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We are in ministry together: Concluding Synod with great thanks
Written by Gregg Brekke
June 30, 2009

We've heard the Rev. Geoffrey Black speak twice this week – once during his nomination speech Friday night, and last night after his election as General Minister and President of the UCC was affirmed. Both times he invited the church to join in ministry together with him and other members of the Collegium.

We are in this together.

And so in that same spirit, I offer thanks to those who have served in communications ministry with me this week. I have the privilege of this space each day to give you my thoughts and impressions of the church – and now I'd like to honor those who have made our communications possible.

The veteran news team at this Synod has been a blessing to work with. They have made my job infinitely easier and have been my teachers in more ways than I can count.

General Synod 27 newsroom staff.
Back: Wes Stevens, Randy Varcho, Jeff Woodard, Mike Venturino, Dan Hazard and W. Evan Golder
Front: Gregg Brekke, Rebecca Bowman Woods, Micki Carter, J. Martin Bailey and Tim Kershner
Deb Taylor photo

Volunteer reporters the Rev. J. Martin Bailey, the Rev. Rebecca Bowman Woods (on loan from DisciplesWorld Magazine), Micki Carter, the Rev. W. Evan Golder, Tim Kershner and Jeff Woodard filed more than 65 stories to the daily paper or web site over the past five days, and continue to report on resolutions even today.

Their diligence and professionalism was evident at every turn, making coverage of this Synod the most rewarding experience I've had in journalism.

Other volunteers in the newsroom kept things flowing smoothly. Deb Taylor and Mike Venturino were at our disposal for running errands, bringing food, directing people and, above all, helping us to focus on the communications you value.

UCC staff members in the newsroom did their jobs in hyper-mode. Randy Varcho not only designed each daily newspaper, but was an active photographer – along with volunteer Wes Stevens - bringing us compelling images of our people in Grand Rapids.

Connie Larkman shot 55 "Changing Lives" videos with the help of volunteer videographer Brian Bagley Bonner. Connie also edited the daily "Keeping You e-Posted" email blasts with the help of Barb Powell and Stephanie Ortiz who were back in Cleveland.

Our onsite web team of Dan Hazard and Michelle May worked diligently to edit and post video and photos in addition to answering our tech questions.

Staff members the Rev. Cliff Aerie, Bob Lormor and Jean Robinson, along with contractor Terry Peterson and the entire CSR team, provided production skills, video interviews and facilitated the streaming that gave a glimpse of the Synod to those not in Grand Rapids.

Other volunteers, culled by the Rev. Betty Bailey, handed out UCNews each morning. The help of the Local Arrangements Committee of the Michigan Conference provided runners and a cake for Tim Kershner's birthday on Monday.

My boss, the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, was a valued resource and advocate for the news team and the communications staff. His guidance and camaraderie helped me navigate my first Synod.

UCC Conference communicators and the staff of Balaam's Courier shared the newsroom and were welcome additions to the information stream.

Many bloggers and hundreds of Twitter users helped propel our communications strategy into the 21st century – giving voice to a new generation of people who love the UCC.

As in any litany of thanks, I'm sure someone has been missed. Please know that your help and presence was appreciated. The long hours, missed meals and early wake-up calls are our gift to the church we love, and with whom we join in Christian ministry together. 

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