Today is Sunday, July 3. I missed being with my congregation and Sunday did not seem quite like Sunday. Instead of doing my usual routine of opening up the church and turning on the air conditioning and getting prepared for worship, we had breakfast at our hotel and then I attended a 3 hour resolution session in which we hammered out the wording of the resolution to which I had been assigned before arriving here. My resolution has to do with guaranteeing adoption rights for all persons. I learned some startling statistics during the information session. Did you know that there are approximately a half million children in foster care waiting for adoption in our nation? Did you also know that there are not nearly enough people who want to adopt children and many of them "age out" of the process with no family--at the present time there are about 30,000 children about to be "emancipated" which means they will turn 18 and have no family at all? How sad is that to think that someone will never have a family to go home to at holidays or for family gatherings? No parents or siblings, all alone in the world. Many of these become part of the legal system and lack proper education or a future. We will vote on this resolution in the next couple days but it was startling to learn these statistics.
We had Sunday worship this afternoon in the convention center. A crowd of about 4,000 gathered and we sang and shared scripture and prayed and shared Holy Communion. The preacher was a wonderful woman from Florida who used the story from the Bible about Hagar being put into the wilderness by Sarah. We were challenged to listen to the cries of others in our world whom we often want to overlook. We also were challenged to show God's love to all, especially those whom others would denigrate or oppress. It was a very inspirational worship experience.
The real work of Synod happens tomorrow on July 4 and on Tuesday when we vote on the business items brought before the Synod including 13 resolutions. If you would like to see a live broadcast of the proceedings of General Synod, you can watch it on your computer a http://www.ucc.org/ under the General Synod tab.
Part of the joy of being here is feeling the unity of the entire church and knowing that we are part of a greater body than what we experience in the local church. The United Church of Christ is alive and well and despite what some may say it is not dying but it is growing with new church starts across the land. There were many of these recognized in the first session on Friday. There are over 100 new churches across our land in the UCC and many more existing churches considering joining us. We are being renewed by the Holy Spirit daily and the energy felt here is tremendous. There is much to share when I get home but much more to be experienced still. God bless and keep you all. Enjoy your holiday weekend.