Richmond Congregational Church
Rev. Katelyn Macrae, Pastor • 20 Church St. • P.O. Box 302 • Richmond VT, 05477
(802) 434-2053 • Email: email@example.com • Facebook: www.facebook.com/rccucc
Sunday Worship September-June: 10:00 AM with
Sunday School and Nursery care
Church office hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am - 3:00pm
Open and Affirming • All are Welcome
|June-July 2015 Reflections|
Reflections From the Pastor
Dear Friends in Christ –
This month we celebrate one year of ministry together. Over the past year we’ve gotten to know each other around dinner tables and at choir practices, sharing cups of coffee and seeing each other at the post office and grocery store. Together, you’ve taught me about great RCC traditions such as the Chicken Pie Supper and Rummage Sale. We’ve also tried new things in worship including a monthly Intergenerational Service where we’ve blessed animals and backpacks, and incorporated technology into worship. We’ve tried to increase our visibility in the community and better serve it. The theme running through all of this is connection. Our faith community grows stronger as we increase our connections to God, each other, and our community. As we begin our second year together, how can we strengthen these connections?
One way I plan to do this is by taking time to connect with my wider church family this summer. At the end of June, I will be in Cleveland, OH for the 30th General Synod (pronounced Sin-Id) of the United Church of Christ. Synod is the national UCC’s business meeting, and is held every two years at a different location around the country. Like the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting, Synod is also filled with workshops, worship, powerful speakers and service projects. I attended my first Synod in Providence, RI in 1999. After that first Synod, I was hooked. This summer will be my sixth Synod!
Each time I go to Synod, I learn something new about the ways people in our denomination are serving God across the country and around the globe. It inspires me and helps me imagine what we might be called to do in our local community. As you can read in Jerry Carpenter’s reflection on the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting, even in our small state of Vermont we have UCC churches that are supporting local youth, helping refugee families resettle, supporting migrant farm workers, leading bible studies at a prison, and helping their communities become more environmentally friendly. Gathering together with the wider church teaches me that while no one church can do everything, we all can do our part as people of God.
Going to Synod also reminds me that though our local churches might have different worship styles, political affiliations, or geographic locations, we are all connected; we are all members of the same body. RCC is a member of the Champlain Association, Vermont Conference and the national United Church of Christ. Through our polity, or denomination’s system of governance, local churches send delegates to Association and Conference meetings, and Associations elect delegates to General Synod. Each level of the church covenants to be in relationship with each other. These relationships are balanced by local autonomy. Autonomy allows a local church or Conference to branch out in new ways and see how God might be calling them to act in their community, without needing the permission of a higher level of the church.
Conversely, when resolutions pass at General Synod, they are supposed to "speak to, but not for" the other levels of the church. It’s up to each level of the church to decide if and how to implement these resolutions. For example, at General Synod in 2005, we passed a resolution affirming same-sex marriage, making the UCC the first Mainline Protestant denomination to do so. I was there to witness the vote. It was because of our polity that General Synod delegates could pass this resolution, even though local churches and conferences were of a variety of opinions. This vote set a national dialogue in motion which continues to this day.
As I look ahead to General Synod 30, I invite you to participate virtually. Many of the speakers and worship services will be broadcast on the web and archived for later viewing. You can also go onto the UCC website now and check out the resolutions up for discussion. If you aren’t able to tune in online, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to report back upon my return.
Thank you for this opportunity to be your pastor for this past year. I look forward to our deepening connections in the year ahead.
With Peace and Joy,