|General Synod 32
June 21 - 25, 2019
Right now, a resource paper developed by members of the Together As One Board of Directors and staff is available on the General Synod website. It begins with the statement:
The paper goes on to explain that what happened began in 2018, "when a a core group of people believed that a new conference of churches was needed to follow Jesus in new ways that could transform lives, churches, and the surrounding culture."
It is the year 2030, and people are asking “What happened here in southern New England? This part of the world is more just, more compassionate and peaceful than it was ten years ago. How is it that people are listening to one another more deeply, passing better laws, building healthier communities?”
It’s 2030 and our culture feels like shalom. It’s that deep-in-the-bones sense of wholeness, of rightness, of sacredness. This wasn’t something that we did. It was a God thing.
"We wanted to give delegates a chance to glimpse this vision that we are striving to live into," said The Rev. Corey J. Sanderson, president of the provisionally named Together As One conference. "The local churches across our three states are being called to fully commit themselves to living into the love and justice of Jesus together as disciples and covenant partners. Whenever the organizational structure hinders or limits people, churches, and conferences from doing transformative ministry, then the structure needs to change. We are simply trying to better align ourselves to follow this vision and live out this mission."
Connecticut Conference Minister The Rev. Kent Siladi said that once delegates arrive at Synod, they will have a variety of ways to learn more. There is a hearing scheduled that will be led by board and staff members to present information about the proposals and answer any questions. There will be presentations at breakfast gatherings of individual conferences, and delegates from the three southern New England conferences will speak about the resolution in more informal settings. Delegates and staff will have documents to hand out for those who wish to read the Vision, Mission and Purpose statement, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and the future story paper.
The Synod resolution will go direct to plenary - it will not go through a committee first. The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner-Spencer, Together as One Moderator, will have two minutes at plenary to make the case for the new conference.
This vote has been a long time in coming. Delegates from the three conferences first voted in favor of working toward unifying at their first joint annual meeting in 2017. In 2018, they approved bylaws for a new unified conference and approved forming a new, non-profit corporation together. This Synod vote is the next step - if it passes, the three conferences will officially become one on Jan. 1.
The Synod resolution calls for eliminating the three historic conferences from an ecclesial standpoint, replacing them with a new conference. The associations, churches and members in the three current conferences would automatically become members of the new conference.
The three historic conferences will continue to exist as nonprofit corporations, with their own Boards of Directors, in order to handle endowments that were left to those conferences. But for ecclesiastical purposes, the UCC will only recognize the new conference.
Synod takes place June 21 - 25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences together are sending 100 delegates, plus 12 youth and various staff members and other visitors. Blog posts and news reports from Synod will be posted on the three conference websites throughout Synod.
Tiffany Vail is the Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.