into their fullest glory on Sunday afternoon, June 3oth, when immediately after the worship service Rev. Dave Sigmund and his partner Jay Greaves of Seaside Community Church in Torrance were married on the balcony above the convention center lobby.  To make a passageway for the jubilant couple at the end of the ceremony, friends and guests held out scarves tied end to end, thus creating parallel festoons of rainbow colors.

Think of it!  All those scarves, all those colors, all those pledges, all those bright, warming expressions of love and concern – ten thousand personal banners taken home to wear as a personal witness and reminder of God’s Vision and to share with friends.  Whether we wear or display those rainbow scarves, God is speaking through us, wrapping us in faith as we proclaim our stand for all our LGBT brothers and sisters.

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