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General Synod, Six Months Out

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

BuffingtonWe’ve all experienced it: returning from a great event or conference, you float around in a glow for a while — then the vision fades. Not only does normal life roar up again but you’ve also shared all the information you were going to share with local contacts. Pretty soon you’re right back sitting on a hard folding chair, at a meeting of whichever board or church council you serve on. The whole thing’s past. The wonderful event is behind you.

Especially for a delegate like me who’s now attended for her required two terms, General Synod 29 is over and gone.

Or is it? A couple of phrases come to mind . . . “But wait, there’s more!”

Oh, yes! A slogan though these words may be, the promise of the words is still with me, for I heard them used by Rev. Jo Hudson in her wonderful sermon that closed General Synod 29. Eventually she had us chanting the words with her. In them I heard echoes of our forebear John Robinson: “There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s holy word.”

And six months out now, I still feel it. There is more.

For one thing, I’ve simply lived six (well, nearly seven) months now in the world, and have seen God’s grace and power at work. As we all have, even though wars continue to be fought, disasters happen, and so often we are disillusioned with public figures and governing bodies. But we have faith, we know and keep seeing the evidences of God and the power of our belief in Jesus every day, both personally and in our churches.

More specifically, though, what more is happening? How has Synod lasted for this delegate?

I am still intensely and deeply proud of our conference putting on such a huge national meeting. What a project, what a vast and sustained endeavor to make such a thing happen – and what an involving, relevant, spirit-filled affair it was! Bravo to all the planners! Bravo also to the  people who thought up such a thing as the rainbow scarf idea, then to all those people who knitted. Seeing all the Synod attendees wearing scarves in July in southern California, I just plain marveled.  Now all those scarves have traveled all over the country and their colors are still speaking.

Kudos, too, to the person whose idea it was to invite Peter Kageyama to speak at Monday’s session of Synod. Presenting a speaker whose book is titled For the Love of Cities to a denominational meeting demonstrates bold thinking. Peter advocates city events, features and advertising with confident and frequently whimsical originality; he even suggests that the concept of ‘fun’ isn’t necessarily far out or frivolous. Rather a city —or a church – can draw people in with accessible concepts and offerings. I’m presently sharing some of his ideas with fellow members of our church’s leadership and transition team, hoping to strike (or restrike) sparks as we move forward both in a ministerial search and to plan for our church’s next fifty years.

Thinking – to me, it’s been a hallmark of the United Church of Christ ever since I became a member in 1980. We are a thinking denomination. Always trying to figure things out. So I still have not recovered from the privilege of living for several days at Synod, in what I sometimes catch myself thinking of as UCC City. No, we didn’t always see eye to eye, we didn’t proceed smoothly – in spite of efforts by our excellent moderators and careful procedures – but for those days in Long Beach, we were a community of dedicated spiritual people, alert, intelligent and hardworking, worshiping together in faith. We were searching together. For four days of the year 2013 I was a citizen of that ideal community. I found it deeply reassuring that such communities exist.

I had fun, too. Especially, thank you to all you cookie bakers! All those shoebox-sized offerings of snicker-doodles and brownies and gluten-free bars made for a continuous informal communion; all the different flavors corresponded to the variety of the people I met at Synod. Call it fellowship or sister-ship, the links among us all are fervent, intriguing, and often just plain happy.

If you haven’t already, go on YouTube, type in the names of Rev. Jo Hudson and Peter Kageyama, and hear what I’m excited about. All the other main Synod speakers are up there, too. Last night I got excited all over again, and you can, too. Be reassured – there is more! Opportunity, indeed all creation, is out there waiting for us to claim and use it. General Synod 29 may be over but God is with us — and we haven’t finished making waves. We’ve got to keep on making our extravagant UCC welcome to both people and ideas and look for all the “more” to come.

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