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A Body of Change

A Body of Change

Rev. Dorhauer addresses the 2017 General Synod. ©Copyright by UCNews. Used with permission.

With collaboration comes more resources — and a greater chance for change. 

That philosophy drives Church Building & Loan Fund to partner with churches and other like-minded organizations to identify the deepest needs of their communities – and then meet them head-on.

And it’s a mindset that CB&LF brought to the United Church of Christ’s recent General Synod in search of even more ways to collaborate.

Held every two years, General Synod brings together thousands of attendees from every setting of the UCC to worship, witness and fellowship. Delegates from UCC congregations deliberate on resolutions that impact the denomination as a whole, like cultural diversity training and covenantal giving.

This year’s event, sponsored by CB&LF, was held June 30 – July 4 in Baltimore, Maryland. For CB&LF Executive Director Patrick Duggan, the event was yet another reminder of the need for collaboration — especially today.

“The keynote address by the noted clergy and activist Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, where he announced the launching of a new national moral movement, was a high point,” Duggan says.

Dr. Barber, President & Senior Lecturer, Repairers of the Breach, spoke at the Shaping Our Future gala dinner, where he called for a moral movement.

“We must claim the deep moral language of faith, and silence is not an option,” Barber said during his address. “We’ve got to recover straight talk so that we can call what’s happening today exactly what it is,” he said, citing issues such as voter suppression and other instances of systemic inequality.

According to Barber, that means it’s time for local leaders to stand up — together.

“Although not part of the UCC himself, Rev. Barber emphasized the importance of the UCC’s leadership and participation in this yet-to-be-launched initiative,” Duggan says.

Barber urged the UCC to launch a campaign to unite communities. “We need to get the church out into the streets where it belongs,” he said. “We have to get out of single-issue silos and link up.”

In an effort to encourage such unity, CB&LF also co-convened General Synod’s first Financial Forum, bringing together leaders from four of the church’s financial ministries.

UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer opened the forum and introduced Duggan, along with Brian Bodager, president and CEO of The Pension Boards - United Church of Christ; Don Hart, president of United Church Funds; and Maria Coyne, president and CEO of the Cornerstone Fund.

The meeting was a time for leaders to come together and brainstorm ways to be more effective as one body.

“The gathering was seen by all of us as an important step toward strengthening the collective missional impact of all UCC financial ministries,” Duggan says.

Together the ministries are challenging churches to use their resources wisely for the good of all people.

The move is in keeping with the UCC’s new framework for pursuing social justice as a unified church, which Dorhauer outlined during the weeklong event. He introduced the denomination’s shared purpose, mission and vision statements, along with a common missional initiative called the “Three Great Loves.” The initiative emphasizes building a more just world focused on the love of children, neighbor and creation. 

“Most attendees would probably tell you that this was one of the most exciting synods in recent history,” Duggan says. “Perhaps the most significant takeaway for me was the affirmation of the UCC’s resolve to remain at the forefront of justice and social change.”

The Rev. Kim Kendrick, pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in Philadelphia, ended General Synod’s closing worship by charging everyone to take small steps toward progress together. 

“Start small, but start,” Kendrick said.