#UCCSynod: Tweeting a Virtual Synod…

#UCCSynod: Tweeting a Virtual Synod…

This is a confession to cover me for the whole week: I am a UCC Twitter nerd. I will be live-tweeting almost every Synod event (#UCCSynod) I attend, except the Committee meetings for the Resolution to Ban the Practice of Conversion Therapy, which seems to require a certain amount of circumspection while the conversation is underway.

I joined Twitter (handle: @thefunrevucc)  because of National Youth Event 2012 and have live-tweeted my way through two NYEs, a Mid-Atlantic Regional Youth Event, several Penn West Conference Annual Meetings, a couple of historic Massachusetts Conference Annual Meetings, an SNEUCC Annual Meeting, and two- going-on-three General Synods. I’m not pithy like the @GeneralSynic account or as quick on the draw as some others of my clergy and lay colleagues who are faster on the texting than I am. But every once in a while, something goes close to viral, which is fun, and I inevitably make new friends. Usually we plan to meet up at whichever meeting we’re attending.

What’s different this year is that any new friends I make on Twitter at #UCCSynod will remain virtual friends, at least for a while. I’m already missing that essential in-person interaction, putting a name to a face and a real personality that may or may not be fully reflected in the Twitter persona. I also miss getting to renew personal acquaintances with Twitter friends I’ve made at previous events. Perhaps it’s because I just today led my first in-person worship service with the congregation of which I’ve been the interim Pastor since last August that personal interaction seems acutely absent. Or maybe it’s because one of the first people I saw on the Plenary Zoom screen tonight was a dear friend and colleague whom I would ordinarily “zoom” over to on the plenary floor for a hello hug. The lump in my throat was hard to swallow for a moment.

With a lull in action while the business committee figures something out, I missed the chatter on the floor between delegates. The Twitter snark is real and joyous, recalling previous Synod events that are both frustrations from a technical perspective and bonding moments from a community perspective. A later lag led to the new hashtag #PuppiesofSynod as people commented on the number of dogs that appeared on camera. I expect a #KittiesofSynod thread to start by Friday, if any of our Southeast Area virtual clergy gatherings are an indication of how many of us are cat people (I am one, but I am currently enjoying cats vicariously through friends). Cookies are a biennial favorite topic on Twitter, especially since so many of us remember the homemade cookies at the 50th anniversary General Synod in Hartford in 2007 thanks to so many churches in the historic Connecticut Conference. If I remember correctly, at least the next two Synods replicated the feat. Our subsequent deprivation of homemade cookies in Baltimore and Milwaukee just made it worse.

My favorite Tweet of the night was from Taylor Ramage (@taylorramage), host of the Encuentros Latinx podcast, who wrote, “Motion to add a comma is on brand UCC.” There were several along the same lines, of course. Other dialogue about vote tallies and the behind-the-scenes glimpses we’re getting thus far has alternately amused and annoyed me, in a couple of cases enough to reply. It is too easy to make broad comments without realizing that our votes have nuances that a click and a computer screen can’t capture, compounded this year by the absence of face-to-face opportunities to have conversations about votes that might go against the majority, not that 280 characters leaves much room for a nuanced reply, either. I begin to have some sympathy for politicians at that point who have to make things fit into soundbites else people tune out and move on.

If you’re not a multitasker, live-tweeting won’t be your thing, I suspect. But with all the down time this year, I hope you’ll take a look at the #UCCSynod feed on Twitter. It’s the closest to a Balaam’s Courier perspective on this special edition General Synod that we can have!


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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