Many of you have asked me, “When do you leave for your trip?” To which I’ve been replying, “Which one?” This first half of the year is turning out to be the year of trips. In March I had a family vacation to Disney World; April was my trip to Princeton, New Jersey for the Youth Forum; May was vacation again and June was the UCC General Synod in Milwaukee. (Well, technically it is coming up since it’s still June as I write this.) And then this July is the youth mission trip to Denver. See, a year of trips. Whether vacation or work related, each trip has been fun, inspiring, relaxing, and full of learning.

Like I said, as I write this, I’m preparing for my next trip: A road trip up to Milwaukee for the United Church of Christ General Synod. Think our Annual Meeting, but every other year and 50 times as large. I am a delegate for the Illinois Conference once again, which means I sit with the Illinois Conference delegation and spend majority of my time in meetings, taking votes and such. Sounds boring, which, I’ll be honest, it sort of is at times. However, there are terrific speakers and the worship services are incredible. At the last General Synod, the choir sang “A Bridge Over Trouble Water,” which became my favorite moment of the whole conference. Plus, the national staff of the UCC is present, face to face with us. I have colleagues all across this nation, many of which I converse with via email or on social media, and Synod allows me to connect in person if they are present. So much fun!

General Synod allows the UCC to truly be the UCC. As in the faces of the people are all different, all unique, from all walks of life, so there’s this brilliant blend of diversity amongst unity. Where the mottos of “That They May All Be One” and “No Matter Who You Are or Where You Are On Life’s Journey, You Are Welcome Here” is on display everywhere. General Synod is where the church, our church, our denomination comes together to celebrate its work with social justice, mission, diversity, and so much more.

I’m unsure what this Synod will look like. I know I have an incredible roommate, who was a youth long ago at church camp. And I have plans to meet up with a colleague I met at the Youth Forum. And a colleague who works for the national staff, as well as many others. I look forward to connecting to my UCC roots, to remember why I love this denomination and the ministry it does, even as churches are in decline. I look forward to seeing what new books are out there, spending time with many of the Illinois Conference delegates and colleagues I’ve gotten to know here in the Chicago Metro Association. I look forward to worship and rejuvenating my own soul and spirit. I cherish those moments since as spiritual leader, they are rare. And I look forward to being in fellowship with the whole United Church of Christ. It should be a fun week in Milwaukee.

I’ll have trip updates on General Synod and the mission trip in the August newsletter!

Hope you have a blessed, fun and relaxing summer!

Blessings, Pastor Amanda