#UCCSynod: An Example for Congress

#UCCSynod: An Example for Congress

One in series of posts by Southern New England Conference delegates to the 34th General Synod of the United Church of Christ.

I have to say that Monday was a very interesting day being at Synod. We voted on six of the fourteen resolutions that committees brought to synod, but more historically, we voted on a bylaw change that will change the frequency of General Synod from being every two to now being every three years. To change this bylaw, a two-thirds majority is required. Not only did we witness a protest on our first vote because not everyone could log into the voting system in time; we also witnessed essentially a two-plus hour debate ending in a 454-226 majority opinion where one yes vote changing to a no would change the entire outcome.

Hearing the debate on both sides, and seeing the moderator moderate the discussion, seemed to me to be likened to the House floor in US Congress for a bit. There were excellent points made on both sides, citing both financial burden and burden on staff (such as the UCCB) as well as the connection to the national setting that is gained by having synod more frequently. I spoke to a UCCB member who has been to many synods. Never has a vote been closer or could it have been closer. There was even the request of paper ballots for those who could not sign into the voting system so that we made sure that every vote was valued and counted.
It was a lengthy process, but an important one. The moderators of synod had to figure a lot out on the fly, and although it seemed very flustered at times, who really could have expected this? I give them a lot of credit. They gave attention to the importance of the vote. And, further, where there were moments of tension among us as we waited for this vote to happen, and then to happen again, following the debate, Bob, our moderator, reminded us to take a moment to breathe. I feel like this was a very important gesture, because ultimately, while we do feel very strongly about the sides we were on, we are all part of one body and we breathe and believe together. We sing and pray together. To be reminded of this in moments of contention is what builds our bonds in unity and friendship. And, honestly, I wish that Congress could take an example.

Picture: The author with UCC General Minister & President John Dorhauer


Bryan Niebanck

Bryan Niebanck is a member of the First Congregational Church of Milford, CT.

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