Outside the entrance to Room 6 in the Tampa Convention Center is a sign featuring Sesame Street’s “Cookie Monster.” For those working inside the room, the beloved “monster” represents the passion that members of the Florida Conference demonstrated in baking cookies for delegates and visitors to General Synod 28.
Beginning Thursday, more than 10,000 dozen cookies began arriving from churches throughout the Florida Conference – from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast – for sorting and eventual distribution to committee rooms, plenary sessions, offices, and anywhere people look for a baked treat.
And, since this is Florida, many of varieties carry a distinct Sunshine State influence. Bunny Gruntler, a member of Sunset Congregational UCC in Miami and the cookie committee’s Southeast Chair, claims to have a fondness for the orange with chocolate chip cookie. Other varieties waiting for consumption are lemon pecan, lemon ginger and orange date pinwheel. The cream of the cookie crop may be either the mango shortbread or the orange with chocolate chip. For the more traditional cookie consumer, there are still plenty of oatmeal, sugar, snickerdoodles and chocolate chip. Many cookies are available in sugar free, lactose free and nut free varieties.
Several dozen cookies were baked in the shape of our familiar UCC comma. Harold Kuhn, a member of First Congregational UCC in Sarasota, and owner of Kuhn Tool and Die, accepted a challenge to create a cookie cutter to challenge churches to participate in this baking project. Gruntler distributed 100 cutters to churches for their cookies. An additional 65 cutters are for sale in the Florida UCC Women’s booth.
This is Gruntler’s first General Synod and she learned early that the pressure on the cookie committee was tremendous. When she asked people what was so special about General Synod, before they mentioned the worship services or the workshops or the plenary sessions, she said people responded “the cookies.”
Joy Kuhn said that everyone involved in the cookie project is “just so thankful” that so many people from throughout the state went out of their way to bake and deliver cookies for this Synod. She is proud to say “we’re all doing this because we’re here to ‘Imagine What’s Possible.’ ”