I am writing this from the delegate table at General Synod in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 62nd Birthday of the United Church of Christ. It doesn’t get more UCC than that! Yesterday the delegates of this General Synod voted “yes” on the resolution to form a new Conference in Southern New England. This is the culmination of years of praying, discerning, conversations, and decisions that came together with the approval of General Synod to move forward.
General Synod is an amazing gathering of the church. It is like life. There are high moments of joy, there are low moments of conflict and division and there is the movement of the Holy Spirit that is palpable throughout. We have had reflections from General Synod from our delegates and they have been wonderful. We each bring our perspectives to what this experience of Synod is like, and we each come away from this gathering changed by what has happened this week.
This is my last General Synod as a Conference Minister. I have been privileged to serve in Conference Ministry for the past 22 years. This Synod has been bittersweet as this is the final time to serve in this role among you. It might sound cliché but it is true – Synod for me is about relationships and connection. Every two years for a very long time I have come to this gathering of siblings and built connections and worked with others from across this country to give direction to the United Church of Christ.
So now we move forward in faith together. We boldly declare that we are called to “live the love and justice of Jesus”- together. We believe that we are invited to welcome disciples and to walk with the people of God - together. We know that our call as disciples of Jesus is to work for justice and to make the world more just, more loving and more compassionate-together. In the times in which we live we must adapt, transform, and experiment in order to be an authentic voice to this hurting world – together. We cannot make it on our own. We embrace the belief that the covenant we have between and among us enhances our common life. Our growing awareness is that strengthening our existing partnerships and creating new covenant partnerships will allow our impact to widen as we work for the common good – together.
The theme of this General Synod is “Shine”. As we continue our walk together I pray that we will walk towards God’s light. I pray that we might be bearers of light and hope and compassion to this broken and God so loved world. Let us be gentle with one another as we will make mistakes along the way. Let us discern, let us listen, let us adapt and change, let us preserve that which has value in our proclamation of the Gospel and relinquish those habits and traditions which has clouded our vision and ability to live with authenticity.
As we move beyond the artificial boundaries of state lines let us also work to remove the barriers and boundaries that separate us from one another.
We now move onward into the future that God has prepared. We do this – together. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Kent Siladi is the Conference Minister for the CT Conference, UCC and will soon be a Transitional Conference Minister of the newly approved conference.
Many Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
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Rev. Kent Siladi is the Director of Philanthropy for the National Office of the United Church of Christ.