Pastor’s Corner: General Synod

July 14, 2021

What is a synod and how does it become general?

A synod, in short, is an ‘aha, a meeting. The original word was sunodos, a Greek word that combines the roots sun (together) and hodos (traveling way or path). Carried into Latin, it became synodus, which English speakers shortened to sinoth before settling on the spelling synod.

The word had been used in the early Church for the regular meetings of congregational leaders. The largest gatherings of bishops, particularly those that considered and settled major issues of theology, gained the special title of “council” – the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople, and so on. Most meetings of the Church for some years were remembered (or not, as the case may be) as synods until the local language began to replace Latin.

In England, Presbyterians recovered the word synod to title their gatherings. Congregationalists in New England, however, favored the word “meeting.” They also dropped such ancient church words as diocese for a collection of churches and clergy, replacing it with “consociation” (for churches) and “association” (for ministers).

“Synod” returned to use when the United Church of Christ brought the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Churches (E&R) together in 1957. The E&R had given the name “synod” to their larger associations of churches. The national gathering of the church was the “General Synod” – and that became the name for the national representative meeting of the new UCC.

I ask your prayers this week for this national gathering of the United Church of Christ, this ‘aha for all the ‘aina, this General Synod, that it be a source of light, inspiration, and love.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Much of the activity this week, including worship and major keynotes, is being live streamed at generalsynod.org.

Photo by Eric Anderson

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on July 14, 2021

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