Written by Anthony Moujaes
There are so many activities and events during the United Church of Christ’s General Synod 2013 that demand attention, it may be challenging to take in everything that is offered over the course of five days. Here are some don’t-miss-this suggestions for events that offer a mix of the flair of Southern California life, along with the advocacy and spiritual aspects of General Synod.
During five action-packed days, delegates, visitors, ministers and members from across the UCC will come together for celebration, business and worship. General Synod, the UCC’s biennial gathering, takes place from June 28 through July 2 in Long Beach, Calif.
Marriage Equality Rally The all-church gathering in California coincides with the week that the Supreme Court will announce its decisions on two much anticipated marriage equality cases. While the announcement could come at any time, marriage equality and LGBT rights advocates invite all to gather on the first day of General Synod to celebrate and affirm the UCC's stand on marriage equality - the denomination’s inclusivity and affirmation that all people should have the right to marry the person they love – and reaffirm the 2005 resolution of the church to marry all couples.
The rally begins at 4:45 p.m. on Friday, June 29 on the steps of the Long Beach Convention Center.
Join the Scarf Project Take a stand against LGBT bullying and pledge to join the UCC’s General Synod Scarf Project. In a show of support and solidarity, the denomination has collected more than 5,000 hand-knitted scarves, which will be given to Synod attendees who pledge to take action against bullying and other types of violence.
Visit the Scarf Project booth, No. 348, in the Exhibit Hall.
Keynote speakers Three eloquent speakers – Maria Hinojosa, Peter Kageyama, and David Orr – deliver keynotes on three key issues important to the UCC: immigration, love of community, and environmentalism. Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist for NPR and has reported on the Hispanic population to millions of Americans, Kageyama is an author and speaker on grassroots community involvement, and Orr is a college professor and author on eco-friendly initiatives.
All keynotes take place in Hall A of the Convention Center. Hinojosa speaks during the 9 a.m. Plenary on Saturday, June 29; Kageyama speaks during the 2:30 p.m. Plenary on Monday, July 1; and Orr speaks during the 8:30 a.m. Plenary on Tuesday, July 2.
Wilmington 10 Celebration It took 40 years for justice to prevail, and over the course of those four decades the UCC stood by a group of social activists wrongly arrested and imprisoned in North Carolina in the 1970s for the firebombing of a local grocery store. The group, which came to be known as the Wilmington 10, finally received a full pardon from the state in January.
Celebrate during the 9 a.m. Plenary on Saturday, June 29 in Hall A.
Festival on the Marina Green Saturday is a day of California sun and fun, and that includes the four-hour “Festival on the Marina Green,” just one block away from the Long Beach Convention Center. The event is a family-friendly festival near the beach, a biking trail and a marina. There will be 10 gourmet food trucks, a giant "Big Kahuna" slide for the kids, a stage for musical performances, kites for flying and other casual, family-friendly activities.
The event is from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 29.
Service Projects and Workshops Donate blood, help clean up a local beach, or attend one of the many workshops to learn about faith formation, justice advocacy and immigration. Those are just a sampling of the potential selections of the service projects and workshops that offer hands-on opportunities to serve and expand the presence of the UCC in Long Beach.
For more information on Service Projects and Workshops, see Pages 42-62 of the General Synod Program Book, available at the registration table. Most pre-registered service projects require attendance at an orientation session at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29 in Hall C (Exhibit Hall).
This Could Be Heaven The concert by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, titled “This Could Be Heaven,” will complete a day filled with community service and outdoor leisure with powerful music. Bernice is a scholar, singer/song leader and social activist, and her daughter Toshi, a composer, producer, founder and leader of her own ensemble, is her strongest collaborator.
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 29 in Hall A.
Youth @ General Synod lunch with Frenchie Davis The Youth @ General Synod have an eventful schedule, and on Monday they’ll welcome American Broadway performer and music artist Franchell “Frenchie” Davis as their featured guest for the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries luncheon. Davis, a contestant on the second season of American Idol, was chosen because she is an advocate on youth LGBT, and fulfilled her dream of becoming a singer.
Cash-only tickets for the luncheon will be available in Hall C, and the luncheon is from 12-2:30 p.m. Monday, July 1 in Hall C
The Exhibit Hall There are 93 booths on display in the Exhibit Hall (Hall B) that will feature opportunities to learn about the various and related ministries of the UCC, rest and catch up with old friends. Be sure to visit the ‘worship space’ -- resembling the interior of a chapel -- of Local Church Ministries for a range of theologically- and liturgically-based conversations. Wider Church Ministries has a ‘global market,’ a place to learn about One Great Hour of Sharing and ways to volunteer across the United States and internationally, disaster response opportunities, and other mission work.
See the Exhibit Hall hours, maps and booth descriptions on Pages 63-79 of the General Synod Program Book, available at the registration table.
The Store at General Synod Pick up the official General Synod 2013 T-shirt and other event-related collectibles to remember the gathering at the UCC Store. The store will be stocked with UCC and Stillspeaking merchandise, including books by some of the authors who will speak at General Synod. Attendees can purchase items from the UCC Store or pickup freebies from partnering exhibitors knowing that all products sold or distributed are sweat-free and/or environmentally green.
Visit the UCC Store at booth No. 154 in the Exhibit Hall.
For more information on these events and others, visit the General Synod 2013 website.