Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Synod Resolutions - The Fluffy

The Fluffy: Sacred Conversations on Race, Ecumenical Commitments in the United Church of Christ

The "Fluffy" category is for those resolutions that make nice statements and usually affirm or re-affirm church relationships but don't have much practical impact.

After re-reading the resolutions I originally put in this category, I moved An Economic Justice Covenant to "The Practical" and Affirming the Accra Confession to "Mildly Divisive."

The Ecumenical Commitments resolution is pretty standard fare...it cites a few scripture verses calling for unity, including one from the Gospel of John that was adopted as the UCC's motto. It also cites a few statements from the UCC's founding documents with similar sentiments. The resolution describes the formation of the UCC as an "experiment" where four very different churches came together, striving for unity in purpose rather than theology, and has always put forth a vision of being a "united and uniting" church. The resolution basically calls for all settings of the UCC to keep that vision in mind; to respect a diversity of voices while continuing to deepen relationships. There's no concrete proposal as to how to go about this...hence, Fluffy.

Back during the election when people were going nuts over the connection between Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright, UCC President and General Minister John Thomas called on all entities of the church to hold "sacred conversations on race:" dialogue about racial issues, racism, how it affects us, how to move forward, etc. The designated day for this was Trinity Sunday of last year, although churches were encouraged to hold ongoing dialogue around this theme. Resources were hurriedly produced or referenced in anticipation. I tried to look up how many churches participated, and while I couldn't find any figures, there are several UCNews articles suggesting that some churches have been continually holding such conversations. The phrase itself quickly made it into the UCC glossary, and thus for me it was little surprise that it would somehow turn up this year at Synod.

What was a surprise was when I printed out the resolution. My exact words at that moment were, "You've got to be kidding me."

The resolution is one page long. One. Freaking. Page. And all the resolution ends up saying is, "Yeah, let's keep having these." Do we really need a resolution to do that? Obviously somebody thinks so. This is as fluffy as fluffy can get, folks.

And that brings me to my final thought.

The reader has perhaps noticed that I have approached these posts with a certain amount of...I was going to say "snark," but I was trying to think of...okay, "snark" will have to do. At any rate, I add that element for two reasons: 1) I think it spices up what otherwise would be some pretty dull reading, and 2) I can't help but feel that way about some of the needless muck that I and other delegates have to wade through every two years.

We have three resolutions dealing with issues that the very last Synod dealt with. We have two resolutions adding to the confusing number of labels that churches can slap on themselves. We have one resolution that is a pathetic single page long and seemingly produced for production's sake. And this stuff is going to suck up time and energy that could be better spent outside enjoying God's creation, or participating in service projects, or exploring Grand Rapids. I know we have designated times for those things, but we could have MORE of it. That'd be better stewardship than sitting in conference rooms trudging through all the "if"s and "the"s of these ridiculous things that most people aren't going to do much with anyway.

General Synod is a time to come together from across the United Church of Christ and engage in worship, teaching, and fellowship, to catch up with old friends, to enjoy one another as members of the same church and celebrate our unity and diversity. That's what I've always loved about it, and why I like going. Can't we at least clip off the most blatant overreaching bouts of righteous indulgence--which a good portion of these resolutions end up being and which some of this year's clearly are--and celebrate who we are as God's people and as Christ's church?

I think we can.

See you in Grand Rapids.