Support and Engagement with the wider United Church of Christ as General Synod Staff to the Resolution & Committee Process
~ David Anderson, our Church Administrator, and General Synod Staff to the Resolution & Committee Process
Every two years the United Church of Christ meets in a General Synod, with delegates from each of the UCC conferences and others gathering for worship, workshops, and the business of the church. General Synod next meets in late June, this time in Milwaukee. It’s five days of exciting, energizing, interesting, and sometimes a little tedious meetings and gathering.
From 1995-2001 I had the honor of serving on the UCC Executive Council (now UCC Board), chairing the Committee of Reference, and then chairing the Executive Council. When my term there was up in 2001, I continued in a role of volunteer staff for General Synod.
Over the years my role there has changed and grown. My current title for the work is: General Synod Staff to the Committee and Resolution Process. The purpose is to help the process that provides a way for Synod to speak to the issues of the day, either with Prudential Resolutions for structural issues, or Resolutions of Witness which articulate Synod’s perspective to the wider UCC and the world.
Here are some of the key functions for my role:
- I work with resolution submitters as resolutions come in, helping them meet the General Synod Standing Rules, and make the resolutions clear as to content and requested actions. Thus far, we have received 24 resolutions for consideration.
- I work with the Committee on Disposition (CoD), a committee of the UCC Board. The CoD is charged with being sure the submitted resolutions meet the requirements of the Standing Rules, and recommends whether each resolution goes to a committee, directly to implementing bodies if it’s just restating something the Synod has already acted on, directly to a plenary of the Synod if the resolution is deemed noncontroversial, or to the UCC Board of Directors, bypassing Synod, if there’s something that needs addressing before it could come for Synod action. And some resolutions may not make it for consideration if they’ve missed the necessary deadlines.
- I work with the Wisconsin Conference, who will line up presenters for Educational Intensives. Those are intended to be broad background to help committees understand the context of the resolution(s) assigned to them.
- I’m working on identifying and securing committee chairs: 14 committees this time. We ask for nominations from the Conferences and then try to be sure we have diversity in those chosen and who agree to serve.
- I’ll then lead the team called the Committee Process Team (CPT). That’s three people, plus me. Committee chairs come in a day early for a fairly intensive training to prep them for their roles and to be clear about expectations and process. We’re there as a resource during committee time. CPT also works with the chairs after their committee meetings, helping them with the committee decision and to prep them for their presentation to a plenary. We have a CPT handbook which I update and revise each biennium.
- I’ll also train Technical Support Volunteers, one for each committee. Those are the ones who note any edits the committee makes to the resolution and submit the final committee recommended-resolution in a format for delegates to see the changes.
- I’ll also work to line up a UCC Board Liaison for each committee. That person is a “wing person” to the committee chair, may have other helpful understanding of structure and polity, reports out a summary of the Educational Intensive as committee time begins, and acts as a resource, go-to support person for the committee chair.
- I’m a member of the General Synod Agenda Committee, which meets during Synod to finalize where each committee report fits into the agenda, incorporating factors such as plenary time expected and what resolutions need air time. If the Synod runs out of time to hear all the committee reports, the remaining resolutions go to the UCC Board of Directors at their fall meeting, where they address those resolutions as General Synod ad interim.
- After Synod we’ll have some debriefing and learnings from people, with action items to incorporate before the next Synod.
For me this is all interesting and engaging, though I know it’s pretty wonky for most people! I like the work, and I get to work with some really wonderful people. Thank you for the support to carry this out. We’re partners with the wider UCC and this is one way we live into that. Stay tuned for a follow-up report from me after Synod about the work we did and the ways the Holy Spirit was alive and at work in the gathering.