September 12, 2017
"Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them" –Matthew 18:20
This is my favorite bible verse, and it certainly jumped to mind when I entered the crowded Baltimore Convention Center to join thousands of United Church of Christ delegates, clergy and friends at General Synod 2017.
I thought, "Wow, if Jesus is here when we've only got two or three people in a room, what must He think of this!" This passage is apt for the process of Synod, because (in context) Jesus is talking about how members of the church find consensus. The whole weekend was one big experiment in listening to and sharing diverse perspectives, finding ways we agree and disagree, make mistakes, make amends and being the (big) church together.
I was a member of Committee 10, tasked with discussing a Resolution of Witness in Support of Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse and Neglect. The resolution calls on all settings of the church to take seriously our commitment to love and inclusion and welcome, and to provide public support for the healing needs of the many adult survivors in our congregations. It also calls for educational materials to be made available and for advocacy around policies that support survivors. This is a sensitive and personal topic, and the committee discussion was passionate and vulnerable. I was particularly interested in a debate over the use of the word “survivor.” For some, it is a label that doesn't fit them yet, as they still feel like victims who haven't yet survived the impact of their childhood abuse. For others, the act of claiming their survivor-ship has been essential to their healing process. After much discussion and some edits in wording, the resolution passed out of committee and was approved on the floor of Synod. –Kyna Shilling, Member of the 2017 Pacific Northwest Conference Delegation to the 31st General Synod of the United Church of Christ