Written by Michelle May
More than 1,600 have registered since one month ago. And with seven weeks still remaining before General Synod opens on June 22, the number of 2007 registrations is nearly twice the number of 2,744 that had registered by opening day of the Atlanta-hosted General Synod in 2005.
"The excitement isn't just about General Synod," said Edith A. Guffey, the UCC's associate general minister, who announced the figures to national staff gathered for a Cleveland convocation on May 1. "All of this is about the witness of who we are as the United Church of Christ."
Nearly 600 young people have registered as part of a denomination-wide push for a 1,000-member contingent of youth to be housed at the University of Hartford.
"There will obviously be a good contingent of youth at General Synod," Guffey said, indicating the number of youth could still increase. "Fifteen or 16 [youth] groups have requested that we extend the registration deadline."
Online registration for Synod will close temporarily on Tuesday, May 8. Those who have registered before that date will receive their name badge and sponsored-meal tickets by U.S. mail, thus alleviating the hassle of long lines on site.
"We're going to put together these materials and mail it to them," Guffey said, "so that at the hotels all they'll need to pick up is a name-badge holder and program book."
Online registration will resume in mid May. However, those persons will not be eligible to purchase tickets for any extra sponsored meals, since attendance tallies must be finalized for meal planning. Also, "those [late registrants] will have to come to the Hartford Civic Center to pick up their materials," Guffey said.
Ironically, only 288 have registered solely for the day-long "Synod in the City" celebration scheduled for Sat., June 23, meaning the vast majority of registrants are planning to stay for several days. "That's a category that we expect will grow before Synod," Guffey said, especially in light of the Synod's location in UCC-rich New England, which is just a two-hour drive for nearly 180,000 UCC members.