From the Pastor, July 2017

Off to the United Church of Christ’s General Synod!

Dear Church,

On this July’s cusp, I’m heading to Baltimore for the United Church of Christ’s General Synod. Just as our local church has their annual meeting; our local association (or group of churches) and state conferences have theirs; so, too, does the national United Church of Christ (UCC) setting convene a governance meeting every two years.

But General Synod is far more than a denominational governance: it’s a time of hearing from renowned speakers, worshipping together, praying, and, in good Congregational fashion, debating resolutions. In such a time of political and ethical turmoil such as ours, it is a gift to be a part of a denomination in which basic values of Christ’s gospel (such as the inherent worth of all human beings, such as refugees and immigrants) are affirmed. It’s my first time to General Synod, and I’m honored to be a part of a delegation sent from Massachusetts, representing the Western Mass/Berkshire Association of churches.

I have to confess that I’m far more excited about the speakers, the worship, and the praying than I am about the resolutions. And I’d prefer not to think just yet about the 6:30 am delegation meetings every morning. One of the country’s most exciting faith leaders, Rev. Dr. William Barber (who I’ve spoken about frequently) will be there, as will #1 New York Times bestselling writer Glennon Doyle. Who knows, though? Maybe I’ll learn something; maybe I’ll even contribute something. Each delegate is assigned to a committee to study and debate a resolution. I’ve been assigned to a resolution committee studying gun violence as a public health crisis. One key question I will ask those with whom I deliberate is: “What are the theological and biblical groundings for the political positions under discernment?” I will attend to my delegate duties with diligence and thoughtfulness, but I suspect my committee members have much more to teach me than I will them.

I will be posting several blog reflections during my time at Synod, and if you care to read them, they will posted on the Massachusetts United Church of Christ main page at

See you after Synod! With resolute hope,

Rev. Mark