Synod - A Powerful Experience

Synod - A Powerful Experience

This year I attended my second General Synod or National meeting of the United Church of Christ delegates, visitors and guests from throughout the church. Synod is held every two years at a location in the United States.

Synod 2017 in Baltimore officially began June 30 and ended July 4, 2017. However, I also attended pre and post Synod events, therefore, I arrived in Baltimore on June 28 and I returned home on July 5. To learn about Synod go to for sixteen minutes informational video presentation.

General Synod is:
  1. A church, an occasion for worship
  2. An exploration
  3. A business meeting governed by certain rules
  4. A place for leadership and policy setting
  5. An electing body
  6. An experience
  7. It is ongoing
I agree Synod is ongoing because I am still thinking about what I experienced and envisioned as a result of my time at Synod. For instance, as a Rhode Island Delegate, I heard and voted on moral, ethical or religious matters confronting the church, nation or world. For example, I was assigned to study and discuss with a committee, the “Resolution of Witness in Support of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect.” Synod Delegates also voted on policies, procedures, and actions affecting the body, known as a “Prudential Witness” such as, “On Establishing Procedures for Cultural Diversity Training for Authorized Ministers.” I voted on fifteen Resolutions for a synopsis of each Resolution. (

The worship services during Synod were awesome as well as workshops and social events. It’s been one month since Synod and I’d like to share some interesting quotes or messages that I heard:
  • “We are not led by the times; we are led by our faith” (Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk)
  • “As bad as it is to imagine how it would be like if our fore parents had not chosen and stood against, had not been the arch of Justice, imagine what our UCC would be.” (Rev. Dr. Howard T. Simmons, New York, United Black Christians Guest Speaker)
  • “The three most popular and busy members of St. Alabama church: Somebody Else, Nobody Else and Anybody Else.” (Rev. Dr. Howard T. Simmons
  • “Don’t agonize; organize!” (Rev. Cindy Bumb, Pastor, Missouri)
  • “Dare to occupy and claim the boldness of Jesus.” (Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks, Chicago)
  • “What problem are we trying to solve?” (Rev. Dr. Kent Siladi, Conference Minister, Connecticut) 
There were several emerging issues such as Sanctuary Churches, insurance and legal issues, political topics like speaking out against the President of the United States (POTUS), jobs, employment, Call Agreements and/or employment issues between pastors and churches and more. Many of these quotes and messages are still percolating in my mind and heart. It continues to shape my opinions today. General Synod 2019 will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I hope you’ll plan to attend. Synod is a powerful experience.​


Cleo D. Graham

The Rev. Cleo Graham is the Associate Pastor at Beneficent Congregational Church, UCC in Providence, RI.

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