Sunday morning began with hearings. Though there was more than one topic I wanted to hear about, I am most curious about the proposed changes to the constitution and bylaws, particularly the proposal to eliminate the collegium of officers and go to a model where the President and the Board determine the portfolios of the executive ministers who will report directly to the president. I have many thoughts on this topic which I will hopefully blog about in a separate post.
The hearing was not as well attended as I suspected but there were those of us who raised questions and objections to the proposals.
Next was the Health and Wholeness lunch where First Central was one of seven recipients of the denomination's Mental Health Education Award. We were the second WISE for Mental Health congregation in the denomination, after the WISE resolution passed last synod.
This luncheon featured the other health ministries of the church--parish nurses, disabilities ministries, HIV/AIDS ministries, health advocacy, and the Council for Health and Human Services Ministries, which coordinates all our senior adult facilities, youth facilities, and other health related local and regional agencies. They talked about their increased role in advocacy as health care is currently under threat.
In the exhibit hall I joined in sending letters to our Senators objecting to the proposed cuts to Medicaid.
For the afternoon I enjoyed a visit to Fort McHenry which made me feel quite patriotic as I experienced the story of brave soldiers holding out during the horrifying bombardment.
The Open and Affirming Dinner was fun as always, though I missed being there with the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson. I believe this was the first time I wasn't sitting with her. Four years ago this dinner was held the day of the Windsor ruling and two years ago the day of the Obergefell ruling. Sadly, the times are different.
Andy Lang reported that 60% of ONA churches are not adequate in their inclusion of trans persons. I hope we aren't in that category. What can we do to be sure we are not?
Rev. Naomi Leaphart delivered a powerful message on intersectionality and the work we must still do to expand our LGBT movement to be truly queer and truly inclusive. Her most searing line was "Are we doing the same church in gay face?" Also "When did we believe that queerness could erase whiteness?" And "We should not be including people in the same church but constructing church anew." I got her card as I want to bring her to Omaha to preach.
The evening Plenary saw a range of business, including increased support for our historic missionary churches, electing Traci Blackmon as the Executive Minister for Justice and Witness, adopting constitutional changes related to our full communion agreement with the United Church of Canada, and declaring ourselves an immigrant welcoming church.
The financial report was poorly handled this time, unlike other synod's I've attended, and generated some dissension from the floor. Previous reports were sometimes mind-numbingly boring in their detail and this one was lacking in information. It passed with only 57% of the vote, which is very unusual. I'll say more on this topic if you have a question about it.
We also passed a resolution calling for strong advocacy on behalf of Palestinian children. I morally agree with such actions, but also puzzle over some of these types of resolutions that call for us to do things like deliver a message to the Israeli government. Plus we have previously condemned the treatment of Palestinians during the occupation.
And we voted to set aside the existing giving plan and develop a new model. A significant number of people voted against this resolution, though no one spoke against it on the floor, which is quite surprising, unlike the synod, and maybe an unhealthy sign that people feel their voice isn't being heard?