Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Synod Resolutions: The Practical

Marge: Sermons about constancy and provicitude are all very well and good, but the church could be doing so much more to reach out to people.
Lovejoy: Oh, I don't see you volunteering to make things better.
Marge: Well, okay, I will volunteer.
Lovejoy: I wasn't prepared for that.

The last one was so short, I figured I'd double up on my review of General Synod resolutions today. This post focuses on the category that I have deemed the 'Practical,' which includes resolutions declaring support for campus ministries, calling on churches to work toward becoming more handicapped accessible, a proposal to change the layout of General Synod, and the advocating of adequate compensation for UCC lay employees. I deem them as such because they specifically relate to UCC practice in a variety of ways.

The UCC's financial status is definitely not great. At the national level, many positions have had to be cut over the past several years, and one such position was the staff position resourcing campus ministries. This resolution calls upon one of our national entities, Local Church Ministries, to make up for this loss somehow. In essence, the resolution calls local churches to get more involved in campus ministries. As one who can tesify to college being a crucial time in young people's faith development, I say 'Amen' to this resolution. Of course, how to do it is the next thing.

In my post discussing the 'Fluffy' resolutions, I quoted a resolution that lists off all the declarations available for UCC churches to make about themselves, one of which is Accessible to All. This declaration refers to accessibility to those physically handicapped. Apparently some feel that that declaration has not received enough attention, so here we have a resolution calling upon the entire UCC to pursue such a declaration. Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 'The Great Messianic Banquet' (we must assume Luke's parable I guess), this resolution calls upon all UCC entities to 'remove or overcome barriers to welcoming and including all people in the work and witness of the United Church of Christ...' This is borderline 'Fluffy,' but it relates to more specific ways in which local churches might include people with disabilities. While resolutions combating discrimination by other criteria are likely to cause more of an uproar, this relates more to the physicality of our buildings.

A resolution on which I will not spend a good deal of time is one advocating two types of Synods: the first, more representational; basically the way it is now. Delegates from local churches and associations come together to vote as representatives. The second Synod would be senatorial and would require two delegates from each conference. These two types of Synods would alternate every two years. This resolution's primary intent is to cut costs. To cut to the chase, I'm not convinced that this change is needed and do not see what monumental money-saving opportunities this presents.

Finally, there will be a resolution presented supporting the availability of pension benefits to lay employees of the UCC. The UCC pension plan is available to all ordained clergy, but apparently at this time only 9% of lay workers 'enjoy[...]any level of similar recognition of service.' But 'enjoy' and 'have available' are two different things. Whether they have it available or not is less clear in this resolution, only that 9% 'enjoy' such benefits. So it might behoove those of us about to vote on this to check into that a little more.

Maybe if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll go ahead and comment on the last category later this evening. We'll see.