To help call attention to the ways people can counteract injustice and establish equality among all God's children, the planning team of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ is turning to a bold and courageous leader at the forefront of creating a just world for all.
"Building a Just World for All" — the General Synod Gala — will feature a keynote address from acclaimed pastor, speaker and activist the Rev. William Barber II. The event takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, in the Key Ballroom of the Hilton Baltimore Hotel and is co-hosted by the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC and the national setting of the church.
"In Deuteronomy, God told His people to be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them because God is the one who goes with you. Who are those bold, courageous voices that are walking with God today? One of them is the Rev. William Barber," said Mary Paxton, director of the UCC Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship. "Look at his activism, listen to what he has said and what he is saying. What better voice than Rev. Barber to join us at our General Synod Gala and speak about what it means and what it takes to build a just world for all."
Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, N.C., is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of people to the state legislature.
A highly sought-after speaker, he has keynoted hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Barber has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors.
"The time is now for the United Church of Christ to harness the energy, the power, and even the despair, to shape a future that is bold, prophetic, and connected," Paxton said. "We have an opportunity to seize the moment by building on the solid foundation of our tremendous history, celebrating that which is working in today's church environment, and taking risks that will lead us into being the relevant Church that God calls us to be!"
Sponsorship packages are available for General Synod 31 that include tables for the gala. Individual tickets are available for $150 and a table of eight is available for $1,500. Proceeds will benefit the Shaping Our Future Campaign to endow the Office of the General Minister and President and fund start-up initiatives.
"The UCC has been, and continues to be, committed to justice," Paxton said. "What does that take?Boldness and courage!"
General Synod 31 will be held June 30 through July 4 at the Baltimore Convention Center, located right in the heart of city’s historic Inner Harbor seaport. Information is available on the General Synod website, which will be continuously updated with emerging details. Registration for the gathering is open. The cost of registration is $236.50 if booked by March 31; and $247.50 if booked on April 1 or after. There is also a special rate for seminarians of $150.