Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Continued Thoughts on Synod

I write this in my hotel room a few hours since the final worship service, and long after the final gavel. Tomorrow I will travel back home and begin to face the inevitable questions about what transpired here. Those questions are a part of our life together at the local church level, as well as our life together as a denomination. The questions will likely surround one issue only: that of gay marriage.

I wish, however, to touch upon other issues discussed today. In particular, the other resolutions deemed 'hot button' issues for this assembly were discussed with, in my own opinion, a mixed bag of disappointment and willingness to give them a try.

First, the disappointment. The resolutions on divestment were condensed into one resolution on the general use of economic leverage to support companies that promoted peace IN GENERAL in the Middle East (rather than in favor of either Israel or Palestine), stockholder advocacy, and the like. The language of divestment had been removed completely. It took into serious account the true complexity of the situation in the Middle East, as well as the effect a resolution on divestment would have on our relationships with our Jewish friends. I thought it was well-written. Then all that went to hell.

A substitute resolution was presented this morning. This was after the committee to which it was assigned worked long and hard into the evening to come up with a single resolution that sought to balance the approach more evenly than divesting from companies in Israel. A small group, apparently without the presence of the Pension Boards (the UCC pension entity that supported one of the original resolutions) or any members of the committee that had worked all day on this resolution came up with another resolution that re-inserted language of divestment among other things. Both a member of the committee and the Pension Boards spoke out to note their feeling betrayed and undermined by this last-minute late-night process. It was very unfortunate, I found, for this to have taken place. I personally found the resolution that the committee had produced to be well thought out and balanced. A subsitute resolution was not needed. Well, long story short, the majority disagreed and ended up passing the subsitute resolution.

The other big issue of the day was the ministry pronouncement. With some changes and some lengthy discussion, it ended up passing. In particular, an amendment was made to consult with the UCC's ecumenical partners in full communion (Presbyterian U.S.A., Reformed Churches in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Disciples of Christ) as to how tracks to ordination that would not include the traditional 4 years college, 3 years seminary would affect an ordained pastor who did not take this track serving in one of the other denominations. I and other colleagues were appreciative of this amendment in particular. I voted for it in the hope and with the trust that much more extensive work would be done to develop these alternate tracks and that they would all include significant education and training.

So what comes next? Well, like I said, I travel home, I actually have a vacation scheduled, and then we continue to reason together as the church under one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Over the next day or two I'll post sort of a 'wrap-up' which will hopefully include thoughts on aspects of Synod other than the resolution deliberation. In the meantime I leave you with this. Welcome again to all new visitors, as there seem to have been a rash of them lately. Feel free to pour yourself a cup and stay as long as you like.