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Have You Heard? Making All Things New

Rev. Davena L. Jones

That feeling of experiencing history in person took my breath away, tears rolled down my face and I had to keep my feet from breaking into a full-on Holy Ghost Dance as the favorable vote came across the screens. The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson was elected as the UCC’s General Minister and President, the first female and the first of African descent. For me, it was an important reminder of being a part of a larger whole, where each part of the church can offer its blessings and ask for support in its burdens.

I have been publicly criticized for using this term….however, I was also honored to sit at the feet of the UCC Mothers who paved the way, knocked down barriers, and made it possible for this woman, me, the Rev. Davena Jones to confidently stand and lead as your Conference Minister. Those beloved mothers are the Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk, Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, Rev. Traci Blackmon and the still ever presence of the Late Rev. Sharon Li Mei Shem MacArthur. I am because they are, and I will do so that others can, Praise be to God!

We are the Church, We are the Conference, We are United Church of Christ. General Synod 2023 was filled with the Holy Spirit in and through the worship services, special lunches, dinners, and time to just gather as siblings in Christ Jesus. Resolutions were passed in support of trans and nonbinary persons, green energy, abortion as healthcare, harm reduction, and equal access to the internet. Resolutions decried solitary confinement, single-use plastics, and gun violence.

Our Conference delegations has many first timers at Synod. Several delegates took time to write about their experience.

From delegate Yolanda Austin:
Thank you Pastor Davena.
Well as it was my first Synod I didn’t know what to expect. I enjoyed myself immensely. Praise and worship was above expectation and while my committee topic was very controversial our facilitator was amazing. Dakota handled everything with professionalism, courtesy, love, respect and commitment to keeping God first. Lastly when it ended with the sister walking with the candle, the way she moved reflected Christ going before her. That light shown so brightly and I literally saw doors opening with every step she took. It was amazing. Thank you for the opportunity to be a delegate.
From delegate Marvin K. White:
Still reeling and feeling so much. I grew a foot in faith and knowing about who the UCC is and who I am.Thank you all for being a part of this journey. And thank You, Rev. Davena, for your leadership, mentorship, and thought partnership. Oh, and your faith on display.
Here is what I would have read into the record. I didn’t feel compelled to when no one stood in favor or against the resolution.

Committee 11: A Resolution to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans

 won’t you celebrate with me

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

–Lucille Clifton

 At General Synod 34, I served on Committee 11: A Resolution to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. No one stood in favor or opposition when our resolution was called to the floor for debate. I didn’t have to make a case for it. It was eerily beautiful, the silence. The resolution resoundingly passed.

 Through the education intensives, I was able to think culturally and theologically about the resolution. The time spent discussing the resolution and hearing about the other resolutions was invaluable. I wrote and was prepared to read into record this poem statement:

 As 21st Century witnesses, this resolution calls on us to use our prophetic gifts, see what God sees, and know what the heart of God wants for black people of the diaspora and the world is reparations.

Y’all know what God did in the Old Testament. But God IS reparations. The Gospel is Reparations. Reparations are the Good News. The New Testament is a “Study of Reparations for African Americans Act.” Because after all the harm that God did, God didn’t just apologize; God gave us, through the Reparative Christ, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it MORE abundantly.”

The Godself has exemplified what it looks like to repair truly. Let God do God’s work through us. The environment is next. Peace is next. Housing, Food, Jobs, and, yes, Satisfaction is next. God has set this Reparations movement in perfect religious, social, political, racial, economic, and technological time for us. “That” God is doing this “FOR” all of us and not “TO” or “Against” any of us.

 Vote yes on Resolution 11

 Marvin K. White
MID, Delegate, NCNC UCC
Pastor, Glide Memorial Church

From MeLinda LaViene:
As a first-time General Synod attendee, I had an amazing time. I learned a lot about how resolutions are formed, the debates, speak outs and most of all the worship. The milestones for UCC as a whole and NCNC UCC. The exhibit hall and meeting new people from all over the world. It was a blessing to be in attendance.

MeLinda LaViene
Conference Managing Administrator

(Note: MeLinda supported and took good care of the staff and delegates and was even seen mopping the floor at the plenary session when the roof leaked!)


  • Barbara Cook

    “I am because they are, and I will do so that others can, Praise be to God!” Yes you are and yes you will Rev. Davena Jones! I am blessed to be witness to a small part of that journey.

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