Hard Work, a Bit of Boredom, Lots of Amazing Grace


Dawn Hammond

6/30/2013

There is so much that could be said about General Synod, and so little time in which to say it!

The Massachusetts delegation is staying aboard the Queen Mary, a former British ocean liner which has been restored as a hotel. The rooms are tiny and we can hear every word spoken by our neighbors, but we are essentially staying in a beautiful floating museum. We can clamber all over the decks and the bridge, and peer into the captain’s room, the chart room, the children’s playroom, and the room with all the old communications equipment.

Off the port deck is a stunning view of what I’m told is the largest cargo port in the world. Red and blue shipping containers are stacked by the hundreds, like blocks in a nursery, only each block is the size of a truck. There are dozens of gigantic rigs for loading and unloading freighters. All of this makes the world seem bigger, which also makes God seem bigger – not that I hold God directly responsible for international shipping, but she certainly created people with big ambitions and amazing minds, capable of vast collaborations, for better and worse.

Then there’s Synod itself – a rambunctious gathering of UCC folks from every corner of the country, plus some guests from the United Church of Canada and other ecumenical partners. Some things I have learned as a delegate:
 
  1. It really is hard to sit in a plenary and listen to lots of reports, even when one theoretically cares deeply about the church. (Might there possibly be a way to do Annual Meeting without asking quite so much of our MACUCC delegates in this regard?)
     
  2. Music can be a pleasant space-filler, or it can bring thousands of people to our feet with our hearts soaring. Both have happened here. (What makes for the latter, and what can we learn from this?)
     
  3. The UCC is much bigger, more colorful and more multifaceted than we can tell in Massachusetts. Worship this afternoon was opened with magnificent joy and dignity by the singers and dancers of Vai Ole Ola Congregational Christian Church of Lakewood, CA, a Samoan congregation. Greetings and blessings and scripture have been offered in half a dozen languages. One of today’s readings was from Revelation 22: “they’ll look on God’s face, their foreheads mirroring God”. This notion - that every face here (and everywhere) is a mirror image of God's - fills me with joy.
     
  4. The current administration of our Federal government has deported more people as undocumented immigrants than any other in U.S. history. Keynote speaker Maria Hinajosa spoke compellingly about this, and one of the many Resolutions on which we’ll be voting calls for comprehensive and compassionate reform of immigration policy.
Tomorrow we begin two days of intense work on resolutions. I will blog further about this if I can find another few minutes of unscheduled time!

 



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