Rooted and Grounded in Love… A New Conference Name, General Synod, and Caring for our Common Ground
What does life look like to you when it is rooted and grounded in love? This is not just a theoretical question but a deeply practical one that has implications for the whole human family and for our life together in the United Church of Christ.
Rooted and Grounded in Love – A New Name for the Ohio Conference – “Heartland”!
The Board of Directors of the Ohio Conference has officially voted to recommend for a vote at the Conference Annual Gathering that the name of the Ohio Conference be changed to Heartland Conference. This recommendation arises out of the listening sessions from the Conference Vision Team that a name be embraced that is more inclusive of our ministry geography. This name encourages us to think more theologically rather than simply geographically about our life together. In March I wrote about this in more detail. You can access that reflection here. An official resolution will soon be forthcoming.
Rooted and Grounded in Love – General Synod
There were 22 resolutions considered by the General Synod to offer a voice to the church about a wide range of issues. The text of those resolutions can be found by clicking here. Most of the resolutions passed. However, Resolution 8 focusing on who should be allowed exhibit space at Synod was tabled and sent to the United Church of Christ Board for further consideration and refinement. This was a painful decision for some who yearned for the Synod body to address this more forthrightly in the plenary.
At issue is the question of the shape and form of our behavioral covenants with one another. In other words when we say, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here, how do we protect people (especially those who identify as LGBTQ) who have been hurt by the church and also remain gracious to the variety of theological perspectives which such inclusivity invites? What should be the expression of love in the spaces (emotional and physical) which we inhabit together? How do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to work in the midst of such diversity and also not be party to further hurt? This, of course, is not simply a conversation for the General Synod. It is a vital question for any gathering of faith that we call church (local, association and conference).
In my own experience of ministry, growth has happened most powerfully when those who have been marginalized are affirmed and welcomed and made safe, while at the same time fostering safe space for folks to grow who may be at very different places on a wide range of things. This is delicate and often exhausting work. It is why the prayer from Ephesians matters so much. Apart from a deep drenching of God’s Holy Spirit of love such spaces are hard to maintain. Yet with that same grounding I have seen real transformation arise. I wonder what your experience has been of fostering this kind of sacred space in the communities of which you are a part. Is there an insight that you might have to offer the church at large? If so, I hope you will share it with me so that I may share it with the wider church.
Just one more thing. If you didn’t get a chance to go to General Synod and want to see some of the sights and sounds I invite you to check out the General Synod YouTube channel here.
Rooted and Grounded in Love – Caring for Our Common Ground
There were no less than five resolutions from the General Synod dealing with climate change and its impact on the human family (migration) and the whole creation. A specific call to not use Styrofoam was issued as a very important practical step that local churches and individuals can take that will help reduce its impact on the oceans and on our food chain. Other resolutions including support for the Green New Deal and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act were passed. These resolutions could not be timelier for our Conference as we anticipate our Annual Gathering, Caring for Our Common Ground – Loving Creation, on September 27-28, in Westerville, Ohio. I hope you have marked your calendar and are already planning to come.
So, dear friends, may you be rooted and grounded in love so that you may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, so that you may know the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3 – paraphrased)