General Synod 29! I’ve been looking forward to this event for months. The United Church of Christ rarely holds its biennial meeting in my half of the country. This time it’s right here in California, within an easy drive of my home. I signed up as a volunteer and blocked out three days, knowing nothing about the agenda. I assumed I would find somebody working on clergy sexual misconduct. Yesterday I finally got a look at the Workshops and Resolutions: nothing. Not a word.
But I am not discouraged. The Resolutions address the church’s carbon footprint, care for veterans, affordable housing, immigration reform, and other critical policy issues. The Workshops bring these big issues down to congregational size, and they address perennial issues like music, growth, and children’s ministry. Those issues have big, visible constituencies.
My issue — preventing and responding to clergy sexual misconduct — has a nearly invisible constituency. Survivors are present in nearly all congregations, but most of us are silent. Even for a big bad blogger like me, it takes courage to keep talking. Some people respond with warmth and support, but others just don’t want to hear about it. They shift uncomfortably; they go silent; they bring up a new subject. I can see it in their eyes, “There she goes again. Isn’t it time to move on?”
I am excited about General Synod, even in the absence of a workshop on the subject. I look forward to finding a way to bring this issue forward. Who knows? You might see my name under a workshop the next time General Synod meets. My supporters and detractors are both right about one thing. On this subject, it’s hard to shut me up.