Celebrating the Return of Fellowship at General Synod

Jamar Doyle

The past few years have been a period of immense challenge and adaptation for all of us. As we navigated the uncharted waters of a world grappling with a global health crisis, we learned to lean on the strength of our faith and the power of our interconnectedness, even when we couldn’t physically be together. Through virtual meetings, online worship services, and innovative means of communication, we continued to support one another, spreading love and hope in a time of great uncertainty.

However, there is an irreplaceable power that comes from gathering in person. It is the warmth of a welcoming smile, the power of a firm handshake, and the deep connection that can only be felt when we stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder. It is for these reasons that I am filled with so much joy, anticipation, and a healthy dose of nerves as we prepare to gather for the UCC’s General Synod this summer, my first Synod ever and our church’s first in-person Synod since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From June 30 to July 4, we will gather in Indianapolis to renew our bonds of fellowship, to reflect on our shared values, and to discern the path forward for our church. The theme for this year’s gathering, “Making All Things New,” resonates deeply in these challenging times. Through inspired preaching, meaningful workshops and intentional connections, General Synod will equip us to be agents of love, justice, and healing in our communities and beyond.

General Synod 34 will also be a time of celebration and renewal. We will rejoice in the resilience and strength of our congregations and CHHSM ministries, uplifting stories of triumph and the remarkable ways in which our members have served their communities throughout the pandemic. CHHSM will have a large presence at Synod, and we invite you to visit our booth on the exhibit floor to learn more about the impactful work of the more than 400 CHHSM communities across the nation. In addition, CHHSM leaders are central to this year’s Synod, as CHHSM board member the Rev. JJ Flag will serve as the event’s closing preacher, and I am honored to preach the word at this year’s opening worship service. As we gather in Indianapolis, we will be reminded of the countless acts of compassion and generosity that have defined CHHSM and the UCC, giving us renewed energy and purpose as we move forward.

Furthermore, this gathering will be an opportunity to embrace the diversity that enriches our church. This year, CHHSM is a co-host of both the Celebrating Disability, Mental Health, Sexuality, and Wellness Justice Luncheon and the Valerie Russell Luncheon, featuring Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. At these events, we will honor the voices and experiences of marginalized communities, centering their stories as we do the work to strengthen our commitment to justice, equality, and inclusivity, reaffirming that all are welcome and cherished within the United Church of Christ.

While the challenges of the past years have been arduous, they have also revealed the depth of our faith and the power of our unity. As we come together in person once again, we will be reminded that our strength lies not only in our shared theology, but also in our genuine love for one another. General Synod 34 promises to be a momentous occasion — a time of spiritual revival, deep connection, and a rekindling of hope; reaffirming our commitment to be a beacon of love, justice, and transformative grace, shining brightly in a world that is in desperate need of our witness.

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