Summary: United Church of Christ Synod 28, Tampa: ON SINKING SAND
The theme of this Synod, “SAND”, seemed especially appropriate as the UCC continues to sink slowly. We could only be mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand. The rain came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:26,27
BWF issued a press release at the outset of Synod that seemed especially prescient:
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST SYNOD MEETS "ON SINKING SAND"
The liberal UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, the leader among protestant denominations in membership loss, is meeting at Synod 28 this weekend in Tampa, Florida using the theme of "SAND.” According to the Synod Handbook (page 8-9) http://www.ucc.org/synod/pdfs/general_synod_28_handbook.pdf describing the event’s worship focus, "sand remains a powerful image of an unimaginable quantity. It also reflects the rich imagery of desert, of journey, of shifting sands." It goes on to say, "At the Twenty-eighth General Synod in 2011, the United Church of Christ finds itself in oasis and desert. Blessed with diversity of thought, vibrant life, and shifting sands, we journey through challenging times seeking possibility, engaged in thoughtful and difficult conversations." Jesus used this image powerfully when he contrasted the wise man who built on the rock with the foolish, saying, "everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." (Matthew 7:26)
Renewal leader David Runnion-Bareford said, "This is indeed a powerful confession by the Synod of the UCC that, having rebelled against the word of God, is on sinking sand - with our members, churches, historic witness, and identity in Christ washing away before our eyes."
Ø Perhaps the most striking action of Synod was to eliminate the acknowledgment of God as heavenly Father from the Constitution. Again the BWF press release just before Synod was clear about the relevance of this action. Unfortunately the Synod did not listen to our counsel and went ahead with this misguided action.
Ø UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST SET TO REJECT GOD THE FATHER
Ø Meeting at General Synod 28 in Tampa, Florida this weekend, the historic United Church of Christ will vote on an amendment to eliminate God the Father from Article 5, lines 9-10 of its constitution. http://www.ucc.org/synod/pdfs/proposedconstitution.pdf The Constitution of the denomination has remained unchanged in its theological core since the United Church of Christ's founding in 1957, and remains the covenant connection with the basic truths of Christianity that keeps many churches affiliated who are otherwise alienated by the denominations very liberal agenda.
Ø According to renewal leader David Runnion-Bareford, "Rejecting God as Father in an age of fatherlessness is unthinkable. God acted toward us in amazing grace when He offered to be our Father through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ who offers us life in his name. This is not something we as humans made up in some other time. Rejecting our Father is act of arrogant rebellion in the name of cultural conformity that only further alienates members, churches, but more importantly God himself. We call the delegates to reject the change for God's sake."
We think that the analysis of this action in USA Today’s Faith and Reason was interesting:
Particularly as it links to our press releases: http://www.reformationucc.org/2011/07/01/united-church-christ-synod-meets-sinking-sand/
In that article the author quotes UCC spokesperson Barbara Powell defending the change in language,
“It could be Father or Mother or Creator God. Our language reflects the God of all.” We believe that captures the essence of the idolatry. God has revealed the wonder of his willingness to be our Father. How magnificent. When we describe God in images to please ourselves or our culture we are doing nothing more than creating an imaginary friend.
Ø Acknowledging a continuing decline in basic support to its general budget, United Church of Christ delegates this morning approved a national allocation of $7.1 million for 2012 and $6.8 million for 2013. This is less than ½ the basic OCWM support just a decade ago. Sinking Sand.
Ø Synod passed a resolution titled: “Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” seeking to promote the LGBT agenda in foreign cultures where such behavior is “legally, politically, socially, or even religiously” condemned. This resolution will further jeopardize Christian witness particularly in Africa and Asia where Islamics use information as propaganda to compromise and persecute Christians on the grounds that they are advocates for sexual perversion. This resolution was submitted by the “Wider Church Ministries” of the UCC.
Ø Synod passed a resolution titled: To Counter Actions of Hostility Against Islam and the Muslim Community.” Committee 12 member Paul Adkins quoted theologian Hans Kung, who said, “There will never be peace among the nations of the world until there is peace among the religions of the world” as he introduced this resolution. The conflict between Kung’s syncretism and the reality that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” is obvious. This resolution does not specifically say that Christianity is one way among many but it offers that impression and could be interpreted that way.
Ø The Synod passed a resolution titled: “The Right of LGBT Persons to Adopt and Raise Children.” The point of this one is obvious.
Ø The Synod tabled a resolution titled: “In support of Effective and Constructive Peacemaking between Palestinians and Israelis” that would have resurrected many of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel proposals that were put to rest in previous Synods.
Ø The Synod passed a resolution: “In Support of the Release of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners.”. It was the fifth time the UCC Synod has passed a resolution calling for the release of Puerto Rican terrorists who perpetrated a reign of violent terror across the U.S. in the 1970’s and 1980’s including more than one hundred bombings and armed robberies. It was the first such resolution since 1991. In 1999, Bill Clinton offered amnesty to 12 of these terrorists one of whom, refused because the amnesty involved an admission of guilt. This UCC resolution calls specifically for the unconditional release of Oscar Lopez-Rivera as well as Gonzalez Claudio. Claudio was apprehended in 2008 after 25 years on the lam and convicted of robbing an armored truck of $7 million in 1983, the largest heist of its kind in the history of the U.S. up to that time . Lopez-Rivera a primary leader of the FALN is widely held to be responsible for many bombings including the Fraunces Tavern Bombing in 1975 which killed four and injured over 60. He was caught in possession of 100 sticks of dynamite at his arrest. After the “12” were incarcerated the bombings and other violence related to Puerto Rican Independence stopped.
On the Lighter Side:
Ø the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president, “Encouraged and Enlightened the delegates to General Synod 28 delegates and visitors at the GMP/Collegium of Officers presentation in the plenary hall of the Tampa Convention Center.
Referring to the popular business acronym for "Big Hairy Audacious Goals (B-HAGs)," Black said, "You know how we are at the United Church of Christ – we got a hold of that, and said, 'Well, that isn’t quite right for us. Let’s make it Big Holy Audacious Goals.' "
"These B-HAGs are only a part of what the church’s organization or vision should include," said Black. "I like to remind myself that we tend to do that which we intend to do."
And then . . ..
Ø By a 4-to-1 margin, General Synod 28 on Tuesday passed “A Resolution for Mindful and Faithful Eating.”
The resolution, submitted by the Southern California Nevada Conference, evaluates ways in which our dietary choices can have profound implications on the environment, as well as on human well-being and animal welfare. Encouraging Christians to explore and discuss how food choices can accord Christian values and beliefs.
TO READ MORE: http://www.ucc.org/synod/news.html