By Steven Savides
Pastor & Teacher, The Congregational Church of West Medford, UCC
General Synod Delegate
I'm thousands of feet above the earth as I write this, returning to Boston from Tampa after General Synod. We had five packed yet grace-filled days gathered as the Body of Christ with folks from all over the United States and representatives of our global family.
Synod was living proof that the UCC takes seriously its commitments to extravagant welcome, congregational polity, and spiritual renewal. About 3,200 members of the United Church of Christ - lay and ordained women and men of various races, sexual orientations and gender expressions, cultures, and of various abilities - represented every conference in our denomination.
The Florida Conference offered a boisterous and gracious welcome. The volunteers and officials were exemplary. One greeter could be heard each day bellowing his welcome from quite a distance. Our Florida friends baked thousands upon thousands of cookies which were available throughout the Tampa Conference Center.
I think what amazed me most was the UCC's commitment to diversity, the face of which was evident at every level of the organization. We certainly are a rainbow people! We're also blessed with gifted visionaries and prophets who are prepared to stand for our dearest-held beliefs. The commitment of our denominational officers was on display and I have greater confidence than ever in our national staff. These folks are committed to us and the message of love and acceptance we hold so dear.
It was fantastic to be part of our Massachusetts delegation. I feel we honored the sacred trust placed in us by the Conference and am especially grateful for all the laughter, even at seven o'clock each morning during our caucus. Peter, Andy, and Jim, our fearless leaders, were a blessing.
What I carry back to Boston is a sense of connection with other deeply committed Christians who are serious about following Jesus and declaring God's extravagant welcome. I leave Tampa with great expectations and look forward to carrying the momentum of Synod to the churches of our Conference.
Rev. Steven T. Savides is Pastor Teacher of The Congregational Church of West Medford, UCC. He is a former journalist.