Monday, July 04, 2005

Live from Synod...Sort of

Wow. While here in Atlanta, I have access to the internet. I hadn't intended to spend much time with the blog while here, but I decided that I'd check on things just for fun. I have had more traffic here the past few days than average, and I credit Chuck Currie's Synod coverage on the UCC blog. So a warm welcome, no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, to all of you. Hey, I don't use the Still Speaking jargon on this blog very often, so indulge me.

Also, a few thank yous and resultant plugs to Dwight at Religious Liberal for my official endorsement on his blogroll, and to William Brandes who helps with the website for First Congregational UCC in Mt. Vernon, Ohio for his endorsement, which reads as follows: 'Speaking of blogs. Philosophy Over Coffee is, well, just cool.' The only thing, William, is that my first name is Jeff, not Jim. Heh.

I had mentioned in my last post that I'd continue to work through Walter Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination while here. Well, as it turns out, Dr. Brueggemann was actually at the morning plenary today to receive an award, along with Andrew Young, for his contributions to and representation of the United Church of Christ. To have two men who have had such extraordinary impacts on the church and the world on stage together was truly amazing.

And oh yes, we began working through the resolutions this morning, and will resume that work this evening and tomorrow. So far we have made it through the resolutions on the Sudan, the two dealing with the UCC symbol and common confession of Jesus as Lord, support of campus ministries, compensation for lay employees, and the resolutions dealing with marriage equality (but not the 'One Man, One Woman' resolution). All of these resolutions were approved, with some amendments. In particular, the two dealing with marriage equality were combined, as were the ones dealing with the symbol and confession. In the latter, the committee did superb work, writing one resolution stated as a re-affirmation, for which I was particularly hopeful.

The resolution dealing with campus ministry had some surprisingly lively debate. The original text called for the re-establishment of a national staff position, which was removed in committee and replaced by calling all entities of the UCC to contribute to campus ministry at local institutions. Some wished for the original language to be reinserted (including myself), but it passed as amended. I understand the reasoning for removal of the language, as the UCC's financial state would not allow for a national staffperson. But I grieve that at any level of the UCC, when it comes time for budget and staff cuts, youth and young adult ministry tends to suffer in particular.

The marriage equality resolution passed. It's being given such extensive coverage by everyone else that my spending too much time with it here would be redundant. Suffice it to say that there were long lines at all microphones and after the first few comments for either side (those in favor tended to share personal narratives and those against tended to share scriptural texts), a motion was made to cut the discussion short and just vote. Who at this point would be persuaded to the other side? Outgoing Executive for Justice and Witness, Bernice Powell-Jackson, called for a moment of silent prayer and reflection before the vote, for which I was appreciative. Many acknowledged that the passing of this resolution would be a source of pain for many, for which I was also appreciative. I really don't feel like typing any more about it at this point.

As far as I know, the resolutions on divestment will come tomorrow, and I'm not sure when we'll discuss multiple paths for ministry. The more I think about the latter, the more problems I have with it. That will be for another entry.

As I said at the beginning, welcome to all those who have found their way here from the UCC site and from other places. Feel free to begin a discussion and peruse the archives. I don't know if I'll have time to post again while here, but once I'm back home I'll certainly share more.