#UCCSynod: Finally, the Business Begins

#UCCSynod: Finally, the Business Begins

This General Synod is spread out across more days than in-person Synod editions generally have been. Much of this is due to the many time zones in which Synod has to occur; there is a six-hour difference between Pawtucket, Rhode Island and Kona, Hawaii, and while I’m a night owl and would happily extend business sessions to 11PM Eastern Daylight Time (5PM Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time), I suspect most of our delegates prefer the 9:00 or 9:30EDT stop time for most sessions. The literal daily time crunch resulted in an  eight-day event, though still only four plenary sessions for business after committees worked for two or three days.

As usual, the second business block on Friday night was to include the first block of committee work based on the assumption that at least one or two resolution committees would have completed their work on Thursday afternoon. Standing rules require that delegates have at least a half-day to read the final resolutions coming out of committees, but without completed work on Thursday, Friday became the day for reports from various ministries and many “commercials” for conferences, partner organizations, and activities of the denomination. On UCC Twitter, there was a sense that we could have collapsed the scheduled two-hour plenary into a single hour without some of the repeats; I think it would have been an excellent use of our time to hear from General Minister and President Rev. John Dorhauer on Friday instead of today (Saturday) because we have so much work to do on resolutions but not very much time in plenary left to accomplish the work. I hope everyone will go find what Rev. Dorhauer had to say about the State of the Church when the video is posted online because he raised us up out of the malaise of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and White supremacy to point out all the ways we are thriving as we do church differently and wrestle with our immersion in a system that is inherently unjust.

We’re about to start the difficult process of discussing resolutions as they come to the floor from committee. All of the resolutions come with the recommendation to approve, six of them as amended. It will be an interesting experience to see how well the debates work over Zoom. We have used the online Parliamentary Toolbox (PT) minimally, so I anticipate many reminders as we start discussion to help us figure out what constitutes speaking in support or opposition versus a point of order or point of privilege. There are already at least a couple of resolutions coming with proposed amendments before we even open the discussion.

Meanwhile, we have the usual kinds of personality displays from our Moderator, Penny Lowes, and Vice Moderator, Rev. Bob Sandman. This has mostly been in the form of jokes, which this time around we as delegates can answer if we’re willing to practice using our PT to put ourselves in the queue. Bob’s joke about how many moderators it takes to change a lightbulb elicited some very good answers. Mine was “Only one, but it requires a two-thirds majority vote of the plenary because it’s a prudential resolution.” Oops, prudential resolutions require only a simple majority! I knew that, I just forgot in the moment of constructing my answer, I swear!

Tonight’s business begins with Resolution Two: A Resolution to Advocate and Act to Change the Cash Bail Bond System. I will be mightily surprised if we finish two resolutions before our designated end at 6:00PM EDT…


Ruth E. Shaver

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Shaver is a General Synod delegate Old Colony Association Moderator, Interim Pastor at The Congregational Church of Mansfield, MA, and a member of Second Congregational Church UCC in Attleboro, MA  

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