I promised a final reflection on General Synod, but just didn’t get around to it until I had been home a few days. The trip to Tampa was more of a whirlwind than I expected! Our son and daughter-in-law live in Tampa, so the time before, after, and even during Synod included “family time.”
FWC’s new identity pieces reiterated our four-part strategy. My reflections will report on these four areas –
Prayer. Those of us who represented ECOT concerns at General Synod felt deeply your prayers and support. It’s a challenging place to be as such a small minority. A dozen of us gathered Sunday afternoon for a “Concert of Prayer Luncheon,” and prayed for churches, the UCC, and the Church. I would like to see an even more proactive prayer effort at the next General Synod – perhaps something like a prayer gathering each time the Exhibit Hall opens. As ECOTs believe God ultimately does the awakening and renewing of his church. We need to put our knees where our mouth is.
Presence. This was our best “success” of this Synod. I’m convinced the majority of delegates and visitors left GS knowing who “ECOTs” are and that we’re still around. Our “tennis ball yellow” t-shirts (“Have You Hugged an ECOT Today?”) were visible, and our booth stood providentially in the middle of the Exhibit Hall. We gave away hundreds of brochures and carabiner/flashlight/pens, and had dozens of conversations with those who stopped by. We laid a good foundation for the future. My “Speakout!” moment celebrating ECOTs in the UCC got applause three different times. (Since you’re limited to 60 seconds, I was a little worried about applause taking away my time!) I also joined the Twitter conversation (#gs28) where I posted links to my synod blogs. We’re trying to maximize use of technology available to us.
Persistence. When FWC first came into existence, we were vilified privately and publicly, even in the United Church News. Among other things, we were ardently accused of being part of an undercover strategy to get people to leave the UCC. Now that we’ve been around six years, those of us who remain have credibility when we say we are here to stay. I was approached by an Associate Conference Minister from Vermont who wanted my help finding an ECOT pastor for a church she’s afraid will leave the UCC. We also spoke with many pastors and lay leaders who took our literature home to share with ECOTs in their churches.
Persuasion. We could have done a better job on our fourth strategy. It’s not our intent just to show up, hug people, and leave them feeling warm & fuzzy about softer ECOTs. We want to be intentional about engaging relevant issues. I take responsibility for this, but we weren’t as prepared as we should have been to address various issues before or during the Synod. We need to explain better what we stand for and why. We’re still getting our feet wet. Our ECOT friends in Biblical Witness Fellowship have posted a report if you’d like to read it. They are more strident and direct than we are (intentionally so, on both sides!), but their report certainly points out some of the concerns ECOTs take with us as we depart General Synod 28.
On to California! The 2013 Synod will be in Long Beach, CA. FWC will be there! In the meantime, check out our new web site and also let us know if you’d like any of our brochures or carabiners to give away so you can spread the word about ECOTs in the UCC.