Written by Michelle May
An historic UCC General Synod is in the making, not only because of its celebratory 50th-anniversary tone, but also because of its sheer size -- it's going to be big.
As of May 30, nearly 7,100 had registered for the June 22-26 event in Hartford. Conn. Compare that to the largest Synod till this point, when 3,300 gathered in Minneapolis in 2003. Two years ago, just 2,700 had registered by Synod's opening day in Atlanta.
Registrations for this summer's event could easily reach the 10,000 point, church leaders now acknowledge. At capacity for General Synod purposes, the Hartford Civic Center will seat 12,000 people because a large stage area is being constructed at one end of the 16,000-seat arena.
The Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau is now touting the UCC's national gathering as the largest convention ever held in Connecticut's capital city.
And those coming are not just casual day-trip attendees. Instead, contrary to what organizers once envisioned, the vast majority of registrants are signing up for the entire five-day event.
Only 800 of the 7,100 registrants have taken advantage of the cheaper, one-day registration to attend "Synod in the City" only. That's the day when Bill Moyers and Barack Obama, as well as dozens of other speakers and performers, will take to stages across downtown Hartford.
Single-day numbers for Saturday, June 23, could swell significantly before the event begins, especially since UCC members in the region may just now be making their plans to attend. About 180,000 UCC members live within a two-hour drive of Hartford.